The older I get, the more question marks I have to put on… Once I’m satisfied, it’s over”
Director Kim Seong-geun (81), who visited the KG Tower in Sunhwa-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul for an interview with this magazine, looked down from the lounge on the 20th floor and said. Coming to Seoul for the first time as a Korean-Japanese baseball team player in Katsura High School in Kyoto, Japan, he remembered the campus 64 years ago. In 1959, the two schools were said to be sisterhood.
In 1964, he separated from his family and returned home permanently, believing that he could succeed in baseball in Korea, where he had first visited during his high school days. After that, he played an active part as an unemployed baseball player, and at the age of 38 he took over as manager of Masan Commercial High School. Having held the baton for high school, unemployment teams and six professional baseball teams, he is still talking with baseball as the director of the JTBC entertainment program ‘Strongest Baseball’, even after he is over 80 years old.
Although the times and environment have changed, he has been a leader for 54 years. The daily sports he founded in 1969, when he started his coaching career, wanted to ask. how to lead people and how to survive
– The manager’s career as a leader is the same as the history of Ilgan Sports. There must be many places and memories.
“As Ilgan Sports is old, there are many memories. In the 9th Seoul Asian Baseball Championship in 1971, the late senior Kim Young-deok (1936-2023), who acted as manager in the middle of the tournament, led to victory. At that time, I wrote a review for watching daily sports. When I expressed senior Kim Young-deok, who took the baton instead of the previous director, I expressed it as ‘half of my own, half of others’ (readers took it as a negative meaning), so it caused a stir. It was written without knowing the nuances of Korean. At the time, I was called to the president’s office of IBK, my team, and explained, ‘It was because I wasn’t familiar with Korean,’ so I didn’t get fired.”
In 2006, when coach Kim Seong-geun was coaching Chiba Lotte in Japan, he also wrote a column in Ilgan Sports. At that time, his role at Lotte was to coach Lee Seung-yeop (current Doosan Bears manager). The two, who used to be teachers and students, are facing each other on an equal footing through a recent broadcast program. Lee Seung-yeop, the first coach of ‘The Strongest Baseball’, took over the Doosan baton at the end of last year, and Kim Seong-geun, who resigned as an advisor to the Softbank Hawks in Japan around the same time, took over as the second command tower and became the ‘successor of the disciple’. The match between the two teams is currently being aired in popularity.
– Leading the ‘strongest baseball’ composed of retired players, not a professional team.
“When the broadcasting station invited me in, I turned it down. I thought, ‘What will I do if I go there (entertainment)’. I said I wouldn’t do it and watched TV, but the players were seriously sprinting. I also have regrets when I can’t. I thought, ‘I can do it’. The PD in charge said that a win rate of 70% was the goal of ‘strongest baseball’. That was good. Because I have a clear goal.”
– What advice did you give to retired players?
“When the ‘strongest baseball’ players lose a game, they say, ‘(We) are pros, but it’s embarrassing’ several times. That’s it. ‘Aren’t you still receiving money (appearance fee)? Then you’re a pro,’ he said. (The amount of money is not important, because you receive money) It means to have a sense of duty. That’s what young people say these days. Even if you get 100 won, work is work.”
– What else did you say?
“Last fall, I watched a Korean series for the first time in five years. The players didn’t move on the playground. My body didn’t move, and my head didn’t move either. The bodies of retired athletes are worse than before, but their brains are fine. Why didn’t you use that hair? I told my juniors to show me how to play baseball with my head. If you retire as a baseball player and turn 45, isn’t it about 60 (retirement age) as a member of society? I asked them to convey the message that they can still do well.”
– Have the retired players changed?
“What surprised me was that some players paid their own money to train abroad. It seems that a new consciousness has arisen. It doesn’t end when you get older, doesn’t it? (Lee Dae-ho, etc.) retired pro players are moving over to ‘strongest baseball’. Then it’s competition again. It means that among retired players, if you are older, you may be pushed out. That is the world.”
– Even when he was a coach in his 40s, he taught players in their 20s, and he still communicates with younger players. what’s different
“When I was coaching Ssangbang-ul, I scolded catcher Park Gyeong-wan a lot. If I couldn’t mix the ball properly and returned to the dugout, I would break the joint (knee) too. You worked so hard to become the best catcher in Korea. But now, I call the players and tell them the reason in detail. The way we treat young people has changed, but the fundamentals are the same. A leader has to take responsibility and make sure his team members have a sense of mission.”
– What do you want to say to the players?
“If you do anything in moderation, you will regret it later. To the players, ‘Do everything according to your own opinion. When you retire, don’t regret it’. The flow of the river looks the same, but if you look closely, it is not. However, the current generation lives in the same flow. It’s so comfortable. Now, players try to avoid responsibility if they do something wrong, and are satisfied if they do well. It’s too soon to give up.”
– For that reason, the coach was criticized for ‘strongly pushing’ the player.
“People accuse me of overexerting players, but for me it is education and nurturing. In 2007, I took over as SK Wyverns manager and turned Jung Geun-woo (retired) from center fielder to second baseman. Jeong Geun-woo was an infielder when he joined, but he changed to an outfielder (because he was not good at throwing). It’s easy to give up, but then you can’t become strong. Choi Jeong (SSG Landers) also missed all the grounders. He trained rigorously and everyone followed suit. He wanted to grow, and soon he became a top-notch third baseman. He must not be negligent. When I step back, the waves roll in. If you dodge one more step, it will lead to a tsunami.”
– I’ve been watching the director for over 20 years, but one principle hasn’t changed. Paradoxically, I think the way to keep that principle needs to be changed.
“right. The older I get, the more questions I keep asking myself. Why didn’t you give instructions during the game? Why didn’t you change players? I’ve been asking and answering this all my life. The players should do the same. You should always reflect. You shouldn’t look back. The gaze is forward, toward the future.”
– It sounds like what you said to Ilgan Sports, the oldest sports media.
“Newspaper articles need accents. There is a lot of news on the internet. Even if you write an article, I hope the purpose is clear. I don’t know much about newspapers, but put one question mark on the front page. ‘why? How?’ And have members discuss it. Let’s all try to have the 1% that others don’t have. 51 to 49 wins.”
– Still passionate, full of energy. Not long ago, she appeared on tvN’s ‘You Quiz on the Block’ and was asked, ‘Would you like to play baseball if you were born again?’
“I answered that I want to continue playing baseball, rather than playing baseball even if I am born again. It means that if baseball is to become more fun than it is now, it must not be stopped. To that end, I have been writing a baseball diary all my life온라인바카라. I still live with anxiety, dissatisfaction, and lack. And then it gets better. I want to play baseball until the age of 100, but the doctor said no (because I had 3 cancer surgeries). haha. The important thing is that satisfaction destroys people. When satisfied, (development) ends.”
– It seems that the word now explains the motto Ilguimu (一球二無, there are no two chances for one ball).
“Do you know the true meaning of this word? The first opportunity may have come to you. The second may or may not be an opportunity. The third chance is missed even if you know it. So, prepare, prepare again.”
– ‘Even at this age, the way to work at the baseball field is the most enjoyable’ he said. If you could say something to make the way to work enjoyable.
“You have to reflect on what you did wrong that day. A solution must be found that day. Then the commute to work the next day will be enjoyable. Ideas for new things will come to you. Standing on the plain, new ideas don’t come to mind. Imagine you’re barely hanging on with both arms from a cliff. Blame the weather or blame the wind? I only think about living. That’s how you find a way to survive. haha.”