S. Korean pitcher Lim Chang Yong announces his retirement after 24 seasons

Melinda Waters, March 11, 2019, 9:46 a.m.


After an illustrious professional career that spanned 24 seasons in three countries, South Korean pitcher Lim Chang-yong announced his retirement Monday.

In a statement released by his agency, the Sports Intelligence Group, Lim called his decision to end his career "bittersweet."

"I'll have to think about my future, since this was a sudden decision on my part," Lim said. "I'd like to contribute to the development of Korean baseball in a capacity other than as a player. I'd like to thank my fans for their support."

After going 5-5 with four saves and posting a 5.42 ERA in 37 games last season, Lim was released by the Kia Tigers, the same franchise that had drafted him out of high school in 1995. Though Lim still felt he had something left in his 42-year-old tank -- he struck out almost a batter per inning in 2018, with 84 in 86 1/3 frames -- there was no suitor for him in the open market.

Having been a starter, a middle reliever and a closer, Lim walks away with a 138-86 record, 258 saves and a 3.45 ERA in 760 appearances. He is second all time in saves and seventh in victories. Lim and former LG Twins star Kim Yong-soo are the only two pitchers in the league's 37-year history with at least 100 career victories and 200 career saves.

Best known for his sidearm delivery and late movement to his fastball, Lim led the KBO in saves four times: in 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2015, the last three with the Samsung Lions. He was the ERA champion with a 2.14 mark in 1999, when he was 13-4 with 38 saves in 71 appearances, covering 138 2/3 innings.

He pitched for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) from 2008 to 2012, and collected 128 saves, the most ever by a South Korean pitcher in the NPB, along with a 2.09 ERA.

He also had his moment in Major League Baseball (MLB), appearing in six games for the Chicago Cubs and recording a 5.40 ERA without a win-loss record.

Lim returned to the KBO with the Lions in 2014 and saved 79 games in the next three seasons.

Lim signed with the Tigers in March 2016, and won his sixth and final Korean Series ring with them in 2017.

The Tigers faced a backlash for their decision not to re-sign Lim after last season, with dozens of angry fans staging a protest outside the club's home park in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, and calling for the head of manager Kim Ki-tai.

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