Posted December. 09, 2010 10:32,
Kim Kyung-moon, manager of the Seoul Doosan Bears pro baseball team, got angry after setting up spring training in Kyushu, Japan, in 2005.
He and Doosan players endured a bus ride of more than an hour to hold a scrimmage with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, only to be offered a seven-inning game because the Hawks had an insufficient number of players.
I felt so humiliated, Kim said. Softbank didnt even field its best players. After that, I was determined to win any game against a Japanese team at all costs.
In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Kim, as the manager of the Korean national team, got his revenge by defeating Japan to win the gold medal.
Until several years ago, Japanese teams accepted scrimmages with Korean teams as if they were doing the latter a favor and even fielded second-string or minor-league players.
Things have changed since then. After a tough time against Korea in the 2006 and last years World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympiad, Japan no longer looks down on Korean baseball.
In spring training in February this year, many Korean teams played Japanese counterparts, with some in Japan even asking for scrimmages against Korean players.
Japan will take a step further next year. The executive committee of the Japanese league decided Monday to give a league name to scrimmages between teams of the two countries. Japanese fans will receive scrimmage schedules for all teams.
Doosan, the Gwangju Kia Tigers and Busan Lotte Giants started holding spring training in Kyushu several years ago, while the Incheon SK Wyverns, Daegu Samsung Lions and Seoul LG Twins have trained in Okinawa. Their scrimmages have been dubbed the Kyushu and Okinawa leagues, respectively.
Next year, a new league name will be designated after Japanese clubs join them.
Spring training in Japan next year will likely prove more interesting as all Korean players on Japanese clubs will practice in Okinawa.