Although it was only a short year, there were three encounters with Oh Jae-won (17), a second-year center fielder at Yushin High School.
The first encounter was in the round of 16 best teams played by the presidential staff of Yushin High School and Gangneung High School at Mokdong Baseball Stadium last year. A familiar name was seen on an electronic display. Oh Jae-won with the same name as Oh Jae-won (39), a one-club man from the Doosan Bears who retired two years ago, and No. 15 Oh Jae-won played three hits, two RBIs, two runs scored and one stolen base in five times at bat, helping Oh advance to the quarterfinals. Oh Jae-won has continued to display batting performance even as a freshman, and finished his first season in high school with a batting average of 0.436 (24 hits in 55 times at bat), 18 RBIs, 13 runs and four steals, and an on-base percentage of 0.530 with an OPS of 0.455.
A few months later, a scout from a professional team called Oh Jae-won again. It was their second encounter. The scout told Star News, “Shin Jae-in (17) and Oh Jae-won deserve attention. Oh Jae-won has strength in hitting, but he is also quick in feet and plays defense really well. Compared to his freshman year, he is much better than Park Ji-hwan (19, SSG Landers), a fielder who was drafted in the first round this year. In particular, he was born with the ability to hit the ball.”
He remembered that and went down to Daegu, where the Winter League match between Yushin High School and Daegu Sangwon High School will be held. I have been watching him since the middle of the game, but I could hardly find his number 15. However, soon, a small left-handed batter with his number 3 caught his eye. The player hit a big hit towards the right pole in the top of the eighth inning and easily reached the second base. When the follow-up batter bunt, he quickly reached the third base, creating a chance to get the first and third base with no outs. Even though the opponent’s battery was thrown first to the third base, he could not catch it. At the Yushin High School dugout, cheers broke out with the saying, “Jaewon is nice,” and I could be sure then. It was the third encounter with Oh Jaewon in the Yushin High School.
“I changed my number from No. 15 to No. 3,” Oh Jae-won said after Yoo Shin-ho’s sixth consecutive win at the 2024 Winter League was confirmed. “I changed my number because I think many good outfielders such as Bae Ji-hwan (25, Pittsburgh Pirates) are playing No. 3.” 꽁머니
According to Oh Jae-won, baseball was not very interested at first. I followed my father, who was born in Busan, whenever the Lotte Giants game was held at Munhak Stadium, the closest to my hometown, but I was not interested in it, so I used to play in the playground next to the stadium. However, he soon fell in love with playing ball after repeated field trips, and at his father’s recommendation, he began to become a player in earnest from the second grade of elementary school.
The name Oh Jae-won, which can be ordinary, helped me a little while playing baseball. His friends who like baseball easily memorized his name, and his name was easily imprinted on officials whenever he played an active role. In addition, he added his grit, “Even on days when I can’t hit, I have to hit one no matter what,” and he was able to play as a main player in the Winter League last year, even though he was a freshman at a prestigious high school.