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Ex-home run king takes over Korean pro baseball champs

Posted August. 19, 2011 05:02,   


“I still don’t know what to say. I feel mystified.”

This is what Lee Man-soo said Thursday after replacing Kim Sung-keun as manager of the Korean pro baseball champions Incheon SK Wyverns. Kim abruptly resigned from his post after winning three league titles.

The job is Lee`s first as a pro baseball manager job since his retirement as a player in 1997.

Lee was in Daejeon for a Futures League game against the hometown Hanwha Eagles before he hurriedly went to Incheon. He has to lead the Wyverns in home games against the Daegu Samsung Lions at Munhak Stadium.

SK ranked third in the league standings as of Wednesday, 5.5 games behind Samsung and one game behind the Gwangju Kia Tigers.

“I feel a heavy burden but I`ll overcome difficulties,” Lee said, referring to his determination to follow Kim’s stellar achievements. SK advanced to the Korean Series for four consecutive years under Kim, winning three times.

“What is most urgent is to gather the minds of players. If they get united, we can reach the top again,” Lee said.

The new SK manager pledged to maximize every player’s strengths. When coaching the second-string team, he tried to imbue confidence into players.

When a pitcher lost a game, Lee encouraged him by saying, “You were perfect before giving up a run.”

He said the role of a manager is to help players fully demonstrate their own skills.

Called “Hulk” in his playing days because he celebrated a homer by raising his both arms, Lee played for Samsung from 1982 through 1997. He was the league home run king for three straight years from 1983 to 1985.

In 1984, he captured the Triple Crown of hitters with a batting average of .340, 23 homers and 80 runs batted in.

For his career, he batted .264 with 252 home runs and 861 RBIs.

Lee also underwent training to become a manager. In 1988, he began coaching Single-A for the minor league team of the Cleveland Indians. In 2005, he became the first Korean to wear a World Series ring as a coach for the Chicago White Sox.

Lee said, “I’d like to graft the advanced baseball I`ve learned over the past 10 years in the U.S. to Korean baseball.”

He added that he wants to add autonomy to the organizational power his predecessor Kim established.