“Is (Choi) going to break it?”
This is a phrase that KBO legends live by. They say that Choi will break all their records. And he is. Choi is on the verge of surpassing Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop (47). The category is “scoring,” but that’s not all.
Choi batted third and scored one run on one hit and one walk in the first game of a midweek three-game series against Hanwha in the 2023 KBO League regular season at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Friday.
On the day, SSG pulled off an 11-6 come-from-behind victory. Down 1-6 after three innings, they scored two runs in the fourth, two in the sixth, and three each in the seventh and eighth. After a rough start, it was a generous win.
It’s not that Choi was the reason for the win. Rather, Han Yoo-seom was the centerpiece. He had four hits and four RBIs. It was his first four-hit game in 514 days since April 9 last year against the Literature KIA. He hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth inning and a tying RBI single in the seventh.
It was a big day for Choi. He became one of only two players in the KBO to score more runs in a game. He led off the eighth inning with a walk and moved to second on Guillermo Herridia’s single.
He then moved to third on Park Sung-hwan’s sacrifice bunt and came home on Han Yoo-seom’s RBI single. It was his first run of the game, his 81st of the season, and the 1355th of his career.
The number ‘1355’ is significant. It’s the most runs scored in the KBO. Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop scored it on October 3, 2017, against Daegu Nexen while he was still with Samsung. It was his last game as an active player. He hit two home runs, three RBIs, and two runs scored. He finished his career with 1355 runs.
Six years have passed. It took Choi 2163 days to reach the same number. By 2017, Choi had scored 831 runs in his career. It was his age 30 season, so he had a long way to go, but he was still quite far behind Lee.
But Choi stayed the course. He scored 95 points in 2018, 86 points in 2019, 90 points in 2020, 92 points in 2021, and 80 points in 2022. A total of 443 points in five years. That’s 1274 career points.
He’s within striking distance of the all-time record: 80 points before today would bring him to 1,354 career points. One more would tie the record, two more would break it.
He scored the first run of the day. He didn’t reach base until the seventh inning, but in the eighth inning, after being hit by a pitch, he crawled home. It was a rare one.
Coach Lee said, “All my records will be broken by the juniors one day. That’s the way it should be. At this point, I think Choi Jung will break my records,” he said.
In fact, Choi also leads the league in home runs with 454, just behind Lee’s 467. He may not reach the milestone this season, but he should be well within reach by 2024. He also has 1442 RBIs, which puts him within striking distance of 1500.
KIA’s Choi Hyung-woo (1,535 hits as of Friday), who surpassed Lee Seung-yeop’s record (1,498), laughed: “Even if I set the record now, Chung will eventually break it.”안전놀이터
Choi joined SK (now SSG) as the first pick in 2005. “It was a boy’s game,” he said. In his second year, he became a de facto starter and has been playing for 19 seasons now. Here’s the ‘evergreen pine’. He doesn’t just play long. He plays well. And as he plays well, he accumulates records. He’s on his way to becoming a legend.