Lee Jung-hoo (25) played his farewell game in his return to the KBO.캡틴토토 He shared a passionate farewell with Kiwoom fans.
Lee came to bat as a pinch-hitter for Park Soo-jong in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded and Kiwoom leading 5-3 in the 2023 KBO League home game against the Samsung Lions at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Tuesday.
Kiwoom sent the home fans into a frenzy with a come-from-behind two-run home run by Lim Ji-yeol. The cheers grew louder when Lee Jung-hoo stepped onto the field.
As he stepped into the batter’s box, Lee took off his hat to greet the fans on first, home, and third base. The game was on. On the mound was Kim Tae-hoon, who had been with Hansoo until the beginning of this season and then moved to Samsung.
The 2023 KBO Baseball Game between the Kiwoom Heroes and Samsung Lions was held at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. Lee Jung-hoo greets the crowd after batting as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Lee gave it his best shot. He fouled off six pitches in a row on a 3-ball-2 strike to draw a 12-pitch count. One swing, one pitch, and the crowd went wild.
The result: an infield grounder. The posterior defensive shift was activated, and a well-hit ball was hit right in front of the infield. Loud applause erupted as Lee entered the dugout.
On July 22, Lee complained of pain in his left ankle while fielding against the Busan Lotte Giants. He called himself to the training park and was helped off the field. A medical examination revealed that the extensor ligament that wraps around the ankle tendon was damaged. Surgery was inevitable. The rehabilitation period alone was expected to take three months.
After surgery and rehabilitation, Lee joined the first team early last month. He was also added to the roster. It was a faster comeback than expected.
The 2023 KBO Baseball Playoffs match between the Kiwoom Heroes and the Samsung Lions was held at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. Kiwoom’s Lee Jung-hoo poses for a photo with his teammates on the mound at Gocheok Dome after the final home game of the season.
He didn’t pitch until the day before (Oct. 9). At this point, Lee has even thrown pre-batting. Normally, after free batting, he goes to live batting and second team practice, and returns to the first team when there are no problems.
In the end, Lee’s return to the first team and his appearance against Samsung on Tuesday was a fan service.
After this season, Lee will knock on the door of Major League Baseball (MLB) through the posting system (closed competitive bidding). The local media is also showing increasing interest in him. San Francisco Giants general manager Pete Putilla recently visited Gocheok Dome.
The Samsung Electronics game on the 10th was Kiwoom’s last home game of the season. For Lee, it was his last game in the Gocheok Dome in a “white” Kiwoom uniform, and he took the field in less than perfect conditions for the fans who supported him for seven seasons (2017-2023).
Kiwoom went on to win 5-3, giving the fans a victory in their final home game. After the game, Hong Won-ki and the rest of the team stood in front of the home fans on the first base side to say goodbye to the season.
The 2023 KBO Baseball Playoffs between the Kiwoom Heroes and the Samsung Lions took place on Tuesday afternoon at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Kiwoom’s Lee Jung-hoo and other players greeted the crowd after the game, which ended with a 5-3 victory.
A video of Lee Jung-hoo’s activities over the past seven seasons was then shown on the scoreboard. There was also a message saying, “Let’s play together again. It was a kind of farewell party. After the video ended, Lee took the microphone and said goodbye to the fans in person. Afterward, he posed for a photo on the mound with some of his close teammates.
Lee said, “I was very nervous from yesterday until the game. After I stepped up to the plate, I relaxed. It means a lot that I was able to show my last appearance at home,” said Lee. “I felt very emotional saying goodbye to the fans, and the last seven years have gone by so fast. I have many more years of baseball ahead of me, but these seven years in Kiwoom, where I started, will always be in my heart.”