The Samsung Lions, Kia Tigers, 메이저사이트and Lotte Giants are three of the most popular local teams in the KBO. These teams have something in common.
Their thirst for a Korean Series title has been quenched by non-local or non-franchise personnel. Samsung didn’t win a title until 2001 after winning the 1985 championship. The lineage of managers is not limited to those from Daegu and Gyeongbuk, but the thirst for championships has been quenched, or at least attempted to be quenched, by a native of Samsung’s eternal regional rival, Hattae.
Samsung finally quenched its championship thirst by winning the 2002 Korean Series, just two years after Kim’s arrival. The team had crumbled in the postseason in the 1990s when they faced only Hae-tae, and it took the manager of that team to return to the top.
Samsung then built a dynasty under former manager Sun Dong-yeol. Sun took over pitching duties as head coach in 2004, and upon his arrival in 2005, the team won back-to-back integrated titles. There were outside investments to match, and a successful transplant of “Tiger’s Blood.
However, after Kim’s departure, KIA struggled in the early 2000s and didn’t win again until 2009. The head coach was none other than former Daegu coach Cho Bum-hyun. Of course, he played most of his career in OB, but his hometown was Daegu, and he was not a Tigers player.
In fact, KIA hasn’t had a Tigers alum lead the team to a Korean Series title since Kim Eung-ryong left. Sure, Kim Ki-tae, who led them to the 2017 title, was from Gwangju. But he wasn’t from the Tigers.
Lotte hasn’t won a Korean Series title in 31 years, since 1992. They haven’t even made the postseason since 2017. Traditionally, Lotte, like KIA, has hired a lot of managers and coaches from Lotte or Busan. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just that the results haven’t been there.
In recent years, the only Lotte managers who didn’t speak Busan or Gyeongnam dialects were Jerry Royster and Yang Seung-ho. Kim Si-jin, whose hometown is Pohang, came from Samsung, where he spoke a typical Gyeongbuk and Pohang dialect, but he also played for Lotte in his later years.
Kim Tae-hyung, who Lotte hired on Tuesday, is the second non-Lotte manager to speak Seoul since the 2000s after Yang Seung-ho. It’s funny to categorize this, but Lotte has always had a strong regional and club affiliation when it comes to managers and coaching staffs. There are still some non-Lotte, non-Busan/Gyeongnam members, but they are few compared to other clubs.
Kim Tae-hyung’s hidden strength is his strictly merit-based hiring. Even when he was in charge of Doosan, he was a leader without a so-called division. Even if he didn’t have any connections in his baseball life, he was willing to bring them in as long as they had the ability. So when Kim was at Doosan, there were many coaches from Hanwha, Lotte, Kia, and Samsung.
It’s not the words or connections that matter, it’s the ability. Lotte must have realized this by appointing Kim Tae-hyung. In that regard, Lotte should be applauded for their choice. It is possible that under Kim Tae-hyung’s tenure, Lotte’s coaching staff will have a record low number of coaches with Busan and Gyeongnam dialects. A Seoul-speaking coach will help Lotte quench its championship thirst.