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The Tear that Wiped the `21 Year Long Sorrow` Away

Posted November. 11, 2002 22:57,   


It was the evening of the 10th, when the Samsung won its first ever Korean Series trophy in 21 years with a good-bye homerun by Ma, Hae-Yong. Unlike the players who were enjoying the moment, there was a person weeping in the second floor of the Daegu Ball Park.

The one always remembered this time of the year, every year. Some called him `the ill-fortuned pitcher` and some called him the origin of the Samsung jinx, which could not win one single Korean Series.

He is the pitching coach of the Samsung 2nd Squad, Lee, Sun-Hee (47). He had a stoic life for the last 20 years. Therefore, the emotion of witnessing the first Korean Series win by Samsung must be different. He, who we met at the Gyongsan Ball Park on the 11th, seemed to have more gray hairs.

“I tried really hard to take the win with a serene state of mind. But it was difficult. It has been 21 years already. The weight of the times rushed into me.”

By the time, when the Pro Baseball started in Korea in 1982, the lefty pitcher Lee, Sun-Hee`s reputation was up to the sky. Starting the Seoul Asian Championship in 1975 and Nicaragua Intercontinental Cup, and to the Tokyo World Championship, Korea enjoyed consecutive wins against Japan because of him.

Especially, in the Intercontinental Cup in 1977, due to his excellent plays sweeping the MVP, Most Wins, and Most Saves, the rookie national team manager Kim, Eung-Ryong could tasted his first championship. Lee, Sun-Hee, who won the first and only Korean National Athlete`s Award as a baseball player, was the best pitcher of the time.

When he joined the pro, he received the best treatment except Park, Chul-Soon of OB, who just returned from America, with the signing bonus of 15 million won and the yearly salary of 18 million won.

However, it was too good to be true. Lee, Sun-Hee`s father past away just one day before the Founding Ceremony of the Samsung Ball Club on February 1982, so he had to wear a white carnation on his chest. Was it a sign of ill fortune? He gave up the rare record of game winning grand slam to Lee, Jong-Do of MBC at the 10th inning in the historical Pro Baseball opener on March 27th, and gave up yet another game winning grand slam to Kim, Yu-Dong at the 9th inning of the Game Six of the Korean Series, and disappeared in to the shadow. Although he had excellent record this season with 15 wins 7 losses, 1 save, and 2.91 ERA, but no one recognized it. His ill fortune started like that. He finally traded with Lee, Hae-Chang of MBC and left his home, Dae-Gu in 1985.

“Everyone says sorry. However, it was all right for pitchers to allow one or two homeruns. But in my case, I allowed too dramatic homeruns. However, the Korean Pro Baseball had advanced by 10 years because of me.”

He finally took off his burden, which constrained him for more than 20 years, with two homeruns by Lee, Seung-Yup and Ma, Hae-Young in the 9th inning that gave the first ever Championship to the Samsung. He flew away the tag of ill-fortuned pitcher and the cynical remarks of the origin of the jinx. Now, he can smile big.

Hwan-Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com