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Hanwha Eagles Flying High Thanks to Manager Kim In-shik

Posted September. 10, 2005 08:08,   


Kim In-shik (58), the manager of the Hanwha Eagles, is a man who resembles the village chief in the movie “Welcome to Dongmakgol.” He is a man who is barely noticeable, one who quibbles awkwardly, saying, “Anyhow, the village people should be given plenty to eat.”

He is making a sensation these days. He brought in Ji Yeon-kyu from his coaching position in Daejeon High School and turned him into an excellent closer (20 saves as of September 9), and kindled a fire in the unlucky and unwanted Cho Seong-min’s heart and made him achieve his emotional first win.

That is not all he has done. Kim In-cheol, who was abandoned by the Kia Tigers, is now one of his main batters (batting average .290) in Hanwha. But Kim In-shik still denies his role in his team’s resurgence. We met him at his hotel when he came to Incheon for Hanwha’s away game against SK on September 8.

“What is all the fuss about? You are embarrassing me. It is all to their credit; there is nothing I have done. I am called the ‘god of recycling’ and a ‘recycling factory owner?’ Somebody once handed me a copy of the ‘Kim In-shik parody’ that I heard is spreading around the Internet. I don’t know what to say” (laughs).

The “Kim In-shik parody” refers to a parody of the incident where Kim In-shik called Cho Seong-min, who was then a baseball commentator, and said, “What are you doing there? You should be playing baseball. I will send for you in due time, so start training.” Another version is of the rocker-turned baseball player Lee Sang-hoon, where this time Kim says, “A club is not where you belong. I will send for you in due time, so start training.”

Lions manager Sun Dong-ryul, Hanwha Eagles’ coach Choi Dong-won, and soccer player Lee Dong-gook also appear in other versions of the parody series.

Kim In-shik rarely speaks. During training, he walks around the field with his hands behind his back. He does not give off many signs during the match. At the beginning of the season, most experts predicted Hanwha to be one of the bottom teams in the league. As of September 9, however, Hanwha is ranked a solid fourth.

“A strategy without strategy is the best strategy. Whether the ball count is three balls or one strike and three balls, I tell the hitter to do whatever he wants. If I order strategy in that situation, the hitter is forced to swing even if a bad ball comes. A ball can be hit well only if the hitter is in a comfortable state of mind. I am most proud of the fact that Hanwha in currently the league leader in homeruns.”

He believes in his players. Even if a player continues to make errors, he bears it. He keeps worrying, but when that player inevitably does something right, he turns around and gives him a huge smile.

“When I was manager of the SBW Raiders, Kim Won-hyung (now with SK), who was then on a nine-game losing streak, faced off against Sun Dong-ryul, the best pitcher of that time, and won 1-0. The thought of it still excites me. I had wanted to bring him up as one of top pitchers for SBW. As expected, Kim Won-hyung was wonderful from then on.”

This is a manager who trusts a pitcher and sends him out to start a game even when he is on a nine-game losing streak. He is excellent at training people. It is said that praise can make a dolphin dance, but it seems that trust can even induce dancing from the dead.

Hwa-Sung Kim mars@donga.com