“I didn’t get to go when I was on the active roster…” First All-Star game at 46, first MVP with the ‘master of the upset’
“We play on the same team as Gunsan Sangilgo, so we can come from behind.”
Gunsan Sangilgo’s DNA of being a “master of reversal” was not lost on the competition. Team Picoque (Gunsan Sangil High School, Bae Myung High School, and Hwimun High School), led by current players from Gunsan Sangil High School, defeated Team NoBrand (Daegu Sangwon High School and Sunlin Internet High School) to win the all-star game of the high school alumni baseball tournament. Jung Won-seok (46, formerly of Hanwha), who won the MVP award for his game-winning hit, gave credit to his juniors.
Team Picoque defeated Team NoBrand 4-2 in the All-Star Game of the 2023 NoBrand Baseball High School Alumni Tournament at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 28.
In a game scheduled for five innings, Team NoBrand scored two runs in the first inning and led until the fourth inning. However, the top of the lineup, which was filled with military veterans, lived up to their nickname of ‘masters of reversal’ and turned the game around without missing a single offensive opportunity. In the bottom of the fourth inning, with Picoque trailing 0-2, Gunsan Sangil-Go players managed to get back-to-back hits against the Lee Mansu-Kim Do-Woon battery and tied the game at 2-2. Jung Won-seok made it 3-2 with a single to right field, and Choi Hyung-joon drove in the winning run with a triple to the center of the outfield.
The MVP of the All-Star Game was Jung Won-seok, who hit the game-winning hit. “I haven’t been to an All-Star game since I was in the army, but I’m glad I was able to experience it. I play on the same team as Gunsan Sangilgo, so it’s great to come from behind like this. The kids in front of me played hard, and I think it gave me a boost.”
Gunsan Sangil, which has been known as a master of upsets since the 1970s when it was known as Gunsan Sangil, won the title in this year’s President’s Cup for the first time in 37 years by playing a series of upsets against Gyeonggi in the semifinals and Incheon in the final. That confidence carried over to the eventual All-Star Game. “Before the fourth inning, I said to the kids, ‘We can’t lose, so let’s play tactical baseball,’ and they said, ‘We’re good at tactical baseball! We’re masters of coming from behind!'” Won said, smiling broadly, “They put runners on base, and I couldn’t miss that opportunity, so I focused on it for the first time in a long time.”
Organized by the Korea Baseball Softball Association (KBSA) and sponsored by Shinsegae E-Mart Group, the No Brand Bae High School Alumni Baseball Tournament is in its second year. The winning school will receive 30 million won in scholarships and the runner-up school will receive 15 million won in scholarships. The third-place team will also receive 7 million won, allowing the seniors to pass on the fruits of their labor to the juniors. With defending champion Gunsan Sangilgo and Yang Joon-hyuk’s Daegu Sangwongo facing off in the final, Jung Won-seok’s alma mater, Whimungo, did not apply to participate in the tournament, so Jung Won-seok had to apply as an individual through a notice posted on the Retired Players Association. That’s how he made his first All-Star Game appearance and won the MVP award, and he made it a point to share the MVP award with his juniors to create memories.
“I’m glad I applied,” said Jung Won-seok, who joked, “If we (Whimungo) participate and come after this, the game is over. It’s really nice to meet the seniors and juniors that I only talked to every time. I hope the high school kids who participated have good memories, and I hope there will be more competitions like this in the future. If it continues to be held, I will continue to participate.”
As Coach Chung said, it was a festive event that brought together active high school players and college players. The seniors stepped up to the plate when the team was unable to recruit many players due to college admissions. Chung had to play first base for Picoque, while Kim Sung-bae (42) and Shim Soo-chang (41) took the mound after years of retirement. For the NoBrand team, former pitcher Ahn Ji-jin (40) and KBO legend Lee Man-soo (65), chairman of the Hulk Foundation, shared the catcher’s mask.
Kim Sung-bae, starting pitcher for Picoque, and Ahn Man-ji, starting catcher for NoBrand, were the most sweaty players on both teams. In the dugout, Kim Sung-bae said, “It’s hard to throw after retiring in 2017. I throw a few times while teaching children, but it’s the first time I’ve been on the field since I stopped playing social baseball,” he said, adding, “Being on the mound after a long time brings back the feelings I’ve forgotten. Even though it’s before an event, it feels good to feel the nervousness that I felt on the field in the past.” He smiled broadly.
Ahn Man-ji, who often plays catcher in social baseball teams, sighed, “It’s hard,” as soon as he entered the dugout after one inning, but he showed the most enthusiasm, saying, “I don’t care where I play,” to coach Yang Il-hwan, who was struggling to organize the starting lineup. He also brought a catcher’s mask and an infield glove to help Daesebae Lee Man-soo make his first base debut. 메이저사이트
The highlight was Lee Man-soo’s debut at the plate. Lee Man-soo put on a catcher’s mask in the top of the fourth inning. He was paired with high school junior Kim Do-woon, and although he gave up four runs, he made an active play by going up to the mound to console Kim and tagging out the runner at third base when Shim Soo-chang hit a ground ball. When he came up to bat, he surprised everyone on the field with a quick hit, earning applause from the juniors.
Lee Man-soo said, “It’s good to play catcher for the first time in a long time, but even after playing one inning, my legs are getting tired. Still, I think I did a good job even though I’m 66 years old and have a lot of weight on my neck and shoulders.” “The pitcher (Kim Do-woon) had a really good ball. It was only because of me, the catcher, that we gave up runs and lost,” he smiled.