2 games, competitions and performances on tapThe Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) All-Star weekend in Suwon is more than just 48 top players showing their skills on the diamond. Other festivities and competitions will surround Saturday’s game.
Suwon, south of Seoul in Gyeonggi, will be the All-Star Game host for the first time since 1999. It is also the first year that the city has been represented in the KBO; the KT Wiz joined the league for the 2015 campaign.
The names of the teams have also been revised-there are no more Eastern and Western squads; the teams are now called the Dream All-Stars and the Nanum All-Stars.
The Dream squad features players from the Samsung Lions, SK Wyverns, Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants and KT Wiz. The Nanum (“sharing” in Korean) roster includes players from the Nexen Heroes, NC Dinos, LG Twins, Kia Tigers and Hanwha Eagles.
Twenty-four of the All-Stars were selected through fan and player voting; the others were selected by the All-Star squad manager. Among the 48 designated All-Stars, only SK Wyverns starting pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun will not play, because of an injury. He is being replaced by his teammate Park Jong-hoon.
Fans can first watch future stars from the KBO’s minor league in the All-Star Game of the Futures League. That game begins at 5 p.m. on Friday. When it concludes, the major league All-Stars will compete in “perfect pitcher” and “home run race” contests.
The perfect pitcher contest rewards pitching control. Seven bats will be standing on end near home plate, and each pitcher is given 10 pitches to knock them over. Dream All-Stars Lim Chang-yong, An Ji-man, Jeong Woo-ram and Yoo Hee-kwan will compete, as will Nanum All-Stars Cho Sang-woo, Henry Sosa, Eric Hacker and Yoon Suk-min. The winner takes home 2 million won ($1,743).
In the home run race, KBO’s all-time home run leader Lee Seung-yuop, along with Yamaico Navarro, Kim Hyun-soo and Hwang Jae-gyun will represent the Dream All-Stars, while three NC Dinos players, Na Sung-bum, Eric Thames and Lee Ho-joon, will join Park Yong-taek of the Twins in representing the Nanum All-Stars.
In the preliminary rounds, players who do not clear the fences seven times will be eliminated. In the final round, one player from each squad will be given 10 outs to maximize his home run total. The winner will get 5 million won.
On Saturday, the game events begin at 4 p.m. with a players’ autograph session. Tickets to get autographs will be handed out beginning at 11 a.m. to those with a ticket for the game itself. After the autograph session, the military will put on a special taekwondo and skydiving performance.
Just before the main event, there will be a bunting competition. The Dream All-Stars’ Kim Sang-su, Kim Kang-min, Park Kyung-soo and Lee Dae-hyung will compete, as will the Nanum All-Stars’ Kim Ha-sung, Park Dong-won, Kim Tae-goon and Lee Yong-kyu.
Each preliminary participant has four attempts to lay down the perfect bunt, two toward first base and two toward third base. An archery-like target of concentric circles is marked on each side of the infield, and points are given based on where the ball stops. Finalists will bunt six times, and the winner will get 2 million won.
The KBO said 500,000 won will be donated to Unicef or Habitat for Humanity Korea for every home run during the home run race, while 200,000 won and 100,000 won will be donated for each point scored in the perfect pitcher contest and the bunt contest, respectively.
BY JOO KYUNG-DON [email@example.com]