Just a year ago, he tried out for the team without a uniform of his own, and now he’s playing in postseason games and becoming a “new stealer” at Changwon NC Park. NC Dinos’ infield specialist Park Young-bin (26) is having a special fall.
“When I wasn’t a professional player (last year), I imagined playing and supporting fall baseball like this,” Young-bin told Star News after completing playoff preparation training at Changwon NC Park on the 27th, “and I’m so happy that my dreams have come true.”
In this fall baseball, Park played in one game. In the first game of the wild-card deciding series against the Doosan Bears at Changwon NC Park on Nov. 19, Young-bin entered the game in place of first baseman Park Gun-woo with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth inning when his team led 8-6. With runners on first and third after a stolen base by second baseman Park Min-woo, Young-bin struck out on four pitches. Pitcher Jason Martin then hit a grounder to second base, but second baseman Kang Seung-ho threw to first base instead of catching Park, who had already moved to second, allowing the runner from third to score.
Park Young-bin then attempted a double steal with Kim Sung-wook in the sixth inning when Kim Joo-won came to bat with runners on first and second after the fifth baseman’s walk. Catcher Yang Yang-ji, who received the ball, quickly threw to third, but Park Young-bin was ruled safe. With runners on second and third, Kim Joo-won hit a single just over the shortstop’s height to bring both runners home. The hit pushed NC’s lead to 11-6, and Kim Hyung-joon followed with a three-run homer to seal the 14-9 victory.
“The pitcher had a big quick motion (slide step), so I went straight for it and tried to steal second base, and it was a good situation because it was a hit that could have been a kill shot,” Park explained. “I don’t often steal third base with two outs, but I think the opponent was caught off guard,” he said, adding, “I saw eye-to-eye with (third base) coach Lee Jong-wook, so I tried it once, and it turned out to be a good result.”
In fact, the position of pinch-hitter is by no means an easy one. You’re in a crucial situation late in the game, and one mistake can swing the momentum in the other team’s favor. Coach Lee Jong-wook, who recorded 340 stolen bases in his career, said, “I tell my players, ‘You guys are going to bat, so you have to be ready,'” adding, “It’s not easy because the players behind you will be nervous.”
Park Young-bin said, “Everyone says, ‘It’s a tough, difficult position. But until last year, I couldn’t have dreamed of a position like this, so I’m grateful to my manager and coaches for trusting me.” “I don’t think it’s hard and difficult, but rather, I’m grateful and want to do well because this position helps me grow,” he said.
After graduating from Chungam High School and Kyung Hee University, Park joined NC as a developmental player in 2020, but was released that year after just five at-bats in 11 games in the Futures League. After completing his military service, he joined the independent baseball team Yeoncheon Miracle in 2022, looking to make a professional comeback, and eventually made it back to the NC after a tryout in November of that year. He made a splash with a multi-hit blast in the Blue-Black Game in front of the team’s top brass, including manager Lim Sun-nam and Kang In-hwa. Park Young-bin didn’t have a uniform at the time, so he wore the jersey of released pitcher Hong Seong-min.
Realizing that he might not be able to return to baseball after his military service, Park prepared for his “second life” by getting a bodybuilding certification, and the opportunity that came his way was priceless. “At this time last year, I couldn’t have imagined myself as I am now. I didn’t know if I would be drafted or not,” Park said. “I’m so happy that my dreams have come true, but I can’t rest on my laurels just yet.”
After two years away from the game, Park returned to the professional ranks and posted a solid .345 batting average and 12 stolen bases in 34 games in the Futures League. He was eventually registered as an official player on May 23 and called up to the first team for the first time. At the time, manager Kang Myung-hyun said, “I was disappointed with his pitching, but he made up for it. In terms of hitting, I always recommended him as the first choice for the C team (second team).” NC had a high regard for Park’s ability to run the bases internally, which was evidenced by the trade of fellow pinch-hitter Choi Seung-min to the LG Twins.메이저사이트
He hasn’t shown much in the first team yet. In 41 games with the first team this season, he has stolen four bases in six attempts. His 66.7% success rate isn’t great. At the plate, he had just one hit in 17 at-bats and 14 walks (a .071 batting average). However, he made the postseason roster and is ready to go at any point late in the game.
Reflecting on the season, Park said, “It’s my first season, so it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to play in the first team. I hear that I’m getting better, but I imagined myself doing better than I am now, and after experiencing many failures, I think, ‘Nothing is easy,'” he confessed. “I realized I had to work harder and learn more from my coaches and my brothers,” he said.
As he entered the postseason, Park decided to put his greed aside. “Actually, being a pinch-hitter is not my final goal, so I trained a lot on hitting and defense,” he said. “But for this postseason, I’m going to put my greed aside and go all in on the field and do my best to make the best play I can.”