The Olympics being held in PyeongChang is a good opportunity to discuss some WBC/South Korea cards.
2009 A&G National Price #NP39 Shin-Soo Choo
Shin-Soo Choo is probably the most prominent Korean MLB player. The 34 year old outfielder has put together a pretty nice career including a couple of playoff appearances and 168 Home Runs. Choo will be entering his 14th season, four of which have been with the Texas Rangers, in a few weeks,
Topps noted the 2009 World Baseball Classic by giving the Allen & Ginter’s common (or decoy) insert an International flare. Each of the 75 subjects in the set is presented on a card that represents the players home country. In the above Shin-Soo Choo card you can see the a small flag atop the interior frame along with a flag background for the player image. The player name banner also references the home country.
2009 A&G National Pride #NP39 Shin-Soo Choo (b-side)
The backside features both the player team and home country. The write-up mentions South Korea’s 10-2 WBC victory over Venezuela in which Shin-Soo Choo hit a first inning home run. The blast came against former Phillies pitcher Carlos Silva who did not make it out of the 2nd inning.
2005 Topps #UH199 HR Derby Hee-Seop Choi
2005 was also a WBC year and as part of the events promotion MLB gave the Home Run Derby an international flair. You can see the Korean flag patch on the upper left of Hee-Sop Choi’s uniform.
The 2005 All-Star game was held in Detroit with 8 players representing seven different countries and the US territory of Puerto Rico. At the time of the event Choi had the lowest career Home Run total among the participants with 38. The South Korean First Baseman was eliminated in the first round when he hit 5 Homers, 7 were needed to advance. The final was won by the Phillies Bobby Abreu (Venezuela) over Ivan Rodriguez (Puerto Rico) by an 11-5 round score. Abreu had 41 Home Runs on the night boosted by an impressive 24 spot in the opening frame.
2005 Topps #UH199 HR Derby Hee-Seop Choi (b-side)
The back side of the card discusses Hee-Seop Choi’s Home Run Derby first round. Much debated 2018 HOF Nominee Andruw Jones (Netherlands) is mentioned alongside Choi.
Phungo WBC Binder South Korea Page
One of the MANY minor collections in the Phungo collection is the WBC binder which includes players paged by home country. There are several card sets that contain feature players representing their native countries. This is the Korea page which currently houses 7 cards with slots 1 & 2 open. Hee-Seop Choi earns center square for a combination of his stature and the fact that he is facing my preferred direction for a center square on a Right Hand Page.
2018 Winter Games
For more info on an interesting baseball connected Olympian check my column on Topps 2014 Olympic cards which features Skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender. The original Posting from four years ago can be found here.
Katie’s father was an MLB outfielder and we briefly discussed him in 2014 as well. That column including his RC along with a discussion of his 1969T card in the Uhleander family can be found here.
Sources and Links