April 10th, 2012
“Once a Giant, Always a Giant” is a saying we have here in San Francisco, but Ryan Sadowski has taken the catch phrase international. Ryan made his ML debut for the San Francisco Giants in June of 2009, then in December of that year he signed with the Lotte Giants in Busan, South Korea. We were able to spend a few minutes catching up with him and see what it is like playing for the Giants 5,660 miles from San Francisco. Photos are courtesy of Ryan Sadowski and you can follow him on twitter: @incugator
What was the biggest culture shock of moving to South Korea for you and your family?
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the bowing here in Korea. I try to explain to my teammates that bowing has a very different meaning in western culture than it does in eastern culture.
I also think having fans run you down on the street for pictures and autographs is a bit unusual, but it is definitely flattering. I spent 7 years in the S.F. Giants organization watching prospects get asked for their autographs while most people thought I was the team’s traveling secretary.
What is the best thing about playing for the Lotte Giants?
Lotte Giants baseball fans are the craziest baseball fans in the world. They chant which is pretty standard for Asian baseball, but the passion and soju associated with the chants make every game a giant party. Our fans travel, too. When we are on the road, up to 50% of the fans are Giants fans.
What did you learn your first year that helped you during your second (& now third) years?
Well, most people in the States are under the impression that Korean baseball is a second rate league. I learned very quickly that it is not. There are a lot of foreign players that have struggled in Korea and then find themselves in the big leagues the very next season. I learned not to underestimate the little guy or the guy with thick black glasses with a strap. Those guys can hit 30 homers and win 15 games, too.
In my last 2 years, I have learned that the best way for me to have success in this culture is to learn it. Most people in the States know two things about Korea, North and South.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to thank SF Giants fans. I know my time in the big leagues was short but the legend of the Big Sadowski still lives quite a bit. The short time in San Francisco was a springboard for me to play in Korea where I have been lucky enough to stay healthy and have two productive seasons. Now, I am working towards a third.
Here are some Giants Gems for Charlie Culberson’s birthday from the 2012 Giants Media Guide – Happy Birthday Charlie!
- Graduated from Calhoun High School in Georgia…played both shortstop and pitched (7-1 record) for Calhoun, with team winning state title in 2005 and going to championship round in 2006.
- His father, Charles, was 16th round selection by Giants in 1984 draft.
- Was the Giants’ sandwich pick (51st selection overall) in 2007 First-Year Player Draft
- In 2011 he was named to Eastern League mid-season All-Star squad.