SCREEN CAPTUREMark Kim, left, translates for Jae-gyun Hwang, center, as the South Korean ball players was interviewed after his American debut with the San Francisco Giants.
THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS season has not had a lot to cheer about in this disappointing season. For help to put some pop in its lackluster offense, they turned to South Korea.
This winter they signed third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang , a perennial all-star with the Lotte Giants in the South Korean professional baseball league.
Wednesday (June 28) he started at third base at AT&T Park becoming the first South Korean to play for the San Francisco franchise. For Hwang, it was a dream come true. His first hit in the big leagues was a no-doubt home run that proved to be the winning run over the Colorado Rockies.
“I’ve given up a lot back home, whether that’s money, being away from family, my career, everything, just to be here,” Hwang told the media through Korean interpreter Mark Kim. “The only reason I did that was because I wanted to realize my childhood dream of playing a game in the big leagues. This opportunity came almost unexpectedly and so suddenly. I’m really hoping to carry this excitement over to the field and capitalize on this opportunity.”
Following a strong Spring Training – where he batted .333 with five home runs to earn the Barney Nugent Award for the most impressive first-timer in camp – Hwang carried his success into Triple-A Sacramento where he hit seven homers and acquainted himself with the American strike zone, which is lower and sometimes wider than he he's used to in 10 years as a Korean professional.
After the game, Hwang's teammates gave him a beer shower, something he's never experienced. He's also added a spark to the team, something that's been missing this year. “They were so excited for him and happy for him,” said Giant's manager Bruce Bochy. “They all know what he’s been through. He’s given up baseball in Korea to play here and he reaches his dream and hits a homer. It’s a special moment. These are moments you love.”