Take a Swing by LaPark

Not Your Ordinary Baseball Experience

Caden Chang and Jodie Lee

“최강삼성!” The Korean chant echoes through LaPark, the stadium for Daegu’s local team, the Samsung Lions. This phrase roughly translates to “Strongest Samsung”. The Lions are one of 10 teams in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). Built in 2016, the new field is home to a unique experience for fans. Last month, I made my way to LaPark for the first time in my life and here’s my story.

As I first wandered in I was met with a grand view. The color blue filled the arena, with colossal images of Samsung legends of yesteryear covering the walls. We found our seats close to the field where players warmed up, swinging their bats and launching balls back and forth. The space between our assigned spots made it easy to keep our belongings safe with plenty of wiggle room.

Star player Oh-Jae-il speaks with the head cheerleader for a post-game interview. Photo by Jessica Woo.

Before the first inning, I searched for something to munch on. Every five steps I spotted a snack booth filled with goodies. I snarfed down some chicken and tteokbokki. It was quite good for stadium fare. 

Let’s talk atmosphere. As I strolled through the aisles I instantly caught wiffs of sweat and beer. Like any other sport, chants and cheers bounced around the stadium. If you wish to enjoy the game in a quieter locale, I recommend sitting in the “Sky Zone”, which are the seats near the top of the arena. As a baseball noob myself, the constant cheering and booming music hurt my young ears. Other than those minor foibles, taking in the game was overall a spectacular experience.

As the first player came up to bat, the crowd went absolutely nuts. Every time the players made contact with the ball, LaPark erupted. On the contrary, attendees at ballgames in the US remain dead quiet. You could hear a pin drop as the batter steps up to the plate in Yankee Stadium. 

Jersey-clad fans smash pizza, sip beer, and chat through all 9 innings. Photo by Caden Chang.

The Dan-jang (단장), or in English you would call him the hypeman or leader of the cheer crew, screams in the microphone and in turn the crowd screams back. Special pep rally events happen nearly every other inning, starting from the 3rd. Games on the field and on the scoreboard, special songs, and sweepstakes with prizes suck you in and keep you focused. In fact, I was one of the lucky few to win a contest near the end of the game. I left with a fancy new deck of baseball card magnets.

A game was projected on the scoreboard. The numbers on the board matched my ticket so I won these baseball card magnets. Photo by Caden Chang.

No trip to LaPark is complete without the 통천응원 experience. No direct translation to English exists for this phrase, but it roughly means “cheering blanket”. Before the bottom of the 7th inning at every game, a massive blanket rolls out from the front row. The staff grasps the edges of the fabric, and they race towards the top of the seats, unrolling the monstrosity along the way. The cheering blanket covers the whole crowd in the “Blue Zone” near 3rd base. I don’t think there’s anything like it in American baseball, and it’s hard to explain to a newcomer. Picture rally caps, or swinging a team towel in the air, but on a gigantic scale.

The massive blanket stretches across the stands and rallies the crowd for the final two innings. Photo by Caden Chang.

The cheering blanket pumps up the crowd for the final few innings. But of course, this doesn’t always guarantee a win. The Lions weren’t able to pull off a victory at the game I saw. Ending with a score of 10-1, Samsung played mediocre at best. Their many hits didn’t lead to the crucial runs that could have helped them win. 

People took photos of themselves at these machines inside the stadium entrance. They took these photos to enter a contest and win a prize. Photo by Caden Chang.

Going to Samsung Lion’s Park was definitely worth it, and as for baseball fanatics, there is an option to get a season pass. This includes much cheaper seats in great spots, early access to pre-game activities, opportunities to win more prizes, and much more. Basically, it makes everything easier and cheaper. And if you are a diehard, I recommend you sit in the aforementioned “Blue Zone”, with cheerleaders directly in front of you. You’ll be accompanied by other wild supporters.

Overall, the Samsug Lions’ Park experience was truly special. I’ve seen live professional basketball and soccer in Korea before, and in comparison, I’d give this a solid 4.5/5. I’ll definitely be back again next season.

This box of fried chicken wings costs a little over 20,000 won. Photo by Anna Tzou.
Anna’s dream came true when she met the Dan-jang after a game. Photo by Anna Tzou.