Jeong Choi sets KBO all-time home run record after week-long wait

April 24th, 2024

The wait is over and the KBO has a new all-time home run king: Facing the Lotte Giants on Wednesday night in Busan, South Korea (and early in the morning in the United States), the SSG Landers' Jeong Choi launched his 468th career home run to break Seung-yuop Lee's all-time KBO mark and put himself into the record books.

The chase was not without drama, though. Choi, who has represented Korea at the World Baseball Classic on three separate occasions, originally tied Lee's mark with a home run off the Kia Tigers' Hai-Young Jung on April 16th. Unfortunately for Choi, the very next day he was hit by a pitch thrown by former Nationals and Pirates pitcher Wil Crowe. While this was certainly not a new thing for Choi -- he also owns the professional baseball record for HBP with 330, far more than Hughie Jennings' 287 or Craig Biggio's 285 MLB marks -- this one was enough to knock him out of action for nearly a week.

"First off, I want to say I'm sorry to him. I know he's going for a record, and that was never my intention. I never wanted to do that," Crowe told Yonhap News' Jee-ho Yoo. "I want to say I'm sorry to the fans who came to watch him play because I know today was a big day, especially for some people to try and see that happen. And I just want to make sure everyone knows I am sorry. I had no intention to do that."

The baseball gods had another trick up their sleeve, too: After returning from injury, Choi was originally back in the lineup for Tuesday's game. But after hitting a double in the first inning, the rain came and washed the game out before five innings could be completed. Finally, after what surely seemed like a never-ending wait, Choi was back into the lineup for a game that counted and he could set the record.

The mark had been owned by Lee -- whose RBI record fell last year -- since the Lions slugger hit his 352nd career KBO home run on June 20, 2013. Known as the greatest hitter in KBO history -- a title that the famously humble Choi insists he deserves -- Lee also hammered another 159 home runs in Japan's NPB.

As for Choi, who has hit every single one of those home runs for one team (the Landers were originally known as SK Wyverns), he was able to be reunited with his home run ball last night thanks to one intrepid KIA Tigers fan, who will be going home with a bevy of team merch and other perks.