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The SSG club officially announced on the 14th that "Choo Shin-soo has decided to retire after his active career in the 2024 season."
According to the club, Choo said, "I had a lot of thoughts with my family during the offseason. Whenever I did, I couldn't help but see SSG fans' support, and most of all, younger players. I felt that much love for baseball and the team, so I agonized over my career path with the club."
He then said, "The club and the new coach needed me and respected my opinion. Next year's performance is important, but I want to contribute to the team by sharing my experiences and thoughts while training with junior players in the Futures team at any time depending on the team situation."
In recent discussions with his club on his career path, Choo decided to retire after the end of the 2024 season and announced his intention to sign a minimum annual salary (30 million won) contract and donate all of his annual salary to the club. In effect, he is playing without receiving any money. SSG respected Choo's opinion and decided to join Choo's donation campaign. The exact amount of donation and various donation activities will be disclosed later.
The SSG club said, "Choo Shin-soo's minimum salary is a deep consideration for the team's operation, and the club is very grateful for it. Thanks to this, the club can expand its operation in salary cap, player's annual salary, and FA." "Choo Shin-soo also expressed his intention to donate his minimum salary, and the club also decided to join the donation to add meaning to the player's sincere move," he explained.
Choo has proposed to his club a variety of fan service plans for the 2024 season, in order to repay fans' love and support he has received so far. He plans to end his career by creating meaningful memories with fans including presents for his autographed uniform, special autograph signing, and support for Ama Baseball. Details will also be announced later.
Regarding his decision to retire, Choo Shin-soo said, "I think the time has come to end 23 years of baseball in the U.S. and Korea since 2001. As it is the last season, I want to give meaningful memories to the fans who have supported me so far, regardless of home or away fans."
Choo Shin-soo joined the team with the creation of the SSG Landers ahead of the 2021 season. The predecessor SK Wyverns named Choo Shin-soo as the No. 1 player in their special overseas nomination held on April 2, 2007, and Shinsegae Group, which acquired the SK Wyverns, recruited Choo as the No. 1 player in the Shinsegae baseball team. At the time, Choo signed a contract to join the team for 2.7 billion won, and decided to spend 1 billion won of his annual salary on social contribution activities.
Choo Shin-soo, who entered the U.S. in 2001 after graduating from Busan High School, has built a stellar career in the Major League through the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Texas Rangers. He played in a total of 1,652 games in the Major League, batting .275 with 1,671 hits, 218 home runs, 782 RBIs, 961 runs and 157 steals.
He became the first Asian player to hit .300-20 homers and .20 steals (2009), the first Asian batter to hit cycling hit (2015), and achieved a total of three homers and .20 steals, which are considered the standard of the Hotajun people. In 2018, he was named the first All-Star in his career.
It was selected as the best player among Korean major leaguers in history by the official website "MLB.com " late last year. The media outlet looked into 57 major leaguers' WARs and selected the best players based on this standard. Korea, which produced a total of 28 big leaguers at the time, ranked 15th, and Choo Shin-soo was named the best player with a WAR of 34.6.
"I was born in Korea and started playing baseball. I always had the hope in my heart that I could play in Korea someday. I think it's time to put it into action and start a new chapter in my life," Choo wrote, "I want to thank my team for giving me the opportunity to play in front of my parents. Thank you for calling me even in the face of the global disaster."
"I will play for the team that believes in me, I will play for the people who wait to see my play. I will also play for those who give me the best hope, for the families who have to sacrifice to continue this journey, for my 30-year baseball life, for my heart," he stressed.
"I was able to make a decision at a crossroads between coming to Korea and not coming to Korea because I saw that possibility while watching the SSG team. It was easy to make a decision. My acquaintances told me that it would be better to win the Major League, but I didn't feel that way. I thought I had a lot to give back to Korea because I could see people who watched my game at dawn up close," he said.
And he achieved his long-cherished dream of winning the title. Choo, who showed off his skills in 137 games in 2021, recorded 122 hits, 21 homers, 69 RBIs and 84 runs with a batting average of 0.265, overcame rehabilitation time due to elbow surgery in the early 2022 season and recorded 106 hits, 16 homers, 58 RBIs, 77 runs, and a batting average of 0.259 in 112 games, helping his team win the "Wire to Wire."
After winning the title, Choo said, "I made it to the postseason in the U.S. and popped the champagne. It's very sweet and I think it'll be okay to drink all day long. I'm very, very happy," adding, "I keep thanking my juniors for relieving me. I'm very, very happy. I can't express my feelings."
After achieving his goal of winning the championship, attention was also paid to Choo's future. Choo, who decided to extend his active duty, cut his salary in consideration of salary cap and renewed his contract with SSG at 1.7 billion won.
Choo has been a model player both on and off the field. Choo has donated more than 2.4 billion won to youths and socially disadvantaged groups so far this year and has played a role as a "culture changer" beyond just a leader for the past three years, expressing various opinions on the development of Korean baseball.
Ahead of this season, he delivered a total of 50 million won worth of thank-you gifts to 55 officials who worked hard for the SSG team. "I wanted to express my gratitude even if I didn't win the championship, but winning the championship is all the more meaningful," Choo said. "I'm so proud of our team for the part where they voluntarily expressed their gratitude to officials through fundraising."
Meanwhile, Choo Shin-soo will captain the team for the 2024 season at the request of Lee. The team said, "Lee proposed the team captain for next year, considering that Choo has not only abundant experience and leadership but also is highly respected by the team, and Choo has accepted the offer to captain the team."
Thursday, December 14, 2023