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Who are the Samsung Lions?

The Samsung Lions are one of South Korea's most successful baseball teams. We take a deeper look into who they are.

History of the Samsung Lions

The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) was established in 1982. The organization introduced six teams to the league, one of them being the Samsung Lions, which were founded on February 3, 1982. The Samsung Lions played the first KBO game in the history of the league on March 27, 1982. They had a remarkable first year in the league, as they advanced to the Korean Series, but ended up losing in the finals to the Doosan Bears. The KBO achieved such a great deal of popularity, that after the inaugural season was completed, the Samsung Lions invited the Milwaukee Brewers, accompanied by MLB great Hank Aaron, to the city for an exhibition game.

The Samsung Lions won their first Korean Series in 1985, and would also be victorious in 2002, 2005, and 2006. The Lions would then go on to win four consecutive championships from 2011 to 2014. However, while the Samsung Lions had the opportunity to win a 5th straight championship, three of their top pitchers, their ace, set-up man, and closer, were under investigation for illegally gambling overseas. While the allegations led to the suspension of the players and prevented them from competing in the Korean Series, the incident would cast a dark cloud around the team. The Samsung Lions would, unfortunately, go on to lose the Korean Series in 2015 in just five games. While the Lions have won the second most championships in KBO history, they have also been a 10-time runner up.

Daegu, South Korea

Daegu is an urban city located in Southeastern Korea and is one of South Korea’s largest metropolitan areas. The city of Daegu is located in a valley that is surrounded by low mountains. Due to the subtropical climate, Daegu is known for producing high-quality apples, which are shipped throughout East and Southeast Asia. Daegu apples are considered remarkably sweet and include a whole lot of both fiber and Vitamin-C.

Daegu Samsung Lions Park

Daegu Samsung Lions Park opened in 2016 and is the most modern ballpark in the KBO. The stadium has a capacity of 26,000, where it provides a remarkable atmosphere for fans inside the Samsung Lions luxurious stadium with state-of-the-art amenities. The opening of the stadium gave the citizens of Daegu a new identity, which provides an excellent experience for all baseball fans.

Sponsored by Samsung

Samsung is involved with many professional sports teams in South Korea, including Football, Basketball, Volleyball, eSports, and Baseball teams. Like the CPBL, the KBO teams are named after the teams’ sponsors. In this case, Samsung Sports is actively engaged in the Samsung Lions, as they sponsor the team. Samsung aspires to contribute to the well being of humanity, and as a leading global organization, they manage the sports marketing and administration of the Samsung Lions.

Recent Downfall

Ever since the loss to the Doosan Bears in the Korean Series in 2015, where the Samsung Lions were going for a 5th straight championship, they have yet to reach the playoffs, which has recorded their longest playoff drought. The Samsung Lions finished 2016 and 2017 in 9th place of out ten teams for the season. While making progress in 2018 and finishing in 6th, there were the hopes that 2019 would be different. However, things didn’t pan out last year due to injuries and a delay in the rebuilding phase. The Lions would end the 2019 season with a 60-82 record, which placed them 8th in the standings.

Seung-hwan Oh

On a positive note for the Samsung Lions’ fans, Seung-hwan Oh has made his way back to the KBO to start a new chapter with the team. He played for the Lions from 2005-2013, where he recorded 277 saves for the organization to set a new league record for saved games. He pitched 510 1/3 innings for the Lions, with a stellar ERA of 1.69. While Oh has produced ridiculous numbers for the Lions in the past, supporters ought to limit their expectations, as Oh was under investigation in 2015 for gambling overseas, which lead to his 72 game suspension. Because Oh had a two-year stint in the NPB, then five years in MLB, he has yet to serve his suspension. Oh will ultimately remain away from the field as he receives his 72 game suspension. He is set to sit out 42 games in 2020, and the remaining 30 games in 2021.

The Retired Jerseys of the Samsung Lions

The accomplishments of the Samsung Lions wouldn’t have happened without the success of Lee Man-soo, Yang-Jun hyuk, and Lee Seung-yuop. These three skilled players were so instrumental to the success of the team that the Samsung Lions retired all of their numbers.

Lee Man-soo, number 22, not only hit the first home run for the Samsung Lions but in the history of the league back in 1982. A few years later, the catcher became the leader in home runs, RBIs, and batting average at the time. After he retired in 1997, he joined the Chicago White Sox as a bullpen coach, where the team triumphed to win the World Series in 2005. Lee Man-soo would then become the head coach of SK Wyvern of the KBO, where the team won the Korean Series in 2011. Since he retired from the head coach of SK Wyvern, Lee Man-soo has given back to his community, while creating both men’s and women’s baseball teams in Laos, which is a country in Southeast Asia that suffers from economic hardships.

Announced Rookie of the Year in 1993, Yang-Jun hyuk was far from finished racking up accomplishments. As a 16 year veteran, while since broken, he held the most hits, doubles, runs scored, home runs and RBIs during his playing years. In 2000, Yang-Jun hyuk would serve to organize the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association. On September 19, 2010, the Samsung Lions would retire the legendary Yang-Jun hyuk’s number 10.

Lee Seung-yuop of the Samsung Lions had his number 36 retired by the organization on October 3, 2017. He is the KBO’s all-time leader in home runs, runs scored, RBIs and doubles. He set the single-season home run record with 56 back in 2003. When Lee entered the league, he was under the impression that he was a pitcher. However, in training camp, the manager of the Samsung Lions urged him to become a hitter, so he focused on batting, and never looked back. Since retiring from baseball, Lee is an ambassador for the KBO and founded the Lee Seung Yuop Baseball Foundation to develop baseball in South Korea. He also wrote an autobiography about his baseball career, intending to donate all of the proceeds to his foundation.

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