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Lee Jong-beom, oldest active baseball player, announces retirement

All Headlines 12:02 April 02, 2012

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- Legendary Kia Tigers veteran Lee Jong-beom has announced his retirement, ending a 20-year career in the nation's top baseball league, according to his team.

The Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization said Lee declared his sudden retirement after a home exhibition game against the Hanwha Eagles and a meeting with coaching staff.

In 1,706 career games in the KBO, the 41-year-old veteran outfielder had 1,797 hits, 194 home runs, 730 runs batted in (RBI) and 510 stolen bases with a .297 batting average.

"I have not made any concrete plan for the future” Lee was reported as saying.“After several days of thinking, I will announce my plan.”

The country's oldest active player debuted with the Haitai Tigers, the predecessor of Kia Tigers, in 1993, winning his first most valuable player award the following year. He helped the Tigers claim the Korean Series championship four times, including during his debut year.

Lee moved to the Junichi Dragons in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball in 1998. However, after spending three rough Japanese seasons due to elbow injuries, he returned home, joining the Kia Tigers in 2001.

Upon his return, he won two straight Golden Gloves in 2002 and 2003, and again claimed the Korean Series crown in 2009.

khj@yna.co.kr
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