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Is the strongest baseball nourishing the KBO League

Actors Cho In-sung and Cha Tae-hyun are well-known as big baseball fans. They are “big fans” of the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO League). The two actors appeared on Yoo Jae-suk’s YouTube channel “Pingye High School” and confessed their love for baseball and the Hanwha Eagles without hiding their love. They were caught on a baseball broadcasting screen watching the Hanwha game together. Cho once threw the first pitch wearing Hanwha’s uniform, while Cha Tae-hyun appeared as a fan of Hanwha along with actor In-gyo and singer Lee Jang-won in the sports entertainment program “Jjin Fan Zone,” which shows “the desperate cheering fans of real fans who risk their lives” in baseball.

Cho does not even hesitate to say that he is “disappointed when the professional baseball season is over.” It reminds me of a baseball quote from Tommy La Soda, former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB), that “the saddest day of the year is the end of the baseball season.” Cho, who has no hobbies other than watching baseball, stays with the KBO League from Tuesday to Sunday, and enjoys the sports entertainment program “The Greatest Baseball” on Mondays when there are no professional baseball games. “I am happy to be able to watch baseball all week long thanks to the Greatest Baseball,” he says.

Both the “Strongest Baseball” and “True Fan Zone” also have their own episodes aired on Monday to fill the void left by the absence of a professional baseball game. They can warm up in the “Strongest Fan Zone,” which starts at 7 p.m. on Monday, and start cheering for the “Strongest Monsters” at 10:30 p.m. It will be icing on the cake with chicken and beer.

Cho In-sung is not the only one who has fallen in love with “The Greatest Baseball.” Popular actor Son Seok-gu and Kim In-na, who participated as lyricists in the OST of “The Greatest” Season 2, are also big fans of “The Greatest Baseball.” “The Greatest Baseball” even has the effect of attracting ordinary baseball fans, who are not interested in it. Many people say that they became baseball fans through “The Greatest Baseball.”

The strongest baseball and the KBO League are coexisting. In some ways, the strongest baseball is contributing to some of the box office success by playing a role as a nourishment for fattening the KBO League.

“The Greatest Baseball” is not just a stage for retired star players such as Lee Dae-ho, Jeong Geun-woo, Park Yong-taek, Jeong Seong-hun, Lee Taek-geun, Song Seung-joon, Kim Moon-ho, Jang Won-sam, Yoo Hee-kwan, Seo Dong-wook, Jeong Eui-yoon, Lee Dae-eun, Shin Jae-young, and Lee Hong-gu. It is also a place where amateur players eagerly pursue their dreams and develop hope.

Players and leaders who have grown up through the “strongest baseball” are taking their place in the KBO League and breathing new winds. Players who have overcome the threshold of the KBO League by playing with legendary seniors through the strongest baseball and now perform well as confident professional players continue to appear.

Hwang Young-mook (25), a rookie infielder of the Hanwha Eagles, and Ko Young-woo (23), a rookie infielder of the Kiwoom Heroes, are representative players who have joined KBO League clubs after “the strongest baseball” and are creating a new wind.

Hwang Young-mook was selected by Hanwha as the 31st overall pick in the fourth round of the 2024 Rookie Draft as a former “strongest baseball player.” Although he performed well as a shortstop during Chunghun High School, he failed to receive a professional nomination due to his small physique, entered Chung-Ang University, and soon dropped out and joined the Seongnam Blue Panthers, an independent baseball team, to continue his career. After completing his military service, he continued to play for the independent baseball team’s Scorebone Hyenas and Yeoncheon Miracle starting in 2021. In 2022, he appeared in the sports entertainment program “Youth Baseball Team: Not Out yet,” and in 2023, he joined the “strongest baseball” after a tryout, raising his profile and attracting the attention of professional scouts.

He made the opening entry on March 23, this year when he belatedly entered the professional stage due to restrictions on college dropouts, which require him to join the pro league in time for his graduation year. However, he disappeared after failing to take the opportunity to play, and immediately returned to the first team on April 9, made his debut as a substitute in the game against Doosan Bears in Jamsil, and played as a pinch runner on April 11. He was deployed as a substitute in the top of the eighth inning against KIA in Daejeon on April 12, and reported his first hit by hitting a double to right field for the first time in the bottom of the eighth inning. He had one hit and one run from two times at bat. At the game against KIA on April 14, he also had a hit to left in the eighth inning as a substitute in the top of the seventh inning.

The Hanwha coaching staff, who confirmed Hwang’s batting talent as well as stable defense between second base and shortstop, gave him an opportunity to start at the match against NC in Changwon on April 16. Starting as the eighth batter and shortstop, Hwang had one hit in four times at bat, and the next day he made his first multi-hit. He did not stop at his first hit at the match against KIA on April 12, and ended April by producing hits in 15 consecutive games. At the match against KT in Suwon on April 23, his first home run since his debut also exploded. He replaced Ha Ju-seok, who left the team due to injury, as the starting shortstop for the Hanwha Eagles.

His hit streak continued for 16 games from the match against SSG in Daejeon on the 1st until his first three-hit game. He even got a cool nickname, “Mukki Betts,” which was taken from the name of Mookie Betts, a “superstar” who plays as a shortstop for the Dodgers. The production of hits, which had been taking a break, has continued for four consecutive games from the game against Lotte in Sajik on the 9th to the game against Kiwoom in Daejeon on the 12th. Although he is short of the stipulated batting average of 0.333 (26 hits in 78 times at bat) in the season, the No. 1 player in his team, with one homer, nine RBIs, 11 runs scored and one stolen base, making him an early candidate for the Rookie of the Year.

BY: 스포츠토토

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