The Lotte Giants, newly anchored under manager Kim Tae-hyung (56), are bringing back one legend after another.
On March 21, the team named Kim Yong-hee (68), a member of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Commissioner of Baseball Operations, as manager of the Futures (second team). It’s been 18 years since he left the organization, ending as Lotte’s second team manager in 2006.굿모닝토토 도메인
Lotte hired manager Kim Tae-hyung last month as a “winning coach. The team’s goal is to break the “championship drought” that has kept it from reaching the top for 31 years since 1992. The main first-team coaching staff was filled with people with ties to Kim, including bench coach Kim Kwang-soo, Kim Joo-chan, Ko Young-min, and Yoo Jae-shin.
However, the first team pitching coach position will be filled by Joo Hyung-kwang (47). Joo will be wearing a Lotte uniform for the first time in five years. “We consulted with manager Kim Tae-hyung regarding the appointment of all coaching staffs for the first and second teams,” a club official said. The club has given Coach Joo a key position, reflecting Kim Tae-hyung’s wishes and empowering him.
In recent years, Lotte has had few franchise coaches in key positions.
Busan-born Kim Yong-hee and Joo Hyung-kwang were two of Lotte’s most prominent. Kim Yong-hee was the No. 4 hitter on the original 1982 team. He became the first KBO player to be named Mr. All-Star twice, setting the stage for Lotte’s impressive run at the All-Star Game. Coach Joo Hyung-kwang joined the organization in 1994 and played for Lotte until his retirement in 2007. He was the franchise’s best left-hander with 87 career wins and a 3.83 ERA.
Both men began their coaching careers with Lotte after retirement. Kim Yong-hee took the helm of Lotte in 1994 while training in the United States at his own expense. Kim was thirty-seven years old at the time. It was an unconventional choice. Kim later returned to Lotte via the Samsung Lions, where he served as first team head coach, acting head coach, and second team coach. Joo Hyung-kwang served as the pitching coach for Lotte’s first through third teams from 2009 to 2019 after coaching with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan.
The return of Kim Yong-hee and Joo Hyung-kwang reflects Lotte’s current concerns. “Coach Kim Yong-hee has the ability to communicate across generations. He has an autonomous baseball philosophy that encourages players to develop strong competitiveness and a wide range of administrative experience,” said a Lotte representative. “For a team to be strong, the secondary coaching staff must also be good. Our secondary coaches are young,” he said, adding, “I think Kim Yong-hee will be a coach who teaches coaches.”
Kim Tae-hyung and Kim Yong-hee had coached together at the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers). A Lotte representative said, “They will communicate well. From a long-term perspective, we plan to create a pipeline that can continuously develop and supply internal resources for the team.”
“We wanted to have at least one coach from a Lotte franchise in the first team,” a club official said of Joo’s appointment. We wanted the heritage of the club to remain. I wanted (Coach Joo) to learn and grow under a coach as capable as Kim Tae-hyung.”
Lotte hopes to establish a team culture and identity through this process. Kim Yong-hee expressed his ambition to “create a solid development system for Lotte through his years of coaching experience and administrative know-how at the KBO Secretariat.” Coach Joo had a short and strong sentiment, saying, “I wanted to come back to Lotte.”