In memory of the victors Jang Hyo-jo and Choi Dong-won,
September 7th of this year marks the 12th anniversary of the hitting master Jang Hyo-jo (張孝祚, 1956-2011), and September 14th marks the 12th anniversary of the iron arm Choi Dong-won (崔東原, 1958-2011). In the ‘Professional Baseball Legends 40’ selected last year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the KBO League, Choi Dong-won ranked 2nd and Jang Hyo-jo ranked 6th. It is difficult to properly explain Korean baseball history without mentioning the two people who passed away within a week of each other.
Domestic professional baseball exceeded 6 million spectators this year as well. However, compared to the quantitative popularity, the qualitative level is not satisfactory. In that respect, Jang Hyo-jo and Choi Dong-won still have a deep impact on Korean baseball. Both men were perfectionists. Although he was soft-hearted, he hated showing weakness or losing. When entering the ground, laser beams were emitted from the eyes. It was absurd to laugh so hard in the stadium like these days.
were shooting laser beams from their eyes, was also great.
touched the rosin bag, socks, gold-rimmed glasses, and hat brim one after another as if he was performing some kind of ritual before throwing the ball. Choi Dong-won’s pitching, which dynamically swung his left arm and left foot and stepped forward, was refreshing and thrilling. Also, the sight of Jang Hyo-jo, who glared at the pitcher intently and hit hit after hit like a fan, was always a source of admiration.
The two had a great fight. This is an article from Sports Donga dated October 18, 1978, owned by a blogger. Choi Dong-won was shot by Jang Hyo-jo, who was a senior at Hanyang University at the time. “Choi Dong-won is an outstanding pitcher in terms of quality. The reason many batters have a hard time facing Choi Dong-won is because they get caught up in tricks. Even when playing against me, they try to use tricks like this, but there is no way around it. To borrow a technical term, they attack with change-offs. But it doesn’t work for me. It was the same in the 33rd National University Baseball Tournament. Choi Dong-won was scared of me, so he walked me 3 times and allowed a hit when I came up to the plate 4 times. Can I write a text message in front of a teacher?”
Choi Dong-won, a sophomore at Yonsei University, also counterattacked. “In my case, it is easy to deal with well-known hitters, not just Hyojo. It is clear that Hyojo is an excellent hitter who hits well and is quick. However, he also has many weaknesses. Hyojo faced me 14 times and had 3 hits and 6 hits. “He walked out a few times, but didn’t score any RBIs. It’s no different from a soccer player who only fires shots that don’t make the goal. Hyojo has no countermeasures against low balls. He can’t even use his hands on strikes that fly at knee height, and moreover, he can’t even use his hands on balls that fly toward his body.”
The two moved to the professional stage a year later than others, playing for the national team in the 1982 World Baseball Championship. Choi Dong-won’s professional hitting percentage was respectable at 0.241, but against Jang Hyo-jo’s, it was weak at 0.386.
Choi Dong-won, who received MVP in 1984. photo KBO
Practice bug Jang Hyo-jo “If he doesn’t hit,
he’ll ball” Jang Hyo-jo became a star by leading the team to three national championships in his second year at Daegu Commercial High School in 1973, and earned the nickname ‘hit maker’ by sweeping batting awards in major competitions. He continued to shine even after entering Hanyang University. In the 1976 Baekhogi Tournament, he became the batting champion with a cartoonish batting average of 0.714. On July 25, 1978, in Game 3 of the Korea-US college baseball game, he hit a grand slam over the left field fence in the 7th inning. It was a push home run that was rare at the time. He hit quite a few home runs in college when he used aluminum bats.
Jang Hyo-jo was also famous for his rigorous practice. During his short stature at Daegu Middle School, he was pushed out of his position and played second base even though he was left-handed, but it actually served as an opportunity for him to focus on batting. When he was in high school, everyone liked to rest when it rained, but when the rain stopped for a while, he encouraged his juniors, saying, “Let’s drain the water in the playground and train.” As a pro, he practiced swinging for four hours in the locker room wearing only his underwear, and once he stood in the bat box, he swung 100 times without stopping. He hung dozens of bats in his house like a warrior and carefully managed them.
Through his rigorous practice, his quickness and power improved. His classmate, former Hanyang University coach Kim Han-geun, said, “Everyone was surprised by the fact that he lifted 140 kg of bench press.” He is so strong that he even went on the mound as a pitcher during his days at Hanyang University. As he developed strong muscular endurance, his swing speed was like lightning, and he was so precise that people even said, “If Jang Hyo-jo doesn’t hit, he’ll ball.” He was also fast enough to run 100 meters in 11.3 seconds.
Jang Hyo-jo recorded a batting average of 0.331 with 1,009 hits in 3,050 at-bats during his 10 years as a professional. However, early this year, KBO stated, “The double hit by Hyo-jo Jang in the Cheongbojeon match on July 31, 1985 is not recognized as a hit because the preceding runner did not step on base and was out on appeal,” and lowered Hyo-jo Jang’s batting average to 0.330. Final edited. Kiwoom Lee Jeong-hoo has been ahead of Jang Hyo-jo since last year with a career batting average of 0.340, but since he is still far from retirement, attention is being paid to whether he will break Jang Hyo-jo’s record. Jang Hyo-jo was the batting champion four times (1983, 1985-1987), one MVP (1987), first in most hits (1983), first in on-base percentage (1983-1987, 1991), and five Golden Glove Awards (1983-1987). recorded. It’s a phenomenal result.
He finished second in batting at 0.347 in 1991, his final professional season. He competed for the batting title with Binggrae Lee Jeong-hoon, his high school junior at the time. Since his baseball days, he had a habit of sleeping after drinking two cans of beer, but he quit drinking cans of beer while competing with Lee Jung-hoon and used that time to practice batting. He was 35 years old at the time.
Since Jang Hyo-jo is only focused on winning, people who are uncomfortable with him are said to be “arrogant.” In 1983, his first professional year, he won the batting title with a batting average of 0.369 and even hit 18 home runs. However, as he was labeled a “used rookie who is not worthy of a rookie,” the title of Rookie of the Year, which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, went to Jong-Hoon Park. If he had smiled kindly and greeted the people involved, the outcome might have been different.
Jang Hyo-jo’s defense was not as good as his attack. In Game 7 of the 1984 Korean Series, in the top of the 7th inning, when Samsung was ahead 4 to 1 over Lotte, Lotte ran forward after mistaking a fly ball hit by Lotte Han Moon-yeon while defending right field. However, the ball went far back and became a triple, and Jang Hyo-jo, who was surprised, made a pose to catch the ball. In the end, they conceded a goal and became an excuse for a comeback. Jang Hyo-jo blamed himself for a long time for that moment, called the ‘Long Live Incident.’
Jang Hyo-jo received MVP in 1987. photo KBO
Choi Dong-won’s curve, one of the
two major KBO harnesses Meanwhile, Choi Dong-won attracted attention by defeating the powerhouse Gyeongbuk High School with a no-hit and no run at the Excellent High School Invitational Tournament on September 17, 1975, when he was a sophomore at Gyeongnam High School, and became a hot topic by signing up for the ‘500,000 won shoulder insurance’, which was unfamiliar at the time. collected. In his senior year of high school, he played against Gunsan Commercial High School in the Blue Dragons and recorded 20 strikeouts in the winner’s final game and 12 in the final game. Former Kia Tigers coach Kim Seong-han, who was in his second year at Gunsan Commercial High School at the time, recalled, “It was the first ball I had ever seen in my life. At the end, I was struck by how fast the fastball was, and the curve was like a waterfall falling from the sky.”
Choi Dong-won’s father, Choi Yun-sik, was a disabled warrior and studied Japanese baseball and applied it to his son. He personally trained them and acted as their manager. Choi Dong-won and his father were inseparable. Choi Dong-won not only runs 10km every day on the streets of Busan, but he also always runs a few kilometers after the game. In the evening, he did supplementary pitching at the practice range at his home in Goejeong-dong, Busan. At that time, he perfected his blade control, which allows him to throw the ball where he wants it with a difference of 1 or 2 balls.
Choi Dong-won, who chose Yonsei University over Korea University, showed off his peak skills. He swept various adult competitions. However, because he was so confident in his pitch, he kept throwing to the same course and often hit big home runs at home and abroad. Still, his exploits during his time at Yonsei University were the most powerful.
He wore a Lotte uniform in 1983 and performed poorly in his first year, but confirmed his reputation by winning 27 games in 1984. That year, he led the team to the championship with 4 wins and 1 loss alone during Game 7 of the Korean Series against Samsung. Fans were astonished, and it became the most impressive game in Korean baseball history. Choi Dong-won said in an interview at the time, “During Game 7, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t wake up in the morning. When I heard that I had to start as a starter that day, I held on to my father and cried. However, with my father’s advice, I played the game with the determination to die on the mound.” “As soon as I got back to my dorm, blood poured out of my nose,” he said. White glue was applied to the second finger of his right hand. He had his fingernails, which had been cut off due to the constant fighting, temporarily patched together. After that, he boasted a record of 20 wins in 1985 and 19 wins in 1986. His career records over the eight years of his professional career are 103 wins, 74 losses, 26 saves, and an ERA of 2.46.
Former Lotte coach Kim Yong-hee, who is three years his senior at Gyeongnam High School, recalled, “Whenever Dongwon, who was normally calm and polite, got on the mound, he suddenly turned into a charismatic player and overwhelmed the batters,” adding, “The fielders felt reassured by Dongwon’s like that.” Choi Dong-won’s main weapon was a fastball that reached about 155 kilometers per hour and a curveball that fell like a waterfall. Choi Dong-won’s curveball, along with Sun Dong-yeol’s slider, is called one of the two greatest magic tools of the KBO. Choi Dong-won sometimes threw the Arirang ball at a speed of about 50 km per hour, making the batter feel like he was being played. It was a strategy to gain the upper hand in psychological warfare. It was like, “How dare you hit my ball? Just hit the ball with Ari.”
In particular, from 1983 to 1987, he showed off his iron arms by throwing more than 200 innings every season. His ability to pitch 9 innings yesterday, today, and tomorrow was the strength that his rival Sun Dong-yeol envied the most. On May 16, 1987, Lotte’s Choi Dong-won and Haitai’s Sun Dong-yeol pitched 15 innings each and recorded a 2-2 tie, which became the subject of the movie ‘Perfect Game.’ At that time, Choi Dong-won threw 209 and Seon Dong-yeol threw 235. Seon Dong-yeol’s aftereffects were so severe that he had to rest until the end of May, but Choi Dong-won pitched three days apart and recorded complete games and shutouts in all of the following games. The current system of unconditionally changing the pitcher after just 100 pitches would be very unfamiliar to him.
Two legends’ deep wounds
Jang Hyo-jo and Choi Dong-won suffered deep wounds in 1988. Lotte Choi Dong-won was traded for Kim Si-jin in November of that year and wore a Samsung uniform. A month later, Jang Hyo-jo switched uniforms with Lotte’s Kim Yong-cheol. It was a big shock. Choi Dong-won went into hiding upon his transfer and finally returned. In 1990, he was released from Samsung because he had an ERA of 5.28 and could no longer throw a fastball. Also, Jang Hyo-jo fought hard to overcome the shock, but his destructive power was lowered. With his batting average dropping to .200, he retired after the 1992 season. Both left the stadium in a shabby manner without any special retirement ceremony. They were a thorn in the side of the club. This is because he was disliked early on for taking the lead in forming the Professional Baseball Players Association, or because he had a conflict during salary negotiations with the club.
Retired Jang Hyo-jo worked as a hitting coach at Lotte for six years. He also trained as a coach for a minor league team under the Boston Red Sox for one year. When he returned, he returned to work as Samsung’s batting second team coach in 2000, but quit after a year. Samsung hired coach Kim Eung-ryong from Haitai and let go Jang Hyo-jo. Fans wanted Jang Hyo-jo to become a leader at Samsung. But Samsung turned a blind eye. Samsung still does not call former Samsung legends such as Kim Si-jin, Lee Man-soo, Yang Jun-hyuk, and Lee Seung-yeop as coaches. What is the real intention?메이저놀이터
After many twists and turns, Jang Hyo-jo returned to the baseball world by becoming a Samsung scout in 2005, and he was so happy that he cried. However, he was not in a position to wear the Samsung uniform, and he was treated worse than he is now. Regarding the reason why he got sick, Jang Hyo-jo said, “It was because he was under a lot of stress when he was a scout for Samsung.”
Finally, he returned to the field only in 2010, taking on the role of head and batting coach of Samsung’s second team. He even became the manager of the second team and led passionately. Bae Young-seop, who won Rookie of the Year, Park Seok-min, Mo Sang-ki, and Jeong Hyeong-sik all received guidance from Jang Hyo-jo. Jang Hyo-jo was selected as one of the ‘Legend All-Star Best 10’ in 2011 and gave his thanks at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on July 23. It was his last appearance in front of fans.
Both of them are under extreme stress after retirement.
After retiring, Choi Dong-won also did baseball commentary for a while and appeared on TV entertainment programs that did not suit him well. He ran as a member of the opposition party in the local council elections in Seo-gu, Busan, but failed. After all, his hometown was Ground, and his last job was Hanwha. He briefly served as pitching coach in 2001, and was named pitching coach in October 2004, a position he held for a long time. Choi Dong-won helped Jo Seong-min, who was trying to make a comeback at the time, and also diligently coached Ryu Hyun-jin, who was still unfinished. In recognition of his leadership, he was promoted to manager of the Hanwha second team in November 2006.
But just as his skills as a member of the coaching staff were reaching maturity, he was facing the twilight of his life. Former SK coach Lee Man-su, Jang Hyo-jo’s junior and Choi Dong-won’s friend, said, “The two were very flashy in their prime, but they have something in common in that they suffered from extreme stress after retirement.”
Is that why? Jang Hyo-jo lost weight rapidly at the end of July 2011 and underwent a detailed examination at Samsung Seoul Hospital in early August. He was diagnosed with stage 4 liver and stomach cancer. His condition worsened and he was transferred to Dong-A University Hospital in Busan, near his home. Jang Hyo-jo, who did not like to be seen as weak, asked the team not to talk about the specific name of his illness, and even refused visits from acquaintances. Finally, on the morning of September 7, 2011, he passed away at the age of 55.
Choi Dong-won was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007 and underwent surgery. He seemed to be improving. However, starting in 2010, his condition deteriorated rapidly and he eventually passed away while receiving treatment in Pocheon and other places. On July 22, 2011, he appeared in the OB match between Gyeongnam High School and Gunsan Commercial High School. When he was asked to throw a demonstration pitch, he looked very gaunt and declined, saying, “Oh, I’m the kind of person who would do it, but I don’t think I can do it now.” It was his last statement to the public.
On September 1, 2021, the Daegu Maeil Newspaper published an article titled, ‘There is Choi Dong-won with an iron arm, but there is no hitting master Jang Hyo-jo?’ Lotte built a statue of Choi Dong-won in front of Sajik Stadium, permanently retired his name, and continues to hold memorial events every year. Last year, considering that it was the 11th anniversary and overlapped with Choi Dong-won’s uniform number 11, a large-scale ‘Memorial Day’ event was held. The ‘Choi Dong-won Pitcher Award’ was also created. However, Samsung is not interested in Jang Hyo-jo. Even if I did happen to pay tribute, it was brief. Let alone a commemorative statue, they did not even permanently retire his name. The Maeil Shinmun regretted, “This is like making light of the history of the Samsung club and the history of professional baseball.”
Korea lacks interest or consideration for heroes and legends. How about creating a fixed ‘Day’ to commemorate the two players? As seen in the major leagues, how about designating an area for the legends from their own team to watch so fans can remember them and get autographs?
In their later years, Jang Hyo-jo and Choi Dong-won relied on faith. Jang Hyo-jo, who once slapped Lee Man-su, who was preaching to him, changed 180 degrees and even raised his son to be a pastor.