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Chung Soo-geun Shines Brightest

Posted July. 18, 2004 22:12,   


The “imported segul” Chung Soo-geun (see photo), 28, has become the new “Mr. All-Star” of Lotte. Busan baseball fans of “Kudo” could forget their sorrow of the four consecutive years of being last in the competition, even though it was only for one day.

Chung played in Saturday’s 2004 Pro Baseball All-Star Game in Busan Sajik Stadium as a senior player of the east group and top batter. He made an excellent showing with a total of three out of five hits and two out of three runs batted in, including two two-base hits, leading his team to a 7-3 victory. He won over Samsung’s Yang Jun-hyuk, who also recorded three short hits and two RBIs, with 54 out of 69 votes in a poll among press reporters.

He became the eighth Mr. All-Star of Lotte, following Kim Yong-hee (1982 and 1984), Huh Kyu-ok (1989), Kim Min-ho (1990), Kim Eung-gook (1991), and Park Jung-tae (1998, 1999).

Chung stole two bases after his right-center hit from Song Jin-woo, Hanhwa’s pitcher, in the end of the first inning, and stepped on home plate when Yang Jun-hyuk bit a hit to give his team its first run. In the second inning, where his team was advancing 2-0, with two outs and two bases, he made a two-base hit that flew into the center-right outfield. In the sixth inning, with his team advancing 5-3 at no outs and two bases, he made a two-base hit that went over the right outfielder to confirm his team’s victory.

In doing so, Chung recovered the honor he once lost. He was winning the most votes in six consecutive weeks and then lost to LG catcher Cho In-sung due to frequent injuries that lowered his batting average to 0.274 (below 30 in the rankings).

Last winter, Chung Soo-geun transferred from Doosan as a free agent. He expressed his feelings, saying, “Lotte finished the first half of the game with the lowest ranking and I was feeling sad. This award is the best so far I have received. I will try even harder next time and become the best first hitter.”

In the home-run race, it happened unexpectedly that LG’s Park Yong-taek beat Hyundai’s Broomba to become the all-star homerun king. With 10 players in the preliminary game, he recorded six home runs and shared the second rank with Kia’s Ma Hae-young, following Broomba in the first rank with 10 home runs. Chung won in the tiebreaker and played in the final game, where he bested Broomba, 4-3. For the first ball, Choi Dong-won, the “iron arm” who led Lotte during its best time with four victories in the 1984 Korean Series without any relief pitcher, appeared in the all-star game for the first time as a pro and received cheers from home fans. Choi showed his still-shining skill by throwing a fastball of 101 kph, the fastest in the history of first balls, against the mitt of Doosan catcher Hong Sung-heun.

Hwan Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com