They have who, what, huh?
Okay, so the story goes that in the middle of the American major league baseball season the Kansas City Royals were just an average team in a small market with average talent, having yet another ho-hum average season in their bland 45 year history (playoff-less in the last 28 of those 45 years). That was until a foreigner named Sung-woo Lee from far away South Korea came on the scene. Through social media, Sung-woo was a regular fixture on Royals’ fan sites and blogs and exhorted Royals’ fans to persevere, which helped to inject much needed enthusiasm into the traditional fan base. Interestingly enough, Sung-woo’s online participation started as an attempt to learn English by consistently conversing with American baseball fans.
(Image from KMBC, Channel 9)
Native Kansas City residents were curious about this Asian man from a far away country and his interest in their local team. Usually, when a foreigner is interested in an American baseball team, it’s usually a team from one of the bigger markets like the NY Yankees, LA Dodgers or Seattle Mariners, etc. But Kansas City? As a Midwestern town they are not close to Asia or Europe and the “city” of barely 500,000 people does not have the ritz and glamour of a New York or Los Angeles.
But a committed fan Sung-woo appeared to be. He even came to Kansas City in August of this year for a 10 day stay. Locals gave him a hero’s welcome, rolled out the red carpet and showered him with Midwestern hospitality. They named a hot dog in his honor and even had him throw the first pitch in a game against the A’s. But the real news is what happened to the team during his little Kansas City vacation: an eight game winning streak that put them in the wild card hunt. The New York Post called this the baseball “feel good” story of the year. Locals call him the “superfan.” NPR said he’s spread “Korean pixie dust” on the team. Korea Times US Edition called it “Korean Karma.” KMBC channel 9 reporter Kris Ketz simply called Sung-woo their “good luck charm.”
American baseball is a notoriously superstitious sport. The 2002 Angels had the rally monkey, which some believe helped propel a pretty average talent wise team all the way to winning the World Series. Well, not to say that a man and a monkey are the same thing, but it appears the good luck charm thing is happening again this year and this time it could very well be the Royals who benefit. They swept the Baltimore Orioles for the AL Championship yesterday and will either play the Giants or Cardinals for the MLB World Series.