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Slugger Lee Places Family Before Baseball

Posted March. 05, 2007 07:05,   


It was very easy to find Lee Seung-yeop (31) at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome. There were no more than three players who pulled their tights up to their knees, and Lee was the one with the most robust physique among them.

The cleanup hitter of Japan’s most popular team, the Yomiuri Giants, is the best-paid player in Japan. He receives an estimated 650 million yen, or 5.2 billion won, a year (the exact amount has not been disclosed). But he still sticks to his particular way of wearing socks, which most other players shun as being too “old school.” When asked about the reason, he answered, “Because I did well wearing my socks like this last year.” After a second, he added another hidden intention. “Wearing your stockings over your pants makes you look fit. It gives you a more threatening and powerful visual in front of the pitchers you’re contending with.”

I nodded in agreement. He looks much more confident and composed than he did last year. I interviewed him during an exhibition game tour in Fukuoka against the Softbank Hawks on March 3 and 4. He made some word-association remarks based on keywords I gave him.

-Best player

“I do receive the highest salary, but I’m not the best yet. I’m struggling to be it.”


“Baseball is the second most important thing in my life. The first would be my family (wife Lee Song-jeong and son Eun-hyeok). I’m sorry to say this to my beloved occupation, but without my family, baseball is meaningless.”


“Many think that I’m having fun playing baseball, because my stats are good. In fact, however, it is very arduous and painful. The more I get into it, the more exhausted I become. There’s no personal life when you have training everyday. We have an off-season for about four months, and it is by no means a break. You need to work even harder.”

-Coping with stress

“I manage to hang in there thanks to my fans. There is nothing more thrilling to me than the spectators’ applause. It’s what I play for. I don’t drink, smoke or gamble at all. Coming home and seeing my family relieves all of my stress.”


“I have been steadily undergoing weight training programs for the last three years. I feel I am in way better condition than I was. I regret that I didn’t start earlier. It would have been better if I had embarked on it in my early 20s.”


“I’m already 32, according to the Korean method of age reckoning. There are far fewer days ahead of me than behind me in my career. I feel like it was yesterday that I debuted, but it has been 13 years already. I’m working hard so that I won’t regret my retirement.”


“There are so many things that I desire to accomplish because I realize that I have so little time left to play. I want to win a championship. I want to go to the Major Leagues and I also want to play in Korea again. I want to hit 50 homers and win a home run title, too. Like many others, it seems my greed is limitless.”