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KT Wiz name Cho as inaugural manager

Cho Beom-hyun. (Yonhap News)
Cho Beom-hyun. (Yonhap News)
Cho Beom-hyun, who guided the Kia Tigers to the South Korean baseball championship in 2009, was named the inaugural manager of the expansion club KT Wiz on Friday.

The Wiz, which will join the Korea Baseball Organization in 2015, announced the signing of Cho to a three-year deal worth 1.5 billion won ($1.3 million), a figure that includes a signing bonus.

The 52-year-old former catcher managed the Tigers to the 2009 Korean Series title over the SK Wyverns. The following year, he led South Korea to the gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

In 2003, his first year as a KBO manager, he took the overachieving Wyverns to the Korean Series, where they lost to the Hyundai Unicorns in seven games.

The Wyverns finished the regular season only two games above .500 in winning percentage and had the worst record among the four playoff participants.

He managed the Wyverns from 2003 to 2006 and then the Tigers from 2007 to 2011. He served as the head of the player development committee in the KBO last year and joined the Samsung Lions as the catcher instructor this season.

He left the Tigers after the 2011 season with a 524-498 managerial record, along with 22 ties. 

“It is a great honor to be named KT’s first-ever manager,” Cho said in a statement. “I will try to rely on my managerial experience to lay a solid foundation for the new club. I will have the club play an aggressive and fun brand of baseball for our fans.”

Kwon Sa-il, president of the Wiz, said he selected Cho for his “wealth of experience and his ability to develop players.” The Wiz said they will hold Cho’s inaugural press conference on Monday.

In his 11-year KBO career with two teams, Cho batted .201 with 12 home runs and 107 RBIs in 615 games.

The Wiz received the KBO’s approval as the league’s 10th club in January this year. The KT Wiz will be owned by the country’s top fixed-line and No. 2 mobile operator and will be based in Suwon, the provincial capital of Gyeonggi, just south of Seoul.

The Wiz will spend the 2014 season in the Futures League, the minor league to the KBO, and will enter the big circuit in 2015. (Yonhap News)