[FOUNTAIN]Pitcher’s path holds key to a comeback

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[FOUNTAIN]Pitcher’s path holds key to a comeback

In 1997, Korean sports newspapers created a new position, a Major League Baseball correspondent, whose job was to cover Park Chan-ho of the LA Dodgers, the first Korean major leaguer. The correspondent was to cover Major League Baseball overall, but it was clear he was sent to the United States mainly to cover Mr. Park.
Professional golfer Pak Se-ri’s nickname is the “Barefooted Queen.” In July 1998, she took off her socks and swung at the ball in the water hazard during an extended game at the LPGA U.S. Open in her first year with the LPGA. Even those not familiar with golf gathered in front of the television early in the morning to watch Ms. Pak win the extended game.
These two athletes were the hero and heroine who helped restore hope and pride in Koreans who were discouraged by the financial crisis at the time.
Lately, Mr. Park’s play has revived. The pitcher, who had suffered from a slump since he moved to the Texas Rangers in 2002, has recently had his 100th major-league victory and has seven wins and one loss so far this season.
The JoongAng Ilbo’s baseball staff writer, Lee Tae-il, said Mr. Park could make his comeback because he had opened up his heart. Mr. Park was no longer hunched alone in the darkness and instead sought the help from others. To become a better baseball player, he concentrated and controlled his mind through calligraphy lessons.
When NASA selects a shuttle crew, it conducts a failure test: The candidates who have never experienced a serious crisis in life or overcome failure won’t be selected. Those who have experienced failure and conquered that hardship are stronger and can better respond during critical situations.
In the same way, having passed the failure test, Mr. Park gives us the hope that he will become even stronger and stay in the major leagues for as long as he wishes.
The golfer Ms. Pak is also stuck in an extreme slump. She has been struggling even more because she once had been at the top of her game. However, Korean fans believe that Ms. Pak will open her heart and come back much stronger, just as Mr. Park has done.

by Lee Se-jung

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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