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Rath Becomes a Star

Posted September. 01, 2004 22:06,   


A baggy uniform, sparse hair, and not much of a fastball that clocks in the upper 130 kmph – the first impression of Doosan pitcher Gary Rath, 31, is certainly not impressive. However, he is a very clever pitcher. Using a diverse arsenal, he catches batters off-guard, and has masterful game management ability, showing that he knows what pitching is.

Rath has experienced Asian baseball for four years now. He signed up with the Kia Tigers back in 2001 and started a new career in Korea. His first year with Kia, however, was not satisfactory with the team, which released him after he posted only seven wins. Former Doosan manager Kim In-sik was interested in him, though, and he pitched for the Doosan Bears in 2002.

After changing teams, a mediocre Rath suddenly succeeded in posting 16 wins and eight losses. Thanks to his excellent performance in Doosan, in 2003 he moved to Japan’s most elite team, the Yomiuri Giants, and his status jumped to another level as a result.

Unfortunately for him, he only won two games for the Giants. He sustained an injury early in the season and was demoted to minors, and after the season ended, he was once again released.

He might have been destined to play for Doosan, since they picked him up again. This season, his record is 13 wins and eight losses, and he leads the league in the victories. It is funny that when playing with other teams, his performance is poor, but when he pitches for Doosan, he is superb, winning 29 games in a span of two seasons. He is a “Doosan-man” made for the team.

In his game against SK on August 31 at Jamsil Stadium, he used various pitches ranging from a sinker, a slider, and a change-up among others to hold SK’s lineup to two hits and no runs over 7 2/3 innings. Although he did not get the win because the relievers allowed the game to be tied, his pitching was the cornerstone of Doosan’s 3-2 win over SK.

After the game, Doosan manager Kim Kyung-moon said, “Most of all, I regret that the team could not protect Rath’s victory.”

The words of Kim represent the confidence that the coaching staff and other players have in Rath. He gets along with teammates and is not entangled in incidents like other foreign players – in all, he is a foreign player whom all managers envy.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com