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Dong-yeol Sun

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(Redirected from Dong-yeol Son)

Dong-yeol Sun
Personal information
Date of birth January 10 1963(age -62)
Place of birth Gwangju South Korea
Vital information
Bats Right
Throws Right
Other information
High School Gwangju Jeil High School
University Korea University

Dong-yeol Sun
Hangul: 선동열
Hanja: 宣銅烈

Revised Romanization: {{{k-rr}}}
McCune-Reischauer: {{{k-mr}}}
Kanji: 宣銅烈
Hiragana: {{{hiragana}}}
Katakana: ソン・ドンヨル

Hepburn: Seon Dong-ryeol

Dong-yeol Sun was arguably the greatest pitcher in the history of the Korea Baseball Organization, leading 8 times in ERA, five times in wins and strikeouts and twice in saves, winning the Korea Baseball Organization MVP award three times. He then starred for four years in Nippon Pro Baseball with the Chunichi Dragons. After his playing career ended, Sun worked for the KBO and as of 2007, manages the Samsung Lions.

1981-1992: Early career[edit]

Sun joined the Korea University baseball team in 1981. He was the MVP of the 1982 Amateur World Series, with a 0.00 ERA (tying teammate Ho-kyun Lim for the lead). He helped the South Korean national team to its only title in the event in the 20th Century. Through 2006, it was the most recent Amateur World Series or Baseball World Cup (the name soon adopted) not won by Cuba. Cuba had sat out the 1982 tournament. After college, he played in Korea's industrial leagues.

Sun was named the All-Star pitcher in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup, which he led with 31 innings pitched. He was the only All-Star chosen from a team that did not make it out of the first round. He was with them for the 1983 Asian Championship.

In the 1984 Amateur World Series, Sun again had a 0.00 ERA, but allowed 3 unearned runs in 17 1/3 IP to leave his record at 1-1. He struck out 20. He again led the tournament in ERA. Sun was with South Korea for the 1984 Olympics as well.

In 1985, he joined the Haitai Tigers and went 7-4 with 8 saves and a 1.70 ERA; he fanned 103 and walked 20 in 111 innings, allowing 74 hits. The rookie led the loop in ERA. In 1986, Dong-Yol had a 24-6 record with six saves and a 0.99 ERA, giving up just 153 hits in 262 2/3 innings. He struck out 214 and walked 52. He won his first MVP Award that year, having won the pitching Triple Crown.

In 1987, Sun was 14-2 with six saves and a 0.89 ERA. He gave up a mere 89 hits in 162 innings, struck out 144 and walked 47. He led in ERA again. The next season, the dominating Haitai pitcher was 16-5 with 10 saves and a 1.21 ERA, allowing only 116 hits and 35 walks in 178 1/3 innings while striking out 200. He won his second pitching Triple Crown. He won another Triple Crown in 1989 with a 21-3 record, 8 saves, a 1.17 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 169 innings, giving up a scant 82 hits, less than one every other inning. He won his second MVP award. Haitai won four straight Korean Series titles from 1986 through 1989.

Sun won his third MVP Award in 1990 and won his fourth pitching Triple Crown (22-6, 1.13, 189 K and 121 H in 190 1/3 IP, 4 Sv) to become the first three-time MVP in league history; Seung-Yeop Lee is the only player as of 2007 to have matched that feat.

In 1991, the 28-year-old superstar went 19-4 with six saves and won his fifth Triple Crown, thanks to a 1.55 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 203 innings. It was his 7th consecutive ERA title. Haitai won their fifth title with Sun. While he had claimed five pitching Triple Crowns in six years, it would be 15 years until the feat was done again in the KBO, by Hyun-Jin Ryu.

He only pitched 11 games in 1992, going 2-0 with 8 saves and a 0.28 ERA, allowing a single run in 32 2/3 innings. He struck out 42 and allowed 20 hits.

1993-1995: In the bullpen[edit]

By 1993, Dong-Yol was being used primarily as a reliever. He had a 10-3 record, 31 saves and a 0.78 ERA in 49 outings. Only 48 hits were collected against him in 126 1/3 innings. He walked 20 and whiffed 164. He led the KBO in ERA and saves. Haitai claimed a sixth pennant in his 9 years in with the club.

Sun was 6-4 with 12 saves and a 2.73 ERA in 1994, his worst year in Korea. His WHIP was still under 1. In 1995, he had a 5-3 record, a league-leading 33 saves and a miniscule 0.49 ERA. He allowed just 49 hits in 109 1/3 innings, walking only 14 and sending down 140 batters on strikes.

Career KBO stats[edit]

Overall, he had a 146-40 record with 132 saves and a 1.20 ERA in the KBO. As of 2004, he had the lowest all-time ERA in the KBO (less than half of runner-up Dong-won Choi's 2.46!), was third in wins, 11th in saves, third with 1,698 strikeouts, first with 29 shutouts, first in winning percentage, 4th in complete games (68) and second with 205 save points. He had allowed 968 hits in 1,647 innings pitched while walking 342. Sun was the all-time leader in wins before Jin-woo Song broke his record in 2002.

Sun holds the KBO record with 18 strikeouts in an extra-inning game. He was shared for the most whiffs in a 9-inning game (16, tied with Dong-won Choi and Dae-jin Lee) until Hyun-jin Ryu broke it in 2010.

1996-1999: In Japan[edit]

Dong-Yol became the first KBO star to jump to Nippon Pro Baseball in 1996 when he signed with the Chunichi Dragons for 300 million yen.

In 1996, Sun was 5-1 with 3 saves and a 5.50 ERA, getting smacked for 62 hits in 54 innings, though he did strike out 67. The next year, he improved significantly, going 1-1 with 38 saves and a 1.28 ERA. He walked 12, fanned 69 and allowed 36 hits in 63 1/3 innings. He saved 38 games, tying him with Kazuhiro Sasaki for the Central League lead; this marked a new NPB record. He made his lone CL All-Star team that year.

In 1998, Sun had a 3-0 record with 29 saves, finishing second to Sasaki in saves in the CL. He had a 1.48 ERA and gave up 31 hits and 11 walks in 48 2/3 innings while striking out 58. That year, Chunichi had three Koreans on their roster as Jong-Beom Lee and Samson Lee were signed as well. The group became known as the "Three Korean Musketeers."

In 1999, the 36-year-old finished his career with another fine year (1-2, 28 Sv, 2.61, 34 K in 31 IP. He was two saves behind CL leader Shingo Takatsu.

Overall, he was 10-4 with 98 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 162 games in Japan. He struck out 228 in 197 innings and allowed 160 hits.

Return to the KBO[edit]

After Sun finished up with Chunichi, the Boston Red Sox pursued him but the two couldn't come to a deal and Dong-Yol finished his pro career with a 156-44 record and 230 saves.

He was then hired by the KBO as a PR adviser, going to schools and opening youth baseball clinics.

In 2003, he was offered a job managing the Doosan Bears but instead took the role as head coach of the Samsung Lions under manager Eung-Yong Kim. Kim retired after 2004 and Sun was promoted to the helm. Samsung went 74-48-4 and they won their third Korean Series. Three of the KBO managers of that year had been teammates in 1981 at Korea University. Samsung repeated in Sun's second year at the reigns.

Sun coached for South Korea in the 2007 Asian Championship and the 2008 Olympics, when they won Gold. After managing South Korea to Gold in the 2018 Asian Games, he stepped down amid controversy that he had picked less-qualified players who needed the military exemption that came with a medal rather than the top KBO performers.


Korean Wikipedia, by Gary Garland, Article on Sun becoming Samsung's manager, Article on Korea University graduates managing in the KBO, A History of Cuban Baseball by Peter Bjarkman, IBAF site