LG Twins’ Park Dong-won (33) is leading the KBO in home runs this season. This is thanks to the support and advice of his coach, a “former legend” who has hit 314 home runs in his career.
Park has 13 home runs as of Sept. 29. After hitting two home runs against the Doosan Bears on July 7, he has been leading the way ever since. After hitting just four homers in 25 games in April, he has now hit nine in 21 games this month to close the gap on second-place Noh Si-hwan (nine, Hanwha Eagles).
Park, a 15-year pro, has been recognized for his power as a catcher, but he’s never been a contender for the home run title. By 2022, he had 114 home runs in 1026 games. He has hit double-digit home runs seven times in his career, but his highest ranking was 10th in 2021 (22).
Park joined LG from the KIA Tigers last winter in a four-year, $6.5 billion free-agent contract. LG brought in Park to fill the void left by the departure of its previous starting catcher, Yoo Kang-nam, to the Lotte Giants (four years, $8 billion total).
“At first, I thought a lot about how to fill the void left by (Yoo) Kang-nam. He’s a very good catcher, but there are things I can do better, so I tried to make the most of them,” Park said.
One of Park’s competitive strengths is his long bat. He credits LG Battery coach Park Kyung-wan with helping him in this process. Park is one of only two “Catcher’s Home Run King” in history, along with Lee Man-soo (1983-1984-1985). He won the title in 2000 with 40 home runs and in 2004 with 34 home runs. He also holds the record for the most home runs by a catcher in the KBO (314) and the first four-game hitting streak.
His coach motivates him by telling him, “You can be a home run king, too.” To which he humbly replies, “You need to know my subject.”
He didn’t just cheer him on, but also passed on his know-how. “Since spring camp, I’ve been practicing a lot of floating and hitting the ball under the advice of my coach,” Park said. The advice was better received because it came from a coach who played the same position as Daesebae. In the previous two years, Park had more ground balls (209) than fly balls (188), but this season he has more fly balls (42) and ground balls (36).
“Coach Park told me a lot of things that he practiced as a player to hit a lot of home runs,” he said, adding, “Coach Yeom Kyung-yup and hitting coach Lee Ho-joon also helped me a lot, so I think it’s a combination.” In addition to home runs, Park leads the league in on-base percentage (.587). He is third in RBIs (34).
No other LG player has ever led the league in home runs. Park is looking to make history. “I’m not thinking about the home run record at all,” he said, “Coach Park is a legend, and I’m honestly not that good. I tell him I can’t keep up with him. He’s the only one who wants me to become a home run king,” he laughed.먹튀검증
In reality, Park is more focused on his role as a catcher. He is more satisfied with the fact that LG leads the team in ERA (3.32) than his home run record. “I’m more proud of the games I don’t score than the games I hit well,” he says, “The pitchers are pitching well right now, so it’s really good. I hope they continue to pitch well.”