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MVP Bae Young-soo

Posted November. 08, 2004 23:04,   


“Bae. Young. Soo.” The three syllables of his name were called.

Bae, the 23-year-old Samsung pitcher, jumped out of his seat and took a slow walk up to the podium. One step, two … It was exactly 10 steps to the place upon the podium for him. His face lit up with a big smile.

Bae held up the golden ball trophy, which cost roughly 20 million won, high into the sky after Park Yong-oh, president of the Korean Baseball Organization, handed it to him. It was reminiscent of the fourth-round match in front of Daegu fans shouting “Bae Young-soo” when he pitched the tenth inning and allowed no hits. The flood of camera flashes captured the moment of glory on the podium.

Bae started baseball when he was in grade three at Chilsung Elementary School in Daegu. The boy had a picture of Seon Dong-ryul, the best pitcher of the time, in his locker and looked at the picture everyday. “I will be the best pitcher like you someday. Please help me.”

Ten years have passed since then.

The boy was taught once by Seon Dong-ryul, his dream player. In his third years as the Samsung Lions in 2002, Bae met Seon at a spring camp in Hawaii as Seon was visiting different teams and coaching different players at their camps as a KBO public relations officer.

Bae said he learned how to set his glove in his hand when throwing the ball, how to throw a good slider, how to face batters, and many other skills during that time. Seon also particularly favored Bae among Samsung pitchers.

In 2004, Bae, a still unpolished gem, now has wings on his back as Seon joined his team as the new chief coach. Now he can serve him as a “real teacher.”

Bae recorded 17 victories and two defeats this season with a 2.61 earned run average, and topped two overall pitching areas, winning rate (.895) and most winnings. He was third in best earned run average and fourth in strikeouts (144 strikeouts), and had an overall high ranking in all pitching areas. He also adorned a page in Korean professional baseball history with his perfect pitching with no runs and no hits during the extended innings at the Korean Series fourth-round match with Hyundai in Daegu on October 24.

“It is a bit embarrassing to say this, but I want to break every national record in pitching. I bet they are all Seon’s,” said Bae with a smile.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com