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Manager Still Blames Himself for WBC Loss

Posted November. 11, 2009 08:24,   


"I got a series of phone calls from reporters this morning, and I was thinking `What`s going on?` They got a news release on (my winning of the Ilgu Award). It`s pretty meaningful since the baseball community gave it to me, but I`m a little unsatisfied. I got the award for the World Baseball Classic, and it would`ve been better had we won it."

So said Kim In-shik, who coached the national baseball team to the final of the World Baseball Class earlier this year. Now an adviser to the pro team Hanwha Eagles, he knew he was getting the award not for coaching the Eagles.

Kim retired Sept. 25, and his players gave him a farewell present with a 2-1 win over the Samsung Lions. They also bowed to him on the field.

“I was choked up. I didn’t expect it. I`m very sorry I couldn’t take care of them (Hanwha) because I had to lead the national team. So many players got injured. It was all my fault,” he said.

On the controversial process of selecting the national team manager, Kim said he never wanted the job.

“It was so hard for me at the first WBC in 2006," he said. "Did I want to do it again? No. But eventually (then Korea Baseball Organization Commissioner) Ha Il-sung) talked me into it. I got a call while coaching in Daejeon. We met at a cafe in Seoul. Since I didn’t eat dinner, I was eating something in a room. I saw him drinking a glass of alcohol in the hall."

"After eating for a while, I looked at him again and he was drinking another glass seriously. I asked him what happened, and he talked about the national team manager. He only drank when I looked at him, but I didn’t know it then. Later, (the league`s technical director) Yoon Dong-gyun asked me to take the job. I said I`d think about it, but then news ran the next day that the league asked me to take the job. Some people even congratulated me. I couldn’t say no in that situation.”

Kim accepted the offer under two conditions: the league needed permission from his pro team Hanwha and his coaching staff had to be from pro teams. No coach wanted to join, however, and selecting players was also far from easy.

Kim encouraged his players by saying, “Where there is a country, there is baseball.”

Korea reached the final of the tournament in March but lost to Japan. Kim`s pro team Hanwha started in last place early this past season and had a disgraceful finish. Rumors over Kim`s dismissal spread like wildfire.

“I was expecting it. I had nothing to say because we had a really bad season. When the players bowed to me, I came to realize that it was finally over,” Kim said.

Kim took over Ssangbangwool in 1991, and then went on to lead the Doosan Bears for nine years from 1995. He took a year off in 2004 before taking the Hanwha job in 2005.

“I get acupuncture treatment twice a week. I go for a walk every day. I meet other baseball guys like Lee Jong-do at a bar near my home. I can stay up a few hours with beer. I feel at my best now after suffering from a cerebral infarction,” Kim said.

Just 20 victories away from 1,000 wins, will Kim coach again? Though he is an adviser to the Eagles, he has fewer things to do. “I don’t know that. What happens in the future is not related to my will,” he said.