“I want you to keep trying.”
Nothing changed. She acknowledged a huge skill gap. South Korea’s women’s national baseball team ended their World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Women’s Baseball World Cup 2024 Group A qualifying campaign with a five-game losing streak. However, they gave it their all and showed hope in their final game against Canada (third place) on Thursday (July 14), when they made just one unfortunate fielding error.
Despite their poor performance, the Korean team never hung their heads in shame. They were on their way home from the tournament. There were no direct flights to Incheon from Thunder Bay, where the qualifiers were held, so the team traveled to Toronto on the 15th and were having a quick breakfast.
Suddenly, someone shouted. “Ryu Hyun-jin is here!” There was a moment of silence, and then major leaguer Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays) arrived with his wife, Bae Ji-hyun, and their daughter.
The invitation to Ryu was made by Jeong, who has been working with the players as a national team coach. “Ryu has been on the national team for a long time, and we’ve always been close. I contacted him the night before and said, ‘Can you come to Toronto?’ And he came,” he said, expressing his gratitude.
Chung wanted to give the women’s team one last gift before they returned home, and that was Ryu’s support. “I invited him to give our women’s baseball team confidence and hope. The timing was perfect because Ryu Hyun-jin visited the team just yesterday (Nov. 14) after winning his first game since returning to Korea,” he said with a big smile.
When Ryu appeared on the screen, the women’s team cheered loudly. Pitcher Lee Ji-sook said, “I can’t believe it,” and followed Ryu’s every move with wide eyes. Pitcher Kwak Min-jeong said, “It’s so cool,” and welcomed her idol to the big leagues.
But no one dared to approach the superstar. Then someone had the courage to ask for a handshake, and the next thing you know, they were asking for autographs, pictures, and handshakes. Ryu was happy to oblige, giving in to the requests of his teammates.
Ryu looked at the women’s national team with a warm expression and said, “I think it’s amazing to see women’s baseball players. I heard that they couldn’t come to Canada to play an international tournament without a lot of support, but it was great to see them trying their best every moment,” he said.
“I hope there will continue to be many international women’s baseball tournaments so that women can challenge themselves, and I hope they can achieve good results one day,” he said, conveying his motivation, dreams, and happiness to the players.
Yang Sang-moon, head coach of the women’s national baseball team, said, “I heard that Coach (Jung) Geun-woo contacted Ryu last night. There was no confirmation that he would come, but he came today as a surprise. I’m very grateful to him for coming. It was a meaningful meeting for the players.”
Meanwhile, Ryu Hyun-jin, who earned his first win, said, “I think it’s better that I came back well after the surgery than the joy of winning. I think I need to work hard to continue to contribute to the team. Rather than thinking about how I will pitch in the future, I want to fulfill the role of a starting pitcher well, and I hope that my performance can help the team win on the day I pitch, rather than my personal victory.”
On the rehabilitation process, he said, “It’s something I can handle. Over time, the elbow will get better, so I don’t think the rehabilitation period was that boring or difficult.” “I’m grateful to the fans for waiting so long. I will repay them with my performance worthy of their support.”
Bae Ji-hyun, who accompanied Ryu, said, “Yesterday, I got my first win, so my family was happy and congratulated me. It’s been a long rehabilitation period, but my husband doesn’t seem to mind. I’ve been through a lot of rehabilitation, so I did a good job in silence.”
Ryu Hyun-jin pitched five innings of two-hit, two-strikeout, two-run (unearned) baseball to earn the win against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was his first major league win in 444 days since May 27 last year against the Los Angeles Angels (five innings, six hits, two runs).
In addition, Ryu added a major league start at 36 years, 4 months, and 20 days, making him the oldest Korean big leaguer to win a major league start. The previous record was 35 years, 10 months, and 13 days, set by Chan Ho Park on May 13, 2009, against the Los Angeles Dodgers (6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs) when he was a member of Philadelphia.메이저놀이터
Meanwhile, Ryu’s next start in the rotation is expected to be against the Cincinnati Reds on the 20th, and he is expected to make around eight starts for the rest of the season.