“My employee’s brother brought me a commemorative ball, so I asked coach Lee Bum-ho to write on it.”
KIA Tigers outfielder Lee Woo-sung, 29, had a day to remember when he batted sixth and started in right field against the Gwangju Doosan Bears on April 15. Lee hit a game-winning, bases-loaded home run in the bottom of the fourth inning with KIA trailing 1-2. It was the first grand slam of his professional career after being drafted by Doosan in 2013. It was a shot that completely demolished Doosan starter Brandon Waddell and completely lifted the mood of the bench as the game went to 5-2. If it weren’t for the bullpen’s collapse and 6-8 record, Lee Woo-sung would have been the star of the night.안전놀이터
A day later, Lee slowly reflected on the circumstances of his first career grand slam: “I was down 0-1 in my first at-bat, and I had three runners in scoring position, but I didn’t make it count. Luckily, it was an error (by the opposing third baseman), so I didn’t score (but) the manager joked with me before my second at-bat, saying, ‘If you’re going to bunt, (Lee) Woo-sung, make sure you put it down.’ I felt very apologetic, but when he said that, it put me at ease and made me feel good. He doesn’t usually talk much, but when he talked to me in a playful way, it made me feel better. (The second at-bat) was a no-hitter anyway, and the next batter was (Hwang) Dae-in. Dae-in sees the ball well these days and is in good shape, so I swung hard with the idea of getting a strikeout,” he said.
“From the power analysis, I analyzed that (Brandon) throws a lot to the body. To be honest, he (Brandon) threw it so well there. I thought it was a really lucky hit. As soon as the ball came up, I was like, ‘It’s an outfield fly. ‘ I was running around like, ‘Thank God I got one,’ and I think (the walk-off home run) was a little bit of help from the heavens.”
The first face that came to mind as soon as he got the memorabilia from his 11-year professional career was KIA hitting coach Lee Bum-ho. Lee is a legend who played in the KBO from 2000 to 2019 and hit 329 home runs in his career. He started his professional career with the Hanwha Eagles and played for KIA from 2011 to 2019.
Lee grew up watching him play and idolizing him from a young age, and often finds it hard to believe that he’s still coaching and playing for the same team. He asked Lee to write a commemorative message for him, as this is one of the most important milestones in his baseball career, and he will inherit Lee’s No. 25 jersey for the 2022 season.
Lee said, “I asked Coach Lee Bum-ho to write (on the commemorative ball) because it was my first grand slam home run. He didn’t have any other comments, but he wrote it just right,” he said, laughing.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was a kid when he was in Daejeon, and I met him because he was a coach, so I had a connection with him. I also wore his number (No. 25) because I wanted to hit a lot. I asked him to write it down because he hit a lot of home runs,” he added.
Although he was happy to hit a grand slam, Lee was hit in the back of the left thigh by a pitch from Doosan pitcher Kim Myung-shin in the bottom of the eighth inning. He tried to play through the pain, but was eventually replaced by pinch-hitter Oh Sun-woo during the next Hwang Dae-in at-bat.
On the 16th, KIA manager Kim Jong-kook said about Lee’s condition, “I don’t think he’ll be able to play for 2-3 days. It looked like he was hit hard,” he said, expressing concern.
Lee Woo-sung said, “I was hit in the hamstring, where there are not many muscles. It’s the kind of situation where you get cramps when you run,” but he joked, “I’m younger than I look, so I think I’ll get better every day.”
Kim Myung-shin has been close to Lee Woo-sung since their days at Doosan and has repeatedly expressed his apologies. Lee Woo-sung said, “(Kim) Myung-shin and I have been close since Doosan. We’re still in good contact. Myung-shin kept apologizing yesterday (Nov. 15), but I told him it’s all right because it’s a competitive world. He called me this morning and asked if I was okay, so I said I was. He said he wanted me to do well until the end,” he said, adding that the dune situation ended well.
Instead of getting carried away, Lee aimed to stay healthy for the rest of the season so that he could contribute to the team’s fight for the top five. For now, Lee is taking the field one day at a time, not worrying about his individual performance, only looking at the team’s performance.
“After I got hit by the ball, I realized that it’s really important that I don’t get hurt. Now I’m thinking about taking it easy and not having any personal goals. I’m a person who thinks a lot, so deleting my personal goals made me feel much more relaxed and happy. I don’t have any personal goals right now. “I’m just thinking about the team, because if the team wins, I’ll be treated well, and if the team does well, the fans will come to the ballpark, so I’ll just think about the team winning.