High school baseball needs a home run
Once it caught on, fieldball became an outlet for anti-Japanese sentiment, perhaps because of the thrill of hitting a ball to make it fly away.
After the country was liberated from Japan, the sport started spreading so that competitions were held among middle and high school teams. Although competition was interrupted during the Korean War, the crack of the bat hitting the ball lifted the spirits of a people tired of living through such hard times.
High school baseball reached a turning point in 1967. On April 25 that year, President Park Chung Hee tossed out the first pitch at the opening match of the first President’s Cup High School Championship.
According to “Korean Baseball History,” a book published by the Korea Baseball Organization, the championship launched a golden age of high school baseball. With the addition of another competition, the Phoenix Flag Championship, the popularity of high school baseball reached its peak. But high school baseball as we know it is about to change.
Next year, there will be no more weekday games, and the competition format will be a league, instead of a tournament. It is a good change and ensures a student’s right to study.
Another change, related to university admissions for student baseball players, is more problematic. Starting next year, it will be a player’s batting average or ERA that determine whether a high school athlete can play ball in college, rather than having admission be based on a team’s performance, as in the past. The troubling result could be that athletes start jockeying for position, instead of playing together as a team.
There is one more thing to point out. When the new rules go into effect, the number of championships will decrease from the current four.
They say that you can’t hit a home run every time, but I hope the KBO can devise a better system for our high school baseball players. We owe that much to these young athletes and to the history of the sport.
*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Park Jong-kwon