From BR Bullpen
Jin-woo Song (Chairman)
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
A two-time Olympic performer, Jin-woo Song was first pitcher in the history of the Korea Baseball Organization to win 200 games, despite only leading the league once and spending significant time as a reliever. He is also well-known for his central role in establishing the Korean baseball players' association, essentially a players' union, and this have earned him the nick name of "Mr. President."
Song had a successful amateur career, culminating in an appearance in the 1988 Olympics. He had a 4.66 ERA and one save in the 1988 Baseball World Cup and also appeared in the 1987 Intercontinental Cup.
He debuted professionally in 1989 with the Binggrae Eagles, going 9-10 with 9 saves and a 2.81 ERA and just 116 hits allowed in 156 2/3 IP, but he walked 93. His first game in the KBO was a shutout. His second season was even better, as he went 11-7 with 27 saves and a 1.82 ERA, allowing 80 hits in 128 1/3 IP. He led the Korea Baseball Organization in saves and save points (38). He won the best reliever award.
In 1991, the 25-year-old was 11-10 with 11 saves and a 2.78 ERA. He won 19, lost 8 and saved 17 in a busy 1992 season in which he issued 101 walks in 191 1/3 IP. He led the Korea Baseball Organization in victories, saves and save points (25) in a most unusual campaign. He was named best reliever in the KBO. Song slipped to 7-7, 8 Sv, 3.72 in 1993. It was the only season he did not pitch 100 innings or more.
The left-hander was 9-10 with 10 saves and a 3.92 ERA in 1994; the club was renamed the Hanwha Eagles that year. He followed with a 13-8, 3.20 comeback year. In 1996, Song went 15-9 with a 3.25 ERA.
Song looked to have faded away after that, though; in 1997, he was 6-12 with a 4.60 ERA and his strikeout rate fell significantly. He won his 100th career game. His struggles continued in 1998, with a 6-10, 4.79 campaign.
Jin-woo bounced back strongly in 1999. He posted a 15-5 record with six saves and a 4.00 ERA, 8th in the KBO. That year, he was the leader in the organization of the Korean Baseball Players Association. He got the nickname "Chairman" from opponents due to his work for the union.
On May 18, 2000, Song threw a no-hitter against the Haitai Tigers. He went 13-2 that year with 4 saves and a 3.40 ERA, fifth-best in the league. He struggled in the 2000 Olympics, walking 4 in 4 2/3 IP and going 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in five games.
The union sought official status in December of 2000, threatening the 2001 season and Song's career. The KBPA and ownership reached an agreement in late January, whereby players won the rights to pick player representatives to take up their side. Song and the other five leaders of the KBPA had to agree that they could not assume the responsibility of player rep, but were able to continue with their careers. Song had a 10-8, 3.84 record that year with two saves. He was 8th in the KBO in ERA.
On April 23, 2002, Song set the KBO career win record, breaking Dong-yeol Son's record of 146. He possibly had a career year as a starting pitcher at age 36, going 18-7 with a 2.99 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 220 IP. He also won a KBO Gold Glove. He was second in the league in ERA, trailing only Narciso Elvira, and second in wins, behind only Mark Kiefer.
Jin-woo had a 9-7, 7 saves, 3.12 season in 2003. In 2004, the veteran went 11-8 with one save and a 3.61 ERA, 7th in the KBO. His 2005 was very similar - 11-7, 3.81. On September 8, he threw a shutout, breaking Chul-soon Park's record as the oldest pitcher in KBO history to have done so.
Through 2005, Song was 9th in KBO history in complete games (62), tied for 25th in ERA (3.43), 8th in games pitched (559), 1st in IP (2,680, 475 1/3 ahead of the next pitcher), 1st in losses (135, 14 more than #2), 9th in saves (102), tied for 13th in shutouts (11), 1st in strikeouts (1,847), 1st in wins (193, 41 ahead of #2 Kang-cheol Lee.
In 2006, the 40-year-old continued to set records. He won his 200th game on August 29, beating the KIA Tigers. To get to 200 wins, he had thrown 46,676 pitches against 11,827 batters. That year, he also became the oldest pitcher in KBO history to have won a game, topping Chul-soon Park's 40 years, 5 months and 23 days. By reaching 200 wins and 100 saves, he became the second pitcher in Asian baseball history to have done that, following Yutaka Enatsu in Nippon Pro Baseball. Overall, Song was 8-8 with a 3.60 ERA that year.
Through 2006, Song's career KBO record stood at 201-143 with 102 saves and a 3.44 ERA. In 2,827 IP, he had allowed 2,536 hits and 1,186 walks while striking out 1,941.
Song was 2-2 with a save and a 4.54 ERA in 2007, posting his highest ERA in nine years and looking his age. In 2008, he reached 2,000 career strikeouts and was 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 outings.
Sources: KBO page, "Pro baseball clubs, players end dispute over union", IBAF website, Japan Times Online article about 2001 labor negotiations, KBO single-season leaders, KBO career leaders, KBS Global article on Song's 200th win and career, Korean wikipedia, 2000-2006 Baseball Almanacs, Mike McStay blog on Song's 2,000th strikeout