1998 Korean Series

From BR Bullpen

The 1998 Korean Series was the 16th Korean Series. It was the first Korean Series after the Korea Baseball Organization allowed the entry of American and Latino players not of Korean descent. The Series was also the first one won by the Hyundai Unicorns. The Korean Series MVP was Hyundai starter Min-tae Jeong, who went 2-0 with a 0.51 ERA.

The Unicorns had finished first in the 1998 KBO regular season, going 81-45 under manager Jae-bak Kim. They boasted four Gold Glove winners in C Kyung-wan Park (.250/.324/.458, 19 HR), OF Jae-hong Park (.266/.373/.544, 30 HR, 43 SB, 86 R, 84 RBI), OF Jun-ho Jeon (.321/.398/.422, 35 SB) and P Min-tae Jeong (17-9, 2.93). Scott Coolbaugh (.317/.395/.578, 26 HR, 97 RBI) and Myung-soo Lee (.315/.379/.474) also provided offensive support, with six players reaching double-digit dingers. On the mound, they had five pitchers with ten or more wins. In addition to Min-tae Jeong, those hurlers included ERA leader Myung-won Jeong (14-8, 1.86) and KBO Rookie of the Year Soo-kyung Kim (12-4, 2 Sv, 2.76). Joe Strong (6-5, 27 Sv, 2.95) was a reliable closer.

LG had only been 63-62-1 in the regular season, finishing third under skipper Bo-sung Chun. They then beat the OB Bears and regular season MVP Tyrone Woods 2 games to 0 in the first round and upset the Samsung Lions 3 games to 1 in round two. They had two Gold Glove winners in SS Ji-hyun Yoo (.277/.377/.433, 40 SB, 36 2B, 94 R) and OF Jae-hyun Kim (.295/.374/.488, 31 2B, 16 HR, 71 RBI), while veteran catcher Dong-soo Kim batted .284/.361/.510 with 20 home runs. Their rotation included win leader Yong-soo Kim (18-6, 2 Sv, 3.45), Hyang-nam Choi (12-12, 3.63) and Hyuk Son (11-8, 3.70). Mike Anderson (4-7, 21 Sv, 3.56) was their closer.

In game one, on October 23, Hyundai cruised to a 11-2 win at Incheon Stadium. Min-tae Jeong got the win over two-time Korean Series MVP Yong-soo Kim (Jeong would coincidentally become the second pitcher to be a two-time Series MVP), backed by two homers. Coolbaugh became the first American to go deep in a Korean Series. The next day, the Unicorns won 5-1, with back-to-back homers by In-ho Kim and Jae-hong Park in the 4th. Myung-won Jeong got the win, while Hyang-nam Choi took the loss.

On October 26, the Series moved to Jamsil Stadium for three games. LG won their first contest, 3-1, with Dong-soo Kim homering, Hyuk Son getting the win and Anderson notching the save. Kyu-jae Cho was handed the loss. Hyundai won another Min-tae Jeong/Yong-soo Kim match-up on October 27, 7-1, with Myung-soo Lee and Jae-hong Park both homering. LG won, 6-5, on the 28th, with Hyang-nam Choi beating Myung--won Jeong. Junior Felix homered for the Twins.

The Series ended on June 30 back in Incheon. Hyundai won a 5-2 contest, with Soo-kyung Kim completing his rookie year by getting the decision in the clincher. Hyuk Son took the defeat. The Unicorns continued their homer-happy Series performance with long balls by Coolbaugh and Sung-yong Lee.

Sources include Korean Wikipedia