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Korean Baseball Timeline
Written by Joseph Reaves and Rob Fitts   
Friday, 31 December 2010 01:34
  • 1905 – Missionary Philip L. Gillett is credited with introducing baseball to Korea.
  • 1906 – Baseball is first played in Korea by YMCA staff and students of the German Language Institute.
  • 1909 – Twenty-five Korean students studying in Tokyo form a baseball club while home on leave and handily defeat a team of foreign missionaries.
  • 1963 – Korea establishes its reputation as a legitimate force in baseball by defeating Japan to win the 5th Asia Amateur Baseball Championships.
  • 1982 – The Korea Baseball Organization League begins with six teams. A seventh team is added in 1986 and an eighth in 1989.
  • 1990 – North Korea accepted for membership in International Baseball Association.
  • 1994 – The Los Angeles Dodgers sign Korean pitcher Park Chan Ho, who goes on to make the Opening Day roster. Park is the first native Korean to reach the Major Leagues. In 1996, his first start of the season is broadcast live back to Korea. Like many Asians in the United States, he Westernizes his name to Chan Ho Park, putting his family name last.
  • 1997 – The Boston Red Sox sign Korean left-hander Sang Hoon Lee. The signing later was voided because it took place during a period in which Major League Baseball imposed a freeze on recruiting Asian players so that new signing protocols could be worked out.
  • 1998 – In the midst of an Asia-wide economic downturn, Korean viewers vote against having the national broadcasters purchase rights to live television coverage of Los Angeles Dodgers’ baseball games. The move saves $3 million in foreign exchange, but means Koreans are unable to see live coverage of the wildly popular Dodger pitcher, Park Chan Ho, until a small cable network picks up the telecasts.
  • 1998 – Tyrone Woods, a twenty-nine-year-old former minor leaguer now playing for the OB Bears, sets the Korean professional league single-season home run record with forty-two and becomes the first foreign player named MVP of the Korean pro league.
  • 1999 – The Arizona Diamondbacks activate Korean pitcher Byung-hyun Kim, a twenty-year-old side-arm rookie who earns a save in his Major League debut against the New York Mets, then struggles the rest of the season despite striking out better than one hitter per inning. Kim returns with a flourish in the 2000 season to earn 14 saves and strike out 111 batters in 70 2/3 innings for Arizona.
  • 1999 – The Chicago Cubs sign Hee Seop Choi, a six-four, 235-pound, left-handed hitting first-baseman from Korean University, and send him to the Lansing Lugnuts, their Class-A affiliate in Lansing, Michigan, where he bats .321 with eighteen homers.
  • 2000 – Team USA, led by manager Tommy Lasorda and a sterling three-hit performance by pitcher Ben Sheets, upsets Cuba to win the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Korea defeats Japan 3-1 in an emotional game to win the bronze, Korea’s first Olympic medal in baseball.

This timeline has been reproduced from Joseph Reaves' book Taking in a Game: A History of Baseball in Asia with the permission of the author.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 January 2011 17:17


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