SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) – The NC Dinos, so far South Korea’s best baseball team, also lead overseas merchandise sales, data showed Monday.
In response to growing international interest, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) launched in early June an English version (http://kbomarket.com/us) of its official merchant site, the KBO Market.
A league official declined to disclose the exact sales figures for the 10 KBO clubs, but confirmed that the Dinos are the most popular team in the KBO market. They are also first in the standings at 32-14.
ESPN, the US sports cable giant, has been broadcasting six KBO games per week live since the start of the season on May 5, and KBO games are now available in 130 countries through ESPN’s international subsidiaries. And Korean baseball has been a hit in the United States, with Major League Baseball (MLB) unable to kick off their season due to the coronavirus pandemic and feuds in negotiations between owners and players.
The Dinos, in particular, have found support unlikely in the state of North Carolina, as the state mailing abbreviation, NC, is the same as the name of the company that owns the baseball club.
The Dinos were featured on ESPN’s first-ever TV show, and Mo Chang-min’s batting after his first home run of 2020 introduced unsuspecting American audiences to a whole new baseball culture.
Bat beats are generally frowned upon in MLB as a sign of disrespect for opponents, and lively bat throws have led to brawls. In the KBO, few, if any, blink an eye at the bat-beating, which sometimes occurs during flyouts.
KBO’s bat flips have been turned into memes and GIFs on social media for the few baseball connoisseurs, and this season was the first wide exposure to this aspect of Korean baseball.
The KBO Marketplace recently sold a t-shirt commemorating Mo’s epic throw, with the words âOh, my God! “
With fans absent from the stands due to COVID-19 infection concerns, the Dinos filled the seats behind the home plate with cardboard cutouts from fans who sent their photos to the team, including the ESPN play-by-play man Jon Sciambi.
The Dinos said they have had hundreds of international fans visiting the club’s own merchandise site to place orders this season.
Between May 14 and May 31, the Dinos sold around 400 items, worth around 20 million won (US $ 16,660).
Jerseys were the most popular item, with 117 pieces sold, followed by hats, at 109.
All-Star outfielder / designated hitter Na Sung-bum was the international top seller of jerseys, accounting for 38% of all jerseys sold overseas with players’ names on the back.
Na, a client of Scott Boras hoping for a big-league opportunity next season, has been featured on ESPN.com and has been one of the most recognizable KBO names this season. After missing most of the 2019 season with a serious knee injury, Na has rebounded well this year, with 13 homers and 41 RBIs in 45 games, placing him among the league leaders.
The Dinos said 342 of the orders during the period May 14-31 came from the United States, with destinations such as California, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and the ‘Illinois.
Dinos’ products have also been shipped to Canada, Germany, Australia, Great Britain and Chinese Taipei.
âHaving KBO games broadcast live overseas and generating so much interest was a pleasant surprise for us,â said a Dinos official. “I think baseball fans around the world wanted something that could cheer them up during the pandemic and found it in the KBO.”