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(LEAD) Manager of last-place baseball team resigns

All Headlines 09:31 August 28, 2012

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; ADDS ex-manager's comments, details)

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- Han Dae-hwa, manager of the last-place Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), has resigned from his post, the club announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes hours after other officials said the Eagles had told Han late Monday night that his contract would be terminated. Han's three-year deal was set to expire at the end of this year. There are 28 games left this season.

Mondays are off days for all eight teams in the KBO, the nation's top professional baseball league. Through last weekend's play, the Eagles had the league's worst record with 39 wins, 64 losses and two draws. They were 22 games behind the first-place Samsung Lions, and 15 games out of the fourth and the final playoff spot.

The Eagles have underachieved this year despite rosy pre-season predictions, following the addition of former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star pitcher Park Chan-ho and the return of the franchise slugger Kim Tae-kyun, who'd spent the previous season and a half in Japan.

Han became the Eagles' manager before the 2010 season. They finished last in 2010 and tied for sixth with the LG Twins in 2011.

"I apologize to fans for our bad records," Han said. "I've realized I am not a competent manager. I knew leaving the team was only a matter of time, but it's too bad this had to happen during the season."

Officials said Han Yong-deok, the team's bench coach, will be the interim manager the rest of the season.

Han Dae-hwa enjoyed an illustrious playing career and is regarded as the KBO's greatest third baseman. He made his professional debut with the OB Bears, currently the Doosan Bears, in 1983. But his prime seasons came with the Haitai Tigers, now the Kia Tigers, between 1986 and 1993, helping the Gwangju-based club win six Korean Series championships in that span.

Han won his lone batting title in 1990 with a .335 average, and retired with a record eight Golden Gloves, including six in a row from 1986 to 1991.

He retired with a career .279 average in 1,331 games, with 163 home runs and 712 runs batted in (RBI). After retiring in 1997, Han managed Seoul-based Dongguk University from 1998 to 2003, and served as a hitting coach and later a bench coach for the Lions.

Han, 52, is a native of Daejeon, home of the Eagles, located some 160 kilometers south of Seoul.


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