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Tough Haitai Gains Control of Baseball Top Management

Posted November. 12, 2004 23:08,   


This easily renders the team to be called the “Haitai Military Academy.”

The team we are referring to is Kia Tigers’ antecedent, Haitai Tigers. The Korean Baseball league is now being hauled on by former players from the highly reputed Haitai Tigers, the champion of nine Korean Series.

Until the team vanished in 2000, Haitai won nine times in the Korean Series, never losing once since the inception of professional baseball league for 19 years with 1,240 victories, 54 ties, and 1,021 defeats. The team produced star players such as Sun Dong-ryul, Lee Jong-bum, Kim Sung-han, Lee Sang-yoon, Kim Joon-hwan, Kim Bong-yun, and Kim Il-kwon.

These “Haitai” brand players are emerging once again as the “main power” in the world of baseball. There is Lee Sang-kook, the secretary general of Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Working his way up from a position of department chief at the beginning of the league to be the head of the team, the “Haitai Man” is now one of the real powers that hold the fate of Korean baseball, with his large circle of acquaintances not only in the field of baseball but also in the political sector

Though it scored only two wins in the series, Samsung Lions, a team recognized as one of the best with bold investments, great athlete lineups, and near-perfect training facilities, also has a number of Haitai people. Kim Eung-ryong and Sun Dong-ryul, the two regarded as the symbols of Haitai, now each hold full command over administration and the actual games of Samsung Lions with Kim being named as the chief executive officer (CEO) and Sun as the manager of the team.

As he is the first player to be assigned to the position of a CEO, his appointment to the new position holds a particularly great significance in that it lodges a new milestone for the Korean professional baseball community.

In the “Sun Dong-ryul Administration,” there are four more “Haitai” brand coaches starting from Han Dae-hwa as the head coach along with Kim Pyung-ho (major league defense coach), Lee Sang-yoon (minor league pitching coach), and Cho Choong-ryul (minor league defense coach). With all that said, “Lions” may just assume the name “Ligers” (Lions+Tigers).

With Manager Sun Dong-ryul taking over the command, now four out of eight professional baseball teams in Korea, including Hanhwa (Kim In-shik), Kia (Yu Nam-ho), LG (Lee Soon-chul), have a “Haitai Man” as their team manager. There are 18 “Haitai” Coaches in five teams excluding SK, Lotte, and Hyundai.

Secretary General Lee Sang-kook figures that the reason behind the prominence of these “Haitai Men” is “simply put, excellent management.” He explains that “they played for relatively longer compared to other teams, and they are mentally trained to perfection thanks to strict discipline in seniority among players.”

CEO Kim Eung-ryong said, “There was once a talk about a similar situation when the league had a number of players from Hanil Bank (mid 1980s, Kim Young-duhk, Kim Eung-ryong, Bae Sung-suh, Kang Byung-chul, and Sung Ki-young). ‘Haitai’ players have guts. At any rate, I am guessing that everyone is doing great because they have the nerves.”

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com