I was very afraid ahead of the 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC). I was also very nervous. It is said that superstars such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, and Ken Griffey Jr., which we only see on TV, will appear. When I thought about facing and competing against the best players in the world, I was worried about ‘what will it be like’.
So far, in a total of four WBCs, I have served as the commander for the first, second, and fourth times. The results of the 2nd competition, which reached the final, were the best, but the 1st competition was the most satisfactory and good.
In fact, there was no fear against Japan. No matter how strong they are, they have the experience of facing each other three times through the Korea-Japan super game. On March 5, in the first round match against Japan, he won with Lee Seung-yeop’s come-from-behind two-run home run in the eighth inning of promise. After defeating Japan at Tokyo Dome, the heart of Japanese baseball, the fear I had before the tournament gradually disappeared.
After passing the first round with a 3-game win, Korea moved to Anaheim, USA where the second round was held. People around them did not classify Mexico, the first opponent in the second round, as a strong team, but at the time, most of the players were major league players, and their skills were formidable. When we defeated Mexico 2-1, our confidence increased.
The next opponent was the strongest United States. The best players were right in front of our eyes. He picked Son Min-han as the starting pitcher. Even though the ball is not fast, it has excellent control and is good at breaking balls. I predicted that even if it was a little tight, it would not hit a big one. Son Min-han did his part as the winning pitcher with 3 scoreless innings. At the end of the 4th inning with a 3-1 lead, 2 out, 1st and 2nd base, 4th hitter Kim Tae-gyun at bat hit right-handed bullpen Dan Wheeler and left-handed hitter Choi Hee-seop was put in. 안전놀이터
Before the game, he had instructed Choi Hee-seop to ‘prepare to play as a pinch hitter at any time’. Choi Hee-seop was swinging in the basement under the dugout. Coincidentally, American coach Buck Martinez had ample time to consider and decide on a pinch hitter strategy as the lead batter Lee Seung-yeop intentionally played a 4-pitch strategy. Choi Hee-seop hit a three-run home run, and the pinch hit strategy worked well. He didn’t even expect a home run, but cheered in his heart, saying, “Please hit.” However, the moment Choi Hee-seop hit a home run, he thought, ‘From now on, if we change pitchers well, we can win’.
And on March 15, we faced Japan again at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim in the United States. Starting pitcher Park Chan-ho pitched 5 scoreless innings, and Lee Jong-beom hit the crucial 2 RBIs in the 8th inning. At the end of the ninth, Koo Dae-seong faltered as he allowed one run, but Oh Seung-hwan struck out both out counts and ended up winning 2-1. With this win, they advanced to the semi-finals.