Players who had been called “Stars” have gathered again in their second annual competition. This time the event was renamed as the “Legend Super Game” to commemorate the three “Super Games” the two countries held after season’s end during the 1990s.
After the press conference a couple of months ago to confirm the event, there was a change to the title and venue. The original plan was Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do (경상북도 포항시), a port in the southeast coast of the Korean peninsula, a driving force of South Korea’s industrialization in the 1960s and 70s. Last year, Pohang showcased their new baseball stadium. It held this past season’s All-Star Game, and opened a few home games for the Samsung Lions.
However, the venue was moved to Incheon. No clear reason had been announced about the change, but it seems as politics had some influenced the baseball community to support the city of Incheon since they will be hosting the Asian Games (Asia’s version of the Olympics) next year. A number of sporting events were held in Incheon this year, which felt pretty much like practice rounds for the city to get used to big events.
The “Nexen Tire KBO-NPB Legend Match 2012” was the title for last year’s game, which was hosted and organized by the Ilgoo Baseball Association, a group of retired baseball coaches and players. This year’s event was run by the Korea Professional Baseball Players Alumni Association, another group of old-timers who has an ongoing legal dispute with the Ilgoo Baseball Association. It is possible that the Alumni Association wished to do a reboot of the event, and ended up finding the perfect link to justify their cause: the former Super Games played in the 90s.
The game featured some aggressive baserunning and diving plays from both sides, which did entertain viewers and at the same time had them worried. Watching retired players play in 43˚F (6˚C) weather does make you flinch at times as there were occasional grimaces and limpings after plays. But, then again, when and where else could you watch something like this?
After winning last year’s game 5-0, Team Korea dropped this one to Japan 6-5. Long time Hanwha Eagles pitcher Song Jin-woo (송진우), who started the game for Team Korea, gave up solo home runs to Iida Tetsuya (飯田哲也) and Yamazaki Takeshi (山﨑武司) in the first inning. Team Korea got on the board with Park Jae-hong’s (박재홍) sacrifice fly afterwards. However, Jeong Min-cheul (정민철), another long time Hanwha Eagle, relieved Song only to give up four runs on five hits. Korea’s relievers kept the team in the game by silencing the Japanese hitters for the next six innings, but their rally came up short.
Team Japan Roster
- Manager: Sasaki Kazuhiro (佐々木主浩, 45)
- Pitchers: Kuwata Masumi (桑田真澄, 45), Maeda Yukinaga (前田幸長, 43), Sakumoto Masahiro (佐久本昌広, 39), Shingo Takatsu (高津臣吾, 45), Suzuki Makoto (鈴木誠, 38), Tsuno Hiroshi (津野浩, 48), Wakatabe Kenichi (若田部健一, 44)
- Catchers: Jozume Masahiko (定詰雅彦, 47), Yoshinaga Koichiro (吉永幸一郎, 44)
- Infielders: Kokubo Hiroki (小久保裕紀, 42), Komada Tokuhiro (駒田徳広, 51), Murakami Takayuki (村上隆行, 48), Suzuki Ken (鈴木健, 43)
- Outfielders: Iida Tetsuya (飯田哲也, 45), Kakiuchi Tetsuya (垣内 哲也, 43), Tanaka Kazunori (田中一徳, 32), Yamazaki Takeshi (山﨑武司, 45)
Team Korea Roster
- Manager: Sun Dong-yeol (선동열, 50)
- Pitchers: Cho Woong-cheon (조웅천, 42), Cho Yong-jun (조용준, 34), Choi Sang-deok (최상덕, 42), Jung Min-cheul (정민철, 41), Kim Tae-han (김태한, 44), Lee Dae-jin (이대진, 39), Lee Kang-cheol (이강철, 47), Song Jin-woo (송진우, 47)
- Catchers: Jang Chae-keun (장채근, 49), Lee Man-soo (이만수, 52), Park Kyung-oan (박경완, 41), Shin Kyung-hyun (신경현, 38)
- Infielders: Ma Hae-yeong (마해영, 43), Kim Seong-han (김성한, 55), Jang Jong-hun (장종훈, 45), Yeom Kyeong-yeob (염경엽, 45), Choi Tae-won (최태원, 43), An Kyeong-hyeon (안경현, 43), Kang Ki-woong (강기웅, 49), Han Dae-hwa (한대화, 53), Kim Han-soo (김한수, 42), Kong Pil-seong (공필성, 46), Ryu Joong-il (류중일, 50), Lee Jong-beom (이종범, 43), Kim Jae-keol (김재걸, 41)
- Outfielders: Lee Jeong-hun (이정훈, 50), Choi Yig-seong (최익성, 41), Lee Sun-cheol (이순철, 52), Kim Il-kwon (김일권, 57), Sim Jae-hag (심재학, 41), Park Jae-hong (박재홍, 40)
Retro sports or turn-back-the-clock event is a relatively new concept in Korea with its short professional league history. Not many have showed up as one would have expected in an event like this. It could be because of the cold weather, or it may have been the lack of marketing. One thing for sure is that those who went there are true baseball fans.
Presumably targeted for the older generation, it was nice to see some of the younger fans get on line for the autograph appearance. Many of these younger fans have no clue what baseball in Korea went through to have something that they see now. An event like this can defintely engrave some sort of awareness towards the historical aspect of the game.
One other thing I would like to point out is philanthropic side of the event. More companies in Korea are focusing on corporate social responsibility, and sports has jumped onto the bandwagon. Instead of having a corporate sponsor on their uniform, the Earth Group had their title on the jerseys of both sides. An auction was held during the event to raise funds for the group to battle global hunger. It would be nice to see more of these events display their awareness on social issues.
- The Earth Group
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