Rookie infielder Song Dae-hyun (23) caught the eye of LG Twins captain Oh Ji-hwan (33), who was in a batting slump and had his first multi-hit game (two or more hits in a game) in 16 games against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes on June 6.
He approached Song, who had told him after joining the team that he was following his example, and asked, “Do you want to bat?” Song nervously nodded.
The junior frantically nodded and, eager to continue his long-awaited batting streak, Oh gave up the bat to the junior and called it a day.
Oh went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs in the win over Kiwoom, leading the team to a 9-1 victory.
Oh’s final at-bat came in the top of the ninth inning.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Moon Bo-kyung singled up the middle, giving Oh another chance, but Song Dae-hyun came in to pinch-hit and struck out, ending LG’s offense for the day.
“Actually, if you think about it, I wanted to hit,” Oh said after the game, “but when there’s a big score difference, I actually want my (rookie) friends to play a game, too.” “So I asked (Song) Dae-hyun if he wanted to bat, and he said yes, so I gave in,” he explained.
Players who have just made their professional debut often only get a chance to play in the final innings of a game when the score is wide open.
Although Oh has become one of the league’s leading players, he hasn’t forgotten his rookie days when every at-bat was precious, more than a decade later.
Usually, it’s up to the coaching staff to decide who to pinch-hit for.
Song Dae-hyun was scheduled to pinch-hit for Oh Ji-hwan in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Oh Ji-hwan personally went to the coach and asked him to bat for him.
Song Dae-hyun, who joined LG 스포츠토토 as an eighth-round pick this year after graduating from Shinil High School and Dongguk University, was able to get his third at-bat with the first team thanks to Oh Ji-hwan.
Although he didn’t get a hit in his debut, it was one more step on the road to his dream of playing for LG.
Oh’s gaze also fell on catcher Kim Bum-seok (19), who made his first start of the day.
Kim, LG’s first-round pick this year and a big-league prospect, started in the No. 9 spot and went 0-for-2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly for his first career hit.
Oh said, “When I was warming up before the game, (Kim) Bum-seok said, ‘I’m so nervous,’ so I said, ‘I had a debut where my brother also felt that way. Being nervous can be fun to some extent. And the team wants to see you swing boldly. Even if it doesn’t work out, they’ll want to see that, so swing confidently,'” he said.
Following Oh’s advice, Kim Bum-seok made a bold full swing that sent chills down Kiwoom’s spine and showed off the future of LG’s batting lineup.