“This is my bowl as a baseball player”
Kang Ri-ho (formerly known as Kang Yoon-koo) has decided to retire from active baseball. “After much consideration, I have decided to retire,” he announced on his personal social media account on the afternoon of the 8th.
It was a bittersweet end to his baseball career. After being drafted by the Woori Heroes (now Kiwoom) in 2009, he played professionally for 13 years, but his free agency was a setback.
In 13 seasons and 402 games in the KBO, he has a 32-32 record with 638.2 innings pitched, 29 wins, 2 losses, 48 saves, and a 5.07 ERA. In his final year of professional baseball, the 2022 season with the Lotte Giants, he posted a 5.48 ERA in 29 games and 21.1 innings pitched.
He was touted as a bullpen long reliever (pitcher who pitches the longest innings after the starter), but his velocity was a drawback, and no team pursued him after he declared free agency. His next move was to “try again” in independent baseball.
It was an unfortunate situation. As a so-called “free agent” who couldn’t sign a contract with a professional team, independent baseball was the only condition for him to continue his career.
In an interview with MHN Sports the same evening, he said, “I thought it was right to quit. “I thought it was right to quit,” he told MHN Sports that evening, “My bowl as a baseball player was up to this point, and I had a strong feeling that there was no point in going to the pros now.
He was more disappointed in himself than disappointed with himself. He felt that his own inadequacies caused the situation, not the unfairness and injustice of being labeled as a ‘FA MIA’.
“I didn’t accomplish much, but I attach a lot of importance to the experience of working really hard and betting my life on one thing,” he said of his professional life.
“The bottom line is that there were many players (in the pros) who were better than me,” he said.
Kang’s time in independent baseball helped him erase all those regrets.
“In the pros, I pitched mostly in the bullpen. In the back of my mind, I still had the ‘starting pitcher’ position. I felt satisfied playing as a starting pitcher in the independent league.”
“It is true that the independent league is not as good as the professional league, but there are many players who are competitive enough,” he said. “The top teams in the independent league, such as the Yeoncheon Miracle and the Paju Challengers, are stronger than most future teams. Therefore, I think pitchers who can pitch more than five innings against both teams can be competitive in the first team. I hope the independent league will get more attention.”메이저사이트
If he has one regret, it’s “nostalgia” for his hometown team Kiwoom.
“I actually missed Kiwoom when I was at NC and Lotte. The teammates I played with at Kiwoom gave me unconditional support. I’m still grateful for that,” he said.
Now, Kang is starting his second life. There is no set destination. However, one word that is firmly engraved in his heart is the love of the fans.
“Thank you for supporting me as a baseball player. I will cherish your support, love, and passionate cheers for a long time. I hope you will always be happy,” he concluded.