Global Baseball Recap (4/15-4/21)

The Unicorn passes Godzilla, and KBO has a new Home Run King...almost.

Baseball is global! Here are the top storylines from around the world of baseball last week (4/15-4/21). Let’s jump into it.


Jeong Choi Ties KBO Career Home Run Record…And Then Gets Hurt


This is the biggest story in baseball that no one is talking about. 37-year-old Jeong Choi is in the 20th season of his legendary KBO career, and will soon be KBO’s Home Run King. He came into last Monday’s game one home run shy of the all-time home run record. And at home, down by one in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Choi hit his 467th career home run, tying Seung-yuop Lee’s home run record. It was an electric moment, followed by a Yoo-seom Han walk-off homer for the SSG Landers.

It was pure elation for the home Landers fans. The next day, the Landers organization offered a gift package to the fan who catches Choi’s record-breaking home run, including:

  • Two season tickets for the entire 2024 and 2025 season
  • Two spring training tickets
  • Signed bat by Choi
  • Signed ball by SSG Landers team
  • Hotel vouchers
  • Emart gift cards
  • “Free Drinks for a Year” voucher at Starbucks

Fans couldn’t wait to witness history. Not only will Choi soon be the Home Run King, but he is also the hit-by-pitch king…by a long shot. MLB’s leader in career HBP is Hughie Jennings with 287, followed by Craig Biggio with 285. NPB’s career leader is Kazuhiro Kiyohara with 196.

Choi? 329. Well…now it’s 330.

In the first inning, Choi was hit in the ribs by a fastball that caused him to writhe in pain as he hobbled over to first. He was then removed from the game. It was announced after the game that he fractured his rib, but a second opinion later showed only bruising. He is still expected to be out for a while until the pain subsides.

The pitcher who hit Choi was former National and Pirate, Wil Crowe. He apologized profusely to Choi and the Landers fans, both on the field and on social media, and told media after the game that he by no means tried to hit Choi. But Crowe shouldn’t be rebuked for hitting the most-hit player in world baseball history. It just happened to be at the least fortunate time, as Choi tries to make baseball history!

Choi will no doubt be the sole KBO Home Run King this season. He will just have to wait a little longer than anticipated.


Shohei Ohtani: Most Home Runs in MLB by Japanese Player


The Unicorn has finally passed Godzilla. 

On Sunday, Ohtani hit his 176th MLB home run, surpassing Hideki Matsui for most MLB home runs ever by a Japanese player. Matsui, one of the greatest Japanese sluggers of all time, had 5,066 total plate appearances to reach 175 home runs over his 10-season MLB career. It took Ohtani only 2,979 to surpass him. Oh yeah, he also pitches by the way (well, next year.)

It is worth noting that Ohtani has a long way to go to catch Matsui’s total MLB + NPB home run mark. Many of Matsui’s prime years were spent in Japan, where he had seven straight 30+ home run NPB seasons, the final of which he crushed 50. Between the two leagues:

Ohtani: 224

Matsui: 507

Ohtani isn’t even halfway there, but who would be surprised if the man dubbed the “Unicorn” catches up? Not me.


Duque Hebbert Makes His Full-Season Debut


One of THE COOLEST stories of the entire 2023 World Baseball Classic had to be about Nicaragua’s young pitcher Duque Hebbert. After playing baseball only in Nicaragua, Hebbert was called on in relief for his national team to face the heart of the star-studded Dominican Republic lineup: one of the scariest lineups of any country. The 21-year-old then proceeded to strike out Juan Soto, Julio Rodríguez, and Rafael Devers in the 9th inning. 

A Detroit Tigers scout was so impressed by Hebbert’s performance that after the game he stopped him before he left the stadium, and literally offered him a contract on the spot!

Hebbert then spent the 2023 season in the Dominican Summer League, where he finished with a 4.58 ERA, six walks, and 41 strikeouts in 37.1 innings pitched. The Tigers officially assigned him to Single-A Lakeland this season, where he made his full-season debut with two relief innings, one hit allowed, zero earned runs, zero walks, and one strikeout. I can’t wait to see how he and his story continue to develop.


Andy Pages MLB Debut


He is still only 23 years old, but the road to The Show for Pages has seemed quite long. The young outfielder from La Habana, Cuba has been a top 10-ish Dodgers prospect for five straight seasons, and finally made his MLB debut.

While the wait for his debut was long, the wait for his first hit could not have been shorter: he slapped the first MLB pitch he saw into right field for his first big league hit! Only five days later, he hit his first career homer as well. Pages has plenty of power proven by the 94 homers he hit across all levels of the minors, and should only extend this historic Dodgers lineup even further.


🌎Premier12 2024 Groups Are Announced


The Premier12 is returning this year! Since there is no World Baseball Classic this year, this is the biggest international tournament in our sport in 2024.

The tournament is appropriately named because it is the national teams of the top 12 countries in the WBSC World Baseball Rankings that compete.

The groups have just been announced:

2024 will be the third iteration of the tournament. South Korea won the inaugural Premier12 in 2015, and Japan won in 2019. Unfortunately, MLB 40-man roster players are not allowed to participate, but the top players in East Asia and many top MiLB prospects will compete. Notable current MLB names that played in 2019 include Daulton Varsho, Alec Bohm, Jake Cronenworth, Andrew Vaughn, and Tanner Houck for USA, Jung Hoo Lee and Ha-Seong Kim for South Korea, Yariel Rodríguez for Cuba, Cristopher Sánchez for Dominican Republic, and Seiya Suzuki, Masataka Yoshida, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Shota Imanaga for Japan.


Cooperstown’s Japan-USA Exhibit


Thanks to the 2023 WBC, Shohei Ohtani, and a renewed interest in baseball fans to learn about other baseball cultures, the relationship between American baseball and Japanese yakyu is currently stronger than ever. The National Baseball Hall Of Fame has announced a new exhibit coming in July 2025 titled: Yakyu/Baseball: The Transpacific Exchange of the Game.

“This exhibit will explore the wide-ranging exchange of baseball between Japan and the United States from the Meiji era to today and the transpacific circulation of baseball concepts, styles of play, fan experiences, equipment, and people that shaped the shared culture of the game.”

You can learn more about the exhibit at baseballhall.org/yakyu.

Shawn Spradling

Shawn Spradling is an International Baseball writer and content creator who specializes in World Baseball Classic coverage. His content looks at baseball through an international lens, and he loves to bring exposure to the growth and culture of the sport all across the globe. He is from Austin, TX, but is currently living in Dallas. He loves to travel, meet people and try food from different countries. Outside of baseball, he is an all-around sports fan who loves football, soccer, and F1. He loves music, Marvel movies, and is a big foodie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login