The ‘eldest brother’ with whom we had been through hardships for over 10 years left the team. Now, the ‘best friend’ junior is getting to know his older brother’s feelings little by little. Lotte Giants veteran Jeong Hoon (36) is now a senior and leading his juniors.
After the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against Kiwoom Heroes held at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on the 15th, Jeong Hoon said, “I reflected a lot while watching old videos. I worked very hard back then, but I feel like I lost my original intention.”
Jeong Hoon recently built a monument. He started as the second batter and first baseman in the home game against the Samsung Lions held at Ulsan Munsu Baseball Stadium on the 5th, and in the bottom of the fifth inning when the team was ahead 6-3, with two outs and runners on first and second base, he hit a hit toward center field against Woo Gyu-min. It exploded.
With this hit, Jeong Hoon achieved 1,000 hits in his personal career. He became the 116th player in KBO history and the 9th player with Lotte to record 1,000 hits. It was a milestone that was achieved 13 years after his first-team debut in 2010 and 17 years after he joined the pro ranks in 2006.
Of course, Jeong Hoon’s record of 1,000 hits is not an immortal record that will remain in KBO history. Lee Dae-ho (41, retired, 2,199 hits) and Son Ah-seop (35, NC, 2,387 hits), who worked together with Jeong Hoon, have already surpassed 2,000 hits, and Jeon Jun-woo (37)안전놀이터, the most senior member of the team, is leading the way with 1,778 hits.
However, considering the starting point of Jeong Hoon’s career, it is not an easy thing to think about. After graduating from Masan Yongmag High School, Jeong Hoon joined Hyundai Unicorns as a training player in 2006. However, after he was released after one year, he completed his military service as an active-duty soldier in the Army, and after serving as an elementary school leader, he wore a Lotte uniform ahead of the 2010 season. Jeong Hoon, who began to gradually establish himself in the first team, began producing hits in earnest by appearing in 113 games in 2013 and scoring 88 hits.
Jung Hoon, who later took over as the starting second baseman, showed talent in batting by recording 140 hits in 2014 and 146 hits in 2015. After going through a difficult time as a backup for several years, he succeeded in making a comeback by hitting 121 hits after taking over as the starting first baseman in 2020 and 142 hits in 2021. This season he is hitting .266 with 37 hits in 63 games. Although he was expunged from the first team due to a side injury, he is contributing to the team in batting.
Regarding this season, Jeong Hoon said, “It was a year where I could learn again in my baseball life.” He said, “There were many difficult times because the results were not good in the beginning, but through this, I definitely learned something in my baseball life. I will use that as a foundation and play baseball as long as I can.”
This year can be said to be a special year for Jung Hoon. This is because Lee Dae-ho, who had been his support all this time, ended his career as a player. Jeong-hoon, who became close with Dae-ho Lee after joining Lotte in 2010, received a lot of help by accompanying him to personal training and receiving advice. We are so close that we meet for meals even on days when there is no baseball game. Jeong Hoon shed tears at Lee Dae-ho’s retirement ceremony last year, regretting saying goodbye to his close brother.
Now that Dae-ho Lee has retired, Hoon Jeong is playing the most senior role in the team along with Jun-woo Jeon, who is one year older than him. Jeong Hoon said, “I thought a lot about how lonely (Lee) Dae-ho must have been.” He confessed, “Because this is a professional position, you have to have a certain level of performance to lead the juniors, and because of those factors, (the most senior position) seems like a difficult position.”
At the same time, Jung Hoon said, “I miss Dae-ho, who was good at that position for so long, and I want to see him again,” and “on the other hand, I also think he’s amazing.” He smiled sheepishly and said, “Anyway, this year was another year I missed a lot.”
Jeong Hoon, who became Choi Choi, is now showing it through actions rather than words. He said, “If you watch the game, you will see that even though he is a veteran, he is playing like he will die. I am sorry for showing this to the fans every year, but the result is the result, but I hope you will see how the players hit and run.” At the same time, he expressed his intention to do his best until the end, saying, “I don’t know about the margin of victory or loss this year. I just plan to do my best one game at a time until the end.”