Hyun-jin Ryu had a great MLB rookie season for the Dodgers in 2013, and the South Korean southpaw finished fourth in voting for the NL Rookie of the Year Award recently given to Miami’s Jose Fernandez with the Dodgers Yasiel Puig finishing second and Shelby Miller coming in third. After arriving home last month, Ryu was greeted by hordes of Korean fans at the Incheon International Airport. Ryu, dressed in a t-shirt with the Italian actress Monica Bellucci on the front and a snazzy jacket, made quite a scene in his homecoming as he signed autographs and took pictures with his adoring fans.
Ryu impressed by finishing his rookie season with a 14-8 record and a solid 3.00 ERA in 30 starts. He also became the first Korean pitcher to win a start in the postseason of the MLB with his Game 3 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. He pitched 7 scoreless innings in the important game while only allowing 3 hits. Some naysayers balked when the Dodgers signed Ryu to a 6-year $36 million contract last offseason, but along with Yasiel Puig, the two international signings were integral to the Dodgers success in 2013 and will pave the way for more international player development and scouting from the Dodgers.
After his success with the Dodgers, Ryu’s star has never shined brighter in Korea. Ryu has become one of the biggest names in the country, and he has appeared in many television shows and ads along with participating in charity events so far this offseason.
Ryu recently made an appearance on the November 17th episode of the SBS TV variety show Running Man. Ryu appeared with Suzy from the Korean girl group miss A who is a famous singer and actress. Ryu is incredibly popular in Korea, and as far as sports figures he’s one of the most loved along with figure skater Kim Yuna.
The 26-year old left-hander is also involved in charity endeavors, and it was reported on Wednesday that Ryu will apply for a construction permit in order to build baseball fields and a training center for youths in his hometown of Incheon. The project is anticipated to be completed sometime in the second half of 2014.
It has been a pleasure to watch Ryu pitch for the Dodgers this past season, and he really became one of my favorite players after his heartfelt rookie campaign. It was fun to see his Korean fans supporting him and coming out to watch him pitch not only at Dodger Stadium but also at ballparks across the MLB.
Ryu’s lovable and sometimes silly persona was quite evident when he interacted with Juan Uribe in the Dodger dugout during games. Ryu may be still learning English, but the language of the game and the dedication he brings needs no translation for the superstar.
Hyun-jin Ryu will have his own bobblehead day at Dodger Stadium on May 27, 2014 versus the Reds.
Ryu enjoys noodles in t.v. ad:
Ryu plays a baker in t.v. spot: