Hyun-jin Ryu: The First Korean Professional Baseball Player to Play for the MLB
With America as the birthing ground for the sport of baseball, sportsmen who share the same passion across the globe see the United States as the home to the ultimate baseball experience. With some audiences spanning many countries, MLB players are amongst the most popular sportsmen of the sport, compared to those whose scope of influence is miniscule.
It is therefore unsurprising for certain good talents of the sport in some countries to be obscure to people’s awareness until they personally reached the United States and play the sport for the world to see.
Perhaps one good story of a talented baseball player whose existence is obscure to many people apart from his fellow countrymen but soon reached popularity upon going overseas is the South Korean professional baseball player, Hyun-jin Ryu.
Starting off an amateur career back in high school, Hyun-jin displayed great performance to official games which led to their team making its way to Blue Dragon Open National High School Championship. Considered by his team as its ace for his fearsome pitches that resulted to 22 consecutive scoreless innings and a batting average of 0.389, Ryu also earned the recognition as the tournament’s “Best Pitcher.”
In that same year—2005—Ryu was chosen to be included in the South Korea national junior team and emerged as 6th Asian Junior Baseball Championship’s—held in Seoul, South Korea—runner-up.
Hyun-jin’s entry into the professional sport did not take too long since his recent stint with the sport for a year later, he was drafted 1st pick by the Hanhwa Eagles during the 2006 KBO League Draft.
True to his known potential, Ryu’s rookie years came out very productive as he earned pitching Triple Crown as well as the Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season—the first in KBO League history.
Two years after—in 2008—Ryu was made member of the South Korea national baseball team in order to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Reaching the finals, team Korea defeated team Cuba therefore emerging as the competition’s champion in the baseball category.
Representing his home country again a year later, Ryu competed in the 2009 World Baseball Classic but due to a loss against the emerging champion, Japan, ended up in the runner-up ranking.
The year 2010 again showed favor towards South Korea when its national team won the 2010 Asian Games with Hyun-jin Ryu as its player in tow. Later in the same year, Ryu made historical record as the first pitcher to be able to strikeout 17 batters in a 9-inning game.
With an expressed desire to play in the United States, Ryu left his homeland bound westward in 2012. Since 2013, the name Hyun-jin Ryu is known in the baseball community as the first South Korean to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Up to the present, Ryu remains an active player for the same team.
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