Lee proves that star players can also be star coaches

‘The Lion King’ goes into the half-bear’s den… Novice manager Lee Seung-yeop breaks Doosan’s 11-game winning streak record

It’s October 14th, just after the 2022 KBO League Wild Card Decision Game. The Doosan Bears officially announced their new manager, Lee Seung-yeop. The contract (three years, 1.8 billion won) was the highest rookie managerial contract in history. Former coach Sun Dong-yeol had signed a five-year, 1.5 billion won contract when he was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the Samsung Lions after the 2004 season.

The ‘National Hitter’ had no coaching experience after retiring from active duty in 2017. He didn’t even go through a coaching program, just a “role” as a manager leading retired players on JTBC’s entertainment program “Strongest Baseball.

Senior Kim Hansoo says hiring head coach is a ‘gesture of faith’

He was eager to return to the field. However, there was pressure: “Coach Lee Seung-yup” could put a lot of pressure on the team’s head coach. In Sun Dong-yeol’s case, he took over the reins of the Samsung team after serving as head coach for a year under his mentor, former Samsung coach Kim Eung-yong. Lee could have stayed at Samsung, where his roots are, but that would have been a burden for Samsung and himself. The “Lee Seung-yeop = blue-blooded Samsung Lions” formula was broken.

Lee’s first move as Commander of the Vandal Bears was quite clever. He surrounded himself with trusted allies. To reduce the amount of trial and error a rookie coach might experience, he made former Samsung coach Kim Han-soo his head coach. “He was someone I respected on a personal level,” Lee says, “We played together as third basemen during my playing days, and he was a coach and manager at Samsung. I wanted to play baseball with him when I became a coach one day.” He added, “I think he can help me with some of the things that I might have forgotten or overlooked. It gives me time to think things through, and I don’t think someone my junior would be able to do that.” For a director with no professional field leadership experience, Kim has become his best advisor.

There was also a gift from Doosan, whose parent group has ended its emergency management. In 2020, Doosan Group sold major assets including Doosan Infracore, Doosan Solar, and Doosan Tower as Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction (now Doosan Energy) faced bankruptcy. In the midst of this, there were even rumors of selling the baseball team. In fact, the baseball team’s operations took a hit and it had to borrow funds from Korea Asset Management Corporation (Camco) using Icheon Bearspark, its second-league stadium, as collateral. Since then, Doosan Group has been reorganized and the baseball team has been given a breather. The team reinstated catcher Yang Yang-ji.

Yang had led the Doosan Bears in their heyday before joining the NC Dinos as a free agent and leading them to their first championship (2020). Doosan succeeded in reacquiring Yang-ji for a record-breaking 15.1 billion won ($15.1 million) in free agency after battling with NC and the Hanwha Eagles for his services. For Doosan Group, the signing of Yang Ji was an opportunity to announce the group’s strength. Along with the parent group’s strategic investment, Lee Seung-yeop gained a second wind. Doosan, which had reached the Korean Series for seven consecutive years (and won three titles) before slipping to ninth place last year, also laid the groundwork for a rebound.

“He’s the star now, I’m just a supporting character”

However, few saw Dusan as a contender in the run-up to kickoff. Despite the return of Yang Ji, the team’s main players, including Kim Jae-hwan, Kim Jae-ho, and Jeong Soo-bin, were quite old, and generational change was slow. Moreover, the team was led by a novice coach with no experience in coaching professional players. This is why none of the managers chose Doosan when asked to pick two teams they would like to see in fall baseball at the media day just before the start of the season.

Doosan had been a big-ball team under Kim Tae-hyung until last year, but Lee played an old-school style of baseball with a lot of bunting and tactical baseball. His inexperience in game management also showed in his pitching decisions.

Doosan went 12-11-1 (0.522 winning percentage) in April, 11-11 (0.500 winning percentage) in May, and 10-14 (0.417 winning percentage) in June. Foreign starting pitcher Dylan Pyle has been plagued by injuries, and foreign batsman Jose Rojas has been less than stellar. At the end of June, Doosan was ranked sixth (33 wins, 36 losses, 1 tie, 0.478 winning percentage).

However, the team revitalized by releasing Dillon and bringing in Brandon Waddell. In July, the team went on a winning streak and jumped to third place with a winning percentage over 5%. In his first game of the second half, a win over the Gwangju Kia Tigers on July 21, Lee became the first manager to win 10 straight games in his debut season. It was a first for a Bears manager. On July 25, Lee led the Bears to an 11-game winning streak against the Lotte Giants at Jamsil Baseball Stadium, a streak not experienced by previous managers Kim In-sung (June 16-27, 2000) and Kim Tae-hyung (June 6-16, 2018-over 10 games). It is the longest winning streak in Doosan’s history.

Lee himself credits open communication as the driving force behind the team’s rise. “The players are doing well, so I think if I do a little better, the team’s performance will be better,” he said, humbling himself. “I had no experience as a manager, so I was inexperienced in pitching changes, strategy, and timing. If I made a mistake, I’d go over the play with the coaching staff the next day at the ballpark, and we’d work on it. It was about owning up to our mistakes and not making the same mistakes, and that’s what we did (in the first half).” He asked the coaches to be open about their mistakes. They worked horizontally, not vertically, to find ways to improve the team. This open-mindedness led to less trial and error. In a previous interview, Lee said, “I went to Japan with a lot of pride, but I learned humility through many things.” The novice coach is growing as a leader by focusing on ‘novice’ instead of ‘coach’.카지노

Lee made a promise to himself just before the opening ceremony. “It’s going to be a hard road, but I shouldn’t regret my choice. I am no longer Lee Seung-yup the player, but Lee Seung-yup the coach. Let’s make a good team together with the players.” He also said, “I am the owner. “I am the owner

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