This is what a colleague said when Kim Jae-hwan (35), the 4th hitter of the Doosan Bears, leaped to the starting lineup in 2016. It is a well-known fact that Kim Jae-hwan has been exercising without missing a single day since 2016. Even the players who pride themselves on not being pushed behind by training at Doosan unanimously say, “I haven’t seen a player who works harder than Kim Jae-hwan.” The sweat shed every day came back with the fruit of last year’s 11.5 billion won FA jackpot in 4 years.
Kim Jae-hwan set a good example for his juniors even when he was still. A coach said, “Kim Jae-hwan volunteers to hit extra hits if the bat doesn’t hit him, and he stays after the game and goes to practice. The team’s main hitter and the number 4 hitter also works out like that, so can the juniors just go home?” said.
After taking over as captain during the 2021 season, he tried to be more active in helping his juniors. He did it all the more when he saw a junior who seemed to be in a similar situation to him. After graduating from Incheon High School, Kim Jae-hwan joined Doosan in 2008 in the 4th place in the 1st round and raised expectations as the next geopo, but until 2015 he spent 8 years as a second-team player.
In the end, it was sweat that led Kim Jae-hwan to the starting lineup, and he always emphasizes to his juniors that ‘sweat does not betray’. Kim Jae-hwan got a promise from a junior to “turn the bat every day for several hours a day” as he did, and he sincerely wished for the junior’s success by checking and taking care of whether he actually went out to train without the knowledge of the junior.
When juniors young enough to use Kim Jae-hwan as their role model joined one by one, he spared no material support. Kim Jae-hwan saw the old sneakers he wore on the first day he was called up to the first team after Song Seung-hwan (23) was discharged from the military last year, and bought new sneakers with his own money. When Kang Hyeon-gu (21), a rookie in 2021, first joined the spring camp last year, he took him out and bought him food, saying, “I’m too skinny. You have to eat well to play well.” 안전놀이터
Now, Kim Jae-hwan puts down his captain’s armband and does his best in batting 4 and tries to put strength on the shoulders of his juniors. Kim Jae-hwan received a disappointing report card last year with 128 games, a batting average of 0.248 (111 hits in 448 at-bats), 23 homers and 72 RBIs. He plans to hand over the captain’s armband to Heo Gyeong-min (33) this year and take a step back to empower his juniors.
Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “Kim Jae-hwan was sluggish last year, and he seemed to have a sense of pressure. Because he is the team’s main gun, the atmosphere in the team goes down when he is not good in the game. I wondered if taking over as captain would double the pressure.”
Heo Gyeong-min said, “(Kim) Jae-hwan hyung said, ‘Good job.’ I want to tell Jae-hwan hyung that he has worked hard. It would have been more difficult while doing it, but thank you for silently insisting. Now, I want you to hit a lot of home runs as the fourth hitter comfortably. I will do the hard work,” he said with a smile.