“I’m sorry and thankful to the pitchers because I was lacking a lot.” Catcher Kang Baek-ho’s sincerity (Spring and Autumn Field) – Sports Spring and Autumn VRESP


KT catcher Kang Baek-ho met with reporters after the victory against LG on the 5th (Photo = Reporter Kim Jong-won of Sports Chunchu)


(Sports Spring and Autumn = Jamsil)


The genius batsman’s ‘unusual’ debut ended in a thrilling comeback victory after a close battle. This is the story of KT Wiz’s Kang Baek-ho, who wore a catcher’s mask as his first professional starter in the game against the LG Twins in Jamsil on April 5.


KT, who had been in a difficult battle with LG since the beginning of the game on this day, continued to fight back and again, and won 8 to 7 after going through 10 innings of overtime. KT, who had not been able to achieve victory since the home game against Suwon KIA Tigers on the 3rd, escaped two consecutive losses.


Previously, KT’s starting catcher Jang Seong-woo injured his right arm after hitting a foul ball during the game against KIA on the 4th, and Kang Baek-ho, who is in the process of a ‘catcher transformation’ project this season, played as the starter. Kang Baek-ho showed off his versatility by playing pitcher and catcher at Seoul High School during his high school baseball days, but he has never started as a catcher in the pros. Accordingly, Kang Baek-ho is starting as a catcher for the first time in 7 years since joining the pros in 2018.


His first collaboration with right-hander Won Sang-hyun, born in 2004, as a starting pitcher on the mound also attracted attention. What was somewhat disappointing in managing the number of pitches (97 pitches) was Jade’s tee. However, the ‘Beginner Battery’ voyage was half successful with 4 runs (3 earned) in 4 innings. Despite his first appearance as a starting catcher, Kang Baek-ho had a strong debut by working with relatively young pitchers such as Won Sang-hyun, Kim Min-soo, Lee Sang-dong, Joy Hyeon, and Park Young-hyun, rather than veteran pitchers. In the bottom of the 9th inning, Kim Hyun-soo showed his passionate side by throwing his body and catching the ball as a foul fly.


Kang Baek-ho’s important responsibility that day was not limited to just catcher defense. KT faced LG against Bae Jeong-dae (middle school) – Cheon Seong-ho (2) – Mel Rojas Jr. (G) – Kang Baek-ho (po) – Kim Min-hyuk (left) – Hwang Jae-gyun (3) – Moon Sang-cheol (1) – Cho Yong-ho (right) – Kim Sang-soo (yu) ), and Kang Baek-ho had to play the role of fourth hitter along with the starting catcher. That’s right after his performance against KIA on the 4th with 4 hits in 4 at-bats (1 home run).


Of course, considering the level of difficulty, it was natural that the game against LG on the 5th was much more difficult. Kang Baek-ho completed this game wearing a catcher’s mask until the 10th inning of extra innings. Unlike usual, he was wearing heavy equipment and going back and forth between the batter’s box and home plate for a long time. Was it because of this? The final record for the day was 1 hit in 5 at-bats, 1 run, 1 RBI, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. It is nowhere near the performance against KIA the previous day. However, he stood out as a key player in escaping the team’s losing streak by posting comeback RBIs (in the top of the 4th inning) and final runs (in the top of the 10th inning) at key moments.


Kang Baek-ho started as a catcher in the Jamsil LG game on the 5th (Photo = KT)


After the game ended, KT coach Lee Kang-cheol said to Kang Baek-ho, “It must have been difficult as it was your first time as a starting catcher, but I would like to praise you for doing a good job.”He said. Coach Lee showed special affection to Baek-ho Kang by closely watching his catcher training before the game.


Meanwhile, Kang Baek-ho, who met with reporters after the game, looked very tired, perhaps as a result of finishing the overtime game as a catcher. However, when asked about his thoughts on victory, he soon began to answer in unison.


“I’m really glad I won. I was worried throughout the game because I was worried that the good pitchers on our team might not be able to show their full potential because of me. I could have pitched with better catchers instead of me, so I’m sorry and thankful. “My spouse’s heart was racing, and it left much to be desired.” This is Kang Baek-ho’s sincerity.


Prior to the game on this day, Kang Baek-ho received new catcher equipment exclusively for him. Until then, he had borrowed equipment from his seniors Jang Seong-woo and Kim Jun-tae. Accordingly, Kang Baek-ho “(Jang) Seong-woo and (Kim) Jun-tae both taught me a lot and took care of me.”While “I don’t have my own catcher’s mitt yet, so I’m borrowing equipment from a voice actor. “I need to make a new one, and this time, the voice actor said he would give it to me as a gift.”He said.


Kang Baek-ho, who had mastered the catcher’s signature that he had crammed into memory, clicked his tongue. “There are so many autographs during the game. There are signs that I have to give myself, and I also have to remember the signs that are only for batters and runners. It may have been overwhelming, but I memorized it even harder because people around me helped me a lot.”He explained.


KT manager Lee Kang-cheol is watching Kang Baek-ho's catcher training ahead of the LG game on the 5th (Photo = Sports Chunchu Reporter Kim Jong-won)

KT manager Lee Kang-cheol is watching Kang Baek-ho’s catcher training ahead of the LG game on the 5th (Photo = Sports Chunchu Reporter Kim Jong-won)


The first time Kang Baek-ho took full responsibility for a game as a catcher goes back to his high school baseball days seven years ago. Was there any confusion with the sudden position change and catcher retry this season?


“Honestly, I have a vague memory of catching. Still, if you do it with your body, isn’t there something you can remember? The most important thing was that the pitchers could be shaken by my anxious appearance. “It can be a negative for our team, so we train as hard as possible and continue to communicate with our colleagues to learn.”


Then, Kang Baek-ho “Maybe because I am very used to ‘sudden’ experiences, I like situations like this.”He laughed. Kang Baek-ho has shown confidence in his recently improved hitting skills. However, he also revealed his honest feelings in his batting that day. He acknowledged that LG pitchers’ pitches were very good. That’s why he said he wants to make up for it in the game on the 6th.


Kang Baek-ho, who is undergoing exhausting practice and training to return as a catcher, is never satisfied. In relation to this, he gave the following explanation.


“If only I had practiced, I would have defended like (Park) Hae-min in the outfield. Real life is really different. No matter how well you do in training, those skills don’t show up in real life. “We have to work harder so that we can show good performance in practice as well.”


Lastly, Kang Baek-ho revisited the joke he shared with manager Lee Kang-cheol in the past about ‘destroying the catcher’s ecosystem’. “Until then, I never thought I would play as a catcher again. I too am amazed by the current situation. You definitely have to be careful what you say (laughs). “Rather than destroying the ecosystem, I will try to get along well.”He said.


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