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After brawl, Kim is fired by Eagles management

May 25,2017
After a bench-clearing brawl on Sunday, Kim Sung-keun, manager of the Hanwha Eagles, has decided to leave the team on Tuesday with six months remaining in his contract.

Although the Eagles said Kim offered to resign, Kim countered that in fact the Eagles took the first step in letting him go.

After the game in Daejeon on Sunday, Kim called up certain players for additional hitting training, but after Jung Hyun-suk got banned for five games for his involvement in the brawl, Kim requested outfielders from the second division team. But this went against protocol.

“The club is in charge of managing the minor league team,” Park Jong-hoon, director of the Eagles, said through a club associate.

Until Tuesday morning, Kim continued as manager, but that afternoon, articles announcing his replacement came out while Kim was having a meeting with the Eagles’ associates.

“Since there were articles about me resigning, the club associates suggested that I should,” Kim said. “I have to follow the club’s policy and they wanted me to leave.”

Kim, who was a left-handed pitcher in Japan until high school, visited Korea for the first time in 1959 as a member of a visiting group of Japanese-Koreans. Since then, he continued his baseball career at Dong-A University and retired early at age 27.

Though he concluded his baseball career early as a player, he started a new career as a coach, becoming a famous instructor for his outstanding strategic and analytical skills. When the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) was first established in 1982, Kim was appointed as the OB Bears’ pitching coach and in 1984, he became the Bears’ manager.

“I always thought to myself that I was standing at the edge of a cliff,” Kim said. “I thought the only way to prove my ability was to win more games.”

Later, Kim became recognized as a manager capable of bringing the weakest teams in the league, such as the Pacific Dolphins and the Ssangbangwool Raiders, to the postseason semi-finals. Although Kim led his teams to great success, he wasn’t able to settle into one team, as he frequently clashed with club associates.

Since the teams struggling in the bottom of the league continuously asked for his help, he continued his career as a manager. When Kim was a manager for the LG Twins, he led the team to the Korean Series in 2002, finishing runner-up.

In 2007, Kim became a manager for the SK Wyverns, where he led the team to win both the League Championships and the Korean Series Championship three times in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Kim was no longer called a manager who could only lead teams to the semi-final. Now he could take them all the way to the championships.

But Kim’s career with the Wyverns didn’t last long. He had conflict with the club regarding the renewal of his contract. As a result, he said, “I will be leaving the Wyverns upon completion of the 2011 season.”

Two days after, the Wyverns announced, “we will be relieving Kim as the Wyverns’ manager.”

Once he was fired, fans continuously requested Kim back to the KBO. In 2014, Eagles’ fans protested in front of Hanwha Group headquarters.

But Kim had been struggling to meet expectations, finishing sixth in 2015, seventh in 2016 and ninth among ten teams in the KBO this season up until Wednesday.

BY KIM SEEK, KIM HYO-KYUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]