Korea and South Korea’s ‘oldest’ players dominate the field

Being the ‘oldest’ player in the professional world means a lot. It’s a sign that they’ve kept up with the competition and haven’t fallen behind their younger counterparts.

The KBO’s oldest active players have also left their mark.

The oldest players in the KBO in the 2023 season are Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers), Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions), and Kim Kang-min (Hanwha Eagles), all born in 1982.

Choo Shin-soo has been playing in the KBO since the 2021 season after playing in the Major League Baseball (MLB). Oh Seung-hwan is the first KBO player to reach the 400-save milestone. Last year, Kim Kang-min became the oldest Korean Series Most Valuable Player (MVP – 40 years, 1 month, and 26 days old), demonstrating the power of a veteran hitter.

Even though they are still showing off their skills, they are still far from the oldest players in history.

Song Jin-woo, the KBO’s all-time wins leader has left an overwhelming presence with his consistent performances.

Born in February 1966, Song Jin-woo played until 2009, making him the oldest player in KBO history at 43 years, 7 months, and 7 days. That’s not all. He also holds the record for the oldest win (43 years, 1 month, 23 days), start (42 years, 6 months, 28 days), complete game (39 years, 6 months, 23 days), and hold (43 years, 1 month, 26 days).

Turning to batters, foreigner Felix Jose (42 years, 8 days), who played for the Lotte Giants, holds the oldest record. Among domestic hitters, Jo In-sung is the oldest at 41 years, 11 months, and 28 days.

The oldest MLB pitcher this year is Rich Hill (San Diego Padres), who is also familiar to Korean fans. 안전놀이터 Hill was born in 1980 and will turn 34 in the 2024 season.

Since joining the MLB in 2005, Hill has played for 13 different teams in Korea. He played with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2016 to 2019, where he teamed up with Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto Blue Jays), and with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego in 2023, where he teamed up with Choi Ji-won (Pittsburgh) and Kim Ha-seong (San Diego).

This year, Nelson Cruz (San Diego), the “oldest hitter” in MLB, announced his retirement after the 2023 season. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers), born in April 1983, who was the second oldest player after Cruz, born in 1980, will also no longer be in uniform next year.

Joey Votto born in September 1983, will be the oldest hitter in the big leagues next year.

The oldest active player in Nippon Professional Baseball is Masanori Ishikawa (Yakult Swallows), who was born in January 1980. After a 22-year winning streak from 2002 to this year, Ishikawa went 2-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 13 games this season, throwing 63⅓ innings.

When it comes to all-time big league and Nippon Professional Baseball records, “30” is hardly the oldest.

Satchel Paige, born in July 1906, took the mound in September 1965 and became the oldest MLB pitcher of all time at 59 years and 80 days. He had originally left the mound after 1953, but when he was three innings short of his pension, he returned after 12 years to throw three scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Not only did he show off his rust-free skills, but he also set a record that will likely never be broken.

The oldest win in the big leagues is 49 years and 150 days, set by Jamie Moyer in April 2012. Among hitters, Charlie O’Leary, born in 1875, holds the record for the oldest appearance at 58 years and 350 days in 1934.

The record for the oldest pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball is held by Masa Yamamoto. Born in August 1965, Yamamoto became the oldest pitcher to win a game in the 2014 season at 49 years old, and the oldest to make a start in the 2015 season at 50 years and 2 months before retiring.

Yamamoto also holds the record for the oldest batter to appear in a game at 50 years, 2 months. Yamamoto’s team, the Junichi Dragons, played in the Central League, which does not have a designated hitter system. As a pitcher, Yamamoto naturally became the oldest player to appear at the plate.

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