South Korea’s consul general, Young-jun Kim, didn’t grow up playing baseball in his hometown of Busan, but he was ready on Thursday to throw the opening pitch for the Pittsburg Pirates–Atlanta Braves game at Sun Trust Park.
And he didn’t seem to mind when Julio Teheran was called in to substitute for him, especially when he witnessed Mr. Teheran’s six innings during which he gave up only three hits and was named as the game’s most valuable player.
Obviously inspired by Mr. Kim’s blistering throw before the game, Mr. Teheran allowed only one-earned run and the Braves beat the Pirates 6-5 to complete a four-game sweep.
The Braves have won seven straight to move into the division lead, 1 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia. The Phillies and Braves open a three-game series on Friday night.
The Southeast U.S. Korean Chamber of Commerce made certain that Mr. Kim was properly outfitted whose shirt proudly bore the name KIM and No. 19. In his new Braves cap, Mr. Kim also looked as sharp as his throw.
“Hey he has my number,” Mr. Kim exclaimed to Global Atlanta when he saw that number on a player crossing the field.
Diehard Braves fan and 26-year season ticket holder Mark Pierson has arranged over the years for Atlanta’s consuls general, who so desired, to throw the first pitch in a game. But at the new stadium, he said, it’s hard to find an opening so many corporate sponsors seek the honor.
Knowing the extent of the Korean community in the state estimated at more than 110,000, the front office relented and Mr. Kim’s supporters turned up for the event including James Whitcomb, the chamber president, Jae Kim, vice president, and a large group from the consul general’s fan base.
Maj. Gen. Larry Taylor, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Force Reserve, also showed up to wish the consul general the best of luck with his pitch under the sunny skies.
These have been busy days for Mr. Kim. Last week, he was in Tennessee, one of six Southeastern states, which his office is responsible for maintaining relations, to attend the official unveiling of LG Electronics Inc.’s first washing machine plant in the U.S.
Not to be outdone, Gov. Brian Kemp invited Mr. Kim to meet with him on Monday to discuss the upcoming trip that a Georgia delegation will be making to South Korea at the end of June. On Wednesday, the governor officially announced the trip, thanked Mr. Kim for arranging a visit with South Korea’s prime minister and underscored South Korean investments in Georgia totaling more than $2 billion “in just the last 12 months.”
Mr. Kim’s calendar continues to be full with ceremonies recalling the beginning of the Korean War, June 25, 1950, and its conclusion, July 27, 1953, K-Pop and other cultural festivals and commitments elsewhere in the Southeast.
Although he’s not apt to be called up any time soon to help the Braves out with his pitching, he said that he is keeping his eye on Los Angeles Dodgers Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitching moves, who some consider the best pitcher in the U.S. today, just in case.