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36-year-old Jang Jong-hoon Hits First Grand Slam Home Run In Four Years

36-year-old Jang Jong-hoon Hits First Grand Slam Home Run In Four Years

Posted June. 13, 2004 22:20,   


How long has it been?

Jang, Jong-hoon (36) of Hanwha, who is the “Man of Records” in Korean professional baseball with most game appearances (1903), most homeruns (336), most RBI (1131), most hits (1745) and various other records, hit a grand slam homerun for the first time in four years.

On the 13th during the game between LG and Hanwha at Jamsil Stadium with the game tied 0-0 in the first inning with two outs and the bases loaded Jang hit a 145km fastball off of LG ace pitcher Lee, Seung-ho over the left field wall for the game winning grand slam homerun. It was Jang’s first since April 18, 2000 against Suwon Hyundai.

It didn’t break foreign player Julio Franco’s record (previous Samsung player, 38 years, 11 months and two days old) for the oldest player to hit a grand slam in Korean professional baseball; however, it was good enough to be the oldest active player grand slam homerun.

After graduating from high school, he started his career with Binggrae (formerly Hanwha) as a non-drafted walk on player and through the present has played 18 seasons, which is a record for current active players. For that, Jang is regarded as a living legend.

However, he had been showing his age and had frequently lost his starting job for recent several years. He lost his first baseman’s position to the highly regarded prospect Kim Tae-keun and had been pinch hitting for the team. He was even sent down to the minors last month for 21 days.

On this day, he started as the designated hitter due to the fact that the starting pitcher was the left handed Lee Seung-ho. “I’m glad I was able to show something as a veteran,” said Jang. “In the future, I’ll do my best whether I start or pinch hit.”

Hanwha held on to the four runs it scored in the first inning, winning 4-2 and taking all three weekend games against LG for its third straight victory. Hanwha starting pitcher Song Chang-shik pitched well, going eight innings allowing two runs on four hits and becoming the wins leader among rookie pitchers with six (and three losses).

In Munhak Stadium, SK’s Park Kyung-won hit a long-awaited homerun. Park pinch hit in the sixth inning and hit his 19th homerun to close the homerun gap with the leader, Brumba (Hyundai 22 homeruns). It was his first since his game against Kia at Kwang Ju, 11 games before.

Sang-Soo Kim Jong-Seok Kim ssoo@donga.com kjs0123@donga.com