“안전놀이터My goal is to be a player who doesn’t get frustrated when the going gets tough, who works hard to the end, and who consistently runs hard on the field.”
NC Dinos right-handed hitting outfielder Park Young-bin is serious about baseball. The former Cheongnyangjoong, Chungam-go, and Kyunghee University product joined the NC as a developmental player in 2020, but was released later that year due to an unfortunate injury.
After completing his military service, he joined the Yeoncheon Miracle, an independent baseball team, and tried to make a comeback. As a result, he wore the NC uniform again in late 2022 through a reentry test.
When we met Park Young-bin on the 25th, he was sweating to improve his skills. Photo (Changwon)=Reporter Lee Han-joo
“When I was released, it was really hard,” said Park Young-bin, who was interviewed before the Changwon LG Twins game (NC 14-1 win) on the 25th, “but I had the confidence that I could pass the test and come back to the pros, and that I could play as a professional baseball player.” “I thought that there was nothing else for me but baseball. That’s why I can play in the first team now.”
Outfielder Jae-hwan Genghwan, who is currently refining his skills with the NC Futures (second team), was a big help to Park during this time.
“When I was struggling, Jae-hwan (Chun) took care of me the most. Even when I was in Yeoncheon, he sent me things like bats and gloves. Even when I was in Yeoncheon, he sent me bats, gloves, and other things, because I’m not from Masan, and he let me stay at his house for a month while I took the (reentry) test,” he said.
After such a difficult reentry into the professional ranks, he has recently been a mainstay in the first team. However, on the 16th of this month against the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles, Park had a rough day. In the bottom of the eighth inning, with NC trailing 1-3, he entered the game as a pinch hitter when leadoff hitter Ahn Jung-yeol drew a walk.
After stealing second base to boost his momentum, Park tried to steal third when catcher Choi Jae-hoon failed to catch a four-pitch 122-kilometer curveball from Hanwha right-hander Jang Si-hwan, who was on the mound at the time.
However, it ended up being a handshake. Park himself hesitated for a moment before running, and the throw from Hanwha catcher Choi Jae-hoon was spot-on. He was called out, and NC fell to Hanwha 3-4 on the day.
Looking back, Park Young-bin said, “I had a lot of regrets that day. It was really hard, but Coach Lee Jong-wook said, ‘No player is good from the beginning. There will be days that don’t go well and days that go well, so use it as an experience. It gave me a lot of strength.”
NC coach Kang In-hwa and captain Son As-seop, who met with reporters during this time, also expressed their trust in Young-bin, saying in unison that they did not say anything to him. In particular, Coach Kang publicly encouraged Young-bin, saying, “I want to praise you for running aggressively, even though the result was bad,” and that “running aggressively is a good direction.”
Park Young-bin said, “It was definitely a bad judgment play, but no one scolded me or reprimanded me. Rather, they said, ‘It’s okay’ and ‘Do it more confidently in the future,'” he said. “They said, ‘If you become passive because you made a mistake once, there is no growth,’ and ‘You should be more active.’ I heard a lot of things like, ‘You can keep making mistakes, so be more active,'” he said.
He continued, “My older brothers, including Park Minwoo, all said, ‘It’s okay. ‘ A lot of fans also encouraged me through social media, so I think I was able to mentally prepare myself the next day and run harder.”
Luckily, Park made up for his mistake the next day at the Changwon Hanwha game on the 17th. In the bottom of the 10th inning of extra innings, with the score tied 9-9, he was given another chance as a pinch hitter after leadoff hitter Yoon Hyung-jun hit a double to left field.
Desperate, he didn’t hesitate to round third base and rush home when the next batter, Kim Soo-yoon, hit a line drive to center field.
It was a little too fast and short for home, and the throw from Hanwha center fielder Jang Jin-hyuk was relatively accurate. Park’s hands reached home plate faster than the mitt of the opposing catcher, Choi Jae-hoon. It was a moment that completed NC’s thrilling 10-9 victory.
NC’s Park Young-bin celebrates after scoring the game-winning run against the Changwon Hanwha on Sunday. Photo courtesy of NC
“When I got to second base, it was a game-winning run if I got home. I had to do my best. I wanted to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes. Then, (Kim) Su-yoon, who was struggling in the second team with me, hit a single, and I thought, “I can’t die at home.” “I ran with all my might, and as a result, it was safe. I felt even better because it was (Kim) Su-yoon who hit the winning run,” he smiled.
He continued, “I was sure it was safe from the start. The pitch was accurate, but I thought it would have been dangerous if it was a little sharper.” “Fortunately, it was safe, and my base-running mistake (the day before) was buried, so I feel good. I think I can make confident base-running plays again,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
With the momentum going his way, Park even got his first hit in his professional debut against the Doosan Bears in Jamsil (12-5 NC win) on the 20th. In the top of the eighth inning, with NC leading 7-5, he pinch-hit for Ahn Jung-yeol and came home on a single by Son Ah-seop. Then, with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning, when NC extended its lead to 11-5, he took advantage of a three-pitch slider from left-handed reliever Lee Byung-heon and hit a two-run double to the right of the right field fence. He then reached third on a wild pitch and scored on Park Dae-on’s sacrifice fly to left field.
He said, “I didn’t know if I was going to get an at-bat, but I knew I had to make something happen. I was just thinking about hitting, and it turned out well. It felt so good to get a double in my first at-bat. It reminded me of all the hard times and difficult moments I’ve been through, so I think that made it even better.” “My family was the most happy for me. They kept contacting me. Friends, seniors, and juniors that I hadn’t been able to contact all congratulated me.”
NC’s Park Young-bin celebrates after hitting his first hit in his professional debut against Doosan in Jamsil on April 20. Photo courtesy of NC
As of the 27th, Young-bin’s team, NC, is in fourth place with 53 wins, two draws, and 49 losses. The KBO is currently a hotly contested league, and every game is a bloodbath. Every game is crucial for NC, which is looking to qualify for the postseason for the first time in three years since 2020 (when they won the title).
Park Young-bin also said, “The captain is a really important role. It feels great to have such an important role entrusted to me now. I’ve been working hard on the field, in practice, and at home to repay that faith. I’ve been analyzing opposing pitchers and doing a lot of things like that,” he said. “I’m trying to make sure that if I’m the leadoff man in an important game, in an important situation, I’ll be able to contribute to the team.”
Finally, he shared his goals for the future. If he can fulfill his current role as a substitute and continue to run his best, he hopes to eventually earn a spot in the starting lineup.
“I want to be a steady player,” he said, “not just a starter, and there are goals like numbers, but I think that steadiness is my weapon: always working hard, having grit and persistence, and not giving up. My goal is to be a player who doesn’t get frustrated when difficult times come, who works hard, and who continues to sprint on the field until the end.” Park’s ambition was sincere.