The Korean Baseball Organization became the second professional baseball league to begin play after the Chinese Professional Baseball League (Taiwan) in 2020. The 10-team circuit is considered to be one of the best baseball leagues on the planet, and many fans have been introduced to it via late-night telecast on ESPN in the United States.
The ball clubs are named after their sponsors, rather than the city of origin, and feature uniform designs that would easily fit in nicely with their major league counterparts. Teams are known to have home whites, road grays, and one to two alternatives. Here is a look at the various clubs, its players, and the uniforms of the KBO.
The Doosan Bears (두산 베어스) play in Seoul and the franchise has won six Korean Series championships (four as the Doosan Bears). The team began as the OB Bears in the city of Daejeon in 1982, they moved to Seoul in 1985 and finally changed their name to Doosan, reflecting the new ownership, for the 1999 season. Doosan is a Korean infrastructure support business headquartered in Seoul. The Bears share their home ballpark Jamsil Baseball Stadium with the LG Twins.
The Bears logo is rather simple but very clean. The roundel logo features the team’s name in block letterings in black and red. The club’s home uniforms are also very traditional and feature the same block lettering from its logo with piping down the colour. The away jerseys are solid navy blue with the club logo on the chest and TV numbers on the opposite side. The club has two more retro pullover jerseys that are reminiscent of their earlier days. These sets also include home white and road navy blue.
The Bears are known for several fan-related promotional events. These include Queen’s Day for the female audience, Mr. Doo Day for the male fans, Player’s Day where the players wear the retro jerseys, and Worker’s Day, which is held on a specific Friday for workers who make up nearly the team’s fan base.
The team has been compared to both the San Francisco Giants and the Washington Nationals. Former major league talent this year includes Jose Miguel Fernandez, who played for the Los Angeles Angels, Raul Alcantara, who played for the Oakland Athletics, and pitcher Chris Flexen, who bounced between the starting rotation and bullpen for the New York Mets between 2017-2019.
The Hanwha Eagles (한화 이글스) débuted as the Binggrae Eagles in 1986 and changed its name to its current moniker after Binggrae’s separation from the Hanwha Group, which is one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea, with diversified holdings from explosives, retail, and financial services.
The team’s lone Korean Series championship was in 1999 when the Eagles were known as the “Dynamite Bats’ ‘ and led by American imports Dan Rohrmeier and Jay Davis. The club posted a slugging percentage of .487, the highest total in league history. They have called Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium since their inception.
The Eagles are known as the original home to Toronto Blue Jays ace Ryu Hyun-jin, who finished second in the Cy-Young voting in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and a league-leading 2.32 earned run average. The club is also home to former Texas Rangers Jared Hoying, pitcher Chad Bell, and former Detroit Tiger pitching prospect Warwick Saupold.
The club compares favourably to the Baltimore Orioles and even shares the same colours of black and orange. The team has four sets of jerseys that feature the club’s stylized wording on home whites, road grays, and orange and black solid tops. The black cap is the stylized “E” with the eagle head.
KIA Tigers (타이거즈) are the New York Yankees of the KBO winning 11 championships (9 in the club first 15 seasons). The team is based in Gwangju and has a very devoted fanbase who honours its tradition and community. The Tigers play at Kia Challengers Field and are managed by former Major League All-Star Matt Williams.
The Tigers are sponsored by the South Korea automotive manufacturer headquartered in Seoul. Prior to their sponsorship deal with KIA, the club was known as the Haitai Tigers from 1982-2001. Haitai is known for confectionery, beverage, and ice cream.
Aaron Brooks who pitched for the A’s and the Orioles last year, Drew Gagnon who went 5-2 for the Mets the past two seasons and Preston Tucker who last played for the Atlanta Braves in 2018 are some of the former major league talents that first-year manager Williams will have under his helm.
There is a lot to like about the Tigers uniforms that come in white and red. The font is sharp and outlined in blue, the KIA logo hovers above the “S” and large white panel fans down on each side that creates a dual-color back that is separated by a blue vertex. The look is bold, bright, and futuristic in design.
The Kiwoom Heroes (키움 히어로즈) and play their home games at the Gocheok Sky Dome in the southwestern neighbourhood in Seoul. It is the only indoor baseball stadium in South Korea. The club is sponsored by the online financial institution Kiwoom Securities.
The Heroes were formed in 2008 after the folding of the Hyundai Unicorns, winners of four KBO titles, by Centennial Investments. The Woori Heroes and would go without sponsorship for part the 2008 and all of the 2009 season. The club would be sponsored by Nexen from 2010-2018 before Kiwoom took over in 2019.
The team is not owned by a large massive parent company and is considered a small-budget team. Major league fans might think of clubs like the Oakland A’s or Tampa Bay Rays as comparisons here in North America. The team has made the playoffs the past two seasons losing in the championship in 2019.
The team features power-hitting first baseman Byung-ho Park, who played for the Minnesota Twins, and former major league players Eric Jokisch, who last played for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and pitcher Jake Brigham who pitched 12 games for the Braves in 2015.
The Heroes have two jerseys that are white and burgundy. The modern font Kiwoom is prominently displayed on both jerseys and outlined in gold. A great color combination is a rarity of the game of baseball.
The KT Wiz (KT 위즈) are the youngest team in the KBO entering their 6th season in 2020. The team was members of the KBO Futures League from 2013-2014. The club plays at the Suwon Baseball Stadium in Suwon and is sponsored by the KT Corporation, South Korea’s largest telephone company.
The Wiz is a team on the rise, bolstering the youngest pitching staff and hitting lineup in the KBO. The team hopes to improve on its 71-71 record from a year ago with a squad that features Kang Baek-ho, who established a rookie record with 29 home runs in 2018, and Mel Rojas, Jr., who is off to a great start on the current season.
The team’s name stands for “wizard” and, at the same time, includes the meaning of ‘power of superb abilities and control. Perhaps that is why it features a very modern and sharp looking uniform design. The home whites and black roads both feature the futuristic team lettering complete with a tail. The best part is the cap that includes an interlocking “KW” that is ideal for any era of baseball.
The LG Twins (LG 트윈스) dominated the 1990s with six postseason appearances and two KBO titles in 1990 and 1994. However, Twins have only made it to six postseasons this century but feature a strong pitching staff anchored by Casey Kelly and Tyler Wilson, who were league leaders in ERA last season, and hope to help the club back to prominence.
The club still remains very popular and shares home games at the Jamsil Baseball Stadium with the Doosan Bears. The Twins are celebrating 30 years of sponsorship with the LG Corporation–one of the largest makers of electronics in the world.
The club features some great hitters including, Kim Hyon-Soo, who brings a.321 career batting average, and former Colorado Rockies prospect Roberto Ramos, who hit 30 home runs for Triple-A Albuquerque last season. The pitching and hitting could propel the club further in the playoffs after an 81 win record last year, its best win total in 25 seasons. At the moment, the team is compared to the Mets due to its pitching dominance.
The LG Twins have three sharp looking sets that are highlighted by a home pinstripe with racing stripes down each sleeve. The Twins font is bold in red with black outlining- another design that would fit in nicely in most eras of baseball. There is an all navy top with racing stripes that are paired with pinstripes pants.
The Lotte Giants are one of the more popular teams in the KBO, attracting crowds of well over a million in multiple years, including four in a row from 2008-2011 and includes an all-time record of 1.38 million in 2009. The team is located in Busan in the southeastern portion of South Korea.
The Giants were founded in 1975 as an amateur club in the Korean Baseball Association and then as one of the original clubs in the KBO in 1982. The Giants are owned by the Lotte Corporation, which also owns the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball. The Lotte Corporation comprises diverse industries as candy manufacturing, beverages, financial services, electronics, publishing, and entertainment.
The Lotte Giants have two sharp-looking home and away sets that are identical with the exception of the roads being all black. The Giant’s front features a traditional tail slightly from the “s” and the simple and beautiful design would look great in any baseball league on the planet.
The NC Dinos (엔씨 다이노스) were founded in 2011 as members of the Future League before moving to the top circuit the following year. The club enters its 10th season of operation at one of the more modern venues in the KBO. Changwon NC Park blends nicely with its modern design and the surrounding neighbourhood. The ballpark was designed by Populous in 1999.
The league’s best catcher Yang Eui-ji brings his .354 batting average from the Bears, Na Sung-bum has a career .319 lifetime average, and former Marlins Drew Rucinski is 4-0 with a 2.11 on the young season. The Dinos are the former club of Nationals Eric Thames who was a god in Korea and the 2015 KBO MVP. The club compares favourably to the Milwaukee Brewers due to smart free agent signing.
The NC Dinos have one the league’s best looks that are modern and pleasing on the eyes. The team has three sets that are identical and feature the team colours of navy blue, gold, and the secondary colour of sky blue. The navy is by far the nicest with Dinos spelled out in gold and a sky blue “NC” in the lower case above the not-so-perfect “S”. A side panel of gold and sky complement the look. The Dinos also feature a teal jersey (below) and a gold jersey as an alternative.
The Samsung Lions (삼성 라이온즈) were founded in 1982 and play at Daegu Samson Park. The club has won Eight KBO titles, including four consecutive championships from 2011 to 2014. They have also won the league title 5 years in a row from 2011 to 2015. The club is sponsored by Samsung, one of the leading manufacturers of electronics in the world, and due to its connection to the company, the Lions are one of the most popular in the league.
Former Kansas City Royals pitcher Ben Lively hopes to improve a struggling pitching staff and newcomer, former White Sox and Brewers third baseman, Tyler Saladino hopes to bring solid defense to the pride. The club has been compared in past years to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but this current group of young ballplayers feels more like the Detroit Tigers of today.
The Samsung Lions design is identical to its home white and road blue sets. The look has a modern look but also comes across a little basic compared to other designs in the league. The red and white piping is featured around the colour and sleeves.
A wyvern is a mythical dragon whose tail often forms a diamond or arrow-shape at its tip. The SK Wyverns SK (와이번스) is a KBO team founded in 2000 after the Ssangbangwool Raiders ceased operations due to the bankruptcy of the company. SK Telecom is the largest wireless communication provider in the country. The Wyverns play at Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon and have captured four Korean Series titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2010.
Jamie Romak, who last played in the majors in Arizona, and Choi Jeong both smacked 29 home runs in 2019. Ko Jong-wook led the club with a 3.23 batting average, and former Cub Jae-hoon Ha joins the bullpen. Nick Kingman hopes to revive his career after stints with the Jays and Bucs in the majors. The Wyverns compare well to the St. Louis Cardinals, they are always capable of making the playoffs, and capable of winning it all in any given season.
SK Wyverns feature four sets of uniforms and one throwback set. The three main sets are identical in design and feature a home white, road gray, and an orange alternative, The font is modern and features the words “SK” above the right chest. However, the reproduction of the Incheon Army uniform that won the 1947 Urban Competition Baseball Championship gorgeous in its simple look and design.