Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baseball Star’s Positive Push on Campus and Life

Ahn Young Myung On any given day at West Campus soccer field you can see a small number of men batting, fielding, and pitching baseballs together. One of them is Ahn Young Myung, professional baseball player of the Hanwha Eagles. He is now working as public military service worker in Woosong Sports center. If you are a big fan of Hanwha over the years, you might remember Ahn as a starting pitcher. Woosong Herald Sports met Ahn Young Myung on a cloudy day after his routine practice. We wanted to share his experiences as a pro baseball player and his insights on life with WSU students.

Ahn is well known for his poker face among baseball fans. He doesn’t even smile a little bit when he is standing on the mound. Many fans call him as “Chic Young Myung” because of his expressionless face but off-field he smiles and comes across very friendly. He said he is an introverted person who prefers to have deep relationship with small group of people.

Fans wonder why he shows this infamous poker face when between the lines. “It’s because of my childhood experience,” said Young Myung. “When I was young - that means when I was an elementary school student, I often revealed my raw feelings while playing baseball. If I did something good, I laughed, if not, I made a long face. But the coaches reprimanded me for revealing my emotion to the opponents. It’s not a good habit. I was educated to be poker faced when I am wearing a uniform at the ballpark. I think that lesson I learned in my childhood has influenced me until now. On the baseball field, I always try to be serious. Even when doing simple warm-ups, I concentrate on it. Sounds like I’m a boring person but that’s because I really love baseball.”

He accomplished 11 wins in 2009, hi-lighted by one game in particular against the Lotte Giants, September 8th. Ahn Young remembers it like yesterday. “At Sajik Stadium in Busan I threw 9 innings and that win was my 10th win,” said the 6-foot right-hander. “One win for a starting pitcher is very precious. During the long innings, there are some critical moments. If you overcome them well and throw more than 5 innings, you will have more of a chance to get the win. I think a win is kind of reward for your commitment.”

Korean baseball teams play 126 games a year. Starting pitchers take the mound at least 25 times. Sometimes he has to throw even though he is not in a good physical condition and not performing well. How does Ahn deal with this type of adversity? “I just think ‘well, I’m in a slump now. The key is staying positive during that time. I know it won’t last long so I just workout and know someday it will pass.”

Ahn Young’s glass full mentality remains clear. In 2010, the Eagles traded him to the Kia Tigers in exchange for Jang Sung Ho, a veteran hitter, and then returned to Hanwha 8 months later. Despite having to leave the Eagles, the only team he ever played for, Ahn remained positive.

“When I first heard about the trade, I tried to think about the positives. Hanwha Eagles sent me because they need a better player but looking at the other side, because Kia Tigers wanted me the deal could be made. I felt sorry for leaving my old friends but I tried not to be emotionally shaken. When I return to Hanwha I did the same thing- positive thinking– Hanwha Eagles need me right now.”

Ahn seems to be loved by both Hanwha Eagles and Kia Tigers fans. They expressed sadness over his movement to another team. Now Hanwha Eagles fans are waiting for his return. Ahn finishes his military service this December and he will come back to the mound next season. Currently Hanwha is not in a good situation, lacking solid pitching. Ahn Young hopes to change this with help next season. “Firstly I want to run the whole season without getting injured. My second goal is giving trust to people when I’m pitching,” said the 30-year old former HS draft pick. He is practicing regardless of the weather. If he doesn’t get injured he may resume his duties as a full-time starter. Ahn expressed confidence on the next season: “People say that when you just come back from the military service, the performance of the season is not that good. Since I have been working out steadily for 2 years, I won’t ruin the season.”

He wants to play baseball as long as he can, but at some time he will retire just like other legendary Eagles players. He sounded pretty determined when he was talking about his future dream. “For a long time, I thought over the relationship between performance and mental strength. Right now I have certification in Sports Psychology.

“We have a mental coach at Hanwha Eagles and he helps players a lot. Before I studied for this certification I knew that mental strength is much more important than skill or ability for a player. Nowadays people are getting to know the importance of the mental power and it is becoming the trend. I might be lacking in theories but I have actually experienced the situations by myself. So I want to be a Psychotherapist.

Right now Ahn Young assists Woosong students in their lives, passing on his experiences to them. He was drafted by Hanwha right after completing high school and went out into the real world earlier than our WSU students. Since 19 he has experienced life as a pro athlete. WS Herald asked him to give advice on college life to WSU students.

“You might have different majors but regardless of the field you are going to work, when you graduate from the university and come out to the workforce, there are times that you get frustrated by all the barriers and limitations. For me, when I first got onto a pro baseball team, I was astonished because even players in the minor league were way better than me. I felt the huge gap between amateurs and professionals. Before I thought I was a pretty good player, but I realized I should try harder to survive in the pro league. There’s always gap between student life and real society. But to reduce the shock, you have to study hard and never stop improving yourself. If you prepare more, then you get over the disappointment faster. Some people say enjoy your college life, but I think you should be serious and sincere about what you do in college. That’s all I can tell to the university students as a life senior who experienced society a little bit earlier than them. Study hard.”

During the interview time we couldn’t see the charisma he shows on the mound but felt his kindness and modesty. We really appreciate him for willingly accepting our interview request and sharing his experiences and thoughts. Eagles fans, wait for the next season. Ahn Young Myung will be back soon.

Ahn Young Myung2

Staff writer Lalia Park.


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