After leading the LG Twins to their first Korean Series and regular-season title in 29 years, manager Kyung-yeop Yeom, 55, has a unique resume among Korean professional baseball managers.
After more than 20 years in the game as an assistant or manager who worked closely behind the scenes after retiring as an active player, he finally joined the ranks of the champions.
Even if you expand your horizons to the four major professional sports in Korea, there are only two managers who have worked their way up from the bottom of the club’s front office, Yeom and Jeon Chang-jin of the professional basketball team Busan KCC. The former coach also spent many years of hard work as an assistant and manager at Samsung Basketball.
After attending baseball’s prestigious Gwangju Ilgo and Korea University, Yeom joined the Pacific Dolphins in 1991 and ended his professional career with the Hyundai Unicorns in 2000. She finished her professional career with a .195 batting average, five home runs, 110 RBIs, and 83 stolen bases.
He then began his second life as a non-coaching staff member of the Hyundai Unicorns’ operations team.
One of Yeom’s main duties at the time was to collect slips and process the team’s expenses. “I don’t know if there are any other cases where someone who used to organize slips became a manager,” he says.
The scout-turned-manager hit a series of “home runs” in signing foreign players with his keen eye, and after Hyundai disbanded in 2007, he moved to LG, where he rose through the ranks as a scout and head of operations.
During his time as an LG scout, Yeom is best known for discovering Oh Ji-hwan, who is now the LG captain and hit three consecutive home runs in the Korean Series to help the Twins win the title, and Chae Eun-sung, who played for LG before moving to the Hanwha Eagles as a free agent after last season.
Yeom only made his coaching debut in 2007, Hyundai’s final year, as an infield defense coach.
After leaving the front office in 2009 as LG’s head of operations, he returned to the field as LG’s infield defense coach in 2010 and 2011, before becoming the Nexen Heroes’ offensive and infield coach in 2012 and taking over the reins of Nexen in 2013, which is every baseball player’s dream.
The 2014 Korean Series against the Samsung Lions was a turning point in Yeom’s baseball career.
Nexen challenged the three-time defending champions with the mighty bats of Seo Gun-chang, who led the league in batting (.370) and hits (201) that year, and the duo of Park Byung-ho (52 home runs-124 RBIs) and Kang Jung-ho (40 home runs-117 RBIs), who combined for 92 home runs and 241 RBIs.
But an anemic pitching staff of just 10 players left Yeom in tears as they fell to their knees with a 2-4 series deficit.
“I realized from the bottom of my heart that we can’t win without pitchers,” said Yeom, who won his second Korean Series title in nine years.
After boldly parting ways with starter Adam Plutko, who didn’t even try to pitch after injuring his pelvis in late August, Yeom’s tactic of using a beehive bullpen to protect a weak starting staff finally paid off in his second attempt.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team use seven bullpen arms in a row in the Korean Series, let alone the No. 1 team in the regular season,” said KT Wiz manager Lee Kang-cheol, who watched the LG mound come from behind to win Games 2 and 3 of the Korean Series.
The bullpen offense ultimately proved to be crucial in shutting down the KT bats. From the failure of 2014, Yeom found a way to win.
In 2018, as manager of the SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers), Yeom was the envy of Trey Hillman, who was returning to the United States after winning the Korean Series, but in 2019, Yeom tasted failure again as manager of the SK Wyverns.
After failing to finish first in the regular season and handing the chasing Doosan Bears a direct ticket to the Korean Series, the team was swept in three games by the Kiwoom Heroes in the playoffs. The following year, he collapsed during a game and was relieved of his duties midway through due to health issues.
Since then, he’s dabbled in coaching with the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball, served as a broadcaster’s commentator, and headed the KBO’s national team technical committee, until late last year when, after 12 years as LG’s head coach, he put on the twin jerseys and resolved both his own and LG’s karma.
A man of many tricks, Yeom is one of the few leaders who is comfortable admitting failure. His determination was evident in his words to Yonhap News Agency shortly after he was named LG coach in November last year, and he led the team to a championship after a year without a loss.
“The failure at SK was a great learning experience for me. I looked back at the past 32 years of professional baseball and reorganized and reflected on what was good and bad. I failed once, so I’m not going to do the same thing over and over again.” 토토사이트