15 Years Ago, Late Rookie of the Year Ushered in KBO’s First 1,500-RBI Era

Choi Hyung-woo, 40, of the Korean Baseball Organization’s KIA Tigers, is on the verge of one of the most significant milestones of his career. With two more RBIs in the three-game series against the Hanwha Eagles starting on Tuesday, he will become the first player in KBO history to reach 1,500 career RBIs.

He already has the record for most RBIs. 안전놀이터 On July 17, he recorded his 1498th career RBI against the Gwangju NC Dinos, tying Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop’s all-time record. He needs just one more RBI to overtake Lee and take sole possession of first place. Each RBI that Choi accumulates in the future will be a new piece of KBO history.

Like Lee, Choi started his professional career with the Samsung Lions. However, he had a different start. Lee was a “big name” who was deeply rooted in Daegu from his first season. Choi, on the other hand, was more of an inconspicuous “weed. Choi was drafted in the sixth round of the 2002 rookie draft (48th overall) as a catcher and had five at-bats in four games that year. He remained in the second team until 2004, when he had two at-bats in two games for the first team. He was labeled as a “batting average” player. He was eventually released by Samsung after the 2005 season.
He knocked on the door of the Armed Forces Athletic Corps baseball team, but failed the tryout. He was on the verge of ending his career. He worked as a day laborer and searched for a new opportunity. Then, he had a stroke of luck when the police baseball team was founded. Through a series of twists and turns, he joined the team. He gave up the catcher position and completely switched to the outfield to focus more on hitting. In 2007, he won seven batting titles in the Futures (2nd) Northern League with the Police Baseball Team. Samsung offered Choi a second contract after he was discharged from the military. “At that time, about half of the players in the police baseball team didn’t have a team, and we were all desperate, so we worked really hard together for two years,” Choi recalls.

Choi’s real professional career didn’t begin until 2008, when he was twenty-five. Six years after his debut, Choi spread his wings when he recorded his first hit. He established himself as Samsung’s main outfielder and won the KBO’s oldest rookie of the year trophy. In 2011, he reached the 100-RBI plateau for the first time (118) and won the RBI title. After that, he only got stronger. Starting in 2014, he had three consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. In 2016, he finished second in RBIs with 144. It was the second most RBIs in a single season in history, behind only Park Byung-ho (146 RBIs-KT Wiz) in 2015.

As a result, Choi moved to his hometown team, KIA, in 2017 for a total of 10 billion won over four years. He officially started the “10 billion won era” in KBO free agent history. In 2017, his first season with the team, Choi again led KIA to the title with 120 RBIs. He recorded triple-digit RBIs for five consecutive years (2014-2018), tying him with Lee Dae-ho (formerly of the Lotte Giants) and Park Byung-ho for the most in that category. Little by little, he built a foothold in the record books.

Choi Hyung-woo is 40 years old this year. He’s had his ups and downs in recent years, but he’s still the No. 4 hitter for KIA. This is because he stuck to his conviction that “it’s a baseball player’s duty to attend games” and realized his goal of “doing well for a long time since I started late.” The late rookie of 15 years ago is now ready for his coronation as the real batting champion.

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