Go to contents

Team Korea Stands Tall Despite WBC Final Loss

Posted March. 25, 2009 08:58,   


The national baseball team’s “great challenge” in the second World Baseball Classic came to an end yesterday.

Korea lost to Japan 5-3 in the final but again demonstrated the strength of Korean baseball after clinching the gold medal in last year’s Beijing Olympics.

Full of sacrifice and a challenging spirit, the Korean team was highly organized like cogs in a machine.

○ Stressing sacrifice

“I’ll assume the post of Korean team manger with the spirit of sacrifice.”

Kim In-shik said this after accepting the job of national team manager when nobody else wanted to. He earned the nickname “the people’s manager.”

He extolled his players to take pride in playing for their country, saying, “Baseball exists only when the country exists.”

Kim is partially disabled due to a stroke he suffered four years ago. He took the job again after leading Korea in the first tournament in 2006.

Certain players also had the same spirit of sacrifice. Players in the U.S. Major League earning huge salaries were reluctant to participate in the tournament, fearing injury before the season. Korean players, however, gladly agreed to participate for the sake of national pride and honor.

Pitcher Park Chan-ho (Philadelphia Phillies) burst into tears when he announced that he would snub the tournament to prepare for the U.S. season. He also retired from international competition.

○ ‘Challenging spirit’

Yoon Suk-min (23, Kia Tigers), Ryu Hyun-jin (22, Hanwha Eagles), Choi Jeong (22, SK Wyverns), Kim Hyun-soo (21, Doosan Bears), Lee Yong-kyu (24, Kia), and Kang Min-ho (24, Lotte Giants) did not feel daunted even in the face of big name players who earned dozens of times what they earned.

In this year’s tournament, Korean players demonstrated strong confidence and challenging spirit no matter how difficult the situation. Foreign media nicknamed Korea the “popping baseball team” to describe the powerful energy of Korean players at games.

Team Korea, which has completed a generational shift of both pitchers and batters that began in the Beijing Olympics last year, has rewritten global baseball history through its challenging spirit.

Manager Kim said, “Korean players will get stronger if they can build up experience on top of their challenging spirit.” He also urged international media to keep watching Korean baseball.

○ A well-oiled machine

Baseball fans around the world were also impressed by the precision and running of the Korean team.

“Who called Korean baseball ‘small ball’? It is total baseball in which both small ball and big ball roll just like cogs in a machine.” This is how a commentator of a foreign broadcaster lauded the highly organized play of Korea in the 10-2 semifinal win over Venezuela.

In yesterday’s final, Korea overcame a number of crises with double plays. Every member of the well-selected group of pitchers played his due role as a starter or reliever.

Japan’s manager Tatsunori Hara also praised Korea, saying, “It’s difficult to find weaknesses in all aspects of batting, defense and base running.”

Manager Kim’s use of players also stood out.

Ko Young-min (Doosan Bears) remained at the dugout but grabbed an opportunity by hitting a homer as a pinch hitter. Choo Shin-soo (Cleveland Indians) started off poorly, but shot homers in the semifinals and final thanks to the manager’s belief in Choo’s play.