Dominant starters unveiled as latest members of KBO’s 40th anniversary team

SEOUL-- The celebration of the 40th anniversary of the South Korean professional baseball league continued Monday with the unveiling of four All-Star starting pitchers who dominated the late 1980s and 1990s.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) has been introducing four members to its commemorative "40 Legends" team every Monday since mid-July, part of ongoing celebrations its 40th anniversary.

With the addition of pitchers Lee Kang-chul, Jeong Min-chul, Jung Min-tae and Cho Kye-hyeon, the KBO has now announced half of the anniversary squad.

Lee Kang-chul, who ranked ninth in the voting by a panel of experts and fans, was as consistent as they came. The submarine pitcher recorded at least 10 wins and 100 strikeouts in a record 10 consecutive seasons, doing so from his rookie year in 1989 to 1998. He was also a big-game pitcher, earning the Korean Series MVP honor for the Haitai (currently Kia) Tigers by picking up two wins and a save, along with a 0.56 ERA in 16 innings. The Tigers knocked off the Hyundai Unicorns in six games, and Lee pitched in five of them.

Lee, who retired after the 2005 season, collected five Korean Series championship rings. Currently manager of the 2021 Korean Series champions KT Wiz, Lee ranks fourth all time in wins (152), third in strikeouts (1,751) and third in innings pitched (2,204 2/3).

Jeong Min-chul, who finished 13th in the voting, was the face of the Hanwha Eagles in the 1990s. After making his debut in 1992 at age 20, Jeong became the youngest to reach the 100-win mark in 1997 at 27 years, three months and two days -- a record that still stands to this day. Jeong, now general manager of the Eagles, won at least 10 games in each of his first eight seasons, the longest streak ever by a pitcher coming out of high school.

He finished his career as No. 2 overall in both wins (161) and innings (2,394 2/3 innings). The workhorse right-hander is also second in KBO history with 20 complete game shutouts.

Jung Min-tae, a one-time teammate of Jeong's on the Yomiuri Giants checking in at 18th on the legends list, also made his KBO debut in 1992, but he didn't start making noise until 1994, his first full season. Then beginning with the 1996 season, Jung tossed at least 200 innings in five consecutive campaigns, a record he shares with another member of the 40 Legends team, the late Choi Dong-won.

Jung does hold one record all by himself. From July 30, 2000 to Aug. 31, 2003, Jung won 21 straight decisions as a starting pitcher.

As a key member of the Unicorns dynasty, Jung won four Korean Series titles while grabbing the series MVP honors in 1998 and 2003. The right-hander led the KBO in wins three times and picked up three Golden Gloves, too.

Coming in at No. 26 on the legends list is former Tigers right-hander Cho Kye-hyeon, who teamed up with Lee Kang-chul to lead the Tigers to glory in the 1990s.

In 1994, Cho tied for the league lead with 18 wins and had 14 complete games, one of three times he would top the KBO in that category. He retired with 64 complete games in 13 seasons, tied for eighth most in KBO history.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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