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President Park throws surprise first pitch

Posted October. 28, 2013 02:11,   


President Park Geun-hye appeared at the central entrance of Jamsil Baseball Stadium about 15 minutes before the start of the game at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The president was welcomed by Koo Bon-neung, commissioner of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), and Yang Hae-young, the KBO’s secretary-general, and appeared on the ground from an aisle behind the third base. People dressed up as characters surrounding the president were in fact her bodyguards.

President Park threw out the first ball at Jamsil Baseball Stadium before Game 3 of the Korean Series between the Doosan Bears and the Samsung Lions. She wore a black shirt reading “KOREA SERIES” and sneakers, and headed for the mound with a glove bearing a Korean national flag. President Park stepped on the mound at the guidance of Na Gwang-nam, the chief referee. She threw out a ball to Bae Young-seop, the top hitter of the Lions, and Choi Jae-hoon, the catcher of the Bears, took the ball.

President Park’s first pitch was suddenly decided on Sunday morning. A KBS source said, “After requesting the presidential office two weeks ago, we got a call this morning. For the case where the president throws out a ball, we sent a shirt and a glove for her to the presidential office. Had the president not shown up, Mo Yeon-hee, 73, Korea’s first professional baseball announcer, would have thrown out a ball. After the first pitch, President Park moved to the designated box in the center. She watched the game until the end of the second inning with the baseball team players of Eonbuk Middle School until leaving the stadium.

President Park and other three presidents threw out a ball at the Korean Series. Former President Chun Doo-hwan tossed out his first ball at the opening of the Korean Series at the Dongdaemun Stadium in 1982, the beginning year of the Korean professional baseball league. Former President Kim Young-sam threw out the first ball three times at the opening of the Korean Series in 1994 and 1995, and the opening of the regular season in April 1995. Former President Roh Moo-hyun threw out a ball at the opening of the All Star Game at Daejeon Stadium on July 17, 2003. Former President Lee Myung-bak watched a game with his family at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in September 2011 but did not throw a ball. The president’s first pitch is in a decade since President Roh. U.S. presidents often throw out the first ball at a baseball game including President Obama, a White Sox fan. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played a role as a referee at the ceremonial first pitch at Tokyo Dom on May 5 this year.

The presidential office said that it could not inform the KBO that it was considering the president’s first pitch because of the security issue. A presidential office source said, “The decision was made late because a stadium is one of the most vulnerable places in terms of security for the president. President Park had a strong will to watch the game with the people.” Kim Kwon-young, the spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Party, said in a briefing, “It is so regrettable that the president headed for the baseball stadium where the people are paying attention in an effort to turn around her falling approval rating. Our concern is that the president’s first pitch could be seen an irresponsible behavior, which is idling and turning away from the complicated political situation, instead of making the people feel better.”