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Intimidating? Not at all!

Posted April. 21, 2007 03:13,   


Professional baseball player Lee Dae-ho of Lotte has a nickname “Big Boy,” so it is only natural that he plays for the Giants. He took batting practice with a foreign player, Jose, during the match with Samsung in Daegu on April 17-19. Lee, who is 6.3 feet high and 264 pounds, dwarfs Jose, who is also “beefy” with his 6-foot, 220 pound body.

Lee is in his prime, currently batting .425, with 17 hits, a slugging percentage of .750, and an on base percentage of .566 as of April 19, making him the best player on offense in the league. He has been ranked second with his three homeruns.

“I never had to fight to be No. 1 at school”–

Lee said, smiling, “I was never involved in a fight. I was big then, too. I never had to fight to become the strongest in school.” He looks as if he has had a care-free life, but looks can be deceiving. He gets “pouty” often, seeking attention, which he believes was lacking during his poor childhood. His father died when he was three, and after that his mother remarried. He was raised by his grandmother who was not well-to-do, selling doenjang (fermented soybean paste) in a market in Busan. She passed away when he was a second grader in high school. He said, “I didn’t have luxury of going astray and baseball was taking up all my energy.”

He started his career as a professional baseball player right after his high school graduation as his late grandmother had hoped. When he joined Lotte in 2001, he was a pitcher but later he became a batter due to a shoulder injury.

He was talented, but his “big” figure prevented his coach, Baek Inn-cheon, who came to the team in mid-2002, from giving him chances to shine. It was after 2004 when he started to put his name on the map: in 2004 and 2005 he hit 20 and 21 homeruns, and that number jumped to 26 the next year, making him the “king” of homeruns.

“I need to win against Kim Tae-gyun, then ultimately Lee Seung-yeop” –

Pitchers who have had a game with him say in unison, “He is very flexible even though he has a big upper body. Even when the ball goes really close to his body, he can easily maneuver to hit the ball.”

His inspiration comes from his friends Kim Tae-gyun (Hanwha) and Lee Seung-yeop (Yomiuri). Kim was a wall he had always wanted to surmount. Lee said, “My performance last year wasn’t bad, but Tae-gyun did better so I tried hard to play better than him.” He said referring to Lee Seung-yeop, “I’m sure every Korean batter wants to be like him. I want to emulate not just his skills but also his personality, and the way he leads a scandal-free life.”

When asked whether he gets lonely like he did during his childhood, he said with a big innocent smile, “I got over that a long time ago. I have a brother (Lee Cha-ho), a girlfriend who teaches at a kindergarten, teammates and fans.”