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New head of baseball players' association vows to improve plight of minor leaguers

Sports 14:29 March 25, 2019

BUSAN, March 25 (Yonhap) -- The new head of the interest group for South Korean professional baseball players said Monday he will try to improve the plight of minor league players.

Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) was inaugurated as the new president of the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association (KPBPA).

The KPBPA, which is not a union, hadn't had a president since Lee's predecessor, Lee Ho-jun, stepped down in April 2017. Lee Ho-jun retired as a player later that year.

Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants, voted as new president of the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association, speaks at his inauguration press conference in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on March 25, 2019. (Yonhap)

The top three players in salary from each of the 10 KBO clubs were nominated for presidency, and Lee, the KBO's highest-paid player, with 2.5 billion won (US$2.2 million) in annual salary, came out on top in the players' voting. The KPBPA didn't disclose detailed voting results but said Lee "won overwhelming support."

At his inauguration press conference in the Giants' hometown of Busan, Lee said, "Rather than working just for the interest of the association, I will try to put our fans first."

"I'll try to guarantee the rights and interests of the minor league players and strengthen our communication with fans," Lee added. "In this position, I have to consider my fellow players, clubs and fans. I will try to act as a bridge to help make baseball a beloved sport, and schedule autograph signings and other events to bring fans closer to the players."

In particular, Lee said he wants to improve conditions for players on the low end of the pay scale and adopt free agency for minor leaguers.

Lee's term is for two years.

The 36-year-old is a two-time batting Triple Crown champion and the 2010 regular season MVP. He played in Japan from 2012 to 2015 and had a season with the Seattle Mariners in 2016 before rejoining the Giants in 2017.

One of the KBO's premier sluggers, Lee is a lifetime .312 hitter and sits four away from 300 career home runs.

In this file photo from March 15, 2019, Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants (L) watches his three-run home run against the Kiwoom Heroes in the top of the first inning of a Korea Baseball Organization preseason game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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