After spending his first year in Seoul, South Korea, James Taylor knows what it feels like to be in the minority.
"You walk through downtown Seoul and you've got people looking at you funny because you're American. They'll start telling you things like, 'Yankee go home,' " says Taylor, 17, originally of Yuma, Ariz.
"Now I know what some minorities go through (in the United States)," Taylor said.
An outfielder, Taylor is one of three white Americans on the South Korean team in town for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's 18-and-under World Series. The others are third baseman Eddie Shaffer, 17, of California, and outfielder Adam Roe, 15,of Georgia.
All 15 players have parents who are military officersand each is an American citizen.
Another player, Ben Givens, has a black father and a mother who is a native Korean. Aaron Collins, a pitcher, catcher and third baseman, has an American father and Koreanmother. Korey Chong is part Korean and part Chinese.
"Since we'vebeen here, it's like a lot of people here think we're Koreans, and we're not," said Collins, 17, who was born in Korea, where he has spent 10 years of his life. The rest was spent in California, Texas and Washington, D.C.
"We're just as American as the people we're meeting and talking to over here."
While Collins' frequent visits to America have made the adjustment an easy one, that isn't the case for teammate Korey Chong.
"In Korea, I'm in the majority -- here I'm a minority," said Chong, 17. "When I'm on the field, it's natural for meto speak in Korean. But here, the Americans start looking at you funny and I'm not used to that."
Taylor could say the same of his experiences in Korea.
"This is my first year there and I don't come back here until June 26 next year, so I've got a long way to go," Taylor said.
So does the entire Korean team, which was blown out each of its first three games -- against tournament host Linthicum-Ferndale Post 289 on Monday (a 9-0 shutout loss), and in Tuesday's games against Pennsylvania (14-2) and Mansfield, Ohio (10-2).
That, despiteit being among the top 10 teams in its age group in Korea.
The team has yet to play a complete game -- let alone lose one -- in its league this year. All of its victories have ended because of the "slaughter rule," the longest having gone four innings.
"This team is a combination of players from three very good
teams from the Young Sun Post League. But we don't get real strong competition over there, so we came here for it," said Coach Wayne Brown, an Air Force sergeant from Louisiana.
"Coming into this, we weren't aware that two of our 18-year-olds wouldn't be able to join us, or we could have gotteninto a younger, 15-to-17 World Series and perhaps made a better showing. But we still haven't played to our capabilities yet."
Like Taylor, Brown, 27, and assistant Wayne Schofield, 25, are glad to be home for the 16-team tournament, which began Monday and will last for two weeks.
Schofield, a sergeant in military intelligence, has seenhis six-month-old daughter, Jessica, only once. She and Schofield's wife are expected to arrive today.
Brown said the weather and the change in time zones are working against his team.
The team left Korea last Tuesday morning and arrived at BWI Airport last Friday night.
Despite three days of recovery and a possible forfeit win over Puerto Rico -- which didn't arrive in time for Monday's 9 a.m. game (the game may be made up Friday) -- the Korean team "wasn't all there"for Monday's game against Post 289.
Said Brown: "Jet lag has hit every one of the kids. They're 13 hours ahead of (the United States) over there and we've been dead, pretty much."
And the heat?
"It's killing them -- that's as simple as it is. We're not used to this and we're dragging before the third inning starts," Brown said. "Every game so far, we've had that one bad inning. If you can take those away -- nine runs in one inning, 10 runs in another -- you're looking at two- or three-run ball games."
"I've never lived in America," Chong said, "and this is the first time I've been on the East Coast. I'm not used to the humidity here, and in Korea it's a lot cooler. Butyou can't really blame it (the poor performance) on the weather. It's just that we're really out of our league here.
"We're just here to play baseball and we just want to have fun."