Tag Archives: baseball

Conger Astros

Hank Conger’s First Hit as an Astro Lifts Team to Extra-Innings Win

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Houston Astro catcher Hank Conger hasn’t had too many opportunities to play early in the 2015 season, so it didn’t take long for him to capitalize on his first appearance last night in an extra-innings thriller against the Texas Rangers.

In fact, it just took one pitch. In his first at-bat in the top of the 14th inning, Conger swung at the first pitch he saw from Logan Verrett and sent it out into the right field bleachers over the head of Shin-soo Choo. That was Conger’s first hit and first home run of the season. The Astros took a 6-4 lead in what would become the final score.

Playing time has been hard to come by for Conger, with fellow catcher Juan Castro starting in front of him. Last night, Conger didn’t enter the game until the bottom of the 12th inning as a defensive sub after the Astros pinch-ran for Castro the inning before.

“I was just watching along with the game and trying to get the feel of the flow,” Conger told the Houston Chronicle. “I had a heads-up, ‘Hey, if he gets on, we might pinch-run for [Castro] here, so just get loose.”

Conger wouldn’t have played if it were not for Astro right fielder George Springer’s amazing game-saving catch in the bottom of the 10th inning. With the bases loaded, Springer leapt at the right field wall to rob the Rangers’ Leonys Martin of a walk-off grand slam.

You can watch Conger Hank hitting a two-run homer in the 14th inning here


Featured image via USA Today

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

Shin-soo Choo Belts First Home Run of Season in Rangers Win

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

It must feel good to get the first one out of the way for Shin-soo Choo. The Texas Ranger outfielder isn’t known particularly for his power, but he hadn’t hit a home run in a major league game since August 23, 2014just days before his decision to undergo surgeries for his worsening shoulder and ankle put an early end to his injury-plagued season.

The South Korean clubbed a three-run home run against the Oakland A’s Thursday that put the Rangers up 8-0 in the fourth inning and ended the evening early for A’s starter Kendall Graveman. Choo finished 2 for 5 with two runs scored, helping the Rangers cruise to an easy 10-1 victory. Choo was 1 for 7 coming into the game with a double.

Choo batted second in the lineup Thursday as Rangers manager Jeff Banister continues to find a slot for him in the lineup. During spring training, the Rangers had him batting third, but he opened the season batting fifth. Last year, Choo was primarily batting leadoff until injuries to the team had him shifted around the lineup.

“I don’t think anybody wants to come to the park and change where they hit every single day,” Choo told Dallas News on Monday. “I know that I will have the same approach that I had last year wherever I hit. I’m going to swing at my pitch. Nothing is going to change.”

Shin-Soo Choo

Choo, 32, had the worst year of his career in 2014 as he struggled to play through injuries before prematurely ending his season. It was a very sour note for the Rangers and their fans, as they invested their hopes and a lot of money ($130 million over seven years) into the outfielder who was best known for his patient at-bats and ability to get on base. The Rangers finished at the bottom of the American League with a record of 67-95.

Choo began preparing for the 2015 season earlier than he ever had before in his career, vowing to make it a turning point in his career. “I’m sure the efforts I’m making now will pay off,” he said in December. “I no longer want to take any more criticism. At the end of the day, I’m sure all of the struggles I’ve been through [in 2014] will be remembered as times I feel thankful for after I overcome. I’ll regain the faith from fans who became frustrated from watching me struggle this year.”

The 2015 season is young, so Choo and the Rangers will have plenty of time figure things out. There’s not much reason to doubt his abilities and resilience that he has displayed throughout his careerbe sure to check out KoreAm‘s August/September 2014 cover story for a detailed look at the professional athlete who first came to the U.S. as an 18-year-old prospect from South Korea.


Feature image via CBS Sacramento

Ryu rap

Hyun-jin Ryu Shows Off His Rapping Skills in Korean Commercial

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Hyun-jin Ryu can drop a sweet change-up. But did you know he can drop bars, too?

The Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw may have one of the best résumés among his peers when it comes to commercials and guest appearances. Ryu’s commercial for NH Card is just the latest in his exploration of his artistic side.

Ryu has always taken on side jobs in South Korea during the offseason, including an earlier commercial for Ottogi noodles and a guest appearance on the popular show Running Man, alongside fellow Korean baseball players Shin-soo Choo and Jung-ho Kang. Ryu also has a couple of K-pop singles under his belt, by the way.

During the regular season, he drags his teammates into his antics, like when he used Clayton Kershaw and (now former teammate) Matt Kemp as backup dancers. Maybe he can include Hank Conger the next time, too—the new Houston Astro’s twerking puts Miley Cyrus to shame.

In regards to his professional work, Ryu has been slowly resuming throwing activities while nursing a sore shoulder. The Dodgers began the season with him on the disabled list, and the team has stated they will allow him take as much time as needed before getting Ryu back on the mound.

If you’re looking for an in-depth read, be sure to check out our Hyun-jin Ryu cover story from August 2013.



Korean Baseball Team Shoots a Fireball for First Pitch

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

There are first pitches in baseball, and there are Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) first pitches.

We’ve seen South Korean gymnasts and Taekwondo athletes do their thing. So how about a fireball from the top of the centerfield scoreboard this time around, courtesy of the KT Wiz?

Hat tip to Dan @MyKBO for always showing us the best and weirdest of Korean baseball.

Apparently, there is also a superstition among Korean baseball fans that when a male celebrity throws a first pitch during an important game, the home team loses. That explains the number of female celebrities tossing out the first pitch—it’s more than just about the outfit. #baseballreasons



Link Attack: Roy Choi in Watts; Dogs Rescued From Meat Farm; Custom Emoji Keyboard

Video: Roy Choi Wants the Next Food Revolution to Start in Watts

The first location will be in Watts at a site that used to be smoke shop and a barbershop. Choi says that his team wanted to open a location somewhere in South Los Angeles, and they ended up focusing on Watts because of the sense of community they found there. (LAist)

Dogs Rescued from South Korean Meat Farm Brought to San Francisco

Thirteen frightened young dogs and puppies arrived in San Francisco in a van Thursday, some trembling, tails between their legs, others with sad but hopeful eyes, and all of them unaware of how close they came to an agonizing, gruesome death. (SF Gate)


Memoji Keyboard Allows You To Emojify Yourself

Johnny Lin, an ex-Apple engineer, created a way for users to upload their own faces as emoji. Angry Asian Man Phil Yu tries it out.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Doing Shockingly Well in South Korea

Why is the movie such a huge hit in the South Korean film market? Cinema Blend speculates the reasons, from the visuals to the high fashion costume design to director Matthew Vaughn’s popularity in South Korea.

2015 - The Great Tiger (still 1)

23 Most Anticipated Korean Films of 2015

Modern Korean Cinema lists the Korean films they’re most looking forward to this year.

Homebrew and House Parties: How North Koreans Have Fun

“Despite restrictions on money and free time, partying is integral to North Korean culture. But how does it compare to cutting loose in the South?” writes The Guardian.

Jung ho Kang

Korean Star Jung Ho Kang May Be Much Better Than Advertised

“In so many words, clubs just didn’t see many reasons to be optimistic about Kang,” writes Bleacher Report. “But as early as it is, one wonders how many are thinking differently these days.”

Searing Complaint Against Korean Church

The Contra Costa Korean Presbyterian Church is being sued for negligence in their hiring of a youth pastor, who the plaintiff claims repeatedly sexually molester her and her sister.

Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung Pledges to Solidify Status as Leading Bank

In his inauguration speech on March 18, Shinhan Bank President Cho Yong-byoung emphasized, “I will solidify our status as a leading bank.”

Cho said, “Through ceaseless innovation, we must create new opportunities and values and maintain the highest level of profitability and soundness.”

GM Canada Gets New General Counsel and Assistant GC, Peter Cho

It won’t be Cho’s first time behind the wheel of an automotive law department. He was most recently general counsel, corporate secretary and head of government relations at Volkswagen Group Canada, and has also has worked with Volkswagen Group China and Kia Canada.

Olympic Gateway

K-Town Landmarks Hope to Begin Summer Construction

The Olympic Gateway, a long-projected landmark for Los Angeles’ Koreatown, as well as the Madang project at Da Wool Jung, are expected to begin construction as soon as mid-May.

Korean Calligraphy Exhibition Open at Chicago Korean Cultural Center

On display are about 70 works by students of Kit-beol Village Calligrapher Lee Chul-woo. (Korea Times)

Four Korean American Officers Join Fairfax County Police Department After Graduating Academy

Arthur Cho, John Hong, Seung Meang and Shane Oh were among the 60 new police officers and deputies who graduated from the academy. This is the first time in the history of the department that an academy class had this many Korean-American graduates. (Centreville Independent)



Minority Share Deal with South Korean Group Could Value Dodgers at $3 Billion

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The New York Yankees have been baseball’s most valuable team for 17 years, according to Forbes in 2014. The pinstripes were valued at $2.85 billion, while the Los Angeles Dodgers came in second with a value of $2 billion.

But valuations can change quickly in the sports business. A potential deal with South Korean investors for a minority stake in the team places the valuation of the Dodgers at $3 billion, according to unnamed sources with knowledge of the negotiation.

Guggenheim Baseball Management purchased the Dodgers three years ago from Frank McCourt for a little over $2 billion in cash ($2.3 billion including the surrounding real estate). The recent negotiations with the South Korean investors have brought up some differing numbers, however. The Korea Joongang Daily reported in January that the South Korean group was looking into buying 20 percent of the team for about $370 million, which would value the team at $1.85 billion. But one of the partners on the Dodgers told the Los Angeles Times in December 2012 that Guggenheim valued the team at $3 billion.

Forbes pointed out that the $3 billion valuation was probably more accurate, based on a recent sale of a small stake in the Chicago Cubs that brought the team’s value up to $1.8 billion from the $1.2 billion Forbes had estimated a year ago.


Wendell Kim

Former MLB Coach Wendell Kim Dies at 64

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Wendell Kim, a former coach for several MLB teams, as well as a former minor league player, died on Sunday near his home in Arizona after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 64, reports the Chicago Tribune. He is survived by his wife along with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson.

Wendell Kealohepauloe Kim was born on March 9, 1950 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Doris and Phil Kim (The meaning of his middle name is “never ending love”). His family relocated to Long Beach, California, to help his father’s boxing career.

The St. Louis Sports Page published a feature on Kim this past August detailing his rough childhood and being diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It describes Kim’s father as abusive to his wife and children, who was then killed in 1958, possibly by the mob, for refusing to throw a fight.

Kim would rise above the traumatic events of his childhood. He took up baseball in high school at the encouragement of his mother. After graduating from Banning High School in Wilmington, California, Kim attended Cal Poly Pomona and played three years of baseball, setting school records and being selected twice for the All-California Collegiate Athletic Association team.

In 1973, Kim traveled to San Francisco without telling his mother to participate in an open try-out with the Giants, who signed him as an undrafted free agent. That began the first of 24 years with the Giants organization.

Using his height as a motivational factor, Kim, at 5-foot-4, would spend eight years playing as a second baseman, unfortunately never cracking the big league roster despite posting a .363 on-base percentage in 2,525 plate appearances. He was no slouch: Kim at the time benched 320 lbs and leg pressed 1,000 lbs.

After a coaching and managing stint in the minors, Kim joined the Giants coaching staff in 1989, quickly making a name for himself with his passion, as well as his aggressive baserunning decisions. During his tenure as the third base coach, the Giants won the pennant in his first year and won 103 games in 1993.

WKimKim as the San Francisco Giants’ third base coach. Photo via McCovey Chronicles.

Known as “Wavin’ Wendell” or “Wave ‘em in Wendell” for his aggressive style, Kim became one of the most recognizable third base coaches in San Francisco Giants history, a position he held until 1996. While he drew the ire of fans for being over-aggressive in sending baserunners home only to be thrown out, he was always the first to take responsibility if he made a mistake in the media.

Regardless, his enthusiasm and energy made him a fun figure to watch. Kim cut a diminutive figure among his fellow coaches and players, but he would be the first one to sprint out of the dugout and take his place in the third base coaching box. 

Kim was dismissed by the Giants following the 1996 season and went on to join the Boston Red Sox as their third base coach from 1997-2000. He was voted Man of the Year in 1997 by the Red Sox, becoming only the second non-player to receive the award in 33 years. After coaching with the Milwaukee Brewers and Montreal Expos, Kim made his final stop of his career with the Chicago Cubs before retiring in 2005.

You can make a donation in Kim’s name to the North California chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association here.



Robert Refsnyder Vying to Become Starting 2nd Baseman

by STEVE HAN | @steve_han

After losing six-time All-Star Robinson Cano via free agency, the New York Yankees were forced to settle for mediocrity at second base last season. Stephen Drew, who finished the season as the Yankees’ starting second baseman, hit an abysmal .150 since for the team. Nevertheless, the Yankees couldn’t find a viable replacement at second base during the offseason and ended up re-signing Drew on a one-year deal. If Drew does not improve drastically, though, the team could easily cut him.

This is one of the reasons why Yankees top-rated prospect Robert Refsnyder could provide a long-term solution for manager Joe Girardi’s longstanding struggle to fill the void left by Cano’s departure from a year ago. The 23-year-old, Korean-born Refsnyder has impressed the Yankees organization with his robust production in the minor leagues over the last three years.

Last season, Refsnyder combined a batting average of .318 with 14 home runs and 58 extra base hits for the Yankees’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates. While the outfielder-turned-second baseman’s defense still remains suspect, he committed just 12 errors last season compared to 25 in 2013.

“In half a year he had nine errors in Double-A and in in the second half, in Triple-A, he only had three. So there’s obviously a lot of improvement there. And I think that’s what we’re looking to see,” Yankees manager Girardi told NJ.com. “This is a young man that played right field in college. Very excited about his bat and his ability to get on base and do some things.”

The Yankees dealt Martin Prado, a utility infielder, to the Miami Marlins during the offeseason. Left only with Drew and a pair of unproven infielders in Didi Gregorius and Jose Pirela, Girardi invited Refsnyder to the Yankees’ camp for spring training, which begins in about two weeks in Tampa, Florida, where he will be given ample opportunities to make the Yankees’ 25-man roster for opening day in April.

“He has a chance to be a regular offensive second baseman,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. “I can’t tell you he’s not major-league ready just yet. The bottom line is, he’ll go into camp, and he’ll compete, and he’ll have a chance to potentially earn a spot on the roster.”

Born in Seoul with the birth name Kim Jung-tae, Refsnyder was adopted by Caucasian parents when he was about 3 months old. He was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. He was a standout outfielder for the University of Arizona, where he hit .476 to lead his school to a College World Series title in 2012.

Refnsyder grew up in Laguna Hills, Calif. where he was a fan of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


To read KoreAm Journal’s feature on Robert Refsnyder from our August 2012 issue click here.