Kim Gwang-hyeon (35‧ SSG), who 안전놀이터 participated in SSG’s fanfest event last year, vowed to quickly prepare for 2023. He was right after throwing many innings and giving all his strength in the Korean Series, but he had in mind to participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Kim Gwang-hyun raised his voice, saying, “If you are selected, you must go.”
At that time, after the soccer team achieved the feat of reaching the World Cup round of 16, the national attention was focused on the baseball team to be held in March 2023. Kim Gwang-hyun promised that he would thoroughly prepare himself, and was confident that other players would also build their bodies with a sense of responsibility. After being selected for the national team, he did not show any displeasure even when he was notified that he would be used as a bullpen in the game, rather than being selected as his original position. When the motherland called, Kim Gwang-hyeon was always there.
Kim Gwang-hyeon asserts that the Taegeuk mark made Kim Gwang-hyeon the present. He nurtured his dream by going out on the world stage and looking at baseball with a wide perspective. He also had the goal of advancing to the major leagues at that time. He worked hard to achieve that goal, overcoming the sarcasm of being a ‘two-pitch pitcher’ and building a fairly successful two-year career in the major leagues. He also believes that he was able to grow into a star and receive love from fans thanks to Mark Taegeuk.
With such a sense of responsibility, he has been on numerous international stages. After rising to stardom with an impressive pitch at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he played an active part as the team’s ace until the 2009 WBC, 2014 Incheon Asian Games, 2015 Premier 12, and 2019 Premier 12. Such Kim Gwang-hyun’s national team career ended on March 10th with the 2023 WBC Japan match. It was his 17th match with the national team.
Kim Gwang-hyun, who was known to stand by the bullpen against Australia the day before, climbed the mound to save the team from a crisis. He couldn’t afford it as he lost against Australia. Aside from the weight of the match against Japan and Korea, it was a match that must be won to advance to the second round. Kim Gwang-hyun, who became a 35-year-old veteran, threw the ball with all his might. The redness of his cheeks was noticeable to the point of being flushed. He blocked the Japanese line-up for two innings and gave the team a foothold to take the lead. It was pitching that suppressed Japan’s flag.
However, whether it was because he used too much power or because of the pressure to keep the score, he was shaken 3 times and eventually gave an excuse for a comeback. He did his best, but as a result, the team lost, and Kim Gwang-hyun ended the tournament in regret. And it is expected that this match will be his last for the national team. After returning home on the 14th, Kim Gwang-hyun wrote a post on his social network service (SNS) announcing his retirement from the national team.
The writing contained resentment as it was, and on the other hand, it also contained a calm feeling looking back on his long journey. Kim Gwang-hyun said, “It was a dream and pride to be a national representative.” He was also said to be a street he would brag about for the rest of his life.
SSG coach Kim Won-hyung, who watched Kim Kwang-hyun’s rookie days and growth process as a team senior, calmly recalled his junior’s last game with the national team ahead of the Lotte match on the 15th. Coach Kim said, “I caught five strikeouts and threw very well. I thought it was Kim Gwang-hyun. However, in the last inning, I saw him throwing the ball carefully.” He must have had a desire to reap the beauty of the end while playing. However, the entire team was regretful.”
Coach Kim continued, “When I go to the national team, I always have a sense of responsibility and pressure, but after I come back, I can see that I always throw the ball whenever you call me.” From 2008 to 2023, the era of Kim Gwang-hyun, who always wore the national team uniform with a fluttering heart, seems to be over now, but that responsibility will remain as an example to his juniors.