From time to time, social media deviates from the mindless suction cup it’s become to actually lead to some valuable social interactions (shoutout to my good friend Emily Morris for the time we reunited in Boulder, CO merely because of her Snapchat story). In this particular story, it was Instagram that led to something pretty cool.
I was graciously invited to a Kia Tigers baseball game by two of my Korean coteachers, one of whom has an 8 year old son whose English name is Danny. These particular teachers have been incredibly kind throughout my stay in showing me authentic Korean experiences and introducing me to their families.
Going with Danny for his first game, I thought back to the hundreds (and hundreds…) of baseball games that my dad and I went to when I was his age. Aside from a love for baseball itself, one of the great mystiques of the ballpark for me as a little guy was always meeting players and getting their autographs. It didn’t matter if it was the star player (see Mike Piazza) or a player no one knows (see Anderson Hernandez – inside joke that only one person gets, sorry) – it was all equally exciting.
Throughout my life, I’ve experienced a surprisingly great amount under the motto ‘you don’t know until you ask’ and this certainly came into play here. We were on our way to the ballpark when on a whim, I sent an Instagram message to Henry Sosa, the opposing LG Twin’s star pitcher with a previous (although short) tenure in the MLB. Here in Gwangju, however, Sosa is a bit of a legend, having starred for the Kia Tigers while leading this baseball-loving city through some of their glory years earlier this decade.
The Instagram message looked as follows (Dustin and the YourCause sales team will be proud to know I’m still putting my cold sales outreach skills to use):
Within 5 minutes of the original message, Sosa responded and not knowing if I was some lunatic or not (still debatable), graciously agreed to meet. Logistics were coordinated and we soon found ourselves outside the LG Twin’s away locker room hanging with Sosa. Amidst a group of passionate fans pleading for his attention, we were the sole people allowed past the security barriers to chat.
Although not on the mound that day, Henry took the time on a busy game day to meet with Danny, take pictures, and give him an autographed baseball. Danny’s reaction afterwards reminded me exactly of how I would’ve felt at his age.
Major props to Henry Sosa for being a true class-act and for taking care of his fans in a way that seems to be largely lost amongst today’s generation of highly-compensated star athletes. Although my Korean baseball fandom now runs deep with Tiger Red, I’ll always have a soft spot for the LG Twins when Henry Sosa takes the hill.
I’m truly loving my time here, with new and interesting cultural experiences constantly awaiting around the corner. The people I am meeting are some of the most incredibly open-minded and adventurous people I have met in my life – qualities of which I believe to be some of the most valuable.
I miss everyone back home and hope all of your summers are off to a great start!