The Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) are one of the most transformed franchises in baseball, having replaced both their manager and general manager at the end of the 2023 season.
However, contrary to the saying, ‘new booze for new troops,’ Lotte is bringing back some of the franchise’s legendary figures this fall.
Kim Yong-hee, the new head coach of the Futures (2nd) League, is a franchise star who played for the Lotte Giants since 1982, his first year as a professional.
In 1994, he took the helm of the Lotte first team and led the team until 1998, so it’s been nearly 30 years since he was first appointed as a Lotte manager.
In addition, the first-team pitching coach, Joo Hyung-kwang, a “legendary pitcher” who left the club at the end of 2019, will return to serve as the “sounding board” for new manager Kim Tae-hyung.
Kim Joo-chan, who will serve as the first-team hitting coach, is an offensive spearhead who led the team’s offense under former manager Jerry Royster, while Yoo Yoo-shin, who will serve as the first-team outfield and infield coach, will be wearing a Lotte uniform for the first time, but his father was the late Yoo Du-yeol, who was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 1984 Korean Series when Lotte won the title.
Behind Lotte’s “keeping tradition alive” program are CEO Lee Kang-hoon and new president Park Joon-hyuk.
Their latest emphasis is on establishing Lotte’s heritage.
This means that by clearly establishing the identity of the club, they can draw the outline of Lotte’s new beginning.
Park explains that bringing Kim Yong-hee back to Lotte after 17 years, since 2006, is a way of asking him to be a teacher for the coaches.
“The purpose of the front office is to select and develop good players and send them to the first team. It’s the coach’s job to develop good players, but second-team coaches usually don’t have much experience. That’s why we want to bring in the most experienced coaches and learn their coaching techniques.”
The success model Lotte hopes to follow was first demonstrated by the LG Twins.
Cha Myung-seok, who took over as LG’s general manager in 2019, put as much emphasis on the secondary coaching staff as he did on player recruitment.
He demanded versatility from his secondary coaches, sometimes to the point of harshness, and they became experts in player development, helping LG win the Korean Series.
Some have called Lotte’s move a resurgence of the “Rokmuwon” era.
The term is a cynical reference to the fact that Lotte executives who have failed to achieve significant results are often retained for a long time simply because they are Lotte executives.
“Rokmuwon is a story of underachievement,” Park says. We need to think about whether the club created a stage for them to actually do something before they failed. We will improve that part.”
Gone are the days of players and coaches going back and forth.
Players will turn their backs on coaches who don’t perform, and coaches who turn their backs on players will lose their jobs.
On the other hand, if a person with a glorious history with the team shows his ability as a leader, the ‘good influence’ is bound to multiply.
This is what Lotte expects from the ‘old boys’ returning to the team after a long absence.
Park says, “Kim Yong-hee told me, ‘The coaches should be tough and the coaches should learn. I want you to be a strict coach to the coaches,” Park said. 먹튀검증