To even the most enthusiastic baseball fans, it is a difficult question what situations a "fielder`s choice" can be applied to. The National Institute of the Korean Language`s Standard Korean Language Dictionary defines a fielder`s choice as "plays in which a fielder makes a failed attempt to put out a preceding baserunner in a situation where a throw to the first base can put out the hitter, allowing both the hitter and runner to remain on the bases."
In the professional baseball match between the Hanwha Eagles and the LG Twins on Tuesday, Nyjer Morgan of the Eagles came at bat with all bases full in a 3-3 tie at the bottom of the 11th inning. He hit the first pitch by Twins pitcher Bong Jung-keun, sending the ball between the third baseman and the shortstop. Twins shortstop Oh Ji-hwan caught and hurled the ball to the home plate, only to let third-base runner Lee Yong-kyu score safely and end the game.
The situation sounds exactly like the dictionary definition, as the shortstop made a failed attempt to a preceding runner and allowed both the runner and hitter to touch base safely. However, the play was recorded as an infield hit. Consequently, Morgan hit his first game-ending hit since his debut in Korean pro-baseball.
Kim Je-won, head of the Korea Baseball Organization`s record-keeping committee, explained why the panel made the decision. "Considering the Twins shortstop barely caught the ball and Morgan is a faster runner, we decided that the fielder would have been unable to put out the hitter even though he had thrown the ball to the first base. The principle is that when ambiguous, we make a decision favorable to the hitter."
In fact, the shortstop did not have any other choice. Even if he had cast the ball to the first base and put out Morgan, the game would still have ended in the Eagles` victory had Lee scored.