Lotte Giants gave a surprise banner advertisement gift to a player who had been with the team for only one year but had to leave. Lotte Giants outfielder Ahn Kwon-soo (30)’s farewell game at Sajik ended in tears.
Lotte won 14-3 in the final home game of the season against the Doosan Bears held at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 11th. Starting pitcher Park Se-woong allowed 3 runs in 6 innings, and Kim Min-seok recorded 100 hits as the Lotte team’s first high school graduate, achieving a milestone in the final home game. They presented victory in front of 9,940 home fans. 토토
But I wasn’t that happy that day. This was because it was the home farewell game for Korean-Japanese outfielder Ahn Kwon-soo (30), who spent a year with Lotte this year after being released from Doosan last year.
Ahn Kwon-soo, a third-generation Korean in Japan, was born and raised in Japan, graduated from Japan’s prestigious Waseda University, and continued his career as a player in the Japanese independent league. Then, to play baseball in his grandfather’s home country, he participated in the 2019 tryout and was selected with the 99th overall pick in the 2nd 10th round of the 2020 rookie draft and began his playing career in Korea.
However, for Korean-Japanese Ahn Kwon-su, there remained a hurdle called the Military Service Act. In order for him to continue his commercial activities as a professional player in Korea, he had to fulfill his military obligations. That time was running out, and Doosan released Ahn Kwon-soo last year.
However, Lotte had different thoughts. According to Lotte’s calculations, Ahn Kwon-soo had one year left. Lotte suggested that Ahn Kwon-soo spend his last year together, and Ahn Kwon-soo, who was uncertain whether he would return to Japan and continue his career as a baseball player, decided to spend one more year at Lotte so as not to have any regrets.
Ahn Kwon-soo was an indispensable source of energy during Lotte’s run in April. During the month of April, he played a leading role in the attack with a batting average of .318 (27 hits in 85 at-bats), 2 home runs, 12 RBIs, 10 runs, and an OPS of .815 in 22 games.
Kwon-soo Ahn explained, “When I looked at the players’ skills during spring camp, I thought that we could not only advance to the postseason but also win the championship, but there were many injured players and I also had an injury. I feel very sorry.” He was also selected to the reserve list for the Hangzhou Asian Games team. If he received special military service exemption for winning the Asian Games gold medal, he could choose Korean nationality and continue his career as an athlete without the restrictions of the military service law.
But the sweetness of April did not last. The bone fragment issue in his elbow caused pain and made it difficult for him to perform normally. He eventually left the team during the season after undergoing surgery to remove bone fragments from his elbow. With the injury of Ahn Kwon-soo, Lotte lost momentum and eventually fell repeatedly, leading to the cancellation of fall baseball.
Kwon-soo Ahn said, “While watching the players’ skills during spring camp, I thought that we could not only advance to the postseason but also win the championship, but there were many injured players and I also had an injury. “I feel very sorry,” he said, expressing his thoughts ahead of the home farewell game.
Ahn Kwon-soo enlivened the dugout atmosphere with his loud voice and spread positive energy with his bright smile. While sharing a dormitory with young fielders such as Yoon Dong-hee, Kim Min-seok, and Son Seong-bin, he was the ultimate supporter, senior, and older brother to them. Although he only played for one year, he was the player everyone loved.
Rookie outfielder Kim Min-seok said, “He was a senior who was like a friend. “It was a senior who helped me become a person despite my many shortcomings, less than a year after I switched to being an outfielder,” he said. “There were many times in the outfield where senior Kwon Soo caught the coach’s signals before he did.” Even when I couldn’t see the coach’s signals, he told me to ‘take your time’ a lot. Also, when the bat wasn’t working properly, he told me about the problem and bought me a lot of food. He explained the existence of Ahn Kwon-soo, saying, “He was truly a senior who was like a friend.”
He didn’t seem to realize it yet. He said, “I think yesterday was probably the last night we slept together in the dorm. He didn’t feel it. However, when I went into senior Kwon Soo’s room, I saw him packing his luggage little by little, so I felt like I could feel it a little more.”
Doosan players who have been together for three years also have special feelings for Ahn Kwon-soo. Outfielder Jeong Soo-bin (33), who played a major role in Doosan, looked back on the past three years with Ahn Kwon-soo and said, “I adapted to Korea very quickly. He had an easygoing personality, so I got along with all the players. We also had fun playing baseball. “He made the team atmosphere very bright and he got along really well with his seniors and juniors. There was a lot of affection,” he said with a smile, adding, “He was very noisy in the dugout in a positive way. I want to support him in his second life as well.”
On this day, Lotte Club held a small event to share farewell feelings ahead of Ahn Kwon-soo’s farewell game at home. When An Kwon-soo, who started as the No. 1 left fielder, came to bat for the third time in the third inning, Lotte expressed its feelings for An Kwon-soo with a banner advertisement that said, “We were happy to be together.” In addition, the audience sang the ‘Never Ending Story’ of resurrection and promised a day when they would meet again. It would have been even better if An Kwon-soo’s hits had been added, but on this day, An Kwon-soo retired with no hits in 5 at-bats.
In fact, the fans were more disappointed about parting with Ahn Kwon-soo than the club. After the game, captain Ahn Chi-hong, acting manager Lee Jong-woon and others gave their final greetings to the home fans. However, fans wanted to hear more of Ahn Kwon-soo’s voice. They chanted Ahn Kwon-soo’s name, and cheer leader Jo Ji-hoon, who served as emcee, called out Ahn Kwon-soo.
Kwonsu Ahn grabbed the microphone and said, “I’m not good at Korean,” and then expressed his feelings, “Thank you for your support.” Lotte fans then sang Ahn Kwon-soo’s cheering song at the top of their voices. In the end, Ahn Kwon-soo, who had only smiled throughout the season, burst into tears and was unable to continue speaking. Ahn Kwon-soo also burst out the emotions he had been holding in. In the end, Ahn Kwon-soo choked up and said, “I love Lotte fans.”
Afterwards, we shared our regrets about the final home game. There are still away games left in Gwangju and Daejeon, but the final home game and Ahn Kwon-soo’s farewell game seemed special. Kim Min-seok also wiped away tears in the end.
Ahn Kwon-soo’s resignation, which was loved by everyone, ended in tears.