Marketing Agency: South Korea to allow foreigners to play baseball there
Feb. 26, 1997
CHICAGO (AP) _ At least 32 foreign baseball players will be allowed to play next year in South Korea, the third Asian country to allow non-nationals to hit the field, an international marketing firm said Tuesday.
Playing in South Korea may allow good minor league players to make it to the American majors, said CSMG International president Alan Nero. His company has been working with the Korean Baseball Organization to establish guidelines for foreign players. The KBO is the commissioner of the game in South Korea.
``This is an opportunity for the veteran minor league player who has lost hope of making it to the major leagues,'' Nero said.
Annual wages likely will range from $100,000 to $130,000 for foreigners _ near the top of the South Korean scale, Nero said. In the United States, the major league minimum is $150,000, but the average is more than $1 million.
In Japan, where foreigners have been playing for more than 50 years, the average salary is more than $300,000, Nero said.
Nero said foreigners would make the game more diverse and more exciting for South Korean fans.
``We all know we are in a global economy,'' he said. ``The international influence on sports is just as (concentrated) as on the economy.''
At least 32 players and possibly 40 may play the first year, Nero said. The contract is for one year but could be extended, Nero said.
``Eventually we see the market growing to a situation similar to the Japanese situation,'' Nero said.
He said 44 foreigners _ not all of them American _ play for Japanese baseball teams.
Nero said it has been difficult for foreigners to play in South Korea _ and many other foreign countries _ because of concerns foreign players would demand more money and dominate play.
He predicted foreigners would raise the level of play.
``You have to strive to get better, and so I think it's a myth that any talent will come in and dominate,'' he said.
The players will be free agents and will be able to play for any other team once their South Korean contracts expire, Nero said.
Americans have been playing in Taiwan for about eight years, Nero said. They also play in Australia, Latin America and Europe.