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Independent baseball team cries foul over broken pledge

The Goyang Wonders, South Korea’s only independent baseball club with no league affiliation, on Wednesday accused the national governing body of professional baseball of reneging on an earlier promise to grant the team the privilege to play full-time in the minor leagues next year.

The Wonders, which were founded in late 2011, played 48 unofficial matches this year against teams in the Futures League, made up of minor-league affiliates of top-flight clubs in the Korea Baseball Organization.

Ha Song, the general manager of the team, told reporters Wednesday that the KBO has not lived up to its pledge that the Wonders will play in the Futures League in 2013.

Instead, the Wonders will be limited to 48 games again next year, Ha said.

“As one of the preconditions for launching our ballclub, the KBO had promised that we would be in the Futures League by 2013,” Ha said. “But the KBO simply told us that we will play 48 games in 2013 again. The KBO has given us no reason for that.”

In the 2012 Futures League, five teams in the Northern Division played 92 games and six clubs in the Southern Division played 100 games.

The Wonders hope to get 100 contests, and the team will have more discussions with the KBO next month, Ha said.

The Wonders are based in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, just northwest of Seoul.

They are a team of castaways, undrafted high school or college graduates, and former U.S. minor leaguers who never made it past that stage.

Managed by Kim Sung-keun, who has won three KBO championships, the Wonders posted a respectable 20-21 win-loss record with seven ties in 2012. (Yonhap News)