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“Next Year Is Ours”

Posted July. 08, 2005 05:19,   


“Don’t be complacent. We start again tomorrow.”

Hong Sang-uk, the manager of Seongnam Seo High School’s baseball team, said the above to his players who won a victory in the semifinals of the 59th Gold Lion National High School Baseball Championships. He was worried about his players loosening up after having achieved more than the goal they set, which was entry into the semifinals.

Manager Hong’s dedication and his players’ rigorous training have been sensational because their advance to the finals was beyond expectations, considering that it’s been only eight years since the school’s foundation and it has only two senior players.

The team used a city playground run by Seongnam City. Even though they were faced with such poor playing conditions, their enthusiasm and spirit didn’t die down. Seongnam Seo High School, which was a virtually unknown team, had difficulty in securing players while good players flocked to prestigious baseball high schools which sometimes send players straight to professional teams.

Manager Hong, appointed two years ago, visited wherever baseball middle school championships were held to scout potential players. Hong scouted all of Seongnam Seo’s current team members.

The team’s spirited players went through six hours of rigorous training a day, twice that of other schools. Shin Min-cheol, a catcher whose hit capped a late-inning rally in the semifinals, often took 300-400 swings in batting practice before going to bed. In the process, Seongnam Seo has turned itself into a strong team. Scouts said unanimously that they look forward to how well they will perform next year.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com