‘The defense that saved the country’ The WBC remembered by the national right fielder, and Choi Ji-hoon

“I still see it.”

The 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC) is the tournament that opened the Korean baseball renaissance. Numerous highlight scenes came out, and many players became national stars. SSG Landers batting coach Lee Jin-young (43) also gave baseball fans unforgettable memories for a lifetime and earned the nickname “national right fielder.”

It was a play that left such a strong impression. Korea faced Japan in the final Group A match of the 1st round held at the Tokyo Dome. In the bottom of the 4th inning, with the score trailing 0-2, with 2 outs and bases loaded, Bong Joong-geun threw the ball and Tsuyoshi Nishioka perfectly pushed it away. The batted ball flew quickly to the outfield, and if missed, it was highly likely to be a sweeping hit. Right fielder Lee Jin-young sprinted after him. Then, he threw his body to catch the ball and saved Korea from danger.

Korea, which overcame the crisis, turned the game around with Lee Seung-yeop’s come-from-behind two-run four in the 8th inning when they were trailing 1-2, and advanced to the second round of the finals after defeating Japan. Without Lee Jin-young’s ‘defense that saved the country’, it would have been impossible.

Time has passed, and the traces of the years can be felt in the quality of the videos posted on YouTube. However, the moment is vivid in Coach Jinyoung Lee’s mind. Coach Lee, whom I met recently at the SSG spring camp in Vero Beach슬롯사이트, Florida, USA, said, “I still look back at the video. It seems like it was a long time ago. It’s the quality of the video. Since I was 28 at the time, I think it’s an old thing.” he laughed.

At the time, there was an evaluation that Korea was inferior to Japan. The players also had doubts, “Can we win?” And most of all, in short-term matches, one mistake can decide the outcome, so he showed more concentration when defending.

Coach Lee said, “When I think about catching Tsuyoshi’s batted ball, I don’t think it was my usual play. I just thought that I had to chase after him and stop him. I didn’t do it instinctively. I had a strong thought to ‘block it unconditionally’,” he recalled the situation at the time.

Although he could not join the WBC as a coaching staff, Coach Lee sent a message of support to his juniors from afar. In particular, he gave advice to Choi Ji-hoon, who he was coaching. Coach Lee said, “You have to play for the team, not the individual. Each of the best players will have their own role. Ji-hoon is the top class in the KBO league in terms of defense. I believe he will be of great help to the national team. I think I will do better,” he said.

He said, “I like the Japanese members this time too. I think it will be helpful if we thoroughly analyze the strength of Japanese pitchers. In 2006, I was able to produce good results because I prepared in advance and competed.”