Ax falls on Wyverns’ coach Kim

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Ax falls on Wyverns’ coach Kim


Kim Sung-keun

Kim Sung-keun was let go as manager of the Incheon SK Wyverns yesterday, just 19 hours after he announced that he would step down at the end of the season.

The team, which won the league last season and is now third in the table, named Lee Man-soo, who manages the reserve team, as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season.

“We were very shocked and perplexed that our manager announced his retirement plan in the middle of the season, despite the club trying to prevent him from doing so,” the Wyverns said in a press release.

“So we made the decision to stabilize the team as quickly as possible.”

Kim, 68, is widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball managers Korea has ever seen.

Nicknamed “Baseball God” for his perfectionist approach and effective team building and training, he led the Wyverns to the Korean Series title in three of the last four seasons.

However, despite bringing success to the club, Kim was reportedly disappointed with the Wyverns’ front staff after the club postponed talks over his contract status on three occasions this season.

After winning his second straight title with the club in 2008, Kim signed a three-year contract extension worth 2 billion won ($1.86 million).

His contract was due to expire at the end of this season.

The club claimed it was planning to discuss Kim’s contract after the season ends, but the manager was apparently not prepared to wait.

The bubbling conflict led Kim to make his surprise announcement before the Wyverns’ game against the Samsung Lions on Wednesday. Without notifying the club, he announced that he would be departing before December.

“I will not be re-signing,” Kim said at the Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon on Wednesday. It’s about time that a new person takes over and builds a new team.”

Kim said he would manage the Wyverns were it to reach the Asia Series - comprising league champions from Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan and China - which takes place in Taiwan in November. But this will no longer be viable.

When asked how he felt at being unceremoniously ditched, Kim answered playfully that had a handle on the situation as it wasn’t the first time.

“I’ve been fired 12 times in my life, I’m fine,” Kim told Ilgan Sports, the JoongAng Ilbo’s daily sports newspaper, yesterday.

He added a short farewell message to his former wards.

“What I’m worried about is our players,” Kim said. “But I believe they will do the team proud.”

He also revealed on Wednesday that he has no intention of signing with another team in the Korean Baseball Organization - at least not for the foreseeable future.

“Some people have said I could go to manage another team, but it would have been inappropriate for me to contact other teams during the season,” Kim said. “I have no plans beyond this year. I just want to take some rest.”

Kim, who started his coaching career with Masan Business High School in 1969, managed five KBO teams before the Wyverns, including the Seoul Doosan Bears, the Seoul LG Twins and the Daegu Samsung Lions.

Kim has amassed a record of 1,234 wins, 57 draws and 1,036 losses during his 20 seasons in the KBO.

By Joo Kyung-don []

한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

‘김성근 사태’ 바라본 SK 팬들, 제대로 뿔났다

김성근 감독 경질에 반대하는 SK 팬들의 항의가 거세다.

SK 팬들은 18일 인천 삼성전(0-2패)이 끝난 뒤 약속이나 한 듯이 그라운드에 물병과 맥주캔 등을 집어던졌다. 오른쪽 외야와 1루측 파울라인엔 100여 개의 빈명이 쌓였다. 몇몇 팬들은 그라운드에 난입해 경비업체 직원과 몸싸움을 벌였다. 이들은 구장 조명이 모두 꺼진 뒤에도 관중석에 남아 "김성근"이라고 연호했다.

경기 전부터 시위가 이어졌다. 팬들은 마스크를 쓴 채 SK 구단에 항의했다. 말 대신 '감독님을 내몰아? 우린 프런트를 자른다!'라고 적힌 플래카드를 내걸었다. '감독님 없는 SK 야구 상상이 안돼요. 눈물만 흘러요' '삼가 인천 야구의 명복을 빕니다' 등 구단에 항의하는 내용의 플래카드가 대여섯 개 걸렸다. SK 팬들은 이날 경기 후에도 1루 응원석 쪽에서 플래카드를 걸고 구호와 김 감독의 복귀를 외치며 시위를 할 예정이다.

경기장에서는 시도때도 없이 난입사건이 이어졌다. 몇 명의 팬들이 그라운드로 뛰쳐 내려와 SK 유니폼을 내던졌다. 상의를 벗고 달리다 경비업체 직원에 의해 끌려나간 사람도 있었다. 관중석에서 날아든 SK 유니폼과 오물 때문에 경기가 중단된 건 10여 차례에 이른다.

팬들의 분노는 쉽게 가라앉지 않을 것으로 보인다. 1989년부터 인천 야구팀의 팬이었다는 이승우(30)씨는 "김성근 감독은 지난 4년간 팬들을 위해 최선을 다한 감독이다. 제대로 된 선수 지원도 없었지만 3회 우승이라는 뛰어난 성적을 거뒀고 관중 수도 크게 늘어났다"고 말했다. 그는 "김성근 감독 덕에 다시 야구를 봤다. 오늘로써 SK 팬을 그만둘 작정이다"라고 덧붙였다.

김성근 감독 재계약 릴레이를 펼쳤던 한 여성 팬은 사퇴 소식을 듣고 "드디어 올 것이 왔다고 생각했다"며 아쉬워했다. SK 팬에게 김 감독은 '신'과 같은 존재. 시종 격양된 목소리의 그는 "(김 감독이) 사실상 야구 불모지였던 인천에 SK라는 팀을 완성한 사람이 아닌가"라면서 "역사적인 명장이었다. 구단 측과 갈등으로 김 감독을 잃은 것을 아쉬워해야 한다"며 한 숨 쉬었다. 이어 "그동안 온라인 커뮤니티 회원들이 자발적으로 플래카드와 부채 등을 제작해 김 감독 재계약을 요구하는 시위를 벌여왔다"던 그는 "구단 측이 지난 6월 이후 원정을 가서도 도구를 철거해 가는 등 여러모로 팬들의 활동을 막아왔다"고 귀띔했다. 팬들은 오프라인 시위를 전개하는 동시에, 온라인을 통해 김 감독의 복귀를 요구하는 서명운동을 전개 중이다.

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