National Team No. 4 ‘Jim’ Noh Si-hwan “Proud to be a 30-homer hitter…nothing to fear

September 13, 2023 0 Comments

Baseball’s home run leader, Noh Shi-hwan (23, Korea), will be a gold medalist at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Noh is a key hitter for the Korean baseball team, which is trying to win its fourth straight gold medal at the Games. With last year’s five-time batting champion Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) sidelined with an ankle injury and Kang Baek-ho (KT) out of form, the Korean baseball team is counting on Noh to deliver.

As of Nov. 11, Noh leads the KBO in home runs (30), RBIs (96) and on-base percentage (0.563), making him the best hitter in the league in his first five years as a professional. He was selected to the national team for the first time and his international career is a question mark, but he can hit 30 home runs and wear the symbol of Geopo to intimidate opponents.

“I hit six home runs last year, so I didn’t expect to hit 30 this year,” Noh said during a recent interview at Daejeon’s Hanwha Life Eagles Park. “I’m proud to hit 30 home runs, which means a lot to me as a Geopo, and to wear the national jersey,” he said. “If I am placed in the center of the batting order, I will take responsibility and play a role in bringing in runners any way I can,” he vowed.

Born in 2000, Noh is a classic “Beijing kid. He was inspired to play baseball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he watched Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop come back from an abysmal slump to hit a game-winning home run in the semifinals against Japan and closer Jung Dae-hyun induce a game-winning double play in the final against Cuba to clinch the gold medal. “I loved the drama of the play at the end,” Noh said, “and it made me want to play baseball.”

While he admired the national team seniors who played in international tournaments such as the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic (WBC), he also realized the weight of the Taeguk mark. “In the national team, the center fielders were often not performing well, so it has a lot of weight,” Noh said. “I think it will be difficult because the opposing pitchers never give me good pitches and throw with more power, but it is the center fielders who have to overcome the weight. It’s my first experience, but I’m determined to overcome it.”

The roster is not the strongest, with 21 players aged 25 or younger or in their fourth year as a professional and three ’29 and under’ wildcards. Japan, who will be competing for the gold medal, is made up of unemployed baseball players who are comparable to those in the KBO, while Chinese Taipei is expected to have a stiff challenge with seven top players from the American professional baseball minor leagues.

“As we are representing our country, the other team will surely have many good players, but the short game will be decided by a single run,” Noh said, emphasizing that it is important to have good teamwork and concentration at the plate. “In the past, the seniors were definitely strong in chances, and when it mattered, they came through and did well, so there’s nothing to be afraid of,” he said. “We’re young, but we can do well as a team. It’s best if everyone plays well and wins. Of course, it would be better if I could be the solver,” he emphasized.

Taekwak Mark also has good memories. When Noh was a senior at Gyeongnam High School, the team won the 2018 Asian Youth Baseball Championship, beating Taiwan and Japan. As the team’s No. 4 hitter, he batted 6-for-6 (.692) and won the batting award. “I was good at that time,” Noh laughed, “and I hope to have a similar batting performance at the Asian Games,” he said. “There is a world of difference between the adult national team and the youth national team,” he said, “but I like international competitions and enjoy them, so I’m not nervous.”

The draw for the first round of the tournament on October 1 against underdog Hong Kong is not bad either. “During the All-Star Game, (Lee) Jung-hoo said, ‘The first game is very nerve-wracking. You need to play an easy team at the beginning to relax. If you play a tough team right from the start, it can be difficult. The first match is in Hong Kong, so we are lucky to be drawn.”토토사이트

“I’m still playing the season, so it’s still hard for me to realize that the tournament is right around the corner,” he said. “I told Won Tae-in (Samsung), who I’ve been playing with since the youth national team, ‘Let’s come back with a gold medal, no matter what. ‘ I think I’ll feel less sorry for my team (Hanwha) if I come back with a gold medal around my neck.”

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