From professional release to labor to reentry…15 years later, Korean baseball history is made

He was once a catcher who couldn’t throw the ball. As a high school rookie catcher, he would freeze up when throwing to senior infielders, and his throws to second base would go straight to center field. Even when I switched positions to first base and outfield, I was still throwing bad pitches and fumbling around trying to find the drop zone. His offense was solid, but his defense was clueless, and he was eventually released from the team. That was in September 2004. Nearly 19 years later, the desperate young man changed the course of Korean baseball history. He is Choi Hyung-woo, 39, of the Kia Tigers. 토토사이트

Choi was drafted by the Samsung Lions with the 48th overall pick in the second round. Over the next three years (1999-2001), he batted .313 (15-for-48) with three home runs and nine RBIs. It was a time when “I didn’t have any role models, I didn’t have the mentality of, ‘I’m going to make it in baseball,'” he says. But after his first professional release, he had an awakening. After working odd jobs, he tried out for the first police baseball team that year. He was accepted as a catcher, but after confessing his pitching problems to the manager, he switched to the outfield. In 2007, he won first place in the Futures (second team) league in all fields except stolen bases (seven titles). Samsung, the team that had turned him down, reached out to him again, and he put his stamp on the contract because he wanted to “succeed where I started my professional career.” In 2008, he was back at the starting lineup.

He made his professional debut in 2002, but his first at-bat in the big leagues came on April 1, 2008. With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the 10th inning, he hit a two-run shot to center field off LG Twins pitcher Jung Jae-bok. It was the first home run of his professional career, coming just four at-bats into his first season. Choi Hyung-woo curiously exclaimed in a postgame interview at the time. “Please remember my name!” As he hoped, his name is now unforgettable.

His first RBI six years after his professional debut took 15 years to accumulate, creating a new KBO history. Choi hit an RBI single to center field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning against the NC Dinos of the 2023 KBO League at Gwangju Gia Champions Field on April 17, with his team trailing 6-10. It was his 37th RBI of the season and 1498th of his career. Tied Doosan Bears manager Lee Seung-yeop, who was dubbed the “National Hitter” during his playing days, for the most RBIs in a career. It’s the culmination of seven seasons of triple-digit RBIs, including five consecutive 100-RBI seasons (2014-2018). He also led the league in RBIs in 2011 and 2016.

Choi also has the most walk-off hits (163 in 13 days) among players from 10 different clubs since 2010, when walk-off hits were officially tracked. This is quite a distance from second-place Kim Hyun-soo (145 shots-LG) and third-place Choi Jung (134 shots-SSG Landers). It’s a testament to his strength in key clutch situations 메이저놀이터순위.

Choi became a free agent at the end of 2016 and signed a four-year, 10 billion won contract with Kia (4 billion won in signing bonus and 1.5 billion won in annual salary), ushering in the era of triple-digit free agent contracts. In December 2020, he re-signed with Kia again for three years and 4.7 billion won in total, and this is his final contract season. As of April 18, he is batting .308 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs, a performance that belies his age.

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