Kim having fun playing American baseball
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
HOUSTON — Baseball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea, but while the game is played by the same rules as in the U.S., it’s taken much more seriously. That, said Garden of Gears player Kyeong Min Kim, didn’t make it very fun when he was growing up.
In middle and high school, his coaches would hit him on the hip with a bat when he made a mistake.
“So I hated this Korean style,” Kim said. “So I couldn’t play baseball well because of the coaches. In America, many players emphasize the fun. Just having fun. I like this.”
And having fun is what Kim is doing at the Pecos Spring League. The outfielder is hitting .357 with two doubles and a triple, and is errorless in the field.
“I am having fun, yes,” he said, politely thanking anyone who complements on his prowess at either the plate or in the field.
After playing in middle school, high school and for one year in college — he started playing at age 13 — Kim took a five-year break from the sport.
“Last year, I restarted playing baseball, but I didn’t have any team, so I trained alone,” he said. Although his English still isn’t perfect, Kim studied the language for two years in college so he began looking into playing in the U.S.
“I was interested in American baseball when I was in Korea, so I searched independent leagues. I found out Pecos League,” he said.
He contacted league commissioner Andrew Dunn who welcomed him to the spring camp, and for the first time ever came to the U.S.
The naturally right-handed players hits better from the left — something he taught himself while in college — and likes the competition he’s facing in the Spring League.
“Pecos League is good league, and I like American baseball style. So I’m satisfied with this life,” he said.
He doesn’t care who he plays for, just hopes he’s picked up by the Pecos League.
“I want to be selected by any team, so if I am selected by Pecos League teams, I can play baseball very hard,” he said.
Gears and Santa Fe manager Bill Moore thinks Kim’s chances are good.
“I’d be surprised if he doesn’t (get picked up),” he said. “If my outfield wasn’t loaded I’d think about it, but I’ve got four guys already coming in. And wherever he goes, if someone drafts him, they’ve got to draft him to play. To make the roster. They can’t draft him to say, ‘Oh, sorry, I’m going to have to cut you. Too much money.’ I would hope whoever drafts him drafts him to play, not just to try out.”
Despite the language difficulty — not only for Kim but two other Gears players — Moore said everyone gets along.
“This group of guys was able to take them and make then feel like part of us, and that’s what teammates do for each other. And Kim’s a very good teammate,” the manager said.
As far as his baseball future, Kim wants to make youngsters in his home country like baseball and play for fun.
“I want to become Korean professional baseball player,” he said. “So when I am in America, I want to learn American baseball, then if I go back to Korea, I want to play with American baseball style.”
Kyeong Min Kim
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212