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Korean player finds black pitcher to be a bit too black

Jun 14, 2013, 10:36 AM EDT

Image (2) picard-facepalm1.jpg for post 4308

Saw this via Baseball Think Factory. On the one hand, oh my stars and garters that anyone would say something like this. But really, this makes me laugh out loud more than anything because it’s so damn matter-of-fact that finding actual racism in it as opposed to just cringingly-bad social awkwardness is a real stretch.

First baseman Kim Tae Kyun of the KBO’s Hanwa Eagles was asked which pitcher he had the hardest time against. He said Shane Youman, who is an American playing for the Lotte Giants. Youman is black, you see, and that creates some issues according to Kim:

“The Lotte Giants’ Youman is the most difficult player to play against. His face is too black, so it is hard to bat because his white teeth and the ball confuses me when he smiles on the mound. So, I suffered a lot.”

I figure there are a lot of ways to go with that translation. But I can’t think of any of them that really salvage the idea Kim was trying to express.

For what it’s worth Youman’s response was more bemused than anything else and Kim did apologize. And I presume that the Hanwa Eagles’ media relations people have Kim Tae Kyun locked in a room somewhere right now giving him intensive lessons from the Crash Davis School of Baseball Player Cliches.

  1. Old Gator - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Much better to laugh at that kind of thing than to bloat up with sanctimony over it, I think. Cue the kimchee jokes while you’re at it.

    • bigharold - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Cue the eating dog jokes first.

    • rje49 - Jun 14, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      Here in the US, our publicist would tell us to say “it was taken out of context”.

  2. manute - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Good thing there’s no obvious, equally-racist comeback for a Korean guy having trouble seeing the ball.

    • caeser12 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM

      You win.

      Comment of the day.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Sammy Sosa agrees?

  4. drewsylvania - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    What the heck is wrong with this statement? Must we break out the pitchforks every time someone is honest? How is it a slur to describe something in this way?

    • Bryz - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      Craig made no indication that we are supposed to break out the pitchforks, as he said, “On the one hand, oh my stars and garters that anyone would say something like this. But really, this makes me laugh out loud more than anything because it’s so damn matter-of-fact that finding actual racism in it as opposed to just cringingly-bad social awkwardness is a real stretch.”

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      So you’re outraged at outrage that didn’t actually happen but you just reflexively assumed happend?

      Why must you break out the pitchforks every time, well, nothing at all happens?

      • yahmule - Jun 14, 2013 at 5:01 PM

        While everybody else is bickering, the guy who owns the pitchfork store is cleaning up.

    • indaburg - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      /double facepalm

      • ptfu - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    • bigmeechy74 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Did you read the article? Or are you just trying to start trouble for no apparent reason?

  5. b453841l - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM


  6. Steve Stein - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    I think this is more hilarious than racist.
    “Slap my hand, black soul man!” – Georg Festrunk

  7. gmagic9044 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    “Did God paint you?”

    • gmagic9044 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Also kinda feel like Shane Youman should get a Crest Whitestrips endorsement or something…

  8. dcarroll73 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    To follow up on Craig’s Star-trek photo, somewhere Capt. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) is gripping a baseball, grinning his most evil Hawk-like grin, and saying, “Yesss!!!”

  9. scatterbrian - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Have we discovered a new market inefficiency?

  10. sandrafluke2012 - Jun 14, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    This isn’t racist at all. Racist means you think a race is superior.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      *cue comic book guy’s voice*

  11. Stiller43 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Is it racist to point out a fact? (Assuming thats the way he actually sees it, of course)

  12. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Leaving aside the social awkwardness of this statement, it does raise some interesting questions.

    I would imagine very pale-skinned or albino pitcher would be even more confusing, since his skin tone would resemble the color of the ball. Perhaps the secret of Matt Latos’ success?

    Aren’t there rules in place about pitcher’s arms and what can and can’t adorn them? I seem to recall an issue with some pitcher several years ago who was deemed overly tattooed, and forced to wear long sleeves when he pitched. I can’t recall. The point being that there is some acknowledgement that pitcher’s skin tone can affect the batter’s ability to pick up the ball.

    After all, Kim is talking about how he perceives color much more than he is talking about Youman’s race. If anything, he is tipping his cap to the unusual (for him anyway) natural advantage Youman possesses. Maybe in some cultures, you are allowed to point out that people have different skin color and that, in and of itself, has some consequence.

    • pipkin42 - Jun 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      No tattoos, no white sleeves, iirc.

      Also special permission is required for anything other than a black or brown glove.

      • denny65 - Jun 14, 2013 at 6:30 PM

        “No tattoos?” Maybe that’s been Brandon League’s problem, eh?

    • jwbiii - Jun 14, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      I think Justin Miller was the first, but there have been others, including Scott Olsen.

      • derklempner - Jun 15, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Those tattoos have got to be some the the worst body art I’ve ever seen.

  13. junglerat524 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    I had the same problem with an albino pitcher in junior high. I could never spot the ball coming from all that white.

  14. ghostghost1 - Jun 15, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I attended the game tonight between the Hanhwa Eagles (Tae-hyun Kim) and the Lotte Giants (Shane Youman) in Busan, the Giants home field. Prior to the start of the game, they were passing out flyers. These flyers explained the situation and then instructed fans to boo Kim when he came up to hit.

    Surely, they could find a better, more constructive way to response, right?

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