Former Eagles’ star Koo to manage all-Korean ABL teamFormer MVP-winning pitcher Koo Dae-sung will manage an all-Korean team set to join the Australian Baseball League (ABL) next season, the club officials announced Tuesday.
Koo pitched 13 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), all of them with the Binggrae/Hanwha Eagles franchise, with stints in Japan and Major League Baseball. Koo was the 1996 KBO MVP after going 18-3 with a 1.88 ERA and 24 saves.
After wrapping up his Korean career in 2010, Koo moved to Australia and pitched for an ABL club, the Sydney Blue Sox, well into his 40s. He has previously managed Australia’s under-15 national team.
In a statement released by Winter Ball Korea, Koo said he never hesitated for a moment to accept the managerial job offer.
“I’d like to share my know-how from having played in Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Australia with my players,” Koo said. “Australia is a great place for players to gain experience. The level of play is high, and after one season, I think the players will have improved a great deal.”
Koo said he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to serve as a player-manager because of his lingering back problems.
“I’d love to step on the mound, but first and foremost, my job will be to manage the team,” Koo added.
In addition, another former KBO pitcher, Park Choong-sik, was named the new ABL team’s general manager.
“I’ll try to put together a team of players who will compete with passion,” Park said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia, and I think I can really help our players.”
The all-Korean team will be the first non-Australian club in the ABL and also the first all-Korean ball club to compete in a foreign league.
The new team will be based in Geelong, 75 kilometers southwest of Melbourne. The ABL currently has clubs in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. A typical ABL season runs from November to the following February.
Winter Ball Korea has said players released by or retired from the KBO clubs will have a chance to make the new ABL team. And the team will also be open to Korean players in the U.S. minor leagues, since the ABL season runs during the U.S. offseason.
Open tryouts will be held in September for amateur players who don’t get selected in the annual KBO rookie draft.
Former Hanwha Eagles outfielder Kim Kyeong-eon, released by the KBO team after last season, has already committed to play for the new ABL club. The 35-year-old batted .271 with 55 homers and 393 RBIs in 1,183 KBO games.