The Obit For Chang Hyo-jo

Korea`s career batting average leader dies at 55
September 8, 2011 00:35

Baseball slugger Chang Hyo-jo could hit the fastball far and away but not cancer. With the highest career batting average in Korean pro baseball history, the coach of the minor league team of the Daegu Samsung Lions died Wednesday at age 55.

Chang played college baseball at Hanyang University and in the amateur league later. In 1982, Chang led Korea to its first victory as a key hitter at the Amateur World Series, and joined the Lions the following year.

His debut season saw him lead the league in batting average with .369, and he went on to lead the league three more times with .373 in 1985, .329 in 1986, and .387 in 1987.

Called a “batting genius,” Chang retired with a career batting average of .331, which remains a record in Korea. Yang Joon-hyeok, who retired from the Lions last year, is second with .316.

After the 1988 season, Chang moved to the Busan Lotte Giants and played there until retiring in 1992. He went on to be a coach for both the Giants and the Lions. After serving as a scout at Samsung, he returned to the minor league team of the Lions in 2009.

During a break in July, Chang suddenly lost weight and was diagnosed with the early stages of stomach and lung cancer after a physical check-up. He made his final public appearance at the July 23 league All-Star Game as a Hall of Fame player of the past three decades.

A Samsung source said, “He then got treatment in Busan where he lived. He insisted on no visitors at the hospital probably because he didn`t want to show his thin face.”

Chang even asked that players not be told of his condition because of fears that young players could be affected by the news. This is how Korea’s best career hitter prepared for death.