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KBO slugger Lee Dae-ho retires

Posted October. 08, 2022 07:36,   

Updated October. 08, 2022 07:36


Lotte Giants player Lee Dae-ho retires from baseball, which will become a reality. His last KBO game will be held at Sajik Stadium in Busan, his hometown, on Saturday against the LG Twins. Twenty-two years ago, he made a professional debut in a game against the Samsung Lions at Masan Stadium on Sept. 19, 2001.

Signing a two-year contract with his team before the 2021 season, Lee signaled that he would retire, which must have motivated him to work harder than anyone else to make his last season meaningful. As of Friday, right before his last game, the 40-year-old slugger recorded an AVG of 0.332, 23 home runs, and 100 RBIs. Lee Dae-ho (100 RBIs as of Friday) and former Samsung Lions player Lee Seung-yeop (118 RBIs at the age of 40) are the only two players in the KBO League to reach 100 RBIs over the age of 40. Additionally, he not only won the homerun race event in the KBO All-Star game but also hit as many as three grand slams this season, breaking a new record of his own. His impressive records prove that he will still be the "cleanup hitter of Joseon” until he retires.

Lee started joining a baseball team when he was a third grader at Suyoung Elementary School, Busan. Interestingly, SSG Landers Choo Shin-soo introduced Lee to a baseball club coach just because he was a big and tall boy. Afterward, Lee became an ace player in Kyungnam High School and joined Lotte in the KBO rookie draft (round: 1, overall pick: 4) in 2001. However, Lee got a shoulder injury right after starting his career as a pitcher. Later, he changed his position to a hitter as recommended by Woo Yong-deuk, a Futures League coach.

Ranking No. 1 in as many as four stats (AVG, homerun, RBI, and SLG) back in 2006, he, unfortunately, missed out on the MVP award, 12 votes behind Hanwha Eagles rookie Ryu Hyun-jin who earned the pitching Triple Crown (winner of most wins, strikeouts, and ERA standings). In 2010, Lee became the first hitter in the South Korean, U.S., and Japanese professional baseball leagues to hit home runs for nine games while outstripping the rest in seven hitting stats. The result was that he gracefully grabbed the MVP trophy.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com