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Song to Follow in Footsteps of Big Leaguer Suh

Posted June. 24, 2003 21:57,   


Song Seung-joon, a 23-year-old Korean player with the Montreal Expos, is known as the son at the kimbab store (kimbab is seaweed-rolled rice with vegetable). It is because his parents run a small restaurant that serves kimbab 24 hours a day. As the only son of the hard-working couple, Song also rolls kimbab and delivers them when he comes back to visit home.

Back in the U.S., his teammates call him a `psycho`. They say he just look like a guy crazy about exercise when he is in uniform. Like his nickname, he has been pitching like crazy this year.

He became the first Korean `no hit` major-league pitcher on April 28 at a AA game. Although he made a mistake and allowed one point in the ninth inning, he did not allow a single hit during the game, giving only two four-balls.

After the game, home fans gave a standing ovation for the young Korean pitcher just as his teammates tossed him shoulder high. He was a hero in the small town of Harrisburg on the day.

Having made impressive pitches in the AA league – he scored five wins and two losses and 44 strike outs, allowing only 2.34 points, Song was bumped up to AAA on June 13, where he has so far scored two wins in 11 innings allowing only 1.64 points. He has been doing so well that chances of his entering the big league in the coming September are big.

Then good news came on June 24. He will play for the all-star `Future`s Game` to be held in U.S. Cellular Field, the home ground of the Chicago White Sox, on July 14. This is the third consecutive time for Song to join the all-star game.

The `Future`s Game` is one of major league all-star events, in which the most promising minor league players compete in two teams of the U.S. and the World Team. Choi Hee-sup of the Chicago Cups and Suh Jae-eung of the New York Mets also went through this 7-inning game.

Song, who pitched one inning allowing no score in 2001 and 2002, said in a telephone interview, “My agent Steve Kim told me the news. It is an honor that I can play in the big game for the third consecutive year.”

He has yet to steal attention of baseball fans back at home despite impressive track records. Song led his team to two championship titles in 1998 as right-hand pitcher at Gyeongnam High School. The following year, he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox after graduation and traded to Montreal Expos in July last year with Kim Sun-woo.

He throws straight balls at 90 to 92 mile (140km) speeds and curve balls with sharp edges.

“I pledged to myself when I came here in 1999 that I would make one step further every year,” said Song. He is not eager to enter the major league as soon as possible. He believes that the longer you stay in minor leagues, the better chances of success you will have in the major.

“I will make steady but firm steps toward the ultimate goal,” Song said of his long-term plan.