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Baseball veteran Jang Sung-ho reaches 2,000 career hits

Sept. 18, 2012 - 21:54 By 김소현

Veteran first baseman Jang Sung-ho of the Hanwha Eagles on Tuesday became the third player to reach 2,000 career hits in the nation's top baseball league.

In the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) action in Pohang, some 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, Jang lined a single to right field off the Samsung Lions starter Brian Gordon for the milestone in the top of the fifth.

Retired Yang Jun-hyuk is the KBO career hits leader with 2,318, and former outfielder Jeon Jun-ho is next with 2,018 hits.

At 34 years and 11 months, Jang is the youngest to get to the 2,000-hit plateau.

Jang made his KBO debut in 1996 with the Haitai Tigers, currently called the Kia Tigers, out of high school. He became the starting first baseman the next season. 

Jang averaged 145 hits per season from 1998 to 2007, and batted above .300 in every season from 1998 to 2006.

KBO teams played 126 games a season in 1998, 132 games in 1999, and then 133 games from 2000 to 2004. The league went back to the 126-game season from 2005 to 2008 before adding seven games in 2009.

After the Tigers acquired Choi Hee-seop, a former Major League Baseball first baseman, during the 2007 season, Jang was forced to play left field and often clashed with then manager Cho Bum-hyun.

Jang was dealt to the Eagles in 2010.

In 2010, Jang batted only .245 in 74 games, both the worst numbers since his rookie season. In 2011, Jang appeared in 116 games and managed a .244 average, but had 95 hits, his highest total in four seasons. This year, he passed the century mark in hits for the first time since 2007.

Before Tuesday's game, Jang was sitting at 997 runs batted in (RBI). Only eight players in the league's 30-year history have driven in at least 1,000 runs. (Yonhap News)