Hae-yong Ma (마해영)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 212 lb.
- School Korea University
- High School Pusan High School
As an amateur, Ma played for the South Korean national team. In the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, he hit .273/.342/.545 as the second baseman. Japan's Toshihisa Nishi was named the best at the position in that tourney. Ma was 2 for 6 with 3 walks in the 1994 Baseball World Cup.
Ma debuted professionally in 1995 with the Lotte Giants, hitting .275/~.365/.460 with 18 HR and 87 RBI. In 1996, he batted .276/~.328/.435 with less than half as many walks (67 to 33) as in his rookie year.
In his third season, Ma produced at a .259/~.330/.487 clip with 25 homers. In 1998, he improved to .292/~.377/.465 despite the introduction of foreign players to the KBO. The next year was his best - he hit .372/~.448/.672 with 111 runs, 35 HR and 119 RBI to win his only batting championship, 23 points ahead of Byung-kyu Lee. He was about 10 points behind OBP leader Seung-yeop Lee.
Ma regressed in 2000 with a .294/~.380/.497 batting line with 23 home runs and 90 RBI. That year, he was part of the successful effort to form the Korean Pro Baseball Players Association which was spearheaded by Jin-woo Song. At one point, it appeared as if Ma might be banned for life from the KBO due to his unionizing efforts.
Ma was the DH for the South Korean national team in the 2001 Baseball World Cup. He led the round-robin phase with five doubles but his .265/.342/.412 overall line was not among the leaders for the South Koreans.
Ma had another fine season in 2002. He hit .323/~.377/.592 with 33 homers, 92 runs and 116 RBI to join with Seung-yeop Lee in leading the charge for the Lions. He finished second in the KBO in average, trailing Sung-ho Jang by 20 points and tying Lee and Jeong-soo Shim at .323. He led with 172 hits. He won the KBO Gold Glove at DH as the best offensive DH, not the best potential fielding one. In the Korean Series, he dominated. He drove in a run in game three, was 4 for 4 with 3 RBI in game four, cracked two homers in game five, then saved the best for last. With Samsung down 9-6 in the bottom of the 9th, Seung-yeop Lee homered off of Sang-hoon Lee with two aboard to tie it and Ma followed with a shot against Won-ho Choi to end it. Ma won the Korean Series MVP award for his excellence.
Ma stayed strong in 2003, with a .291/~.373/.568 line, 90 runs and a career-high 38 HR and 123 RBI.
In 2004, the 33-year-old moved to the KIA Tigers and hit .281/~.381/.394 as his home run production fell from 38 to 11. Ma batted .266/~.349/.423 in 2005.
Through 2005, Ma ranked 11th all-time in the KBO in average (.298), 5th in doubles (286), 17th in games played (1,378), 1st in double plays ground into (145, 5 ahead of Man-soo Lee), 4th in hits (1,520, trailing Jun-hyeok Yang, Jong-hun Jang and Jun-ho Jeun), tied for 5th in home runs (252, even with Man-soo Lee and Kyung-wan Park), 3rd in RBI (964, trailing Jang and Yang), 7th in runs (815), 7th in strikeouts (855), 14th in BB+HBP (659),
In 2006, Ma moved once more, now to the LG Twins; he had played for half of the KBO teams by this point. He hit .270/~.338/.379 and was seeing reduced playing time (80 games, 282 AB).
In 2007, Ma was just 2 for 28 in 11 games for LG, his career over for all intents and purposes. He had been one of the highest-paid hitters in the KBO thanks to a 4-year, $3 million deal he had signed before 2004. He was released at year's end. He said he would be willing to take a pay cut to keep playing in 2008. The Lotte Giants signed him, giving him a one-year deal for $52,640. Ma hit .153/~.291/.236 in 32 games in 2008 to end his career.
Overall, Ma's career batting line read .294/~.374/.497 with 260 HR and 1,003 RBI.
In May 2009, Ma published an autobiography saying that many foreign players and some local ones used steroids. The KBO had not begun steroid testing until 2007 and had not (as of 2009) ever instituted a policy of mandatory steroid testing due to financial reasons. They had issued a policy of testing all foreign players, prior to Ma's book.
Sources: KBO player page, DongA.com article on the union effort, KBO career leaders, 1999-2007 Baseball Almanacs, Defunct IBAF website, KBO single-season leaders, Korea Times article on aging players being let go, Korea Times article on Ma's steroid claims