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A Break for High School Pitchers

Posted August. 03, 2004 22:06,   


Hyundai Unicorn’s coach Kim Sung-gap, 42, is only 1.68m tall and weighs 61kg. Nevertheless, old fans still cannot forget him because of his “peanut power” when he used to slug for the national baseball team while attending Gungook University.

Cho Hyu, 28, who used to play for LG, also has an awesome reputation. During his three years at Shinil High School, he hit more home runs than singles and earned intentional walks throughout the regional qualification games.

However, their performances in the professional league were well short of expectations. Kim at least played 11 seasons by becoming a contact hitter with only 14 homeruns in his career, while Cho, who stuck to his slugging style, became only a pinch-hitter and finished his four-year career while still in his twenties.

What changes in the pros made such brilliant players fail? The answer lies in the difference between aluminum and wood bats. In the upcoming “Bonghwang High School Baseball Tournament,” wood bats will be used, thus eliminating “intimidating” aluminum bats.

With the decision to use wood bats, high school baseball is expected to go through radical changes. First of all, it will give a break to pitchers who are pounded by aluminum bats. Wood bats reduce the ball’s flight distance by about 30 percent, converting home runs into regular fly balls.

Manager Yang Hoo-seung of Incheon High School predicts, “This decision will protect pitchers and improve hitting, defense, and base-running.”

KBS Sky Sports commentator Lee Yong-chul said, “Now games will not depend on big hits but rather on detailed tactics and among other things, games will also be shorter.”

Economically, an aluminum bat, which can be shared by all the hitters, might seem more fiscally prudent, but in reality that is not always the case. Managing Director of Max Sports, the Korean company with the highest share in the baseball bats market, Doh Sang-hoon said, “Nowadays, wood bats are very solid and when batters get used to them, they are less likely to break them.”

It is also fortunate that the International Baseball Federation allows “baum bats” made out of synthetic resin. Baum bats, which are used in U.S. rookie leagues, are as solid as aluminum bats.

Korean high school baseball used to have handball scores after the 90s, but with the introduction of wood bats, people now expect the advent of a new dominant pitcher.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com