Tommy Edman’s Taegeuk mark, its special meaning
Tommy Hyun-soo Edman (St. Louis Cardinals), who was the first foreign major leaguer of Korean descent to be selected for the Korean national baseball team, finally landed in Korea. Edmon arrived at Incheon International Airport on March 1st to join the WBC team. Many fans and reporters gathered and showed keen interest in Edmon.
Edmund, who appeared with a bright smile, said, “I am happy and honored to be joining the Korean national team. I did not expect such hospitality. I think I can guess how much Korean fans are looking forward to it.” Regarding his ability to speak Korean, he laughed, saying, “Hello온라인바카라. Thank you. Home run. I learned a few words and sentences. I think my Korean skills will improve as I go through the competition.”
Regarding his current physical condition, he said, “A few days ago, I went through my team’s spring camp training and participated in an exhibition game. I’m ready to play, but I think I need to adapt to watching the pitchers’ balls. By the time the WBC opens, I’ll be perfectly prepared.” It will,” he said with confidence. Regarding his role as a second baseman and table setter in the national team, he said, “I still don’t know what role or batting order I will play. I think I should contribute with good defense and a lot of hits. I want to,” he said.
Edmund also revealed that he knows about the uniqueness of the ‘Korea-Japan War’, which is of great significance in national competitions. Edmund is of Korean descent, but his wife is of Japanese descent, so they have ties to both Korea and Japan. “I’ve heard a lot about the rivalry between Korea and Japan. I know very well how much Koreans attach importance to and think fiercely about the Korea-Japan match. The last WBC Korea-Japan match was also very fierce. I think you’ll be able to feel it once you stand at the Tokyo Dome. I told my wife that I should cheer for Korea.”
Edmund had connections with Korean players. He has the experience of eating rice with Kim Gwang-hyun, the national team’s leading ace, in St. Louis. It is highly likely that Kim Ha-seong, who is also an active major leaguer, will play as a keystone combination in the WBC national team.
Edmund said, “I’m happy to see Kwang-Hyun Kim again. He was a good teammate and a great pitcher, so it was fun to play with him. The Korean national team has many successful players in the KBO League and MLB. I also helped as a member of the team. I want to be,” he said. Edmund then promised, “I have high expectations in that it is a national team composed of the best players, not nationalities.
Edmund was born to an American father and a Korean mother, and his Korean name is Kwak Hyeon-soo, which is his mother’s surname. The full name also includes the Korean name Hyeonsu as a middle name. He received a lot of attention early on for being a Korean-American major leaguer, which is rare even for Korean fans.
Edmund started playing baseball under the influence of his father, who was a college baseball player and baseball coach, and was nominated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 6th round (196th overall) of the 2016 draft in his junior year at Stanford University and debuted in the major leagues in 2019. . Since then, Edmund, who has established himself as a key infielder in St. Louis, has grown into a top player by winning the National League second baseman’Gold Glove’ in the 2021 season, being recognized for his defensive power.
He has 471 hits, 40 home runs, 175 RBI, 274 runs scored, 79 stolen bases, and a batting average of .269 and .732 OPS in 459 major league games. His greatest strengths are his ability to cover a wide range of defense and his versatility as an all-weather utility player. Edmon’s main position is second baseman, but he can play all positions in the infield as well as the outfield. He also has more than 50 major league games played as an actual third baseman, shortstop, or outfielder.
Although he is small in size, he has the power to hit more than double-digit home runs and the ability to run base using quick feet. However, as an alternate hitter, he has a poor starting pitch, so his on-base percentage is in the early 30% range, which is far from a leadoff suitable for modern baseball, and is evaluated as a type of player more suitable for the lower batting line. However, it should be taken into account that this is a very high major league standard. In his national team, it is likely to be used as a starting second baseman and table setter.
Unlike the A match in soccer, the WBC can choose either the nationality or place of birth of the parents or the nationality or place of birth of the national team in the selection of the national team. Edmon, who is an American national, is representing Korea, Ju Kwon, who is active in Korea, was able to compete in the Chinese national team, WBC, and many foreign major leaguers who were born and raised in the United States competed for Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Italy. That’s why it was possible.
There have been cases in which a Korean player has been active in the United States or Japan before, but Edmund is the first to join the national team and participate in a major tournament. Of course, this has the meaning of pure power reinforcement, but above all, it is more special in that Korean baseball is in the process of moving away from closed pure-bloodism and frogs in the well and toward globalization.
In the meantime, since it overlapped with the WBC spring camp in March, major league players were often reluctant to participate in the WBC, which was perceived as an event. In addition, the recognition of the weight of the Taegeuk mark was different, and the Korean baseball climate that emphasized teamwork did not actively bring foreign nationality Korean major leaguers to the national team.
As this ‘invisible glass ceiling’ was broken with Edmund’s selection, Korean baseball set a precedent for Korean players from the United States or Japan to enter the national team in the future, with a higher level than the KBO League. This is expected to have a great impact on grafting and developing baseball with various personalities and strengths, rather than simply insisting on the traditional Korean baseball style through the national team. For players who dream of going abroad, the experience and know-how of working with major league stars can be a great asset in the future.
The results of international competitions also have a significant impact on the box office of the KBO League. The successive successes in international competitions, including winning the Beijing Olympics and winning the 1st and 2nd WBC, had a great influence on the Korean professional baseball’s renaissance in the 2000s. Although the Korean national team was not objectively considered a favorite for the championship, it raised the status of Korean baseball by beating top-notch players such as the United States, Japan, and Cuba with their unique strong teamwork and mental strength. Based on his performances in the national team, such as Ryu Hyun-jin, Kim Gwang-hyun, Lee Dae-ho, and Kim Hyun-soo, he grew into a superstar and even advanced to the overseas stage.
However, Korean baseball has suffered ups and downs in international competitions in recent years. In the WBC, he suffered the humiliation of being eliminated twice in a row in the first round only, and he was sluggish at the last Tokyo Olympics as he only won a no medal. There was also a lot of gossip surrounding the selection and management of the national team.
To put it mildly, it is difficult to say that the power of the national team this time is too strong compared to the first WBC or the Beijing Olympics, which were the heyday of Korean baseball. Considering that the United States and Japan are waiting for this WBC by convening their best players early on, the journey is expected to be more difficult.
This is why the role of veterans who have experienced the major league stage, such as Edman, Ha-seong Kim, Kwang-hyun Kim, Hyeon-jong Yang, and Hyun-soo Kim, has become more important. There is hope for Korean baseball only when they can replace the roles played by players such as Park Chan-ho, Lee Seung-yeop, Lee Dae-ho, and Ryu Hyun-jin in the past. How Edmund, who now wears the Taegeuk mark, can overcome the high sense of responsibility and expectations as a member of the Korean national team, as well as language and cultural communication problems and demonstrate his best skills, is also a matter related to maximizing the power of our national team.