Friday, November 25, 2016

Byung-Kyu Lee

Long time LG Twin and one time Chunichi Dragon Byung-Kyu Lee announced his retirement this week.  Lee was the first round pick of LG in the 1997 KBO draft out of Dankook University.  He was a star from the beginning, hitting .305 in 1997 and winning the Rookie Of The Year award.  Over the next 9 seasons he would hit over .300 five times including a league leading .337 in 2005.  His best season was 1999 when he hit .349 with 31 home runs, 31 steals and 99 RBIs (none of which lead the league).  He lead the league in hits each year from 1999 to 2001 and also in 2005 and lead the league in runs scored in 2001.  He won a Golden Glove award six times between 1997 and 2005.

1999 Teleca #114

1999 Teleca Premium "Super" #4
After the 2006 season, Lee decided to try his luck in Japan and he signed with the Chunichi Dragons.  He ended up spending three seasons with them (2007-09) with diminishing results each year (.262 in 132 games in 2007, .254 in 105 games in 2008 and .218 in 28 games in 2009).  The highlight of his three years in Nagoya was the 2007 Nippon Series where he helped the Dragons to their first title since 1954 when he hit a two run home run in Game 2.

2007 BBM 1st Version #240

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S23

2008 BBM 1st Version #063
Lee left the Dragons and returned to Korea, the KBO and the LG Twins in time for the 2010 season.  He hit over .300 three more times including a second batting crown in 2013 (with an average of .348).  He won another Golden Glove in 2013 and was MVP of the KBO All Star game in 2011.  Age and injuries (I think) started to take their toll after 2013 and after only making one appearance with the Twins this season he has decided to hang it up.  He is one of what I think are only four hitters with more than 2000 hits in the KBO - he has a total of 2043 in the KBO plus 253 in NPB.

2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-030

2014 Superstar Baseball Blue Edition #SBCBE-175-N

2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-046-BS

2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-120-N

2016 Superstar Baseball Forever Ace #PA03-LG001
Lee has suited up for the Korean National Team a number of times.  He played in the 1996 Olympics while in college and the 2000 Olympics as a professional.  He has also played for them in several Asian Championships and the 2001 Baseball World Cup.  He also played in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  The only cards I know of him in his Korean team uniform are from the 1999 Teleca Premium Korean Dream Team insert set (for the 1999 Asia Championship team I believe) which I don't have and the 2006 Upper Deck "Future Watch" WBC set (which I do):

2006 Upper Deck Future Watch #WBC-63

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