More than just a win for Korean pitcherIt was an extra-special Father’s Day Sunday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The park was filled with over 45,000 red-clad baseball fans, there to cheer on the home-team St. Louis Cardinals against the Cincinnati Reds.
The TV crews focused on close-up shots of Reds star Ken Griffey Jr. and his father Griffey Sr., but the sub plot involved Korean pitcher Bong Jung-keun.
The starter for Cincinnati could be forgiven for having more than the game on his mind, as his father recently underwent surgery to remove an inflammation in his small intestines.
Bong Dong-shik underwent the surgery because of side-effects related to a previous surgery for cancer of the large intestine. His 24-year-old son wanted to make his father proud by getting his first major league win.
The Cardinals’ sluggers, who have the most home runs and the second highest batting average in the National League, were held silent by Mr. Bong.
The Korean allowed only three hits in six scoreless innings, racking up five strikeouts and helping the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-0 win. It was his first win in three years as a starting pitcher since his debut in the major leagues. With one win and one loss, Mr. Bong’s earned run average dropped to 4.70 from 7.71.
After the game, Mr. Bong said, “My father isn’t yet able to speak well after the surgery. I hope my win can help him recover.”
As well as being a personal triumph for Mr. Bong, the victory helped the Reds end their nine-game losing streak on the road. Though his fastest ball was clocked at 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour, Mr. Bong drew from a reserve of pitches that included fastballs and curveballs, all well placed around the strike zone.
Griffey Jr. hit a 2-2 fastball off Cards pitcher Matt Morris into the right-field stands to lead off the sixth inning, securing a spot in the record books as the 20th player with 500 homers.
by Kim Jong-moon, Limb Jae-un
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