Il-kwon Kim (김일권)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
Il-kwon Kim led the Korea Baseball Organization in steals five times and retired as the all-time steal leader in the KBO.
Kim hit .317/.364/.463 with 9 runs and a team-high 12 RBI in 10 games as the South Korean national team left fielder in the 1978 Amateur World Series as the team won the Bronze Medal. He tied Pedro José Rodríguez, Sr. for 5th in the event in RBI, behind Antonio Muñoz, Tim Wallach, Hiromitsu Ochiai and Ben Richardson, a pretty impressive group. He was second in the event in swipes, five behind Japan's Mitsugu Kobayashi. He led the 1980 Amateur World Series in steals and runs (18) as South Korea won its first Silver Medal ever in an Amateur World Series.
Kim debuted as a pro in the KBO's first season, 1982; he was already 25 years old when he played his first game for the Haitai Tigers. For the year, he hit .270/.368/.436 with 53 steals in 70 tries. He was 7th in the league in homers (11), 7th in runs (48, surprisingly his only time in the top 10), 5th in walks (42) and first in steals (by 9) and caught stealing. Il-kwon batted .275/.345/.364 with 48 steals in 1983 but was gunned down running 22 times. He led the KBO in steals, 14 more than Jae-bak Kim, and in caught stealing, 8 ahead of Hae-chang Lee. He was 8th with 103 hits.
The Kunsan native fell to .241/.309/.302 for the 1984 Tigers but went 41-for-53 in steal attempts, leading in swipes by five while not leading in times caught stealing this time. He hit .278/.349/.377 with 39 steals in 58 tries in 1985, 11 steals behind leader Jae-bak Kim even as he led in times gunned down. In 1986, the Tigers veteran produced at just a .186/.259/.229 clip with 22 steals in 27 tries, finishing 5th in the league in steals. He reached 200 career steals during that season. Kim had a poor season (.229/.294/.263, 16 SB, 8 CS) in 1987 to end his Haitai career.
Kim moved to the Taepyungyang Dolphins in 1988 and had a resurgence, batting .301/.337/.398 with 26 steals (in 40 tries). He tied for the league lead in triples (5) and was second in steals, 32 behind Soon-chul Lee. In 1989, he hit .261/.324/.334 and pilfered 62 bases in 84 attempts. He tied for 5th in the league with 23 doubles and led in steals (23 more than Jae-bak Kim) for the first time in five years. He also led in times caught stealing. He won his only Gold Glove, which in the KBO goes to the best player at each position, combining offense and defense; Won-bu Go and Kang-don Lee were the other outfielders picked in 1989. He also reached 300 career stolen bases.
In 1990, Kim hit only .253/.319/.286 and stole 48 bases while being caught 20 times. He led in steals by 22 over Soon-chul Lee for his fifth and final steal title, also leading in times caught stealing. He finished his playing career with the 1991 LG Twins, hitting only .151/.212/.187 with 8 steals in 15 tries over 58 games. For his career, he had hit .253/.321/.330 in 842 KBO games, with 363 steals in 509 attempts.