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Historical past of baseball in South Korea

Baseball has become an integral part of South Korean culture since its introduction to the area more than a century ago, growing into a beloved pastime with unique customs and a fervent fan base. Philip L. Gillett, an American missionary with the YMCA, is credited with bringing baseball to Seoul in 1905, though there are

Historical past of baseball in South Korea

Baseball has turn out to be an integral a part of South Korean tradition since its introduction to the world greater than a century in the past, rising right into a beloved pastime with distinctive customs and a fervent fan base. Philip L. Gillett, an American missionary with the YMCA, is credited with bringing baseball to Seoul in 1905, although there are documented references to the game being performed on the Korean peninsula as early as 1894 or 1896.

Korea was below Japanese rule from 1910-45, a interval when baseball started to flourish in Japan. The game’s reputation additionally grew step by step in Korea throughout this time and continued to surge in South Korea after the peninsula was break up into two entities after World Struggle II. Nonetheless, it could nonetheless be many years earlier than the primary South Korean skilled baseball league was established.

On March 27, 1982, at Dongdaemun Baseball Stadium in Seoul, the MBC Chungyong defeated the Samsung Lions 11-7 within the Korea Baseball Group’s inaugural recreation. The KBO is now one of many highest-ranking baseball leagues on this planet, and baseball is South Korea’s hottest sport.

Chan Ho Park made his MLB debut for the Dodgers in 1994, turning into the primary South Korean-born Main Leaguer and blazing a path that has been adopted by dozens extra. In the meantime, the South Korean nationwide workforce has turn out to be a worldwide baseball energy, successful a number of Olympic medals — bronze on the 2000 Summer time Olympics in Sydney and gold on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing — and putting among the many high three in every of the primary two World Baseball Classics.

Here is a information to Korean baseball upfront of the 2023 World Baseball Basic.

WBSC Rank: 4

Final WBC look: 2017

Finest WBC end: 2009, 2nd place

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High present Main Leaguers:

Hyun Jin Ryu, LHP, Blue Jays

After seven years within the KBO, throughout which he made seven All-Star groups and have become the primary participant to win KBO MVP and Rookie of the 12 months in the identical season, Ryu made the bounce to Main League Baseball as a member of the Dodgers. The left-hander has appeared in components of 9 MLB seasons for Los Angeles and Toronto, posting a lifetime 3.27 ERA. In 2019, Ryu led the NL in ERA (2.32) and have become the primary Korean-born pitcher to start out an All-Star Sport.


Ha-Seong Kim, 2B/SS, Padres

A terrific defender, Kim signed with the Padres after the 2020 season and recorded a 3.7 WAR marketing campaign (per FanGraphs) for San Diego in 2022, taking on because the workforce’s beginning shortstop with Fernando Tatis Jr. sidelined for the complete 12 months.

Ji-Man Choi, 1B, Pirates

Though he was born in Incheon, South Korea, Choi by no means performed skilled baseball within the nation, as he was signed by Seattle previous to the 2010 season. After spending time within the Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Yankees and Brewers organizations, Choi discovered a house with the Rays in 2018. The primary baseman produced 52 homers, 203 RBIs and a .783 OPS over 414 video games for Tampa Bay earlier than being traded to Pittsburgh in 2022.

Well-known former Korean gamers

Lee Seung-yuop, 1B

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Among the best gamers in KBO historical past, Lee holds league information for homers, RBIs, runs and whole bases. He received 5 KBO MVP Awards and 4 Korean Sequence championships throughout his profession, and he earned a gold medal on the 2008 Summer time Olympics. Lee additionally hung out taking part in in Japan and tallied 646 profession homers between the KBO and NPB. He was named supervisor of the Doosan Bears in 2022.

Chan Ho Park, RHP


The primary Korean-born participant in Main League Baseball historical past, Park logged a number of 200-strikeout seasons and made an All-Star workforce in 2001 as a member of the Dodgers earlier than signing a five-year, $65 million take care of the Rangers in free company. He bounced round later in his profession, taking part in for the Padres, Mets, Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees and Pirates. Park can be identified for being on the unsuitable facet of some historic moments, permitting two grand slams in a single inning to Fernando Tatis in 1999, giving up Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 71st dwelling run (in addition to his 72nd homer) in 2001 and tossing up Cal Ripken Jr.’s ultimate All-Star Sport dinger. The suitable-hander completed his MLB profession with a 4.36 ERA and 1,715 Ok’s over 1,993 innings.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

Choo, who remains to be an lively participant within the KBO, spent 16 years within the Majors from 2005-20, making appearances for Seattle, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Texas. A multidimensional offensive participant with a profession .275/.377/.447 slash, Choo tallied seven 20-homer seasons and reached the 20-steal plateau 4 occasions. He made the All-Star workforce with the Rangers in 2018, turning into the primary Korean-born place participant to earn an All-Star nod.

Hee-Seop Choi, 1B

Six Korean-born pitchers appeared within the Majors earlier than Choi turned the primary place participant from Korea to play for an MLB workforce in 2002. The primary baseman performed for the Cubs, Marlins and Dodgers and produced 40 homers, 120 RBIs and a .786 OPS over 363 video games. Though he solely performed in MLB for 4 seasons, Choi was concerned in two high-profile trades, going from the Cubs to the Marlins with Mike Nannini for Derrek Lee in November 2003, and from the Marlins to the Dodgers together with Brad Penny and Invoice Murphy for Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota in July 2004.

Seunghwan Oh, RHP

Oh has recorded practically 500 saves and counting throughout knowledgeable profession that has spanned 18 seasons and three leagues. The all-time KBO chief with 370 saves, and a five-time Korean Sequence champion, Oh additionally spent a while in Japan’s Nippon Skilled Baseball earlier than taking part in 4 seasons within the Majors for the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Rockies. He returned to the KBO in 2020.

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Main moments in Korean Baseball Historical past

2000: Olympic bronze medalist

South Korea didn’t qualify when baseball debuted as a medal sport on the 1992 Summer time Olympics in Barcelona, and the nation completed eighth on the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. However the South Korean workforce introduced itself as a serious participant on the worldwide stage 4 years later in Sydney, medaling in baseball for the primary time with a win over Japan within the bronze medal recreation.

2008: Olympic gold medalist

Eight years after incomes bronze on the 2000 Summer time Olympics and two years after putting third on the inaugural World Baseball Basic, South Korean baseball reached a brand new pinnacle with a gold medal win on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. After edging Japan with a late rally within the semifinals, the South Korean workforce defeated Cuba 3-2 within the gold medal recreation behind a gem from Hyun Jin Ryu.

2009: Runner-up on the World Baseball Basic

The South Korean workforce practically pulled off an Olympic gold medal and a World Baseball Basic championship in consecutive years, but it surely got here up simply quick in opposition to the defending WBC champion, Japan, within the ultimate spherical, falling in extras after Ichiro Suzuki delivered a tiebreaking two-run single with two outs within the high of the tenth inning.


Korea’s skilled league: Korea Baseball Group

The Korea Baseball Group is technically a governing physique that oversees the KBO League and the KBO Futures League, however the top-level KBO League is often known as the KBO. Based in 1982 with six constitution groups, the KBO at the moment consists of those 10 golf equipment:

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Doosan Bears, Hanwha Eagles, Kia Tigers, Kiwoom Heroes, KT Wiz, LG Twins, Lotte Giants, NC Dinos, Samsung Lions, SSG Landers

Every workforce performs a 144-game common season, and the membership that finishes in first place on the finish of the common season receives an automated bye to the best-of-seven Korean Sequence.

In the meantime, the fourth- and fifth-place groups play a Wild Card matchup (the fourth-place workforce begins with a 1-0 sequence lead, so the fifth-place workforce should win twice to advance) for the chance to advance to the semi-playoff spherical, a best-of-five sequence in opposition to the third-place workforce. The winner of the semi-playoff spherical advances to the playoff spherical to play the second-place workforce in a best-of-five sequence, with the winner of the playoff advancing to the Korean Sequence to play the first-place workforce.

The Kia Tigers are probably the most profitable workforce in KBO historical past, successful all 11 Korean Sequence wherein they’ve participated. Nonetheless, 9 of their championships got here previous to 2000. The Samsung Lions (eight whole championships) have dominated the twenty first century with seven titles, together with 4 straight from 2011-14.

Korea’s well-known ballparks

Jamsil Baseball Stadium

The house of each the LG Twins and Doosan Bears, Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul has a capability of 25,000 — the biggest of any ballpark within the KBO. It’s a part of the Seoul Sports activities Advanced, which was constructed for the 1986 Asian Video games and the 1988 Summer time Olympics.


Gocheok Sky Dome

Gocheok Sky Dome opened in 2015, serving as a substitute for Dongdaemun Baseball Stadium (demolished in 2017) in Seoul. It’s the present dwelling of the Kiwoom Heroes and hosted Pool A video games within the first spherical of the 2017 World Baseball Basic.

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Dongdaemun Baseball Stadium

This was a multi-purpose stadium in Seoul that opened in 1959 and hosted the primary skilled baseball recreation within the nation’s historical past. The inaugural KBO recreation noticed the MBC Chungyong defeat the Samsung Lions 11-7 on March 27, 1982. The stadium was demolished in 2007 and changed by the Gocheok Sky Dome.

Distinctive meals/actions at video games

South Korea’s passionate “cheering tradition” is a giant a part of the baseball expertise, typically making video games appear extra like a rock live performance than a sporting occasion. Although every fan base places its personal spin on cheering, sections filled with followers sporting workforce uniform shirts and wielding noise-making balloon sticks are frequent throughout the KBO, whereas cheerleaders hype up the gang. Followers additionally sing struggle songs, creating private tunes for every batter.

Meals performs an vital half in cheer tradition, too, with video games providing a variety of selections to boost the expertise. Followers can normally order meals proper from their seats. Chimaek, a pairing of fried hen and beer, is a typical choice, and each ballpark additionally has distinctive choices that characterize the native delicacies.

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