Episode 137 — Tomi Korkeamaki: A Miami Honeymoon, Baseball Therapy, & Following the Fish from Finland

Tomi Korkeamaki is a Miami Marlins fan from Vaasa, Finland. In 2016, with their October honeymoon planned for Miami, Tomi and his wife were rooting for the Marlins to make the postseason to have a chance to see live baseball while in America. That was of course the year of José Fernandez’s tragic death, which would happen just a few weeks before Tomi and his wife left for Miami.

Even though he wouldn’t get a chance to see them play in person, Tomi continued to follow along with the Marlins from overseas and became more and more attached to the team. We discuss the process of Tomi finding his way to the Marlins, how he and his friend Ville started the podcast Baseball Terapia – which translates to Baseball Therapy, and we hear an incredible story about a random baseball Tomi pulled out of a bucket of balls being sold at a market.

Find Tomi Online:
Twitter: @tkorkeamaki
MLB.com article about Tomi: https://www.mlb.com/news/the-marlins-fan-in-finland

Find Baseball Bucket List Online:

This podcast is part of the Curved Brim Media Network:
Website: curvedbrimmedia.com

Read the full transcript

[00:45] Anna: What’s up bucketheads? Thanks for tuning in and welcome to episode number 137 of the Baseball Bucket List Podcast. I’m your host, Anna DiTommaso, and each week on the show I speak with a different baseball fan about their favorite memories, what’s left on their baseball bucket list, and what the game of baseball means to them. 

[01:01] Anna: This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tomi Korkeamaki all the way from Vaasa, Finland. Tomi is a big time Miami Marlins fan thanks a trip he and his wife took to Miami for their honeymoon. The two were cheering on the Fish to make the 2016 postseason so they’d have a chance to see a live ballgame while in America. That was of course the year of Jose Fernandez’s tragic death, which would happen just before Tomi and his wife took off for Miami. 

[01:25] Anna: Even though he wouldn’t get a chance to see them play in person, Tomi continued to follow along from overseas and became more and more attached to the team over time. We discuss the process of Tomi finding his was to the Marlins, how he and his friend Ville started the podcast Baseball Terapia – which translates to Baseball Therapy, and hear an incredible story about a random baseball Tomi pulled out of a bucket of balls being sold at a market. 

[01:47] Anna: This one was so much fun, Tomi was a blast. I know you all are going to love it, so let’s get right to it. Now, without further ado, sit back, relax, and enjoy some baseball banter with Korkeamaki.

[01:58] Anna: Tomi, thank you so much for joining us today on the Baseball Bucket List. How are things in Finland?

[02:03] Tomi: Uh, like, like usually in Finland, it’s, it’s dark and cold, but, uh, yeah, we just had a few weeks. We had a minus. 25 here, but, uh, now it’s a little bit warmer, so we are on the, on the plus side in the, in the Celsius, but hopefully spring is coming because it has been a few months now only, only dark and cold.

[02:30] Anna: Oh, how does that even, like, when you go outside and it’s minus 25, what do you do? Do, like, you can’t be outside for more than just a few minutes, I would guess.

[02:41] Tomi: Yeah. Yeah. In the winter time, at least our family doesn’t spend much time outside, but I have a 5k, uh, trip to my work and I do it by bike. So, so yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s an adventure to, to go to work in, in, in winter by bike in minus 25, but so far, so good. So,

[03:04] Anna: Oh my goodness, okay, well, I’ll just have to remember you the next time I feel like complaining about, you know, 30 degrees Fahrenheit on the plus side. So

[03:14] Tomi: yeah,

[03:15] Tomi: yeah, 

[03:16] Anna: I’m so glad you’re here I’m so excited to talk with you about your baseball story and you know I want to get started by hearing how did you kind of fall in love with baseball?

[03:27] Tomi: well, I would say I fall in love with baseball, um, around 2017, I think I had a, uh, Little crush on baseball in 2016. So, uh, before 2016, I didn’t know so much about baseball. I knew who Babe Ruth Was by name and I could name a few teams, but that was it. I seen a couple of movies, but, then me and my wife got married in 2016.

[03:59] Tomi: So we started to, to plan our trip, our honeymoon trip and. Then we decided that, uh, we should go to Florida where we had a four weeks, uh, holiday. So we wanted to go to Florida and do a little round trip in Florida. So we both like sports. So first, I remember that the first thing that came to, we both think about baseball because what’s more American than baseball.

[04:26] Tomi: So we wanted to see baseball. And of course we wanted to see all the other major sports. So, uh, I’m a Miami dolphins fans, uh, fan. Yeah. So, uh, we got tickets to Dolphins game. Then hockey is a really big thing here in Finland. So we went to see the Panthers. Then I started to look about baseball, like do they play baseball in October when we have our trip in October?

[04:53] Tomi: So then I found out that, uh, no, they don’t play baseball in October, unless you make it to the post season. And that was kind of the first thing I found out about the team that the Miami had the Marlins. So this was around like June or July, something like that. So I started to look at the tickets and everything.

[05:13] Tomi: I found out that the only. Way we could see baseball when we are on our trip is to, to see that the Marlins are in the, uh, in the playoffs. So, so then I started to look, uh, that what’s the possibility that they could make it to the post season and 2016, they had a quite. Like decent team and during the summer, they still had a like small chance to get the playoffs.

[05:42] Tomi: So then I looked at how is the playoffs working. So then I found another thing that the only way that we could see that the Marlins could make it the wild card. And then I found out that it was just the one game wildcards. So there was a lot of obstacles on our way to see the baseball. So, but at the time, I, I worked in a hotel here in Vaasa and, uh, and I mainly worked at, at night.

[06:11] Tomi: So I worked from uh, 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM So basically it’s a daytime in America. So I watched a lot of baseballs and I watched a lot of Marlin’s baseball and I was rooting for them and having like a small like, connection with the team. So were pretty good. And it started to look li like they could probably make it.

[06:35] Tomi: We just have to see. And then, um. A few weeks before our trip, the, the tragedy of, uh, Jose Fernandez happened and everything then collapsed for, for the Marlins. And, then we went to our trip. We had a fun, like best holiday ever four weeks in Florida. It was really, really cool, Then it was, I remember it was the last day of our trip.

[06:59] Tomi: We had been four weeks around Florida everywhere. I remember it was raining and it was like cloudy day and we were driving in, in the highway and we see the Marlins park there. And we decided that, okay, well, at least we can go and see the Marlins park. So we drove up there. then I walked around the stadium and then I saw this. Pillars there that had like, uh, who says, uh, name and number there they had painted there and they were like hundreds of messages written there, uh, on these walls. So at the time, it’s like. Kind of hit me hard that not only the team had just lost the player, but like the whole community in Miami, all the Cuban community had just lost a player and Marlins didn’t get anything in return.

[07:55] Tomi: Like this was not just like they traded away and they got something back, like he was just taken away. So that hit me really hard. So I wanted to kind of see how. This will, will affect the Marlins because I would assume that he was like really key piece for the future. They wanted to, build a team around him, him.

[08:21] Tomi: So, so then after we got back, so I started to. Read about baseball. I started to read about the Marlins and I started to read about Jose. So that kind of pushed me to the, from crush to love for the game. So like pretty, pretty quickly for that one. So, yeah.

[08:44] Anna: my wedding anniversary is also in October and we try to go to Florida every year. And of course my favorite team is the Tampa Bay Rays. And so I find myself in a similar kind of situation as you every year. Just, you know, wondering if they’ll still be in it. Um, you know, as we kind of make our way to, to Tampa, but, you know, what you talked about with, with Jose and that tragedy, it’s such a weird thing because, you know, you and I don’t know him and, and hardly anybody who was impacted by his death knew him, you know, of course people did, but it’s so strange how.

[09:24] Anna: You can feel such a connection and such a loss from somebody that you never met personally, but you know with sports, and you know this from watching so many games at night while you were working, it starts to feel like a part of your life, and those people who are involved in it, they kind of start to feel like, like your family and your friends, and so you Um, you know, whenever tragedy strikes like that, especially when it’s someone so young and full of life and promise, it’s, uh, it’s really, really hard and difficult to deal with, but, it’s also somewhat comforting to kind of see the community.

[10:01] Anna: kind of rally around each other and be there for each other to help them get through something like that, but I can definitely understand how that tragedy and kind of watching the way people reacted to it kind of just made you love the Marlins even more.

[10:17] Tomi: Yeah. And I’ve, I’ve, I’ve thought about the whole situation later because I’m, I’m also a father now. So

[10:24] Anna: Yeah.

[10:25] Tomi: like idea of like losing a child, but I also think about in Jose’s case that because, uh, because he was from coming from Cuba, he came and he came alone and his mother stayed in Cuba and it took for his mother to even see him play like Like stories like that, they, they, they like, even I’m, I’m not a Cuban, so it affects like, you have to understand that the power of the community and how this like this strategy.

[10:57] Tomi: Tragedy hit them like really hard because I, I, I assume that most of them thought of him, like, I don’t know if hero is the right word, or, or even if their son is the correct word here, but like they, they lost somebody who they like, he, he, he was their hero, I would say, if you have to use the word hero.

[11:20] Anna: Yeah. Definitely. So, well, have you, I mean, that was several years ago now, 2016 2017. Are you still keeping up with the Marlins?

[11:31] Tomi: Yeah. Yeah. So I think for a few years I was watching the game. I was continue working in the hotel for the, like until 2021. So basically came like kind of like routine to, to watch the games and kind of keep up with the team. So yeah. And then. 2020 before the COVID hit. So then I started to write about the Marlins.

[12:01] Tomi: There’s this British website called Batflips and Nerds. So then I started writing about, about the Marlins. So yeah, it was super fun.

[12:10] Anna: Yeah. I’ve, I’ve read a couple of things you’ve put together on that website and I know, you know, who your, who your favorite player is now, but do you, do you kind of want to tell the listeners about, you know, who your guy is now, like who you’re, you’re a number one fan of.

[12:26] Tomi: Okay. So now it’s Luis Arraez. So yeah, I think I, in the article, I use the term that he had me at hello. So, so yeah, I re I remember when the Marlins traded for him, like, uh, I don’t know if it’s, if it’s like a common pessimist Marlins fans. So I, I didn’t have any high expectations for a player. Of his caliber coming to Miami.

[12:52] Tomi: So if he would like contribute to the team, but he did everything I could have dreamed for. So yeah, at the moment, he’s, he’s my favorite player. Yeah.

[13:03] Anna: For good reason, I would say 

[13:05] Anna: he’s, he’s a lot of fun to watch. I mean, it just, it’s the game seems to be more interesting whenever he’s involved, that’s for sure.

[13:12] Tomi: So Yeah 

[13:15] Anna: You mentioned that you have a friend, you know, and and I know that you and You kind of have your own show.

[13:22] Anna: It’s in Finnish though, right? So it’s it’s not something that I would be able to understand particularly well, but uh It translates to baseball therapy, is that right?’ 

[13:34] Tomi: Yeah, that’s in English. It’s Baseball Therapy. So me and Ville, we had this idea about that. We should make a podcast about baseball and the baseball community here in Finland, it’s, it’s not so big. Uh, we have our own baseball league and it has been running since the eighties. There’s a five to eight teams in the league. So we play baseball here, but like people who talk about baseball or are interested in baseball, it’s not so much, it’s maybe more in the.

[14:14] Tomi: People bet on baseball, but they don’t quite follow the baseball. So I was on Twitter, uh, Ville was on Twitter. And then we just noticed that it was basically just me and Ville. And then a couple of other guys just talking about baseball and tweeting about baseball. So that’s how we. Like first met with Ville on online that, that, Hey, you, you seem to be interested in baseball.

[14:40] Tomi: And then we got like hit, hit off from there. And yeah, then 2021, we started, uh, the baseball therapy and we wanted to call about, uh, therapy because after the COVID, so. Baseball was the only thing like there for even if it was 2020 was a shortened season and then everything got together but baseball was still there so that was like for me and Ville it was sort of a pre therapy to talk about baseball and then we just noticed that it was fun and from day one we Always have thought about that we want to make this podcast to, to like grow the interest of the game here in Finland.

[15:25] Tomi: And I think we have we have done a pretty good job with that one. We did, there’s more people into baseball, but still a small thing, but yeah, it’s, it has been fun.

[15:37] Anna: That’s really cool. Do you talk about, , mostly, like, Finnish baseball or Major League Baseball or just kind of some of everything?

[15:46] Tomi: Yeah. Ville is a Blue Jays fan. So. We don’t just talk about Marlins and Blue Jays. So no, we have this kind of idea that, usually we make episodes, every couple of weeks, we talk about the major league baseball, what has happened in baseball, and then we make these episodes, uh, like stories. We make like about players or something that has happened in the history of baseball.

[16:15] Tomi: So we kind of like want to get people know about baseball and not just talk about what’s happening now in baseball. So we also want to talk about the history of the game. So,

[16:28] Anna: Yeah. You’ll have to do a couple of episodes in English. So,

[16:34] Tomi: actually, actually, we, we had last year, we, we did episode about, uh, The book, uh, Winning Fixes Everything. So we had Evan Drellich on and the story about getting Evan Drellich to our podcast was so that we both read the, read the book. It was really good book. Then we kind of like joke that, yeah, we should ask about Evan Drellich to come on the show.

[16:59] Tomi: And it was like laughing about, yes, we should ask him. Then I just put out on the Twitter and I, and I tacked, uh, Evan to the tweet. And I said that this is an open invite. And then a couple of days went past and I thought about, okay, it’s okay. He doesn’t reply anything. And then one morning I woke up and everyone had replied to me that, yes, just send me a DM and I will come. So that, that was really, uh, like a cool moment to, to like have him and. Then we talk about the book and he was telling that, uh, it’s fun that when you write a book, so somebody across the Across the world wants to talk about your book. So, yeah, it was really cool for, uh, for us to have Evan on. So, yeah, that, that’s probably the only episode we have done in English so far at least.

[17:56] Tomi: So,

[17:56] Anna: yeah, 

[17:57] Anna: That’s neat though. I mean, social media is cool like that and baseball is cool like that. You know, it kind of connects us even though there might not be much else that we have in common. There’s that one thing and, that’s really neat. What a cool story.

[18:10] Tomi: yeah.

[18:11] Anna: When you’re not watching The Fish, when you’re not watching The Marlins, do you like to watch other games or, um, you know, is it primarily just The Marlins that you care about?

[18:25] Tomi: No, I know in generally I like I like baseball and I remember on When the COVID hit, I also watched a lot of Korean baseball, so it was fun to just watch baseball. And yeah, I usually watch baseball. Now I have a day job, so I don’t watch so many games live anymore. But anything that comes 8 p. m. is our like prime time.

[18:49] Tomi: So any game that’s on, so I usually watch games at night or in the evening. And then we have a like, uh, with my daughter, we have this. Like during the season. So before I take her to kindergarten, so we watched the Marlins highlights in the morning. So that’s kind of like our morning routine. So

[19:10] Anna: That’s adorable. Does she have a favorite player?

[19:14] Tomi: no, not yet.

[19:15] Tomi: No, I’m, I’m trying to get him to the Marlins, but she can choose. So,

[19:20] Anna: I, uh, My favorite player ever was Joey Wendell, and he was, you know, a Marlin there for a little bit. He’s now a New York Met, but, he’s, he’s been one of those guys that’s been like every team. It seems like he’s just played for everybody, but I was sad to see him leave the Marlins because I had a little soft spot for them while, while he was there.

[19:42] Tomi: okay. Yeah.

[19:46] Anna: What comes to mind if I ask you what your favorite baseball memory is?

[19:51] Tomi: Yeah. I was thinking about this. , Because I haven’t seen any major league baseball games live yet. So I don’t have any, any story about walk off or, uh, like seeing a no hitter or anything like that live. And then I also talk about, also thought about the 2020 season when the Marlins made it to the playoffs.

[20:12] Tomi: And I remember when they played against the Cubs. And I was watching the games and I couldn’t sit. I was standing in my living room. I was watching watching the games standing up because I was so nervous. But when I think about my favorite baseball memory, uh, that’s probably when me and Ville. Uh, went to see here in Finland, uh, we went to see a baseball game.

[20:37] Tomi: So that was my first baseball game I have ever seen alive. So, , it was, uh, 2021, it was Espo Expos, uh, versus the Helsinki Mets. So, so that was the year we started the podcast. And that was also the first time we met. Like live in person. So we went to the baseball game and, , we had made an episode about like Finnish baseball and the manager of the Expos, uh, Jere Kaistinen.

[21:08] Tomi: So he invited us to come to the games. And so we went there. Uh, we got to hit some balls in a, in a batting cage and then. Threw a few pitches there. And yeah, it was super fun to see the, the game live like in, in Helsinki. They, they play in a like small, like it’s an outfield park. There’s no fences or anything like that.

[21:29] Tomi: So it was really cool to, to see the game and we didn’t see any home runs. Uh, apart from that, we see one like inside the park, home run, so So that, that was fun. But yeah, I think that’s, that’s probably the. My favorite memory. And also, uh, after the game, me and Ville joke that, uh, I saw the Mets before I saw the Marlins live.

[21:53] Tomi: So, because it was the Helsinki Mets, so, so, yeah,

[21:59] Anna: Are all the Finnish teams named after, , like Major League teams? You know, you just said Expos and Mets. Are they all

[22:05] Tomi: yeah, they have Expos and Mets and then they have, they have Tigers, at least what I can remember. That’s probably the ones that have like a major league connection, but I think that we have, I think one of the team is called like Pumas or something like that. So, but yeah, Helsinki Mets and Espoo Expos, they have a lot of like, a lot of connection to, to Americans.

[22:31] Tomi: So basically they are like, uh, students or a military person who are, uh, situated here in, in Helsinki or so. Or Helsinki area or in Tampere, so, but yeah,

[22:42] Anna: Okay. You mentioned that you are a fan of like all the Miami teams now. So you’re, you’re a Dolphins fan for football, a Panthers fan for hockey. Do you, I mean, I know you’re a sports fan in general, I guess, but is, is baseball like your favorite or do you just kind of like all sports the same?

[23:02] Tomi: well, I think baseball probably now is my favorite sports, but when I grow up, I used to, uh, I played soccer. So I think if I’m like thinking about all the sports, so, so then the soccer is always going, going to be my first love and I love the game, but I think baseball is now the most of that, that I, that I like, but I think it’s, it’s more connection that, uh, To the city of Miami.

[23:30] Tomi: So I remember when, when we went to the Dolphins game and somebody asked me at the game, like why, why Miami Dolphins is your favorite, like football team. So, uh, my answer was that, uh, I wanted to come to see football when it’s warm. I want, I want to watch football in my shorts and like have a shirt. I don’t want to have like winter clothes.

[23:52] Tomi: I, I wear winter clothes enough here in Finland. So when I go see football, I, I just, I want it to be warm. So that’s, that’s why the dolphins. 

[24:01] Anna: I imagine, you know, that four weeks that you guys got to spend in Florida was probably pretty nice, and then, you know, maybe that kind of gets you through some of the minus 25 or whatever you’re dealing with.

[24:14] Tomi: Yeah. Yeah. It helps. Yeah. Helps a lot. Yeah.

[24:17] Anna: Yeah, I think, uh, you know, I don’t, I don’t particularly watch a lot of football, but I know recently the, the Dolphins lost to the Chiefs because they were playing at Arrowhead in Kansas City where it was like minus whatever.

[24:30] Anna: And uh, it didn’t seem fair to make Florida teams play in the cold like that.

[24:36] Tomi: Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s even as a fin watching the game, it was, it, it looked brutal to see them play there. So yeah.

[24:44] Anna: for sure. Well, I know you haven’t seen a game in America yet. You haven’t seen a Major League Baseball game, but, you know, is that kind of the thing that’s at the top of your baseball bucket list? Or is that, is that just one of the things that you’re hoping to do?

[24:59] Tomi: Yeah. I think the, like the number one thing on the bucket list is to see the Marlins live in Miami. But I also think like, I like, I like history. And now that. Uh, I have read about baseball history here. So I think it would be cool to see all the, like the old stadiums. I would like to go to the Wrigley field or Fenway park or anything like that.

[25:24] Tomi: But, and I think it could be possible to be possibility when. We would go see Marlins in Miami because it’s a 11 hour flight from Finland to, to, to America. So it’s not a weekend trip to, to, to see the Marlins. So, so it takes a little bit of planning. So, but yeah, I would say. To see the games, see the stadiums, but I would also like to, it would be really fun to also to get to play baseball because baseball here in Finland, it’s like I said, it’s, it’s located in Helsinki.

[25:58] Tomi: I’m, I’m living far away from Helsinki, so we don’t have any team here. In the town where I, where I’m living now. So yeah, it, it, it would require me to, to like make my own team here here in Vaasa to, to get to play baseball. But that, that would be also on the bucket list just to get to play the games.

[26:21] Anna: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. I think what you should do is you should plan kind of like a longer trip to America, you know, obviously go see the Marlins in Miami, spend some time there. And then you got to go see my Rays up in Tampa Bay. And um, you know. Go see a couple of the other parks some of the older ones like you said But then go find some like sandlot style baseball cuz it’s out there It it is and it’s a it’s a lot of fun to kind of just play pickup games like that

[26:50] Tomi: I don’t know what my talk would be to get into the games about saying that I have never played the game. So yeah, maybe I could come as a pinch hitter. So I don’t know.

[27:04] Tomi: Yeah, 

[27:04] Anna: Do you have a glove like do you do you have you played catch or anything like that or just uh, you

[27:09] Tomi: no, I don’t have a, I don’t have a club, but, I have a baseball. Uh, which I bought it like in a small market and this guy had like big bucket of balls and I just put my hands in the bucket and then I took one ball in and the guy had a sign like the ball is like, I don’t know, five euros or something like that.

[27:30] Tomi: So then I took the ball and I looked the ball and it was, uh. this opening day ball from 1993 from, uh, Marlins versus Dodgers. The first little, yeah,

[27:42] Anna: ha ha ha ha ha ha

[27:44] Tomi: I just had to bought, I just had to bought the ball. So I have it, I have it in the cabin. So, but yeah, maybe it was some like higher connection. I 

[27:53] Anna: Yes, I would say so. I mean, that’s unreal. That’s unreal. That was in Finland. He had that 

[27:59] Tomi: it was.

[28:00] Tomi: Yeah, it was, it was in Finland, like, uh, like this really small town has, uh, like market during the summertime. So there was probably some guy who had lived, uh, probably in Florida or something. He had a lot of like, he had bats and gloves and everything that he was selling. So I think he was. Like on his summer holiday in Finland, and he just came to the, to the market to, to sell his stuff.

[28:27] Anna: that’s cool. Tomi, where do people find you online if they want to, um, you know, read some of the the stories we were talking about or if there are any Finnish speakers, we should point them in the the direction of, um, the podcast, too.

[28:41] Tomi: So, yeah, uh, I’m on Twitter, uh, at the cork, uh, Marky, and You can find our podcast in Spotify and Apple podcast and everything we are under. baseball terapia. So that’s where you can find, uh, if you want to learn Finnish. So about baseball.

[29:01] Anna: Yeah, I 

[29:02] Anna: love that. 

[29:03] Anna: Well, Tomi, I can’t thank you enough for making time to do this. This was so fun. I mean, uh, it’s, it’s obviously dark where you are. I think it’s nighttime. I’m sitting, it’s not even lunchtime here where I am, so, but I love that baseball brought us together.

[29:16] Tomi: Yes. Thank you. It was super fun. So, and this is what I love about. The baseball community, mostly because every everybody I have countered in during this like seven years. So it has been super cool to meet new people. And like, everybody seems to be like really friendly. And I think it’s, it’s because you cannot fake that you like baseball.

[29:41] Tomi: Like, I think that’s, that’s the most common thing. That’s. You see, if somebody fakes that they like baseball, so that’s what I, yeah,

[29:49] Anna: That’s so true. There’s too much to keep up with for it to be, to be fake.

[29:55] Anna: Well, Tomi, thank you so much. I really, really 

[29:57] Tomi: yes, Thank you.

[30:01] Anna: And that will wrap up this episode of the Baseball Bucket List Podcast. Special thanks to Tomi Korkeamaki for joinng us today all the way from Finland to share those stories and memories. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, if you think you might like to be a guest on the show, head to baseballbucketlist.com/podcast and fill out an application. I’d absolutely love to hear from you. And if you find yourself enjoying the show each week, please take a moment to rate and review it in the podcast app of your choice. That really goes a long way in helping share the goodness of baseball by getting the show in front of new listeners. And, I would really appreciate it. That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you next episode.

More Episodes:


Leave a Reply