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[Op-Ed] Choo Shin-soo

Posted October. 06, 2009 08:01,   


Baseball is often called a game of records because it has more statistical categories and hotter competition for records than any other sport. Henry Chadwick (1824-1908), nicknamed “the father of baseball,” was perhaps the biggest contributor to making the sport a game of records. Chadwick became a sports reporter after emigrating from Britain to the United States at age 12. Covering baseball from 1875, he began to keep records in the sport by modifying the recordkeeping methods of cricket. In 1861, he made the first database of baseball records called the Beadle Guide, in which he listed the number of games played, outs, runs, home runs and strikeouts.

Major League Baseball of the U.S. has a variety of exclusive statistical clubs, including the “20-20 club” for players who hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in one season. There are even the “30-30” and “40-40” clubs for players with power and speed. The “20-20-20 club” is for players who have at least 20 doubles, triples and home runs in one season. The “300-300 club” is for those with career totals of at least 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. The more exclusive “300-300-3,000 club” is a grouping of players with at least 200 career home runs and stolen bases each in addition to at least 3,000 hits. Barry Bonds is the only player who is a member of the “30-30,” “40-40,” “400-400,” “500-500,” and “300-300-3,000” clubs.

Choo Shin-soo, a Korean outfielder of the Cleveland Indians, has become the first Asian player to join the 20-20 club. This is something that Japanese icon Ichiro Suzuki, who has nine straight seasons of at least 200 hits, has been unable to do. Among Koreans playing in Japan’s professional leagues, cleanup hitter Lee Seung-yeop has hit more than 20 homers in a season but is lacking in steals. The speedster Lee Jong-beom, nicknamed the “man of steal,” has never been a force with the long ball.

When talking about great performances by Korean athletes, one cannot exclude golfer Y.E. Yang, the first Asian-born player to win the PGA Championship. Among Korean women golfers, Shin Ji-yai is eyeing this season the four titles of Rookie of the Year, prize money leader, total victories, and Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour. Choo, Yang and Shin have demonstrated the great potential and spiritual power of Koreans.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)