This summer, Sung Woo finally decided to take the plunge. Taking advantage of a job change, he was able to carve out ten days from his schedule to come to Kansas City, watch the Royals play, and maybe do a little sight-seeing and barbecue-eating while he was in town. He emailed Kamler and fellow Royals fan Dave Darby that he was buying his plane ticket and reserving his hotel room; they told him not to worry about transportation, that they’d pick him up and drive him to the ballpark and introduce him to Arthur Bryant’s and maybe the Negro League Museum while he was in town.
If the story had ended there, that would have been enough: three people who have never met, and can barely communicate with each other, bonding together like long-lost friends over a shared mutual interest in a crappy baseball team. A couple of guys were going to take a day or two off of work to show a complete stranger around town. Movies have been made with flimsier plots…..
For posterity’s sake, I’m going to do my best to summarize what has happened since, though to save time I won’t be able to link to everything. To get the full flavor, check out Sung Woo’s Twitter feed, or Kamler’s.
- Greeted by camera crews Tuesday afternoon, was on four local TV broadcasts that night.
- Was featured in the Star Wednesday morning.
- Took a tour of the Negro League Museum later that morning, featuring tour guide Bob Kendrick and an entourage of two dozen people.
- Gets featured at Deadspin and USA Today.
- Has lunch at Arthur Bryant’s.
- Is interviewed on 610 Sports that afternoon.
- Trolls the Best Fans In Baseball.
- Tours Boulevard Brewing Company that evening.
- With the Royals still playing in Arizona, he gets a shoutout from Danny Duffy – who, behind the scenes, also had a lot to do with Sung Woo’s story becoming as big as it has – on the Royals pre-game show.
- Got an email from Mike Sweeney.
- This is all still Wednesday, by the way.
- Appeared on 96.5 The Buzz Thursday morning. Was given a helmet signed by Billy Butler and a hat signed by Bruce Chen from the station.
- Is featured in the English-language Korea Times.
- Received a personal tour of Kauffman Stadium from the Royals, led by Jennifer Splittorff, who presented him with a SPLITT patch and one of her dad’s bobbleheads afterwards. Goes out on the field, touches the grass, picks up a bullpen phone, basically does everything short of hitting a double in the gap.
- Gets a personalized “SungWoo Lee” #23 Royals jersey, presented by Curt Nelson, the Director of the Royals’ Hall of Fame.
- Walks across the Truman Sports Complex to tailgate before the Chiefs’ preseason opener.
- Is presented with his own personalized #1 jersey by the Chiefs, gets tickets near the 50-yard line. Meets former players and current team president Mark Donovan.
- Friday was a pre-scheduled trip to see the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, so much of it was spent in the car. However, once there he managed to:
- Watch batting practice from next to the cage;
- Get invited into the clubhouse by manager Vance Wilson, who had heard about his story;
- Shake hands with every player one by one, and give Mitch Maier – back mentoring the baby Royals – a bear hug.
- Rode the Naturals’ pickup onto the field with their mascots.
- Got on the field as a human bowling ball during a mid-inning promotion. He managed to knock over six pins.
- Got Maier’s autographed jersey after the game.
Saturday, he was back in Kansas City for his first chance to watch the Royals play live.
- Prior to the game he was the star of a massive tailgate party in the parking lot, where he met his adoring masses.
- Appeared on the Jumbotron in the middle of the fifth inning.
- Was a story on Sportscenter – SPORTSCENTER – after the game Saturday night.
- Appeared in studio with Joel Goldberg and Jeff Montgomery on today’s pre-game show. Montgomery gave him an autographed glove as a gift.
- Took part in the dance-off competition against Jimmy Faseler – whose spot as Everyone’s Favorite Royals Fan he usurped. Sung Woo won, of course. (Sorry, Jimmy.)
- Was featured at MLB.com.
Somewhere along the way he appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered. He’s gotten tweets sent to him from Jeremy Guthrie, Eric Hosmer, and Billy Butler (at least – there may be more.)