Eight Major Leaguers to play for Korea

Park, Choi headline list on World Baseball Classic roster

Dodgers slugger Hee-Seop Choi will man first base for the Korean national team. (Ric Francis/AP)

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Baseball in Korea has come a long way since the country's director of the YMCA introduced the sport in 1905.

The list of 60 players that have agreed to participate for the Korean national team that will compete in the 2006 World Baseball Classic has the names of eight players currently belonging to Major League ballclubs, including Chan-Ho Park, who became the first Korean Major Leaguer in 1994.

Park, now a member of the San Diego Padres, began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, an organization known for its international activity. The Dodgers also have a representative on the Korean list in first baseman Hee-Seop Choi.

The other Major Leaguers listed are pitcher Dae-Sung Koo of the Mets, Sun-Woo Kim and Byung-Hyun Kim of the Rockies and Jung Bong of the Reds, and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo of the Mariners.

The manager will be In Sik Kim, who played on the amateur level for four seasons and has been managing since 1982. His managerial stops have included the Hai Tai Tigers, Ssang Bang Wool Raiders, Doo San Bears and currently the Han Wha Eagles. Kim also has managed in international competition. He skippered in the Korea-Japan Super Game in 1995, led Team Korea in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney to the bronze medal and was at the helm when the team won the gold medal in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

The inaugural World Baseball Classic, a 16-team tournament sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), will take place March 3-20 and feature the world's best players competing for their home countries and territories for the first time. Fans will be able to follow all the games live exclusively online at MLB.com.

First-round action will be played at four sites. Pool A, consisting of Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei and China, will meet at the Tokyo Dome, March 3-5. Pool B, featuring USA, Canada, Mexico and South Africa will play at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Scottsdale Stadium, Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants, March 7-10. Pool C, which consists of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama and the Netherlands, will play at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 7-10. Pool D, featuring the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia and Italy, will play at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, March 7-10.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the second round, which takes place March 12-15 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico and Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The semifinals and finals will be held at San Diego's PETCO Park, March 18-20.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 10 for games in Puerto Rico and December 12 for games in the United States. For more information, go to www.worldbaseballclassic.com.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.