Former star pitcher named full-time natl. baseball team manager

By Alex Park
  • Published : Jul 24, 2017 - 09:17
  • Updated : Jul 24, 2017 - 09:17

Former star pitcher Sun Dong-yol was named the first full-time national baseball team manager Monday.

The Korea Baseball Organization made the announcement to ensure more continuity with the national team operations in a handful of upcoming international tournaments.

The KBO added Sun, 54, will remain at the helm through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Previously, the KBO had named a new manager for each different competition. Managers of KBO clubs, often the reigning league champions, took on the role, but at offseason tournaments, those managers balked at taking on the national team, citing the need to focus on their pro clubs.

Former KBO manager Kim In-sik, who'd last managed in the pros in 2009, was all but forced into the national team job at the 2015 Premier 12 and then the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

In this file photo taken on Feb. 14, 2017, Sun Dong-yol, then pitching coach for the South Korean national baseball team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, speaks to reporters after practice in Uruma, Japan. Sun was named the full-time national team manager on July 24, 2017. (Yonhap)
After South Korea was eliminated from the group stage at the 2017 WBC, Kim, 70, announced his retirement from international play and said he hoped someone younger would take the national team reins.

Sun will make his international managerial debut at the inaugural Asia Professional Baseball Challenge from Nov. 16 to 19 at the Tokyo Dome. The new event will feature players from South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei, and will be limited to players under 24 or to those with under three years of professional experience.

Sun will also lead South Korea at the 2018 Asian Games, 2019 Premier 12 and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Sun is widely considered the greatest KBO pitcher ever. He won three MVP awards and posted a 1.20 ERA for his career in 1,647 innings while starring for the Haitai (now Kia) Tigers. He went 146-40 and also recorded 132 saves, racked up mostly during his second life as a closer.

Sun pitched 11 seasons with the Tigers starting in 1985, before moving to Japan. From 1996 to 1999 with the Chunichi Dragons in the Nippon Professional Baseball, Sun collected 98 saves and had a 2.70 ERA.

As a manager, Sun led the Samsung Lions to back-to-back KBO championships in 2005 and 2006, and to a runner-up finish in 2010. The Lions reached the playoffs in five out of six seasons on Sun's watch.

Sun's last KBO managing job came with the Tigers in 2014.

He has served as a national team coach at the 2006 and 2017 WBC, 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2015 Premier 12. (Yonhap)