Chae Eun-sung crowned ‘Mr. All-Star’
Home run race champion receives first MVP honor
“It wasn’t yesterday, was it? I don’t know if I should be here today.”
Hanwha’s Chae Eun-sung, 33, said as he entered the press conference room after being named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2023 Baseball All-Star Game at Sajik Stadium in Busan on Friday. Chae was meeting with reporters after winning the home run race the day before. She is the first player in the history of the KBO All-Star Game to win the home run race and be named MVP.
Playing as the No. 4 hitter for the Nanum All-Stars, Chae Eun-sung led off the game with a timely double in her first at-bat and then hit a grand slam in her third at-bat to lead the Nanum All-Stars to an 8-4 victory over the Dream All-Stars. It was the first time in 41 years that Chae Eun-sung hit a grand slam in an All-Star game since Lotte’s Kim Yong-hee (68) in 1982, the first year of the Korean Baseball Organization.
Chae’s “firsts” don’t stop there. She is also the first former rookie (and current developmental player) to be named Mr. All-Star. Chae Eun-sung, who didn’t get much attention during her time at Suncheon Hyochon High School, wasn’t selected by any team in the 2009 rookie draft. When LG scout Yoon Kyung-yeop presented him with a contract as a rookie, he said, “Thank you,” and immediately stamped the contract.
After two years and 22 games in the Futures League (2nd Division), Chae Eun-sung joined the military in 2010 and served in the Honor Guard. When the Navy’s Jinhae Base Command drill team performed a “gun twirl” during the cleanup celebration after the fifth inning of the All-Star Game, Chae Eun-sung skillfully spun her bat in front of the dugout. “It reminded me a lot of the old days. When I was practicing the gun spin in the army, I never imagined a day like today. I was overwhelmed,” she said.
As an unknown player, Chae Eun-sung was often asked, “Are you really a professional baseball player?” during her military service. She used to feel embarrassed whenever she was asked this question, but after her discharge from the military, she grew into a top four hitter for LG, and after the last season, she hit the free agent (FA) jackpot by signing a six-year contract with Hanwha for a total of 9 billion won. Chae Eun-sung, who is also batting fourth for Hanwha and leading the team’s ‘escape from last place,’ said, “I’ve won a lot of tight games lately. 한국야동 I will bring my All-Star Game MVP spirit to the team and start the second half of the season on a high note.”