A pitcher with 132 career wins has decided to retire. The regular season is over and the postseason is still underway, but some of the most popular players in the game are leaving the field in the cold, windy season.
Jang Won-jun (38), the “132-win pitcher,” is saying goodbye to the mound after 20 years. The Doosan Baseball Organization announced on Monday that Jang Won-jun is retiring.
Jang, a left-handed pitcher from Busan High School, was drafted by Lotte in the first round of the 2004 rookie draft and signed with Doosan as a free agent prior to the 2015 season. In his first year with the organization, Jang went 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 30 games, establishing himself as the first “V4” pitcher in 14 years. The following year, in 2016, he went 15-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 27 games and led the Fantastic Four to the title.
In nine years in a Doosan uniform, Jang compiled a 47-42 record, one save, 12 holds and a 4.49 ERA in 188 games. In his professional career, Jang is 132-119 with a 4.28 ERA in 446 games. This year, he became the 11th player in KBO history and the oldest left-hander in history to win 130 games (37 years, 9 months, 22 days) and the ninth player in history to reach 2,000 innings, impressing fans with his “romantic baseball”.
On April 17, the final day of the 2023 KBO regular season, Jang started the season finale against SSG at SSG Landers Field in Incheon and kept the game scoreless until the second inning. After giving up four runs in the third inning, he gave up a solo home run to Kim Sung-hyun in the fourth, but he took the mound in the fifth and gave up a walk to the first batter, Han Yoo-seom, before getting Heredia to fly out to right field and handing the mound over to Park Shin-ji.
With one more out in the fifth, he reached 2,000 career innings. It is the ninth most in KBO history. Jang Won-jun is the last active player to reach the milestone.
On the same day that Jang Won-jun threw his last pitch, the SSG organization held a retirement ceremony for left-hander Kim Tae-hoon, who played a key role in the 2018 Korean Series upset win.
SSG organized the retirement ceremony to recognize the efforts of Kim Tae-hoon, who served as the club’s “one-club man” for 15 years from 2009 to 2023 and made a crucial contribution to the team’s fourth Korean Series title in 2018.
After the game, he was presented with a commemorative gift and bouquet of flowers, a video letter from the team was shown, and his retirement speech was read. Kim spoke about his retirement in front of more than 20,000 fans.
“The reason I decided to retire was because I had been in the second team for about two years,” Kim said, “and there are many good juniors. I thought I was no longer competitive and decided to retire.” He reflected on his decision to retire.스포츠토토
Veteran outfielder Kim Kang-min, 41, born in 1982, who watched his junior’s retirement ceremony, said with a bitter smile, “It’s not like anything else.” After SSG’s third straight semi-playoff loss, it was time for him to do some deep thinking.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the Jungden Grounds. However, I made this decision because I thought it was time to stop playing baseball,” he said. “I am grateful to owner Park Jung-won for allowing me to start my second baseball life as a free agent and giving me more opportunities when I was struggling with injuries.”
Like Jang Won-jun, there are many players who have thought about whether it’s time to stop playing baseball. In the case of SSG, Kim Kang-min and his teammate Choo Shin-soo are also thinking about it. They will make a decision after listening to various opinions from their families and owners.
There are still playoff series with NC and KT, and the Korean Series awaits LG. Once the 2023 schedule is complete, clubs will have to organize their rosters, and players in their late 30s and 40s are likely to make big decisions. It’s time for a change of scenery.