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Sunday, September 25, 2022

Meet the 40 legends named to the KBO’s all-time all-star squad

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From left: Sun Dong-yol, Lee Seung-yuop and Dustin Nippert  [KBO]
From left: Sun Dong-yol, Lee Seung-yuop and Dustin Nippert [KBO]

The KBO on Monday announced the final four members of the league’s “40 Legend” team, a round-up of the top 40 KBO players of all time that has been slowly compiled since the All-Star game in July.

Players were chosen for the 40-man squad from a list of 177 candidates, including all former Golden Glove and Korean Series MVP winners, as well as any pitchers who had recorded 800 appearances with 100 wins, 150 saves and at least one 20-win season and any batters who had appeared in 2,000 games, hit 200 home runs, 2,000 hits and had at least one 40-home run season.

All active players, including those playing overseas, were excluded.

The top-four vote winners were the first players announced ahead of the All-Star game, with former Haitai Tigers starter Sun Dong-yol, the KBO’s all-time ERA leader at just 1.20 over 1,647 innings pitched, leading the vote. Lion King Lee Seung-yuop, the youngest professional player anywhere in the world to pass 300 career home runs, was also up there, as was former Lotte Giants pitcher Choi Dong-won and Tigers shortstop Lee Jong-beom.

Lion King Lee Seung-yuop, the youngest professional player anywhere in the world to pass 300 career home runs, was also up there, as was former Lotte Giants pitcher Choi Dong-won and Tigers shortstop Lee Jong-beom.

Over the following months, the 40 legends have included players like Park Chul-soon, MVP of the first KBO season, Park Yong-taik, the KBO’s all-time hits leader, and two foreign players: Pitcher Dustin Nippert and slugger Tyrone Woods.

The one controversial inclusion on the list was former Haitai Tigers pitcher Lim Chang-yong, among the last players to be announced on Monday this week, who was convicted of being a habitual gambler earlier this year and handed a suspended prison sentence. The KBO opted to keep Lim on the list, saying that the voting was completed before he was sentenced, and his off-the-field issues are still part of the league’s history.

Living members of the 40 Legends team have been active around the KBO throughout the second half of the season, appearing at events with their former clubs, throwing out opening pitches and watching games.

The following players are the members of the KBO’s 40 Legends squad, listed in the order they were announced in.

Clockwise from top left: Sun Dong-yol, Choi Dong-won, Lee Seung-yuop and Lee Jong-beom.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Sun Dong-yol, Choi Dong-won, Lee Seung-yuop and Lee Jong-beom. [KBO]

Sun Dong-yol

Former Haitai Tigers pitcher Sun retired with an all-time leading 1.20 ERA and 29 complete game shutouts to his name, having led the Tigers to six Korea Series titles and been named regular season MVP three times.

Choi Dong-won

Choi followed Sun on the all-time ERA list, at 2.46. He made his name in 1984, when he picked up 27 wins for the Lotte Giants in the regular season and then went on to win all four games against the Samsung Lions in the Korean Series.

Lee Jong-beom

Lee was an extremely versatile infielder, combining speed and power throughout his career with the Tigers. In 1994, his MVP season, he made a record 84 steals and hit 19 home runs with a .393 batting average.

Lee Seung-yuop

Lions legend Lee was the youngest player in the world to pass 300 career home runs at 26. He holds the KBO record for home runs, runs scored, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS.

Clockwise from top left: Park Chul-soon, Lee Man-soo, Kim Sung-han and Baek In-chun.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Park Chul-soon, Lee Man-soo, Kim Sung-han and Baek In-chun. [KBO]

Park Chul-soon

OB Bears pitcher Park was the KBO MVP in the inaugural 1982 season, capitalizing on his career in the Minors to lead the Bears to the pennant title and top the league in wins, ERA and winning rate that season.

Lee Man-soo

MBC Chungryong catcher Lee hit the first home run in KBO history on opening day in 1982, and then went on to top the league for the next three years. He was the first slugger to reach 100 and 200 career home runs.


Baek In-chun

Baek was a player-coach for MBC and the most consistent batter for average that the league has ever seen. His .412 batting average for the 1982 season remains the only time anyone has ever hit over .400.

Kim Sung-han

Haitai utility man Kim took utility to a whole new level in 1982, batting and pitching with a .305 batting average and 13 home runs alongside a 2.79 ERA with 10 wins and a shutout.

Clockwise from top left: Lee Sang-hoon, Park Jung-tae, Bae Young-soo and Dustin Nippert.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Lee Sang-hoon, Park Jung-tae, Bae Young-soo and Dustin Nippert. [KBO]

Lee Sang-hoon

Southpaw Lee became the first left-hander to win 20 games in the KBO with the LG Twins in 1995 and remains the only pitcher in the league to have won 20 games as a starter and saved 30 games as a closer.

Park Jung-tae

Lotte Giants career man Park came back from a potentially career-ending ankle injury in the early 1990s to hit a .337 season in 1995 and then manage a 31-game hitting streak in 1999, tying the league record at the time.

Dustin Nippert

Known as the Jesus of Seoul, Nippert spent seven seasons with the Doosan Bears and led the club to a Korean Series win in 2015. He left the KBO with 102 wins and 1,082 strikeouts, both records for foreign pitchers.

Bae Young-soo

Samsung Lions starter Bae was a power pitcher with three Korean Series wins until elbow surgery derailed his career in 2007. He changed his entire approach at the plate and went on to win four more championship rings.

Clockwise from top left: Jang Hyo-jo, Kim Si-jin, Kim Jae-bak and Han Dae-hwa.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Jang Hyo-jo, Kim Si-jin, Kim Jae-bak and Han Dae-hwa. [KBO]

 

Jang Hyo-jo

Jang, the KBO’s all-time on-base percentage leader, at .427, won four batting titles in a five-year period in the early 1980s. A Lions legend, Jang remains the only player to win three consecutive batting titles.

Kim Si-jin

Kim, another early Lions legend, was the first KBO pitcher to reach 100 career wins. He pitched a 25-win season in 1985, which remains the third-best single season win count in KBO history.

Han Dae-hwa

Han plied his trade with the Tigers, but is perhaps best known for his national team achievements. His eighth-inning three-run homer in the final of the 1982 World Championships secured Korea’s win over Japan.

Kim Jae-bak

Kim didn’t even have to swing the bat to secure his spot in Korean baseball history, laying down a jumping squeeze bunt to bring home the tying run in the 1982 World Championships final.

Clockwise from top left: Lee Kang-chul, Jeong Min-chul, Cho Kye-hyeon and Jung Min-tae.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Lee Kang-chul, Jeong Min-chul, Cho Kye-hyeon and Jung Min-tae. [KBO]

 

Lee Kang-chul

Lee, the cornerstone of the unstoppable Tigers team of the 1990s, recording at least 10 wins and 100 strikeouts in 10 straight seasons and winning five Korean Series titles.

Jeong Min-chul

Hanwha Eagles General Manager Jeong wasn’t always behind a desk. Back in the ‘90s he became the youngest pitcher to reach 100 wins, at 27, a record that is yet to be beaten in the KBO.

Jung Min-tae

Hyundai Unicorns pitcher Jung was a workhorse, racking up at least 200 innings pitched for five consecutive seasons, a record he shares to this day. Jung holds the record for the most consecutive wins by a pitcher, at 21.

Cho Kye-hyeon

Tigers starter Cho also put in some serious hours, but he preferred to do it in one game. Cho retired in 2001 with 64 complete games to his name over 13 seasons in the KBO.

Clockwise from top left: Kim Tae-kyun, Park Jae-hong, Hong Sung-heon and Park Kyung-oan.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Kim Tae-kyun, Park Jae-hong, Hong Sung-heon and Park Kyung-oan. [KBO]

Kim Tae-kyun

Kim spent his entire career with the Eagles and only retired last year, making him one of the newest stars in the legends squad. He holds the KBO record for longest on-base run, at 86 games.

Park Jae-hong

Park was the ultimate Rookie of the Year, hitting 30 home runs and stealing 36 bases in a huge breakout year for the Hyundai Unicorns in 1996. He still holds the record for most home runs and RBIs by a rookie in the KBO.

Park Kyung-oan

Park, the only catcher ever to hit 40 home runs in a season in the KBO, once homered in four consecutive plate appearances. He was also a solid catcher with a shotgun arm that proved formidable at taking down base runners.

Hong Sung-heon

Hong won the Golden Glove for catcher in 2001 and 2004, but it was the offensive aspect of the game that he really loved. Moved to DH later in his career, Bears man Hong won four straight Golden Gloves in that position.

Clockwise from top left: Jeon Jun-ho, Lee Soon-chul, Park Jin-man and Jeong Keun-woo.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Jeon Jun-ho, Lee Soon-chul, Park Jin-man and Jeong Keun-woo. [KBO]

Jeon Jun-ho

Jeon grew up running track and had no problem using that speed on the baseball field. The KBO’s all-time leading base stealer, with 549 stolen bases, Jeon stole at least 10 bases for 18 consecutive seasons.

Lee Soon-chul


Lee started his career at third base but quickly ended up in the outfield, where he won four Golden Gloves and led the league in steals on three separate occasions.

Jeong Keun-woo

Jeong is another speedy infielder, stealing at least 20 bases for 11 consecutive seasons. He was also a strong batter, leading the league in runs in 2009 and 2016.

Park Jin-man

Park was a purely defensive player, winning the Golden Glove five times and six Korean Series rings; four with the Unicorns and two with the Lions. At the 2008 Olympics, Park started the defensive play that won Korea gold.

Clockwise from top left: Yang Joon-hyuk, Park Yong-taik, Kim Ki-tai and Lee Byung-kyu.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Yang Joon-hyuk, Park Yong-taik, Kim Ki-tai and Lee Byung-kyu. [KBO]

Yang Joon-hyuk

Yang is a big figure in KBO batting history. He was the first player to hit 2,000 hits and sits second on the all-time ranking with 2,318. When he retired in 2010, he was the all-time leader in nine batting categories.

Park Yong-taik

With 2,504 career hits to his name, LG Twins legend Park is the all-time KBO hits leader and a prolific slugger with 213 career home runs to his name. He has appeared in more games than any other hitter, at 2,237.

Lee Byung-kyu

Lee played a complete season in his debut year in 1997, winning Rookie of the Year and a Golden Glove. He won the batting title twice, including at 38 years old in 2013, the oldest player ever to take the batting crown.

Kim Ki-tai

Kim was the first left-hander to win the KBO home run title and first rookie to hit more than 20 homers, with 27 in 1991. His long career saw him captain three teams: The Ssangbangwool Raiders, Lions and Wyverns.

Clockwise from top left: Jang Jong-hoon, Kim Dong-joo, Tyrone Woods and Shim Chong-soo.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Jang Jong-hoon, Kim Dong-joo, Tyrone Woods and Shim Chong-soo. [KBO]

Jang Jong-hoon

Jang was a prolific slugger, leading the KBO in home runs and RBIs for three straight seasons from 1990 to 1992. He was the first player to hit 300 home runs and the first hitter to win back-to-back MVP awards.

Kim Dong-joo

Bears legend Kim hit back-to-back home runs in his very first KBO game and went on to a slugging career of epic proportions. In 2000, he hit the KBO’s longest-ever home run, a 150-meter rocket at Jamsil Baseball Stadium.

Shim Chong-soo

Shim started his career with Kim at the Bears, but became even deadlier when he joined the Unicorns in 2001. He hit 53 home runs in a single season in 2003 and is 10th on the career home run list, with 328.

Tyrone Woods

Woods was the third member of the Bears slugging machine in the late ‘90s, hitting over 30 home runs in his first four seasons in the KBO. He is the only foreign position player to make it on to the 40 Legends squad.

Clockwise from top left: Song Jin-woo, Koo Dae-sung, Kim Yong-soo and Lim Chang-yong.  [KBO]
Clockwise from top left: Song Jin-woo, Koo Dae-sung, Kim Yong-soo and Lim Chang-yong. [KBO]

Song Jin-woo

Song, the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in KBO history, is the league’s all-time leader in wins, at 210, strikeouts, at 2,048, and innings pitched, at 3,003. He is one of only four pitchers with 100 wins and 100 saves.

Koo Dae-sung

Koo and Song were both crucial parts of the 1999 Korean Series winning Eagles squad, the only time the team has won the championship. Koo was a prolific starter and reliever, with 214 saves and 67 wins in his career.

Kim Yong-soo

Kim spent his career with LG, joining when they were still MBC, and was the first KBO pitcher to reach 100 wins and 200 saves. He was such a talismanic figure that the club retired his number before he even retired.

Lim Chang-yong

Lim was another workhorse, appearing in 760 games over his career and retiring with 130 wins, 258 saves and a career 3.45 ERA. His 258 saves are good enough for third place on the all-time ranking.

BY JIM BULLEY [jim.bulley@joongang.co.kr]

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