By now you’ve probably heard of SungWoo Lee.
The Royals’ superfan from Seoul, South Korea, who has been following the team since the 1990s, often waking up in the middle of the night to catch the games, finally made it to Kauffman Stadium to watch his favorite team in person.
News of his visit caught Twitter by storm earlier in the week, and fans from around Kansas City have been interacting with Lee via social media and following his tweets to track his Kansas City adventures.
The trip has been much more than baseball, thanks to a group of Royals fans, referred to as Lee’s welcoming committee, who took it upon themselves to show Lee what Kansas City is all about. Since landing in Kansas City on Tuesday, Lee has enjoyed the kind of activities and attention Kansas City fans can only dream about.
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He’s been treated to private tours of Kauffman Stadium, Arrowhead Stadium and the clubhouse of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the Royals’ Class AA affiliate. He’s received gifts from nearly every place he’s visited, including personalized Royals and Chiefs jerseys and even an apple pie.
On Saturday, before the Royals faced the San Francisco Giants for Lee’s first game in person, fans who caught wind of Lee’s visit through local and social media, gathered at a tailgate party dedicated to Lee.
Fans lined up to meet and take a picture with Lee, and they also gave him gifts including homemade cookies, a baseball, flags and even a hotdog that the creator, Tyler Fox, named the “SungWoo Dog.”
“I didn’t expect this kind of media attention or the (acknowledgement) from the whole Kansas City people,” Lee said.
“I’ve really enjoyed every moment, every second of it.”
Mike Dieker, a Royals fan who lives in Pittsburg, Kan., said he has been following Lee on Twitter for a few years.
Dieker and his wife decided to go to the Royals’ game for their anniversary and stopped by the tailgate party to meet Lee before the game. He said his own Royals fandom can’t compete with Lee’s.
“I can’t compare to what he always did, watching the games early in the mornings. I can barely watch them when I get off work at 9 p.m.,” Dieker said. “It’s just amazing what he’s done and he’s finally here. I think it’s awesome.”
Lee will attend five Royals games during his visit and will also throw out the first pitch Monday before the Royals face the Oakland Athletics, according to Chris Kamler, a member of Lee’s welcoming committee who has helped plan activities for Lee during his time in Kansas City.
Kamler said the amount of attention and generosity Lee has received was something he didn’t expect.
“It’s just a credit to this whole community, this whole town,” he said. “It’s just been this giant hug from this town. It’s been viral and insane.”
Kamler said this is an experience he will never forget especially because the support and excitement for Lee has been felt everywhere they’ve gone, from strangers approaching Lee to take a “selfie,” to media crews documenting his adventures.
“He’s been absolutely amazing,” Kamler said. “He’s just been a good sport about all of this. He’s been engaging, he’s been overwhelmed, but I think he’s having a good time and that’s really all this was meant to do.”
For Lee, the experience has been indescribable, he said.
“I really appreciate the Kansas City and Midwest kindness,” Lee said.