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Are High School Pitchers Overworked?

Posted July. 07, 2006 03:28,   


High school baseball was riddled with suspicions of overworking the pitchers. However, during the Golden Lion Pennant National High School Baseball Tournament, the number of pitches per pitcher has decreased dramatically.

Of the 23 games that have been held until July 5, the highest number of pitches by one pitcher was 136, by Kim Seong-hyeon of Jeju Tourism Industry High School, during the first round against Gyeongdong High School.

There weren’t many pitchers who threw more than 100 pitches, and the pitchers who played the whole game threw 120-130 balls. Many teams used starting pitchers, middle relievers and closers, like in professional baseball games. Another reason is that only a few games went into overtime.

During the Blue Dragon Pennant High School Baseball Tournament in May, runner-up Gwangju Jinheung High School had pitcher Jeong Yeong-il throw 222 pitches during 15 innings of the final game. The total number of balls he threw during the tournament was a whopping 741 balls.

Champion Gyeongnam High School’s pitcher Lee Sang-hwa was on the mound four times and pitched 47 innings. Ansan Technical High School’s Kim Gwang-hyeon threw 226 balls during 15 innings during the second round match against Jeonju High School. These cases spurred controversy about overuse of pitchers.

The aforementioned three schools did not enter the Golden Lion Pennant National High School Baseball Tournament, but as the over-pitching has become an issue, it is expected that the leaders of high school baseball will look out for the long-term interests of pitchers, protecting the arms of the young pitchers.

The Korea Baseball Association limited a single pitcher from pitching for more than five innings in a high school baseball match two years ago. However as baseball records become more important, the regulation has been widely ignored. Meanwhile, last month Democratic Labor Party’s Roh Hoe-chan announced that he would request the National Human Rights Commission to make investigation into the overuse of high school pitchers.

Seung-Kun Lee why@donga.com