Boy Jangsa, who became a legend as a theater artilleryman, is now heading for a full life

“It’s been a burden, and I hope it’s over soon…”

He had made history. But SSG Landers’ Choi Jeong-jeong’s expression was calm.

Choi hit a solo shot to left field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning against the KIA Tigers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, South Korea, with his team trailing 3-4. With the home run, Choi tied Lee Seung-yeop (now manager of the Doosan Bears) for the most career home runs (467).

The opportunity came at a dramatic moment. With SSG trailing 3-4 and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kia closer Jung Hae-young, who has saved all eight of his appearances this season, came to the plate. Choi lined a five-pitch, 147-kilometer fastball from the 3B1S high on the body for a two-run home run over the left-center field fence. A moment to rub shoulders with a legend. In the next at-bat, Heredia followed with a single, and Han Yoo-seom followed with a towering two-run shot to give SSG a 6-4 win, doubling Choi’s joy.

“I thought we could win if we tied the game, so it feels good that my home run (tied the game),” Choi said after the game, adding, “I was under a lot of pressure from the first at-bat. I wasn’t focused at the plate. I had a lot of weird thoughts, I was greedy, and I got my hands on some stupid pitches,” he reflected on the game. “In the bottom of the ninth inning, I came up to bat with two outs and I was feeling a little bit relaxed, but then I got a favorable count and I knew the pitcher was going to throw the ball where he was confident, so I timed it right and it went for a home run,” he recalled. “I’m very honored to have the record,” he said.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases. Go Myung-joon and Lee Ji-young each drew a walk to load the bases for the ninth batter, Kim Sung-hyun. Choi Jung-jeong, who had previously gone hitless in four at-bats, was given one last chance in the bottom of the ninth. “I thought I might face Jeong in the ninth inning,” Choi said. I was preparing myself from the time I was defending,” he said, adding, “If I had been caught in a chance, it would have been another burden, but since it was two innings later, I think it led to a good result because I was relaxed and boldly swung the bat.” He added, “I got a hit in the seventh inning (in my fourth at-bat) when I was still not getting results, and from then on, I felt a little more relaxed. I had a 안전놀이터 feeling that I was satisfied, like, ‘Just one hit today, OK,’ and I think that’s why it turned out the way it did.”

Choi, who joined the SK Wyverns (now SSG) with the first overall pick in the 2005 KBO Rookie Draft, had a remarkable 18 consecutive years of double-digit home runs from his second year in 2006 until last year. With today’s home run, Choi is one home run shy of his 19th consecutive year of double-digit home runs.

“At first, I didn’t consider myself a home run hitter. “I didn’t realize that I was a home run hitter at first,” he said. “I didn’t imagine that I could hit a home run with a push, but I did it in mid-March. I felt a touch I had never felt before and thought, ‘This is it,’ and I’ve been trying to maintain it ever since.”

A record that won’t be broken anytime soon. With one more home run, Choi will begin a journey that no one has ever taken before. “I’ve experienced the nervousness once (before the tie), so I’m done with it. I hope this situation (of being the center of attention) will end sooner rather than breaking the record,” he laughed, and vowed, “From now on, I will only think of hitting double-digit home runs every year until I retire.”

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