Baseball's rookie sensation eager for chance to play for father on natl. team

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 11, 2017 - 09:15
  • Updated : Aug 11, 2017 - 11:07

South Korean baseball's rookie sensation Lee Jung-hoo knew he'd never be able to play with his famous father, Lee Jong-beom, who retired in 2012 when his son was just 13.

But this year, the junior Lee has a chance to play for his father -- on the national team, at that.

Earlier Thursday, Lee Jong-beom, a former MVP and Rookie of the Year in the Korea Baseball Organization, was named a base running coach for South Korea at the inaugural Asia Professional Baseball Championship in Tokyo. The Nov. 16-19 tournament is open to pros from South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei under 24 -- born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 -- or those with less than three years of professional experience.

Lee Jung-hoo, who will turn 19 on Aug. 20, is almost a lock to make the team. The Nexen Heroes youngster leads all KBO rookies this year with a .338 average, and is second overall in the league with 83 runs scored.

Before the Heroes hosted the Doosan Bears at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul Thursday, Lee Jung-hoo said it'd be "a huge honor" to be named to the national team.

"Wearing the national flag on the chest with my father has been a dream since I was a child," he said. "But my dad hasn't really said much (about his coaching job)."

Though Lee Jong-beom was one of the KBO's very best hitters in the 1990s -- he won the 1994 batting title with a .393 average, which remains the second best single-season batting average in the league history -- the father never gave his son any tips. The younger Lee believes that his father perhaps didn't want to confuse his son when he was already working with his own coaches at school.

"If I do make the national team, then my dad will coach me for the first time," Jung-hoo said. "I am looking forward to that opportunity."

Once on the field, Lee said he'll forget about the father-son bond and "I'll just do whatever the coach tells me to do." (Yonhap)

In this file photo provided by the Nexen Heroes baseball club on July 5, 2016, Lee Jung-hoo (L) poses with his father Lee Jong-beom, former Korea Baseball Organization MVP, after being selected in the annual draft. (Yonhap)