TORONTO – On Hyun Soo Kim’s first big-league game after years as a star in Korea, he was booed by his home crowd at Camden Yards before he ever saw a pitch.
In his last game of that same season, he circled under a fly ball at Rogers Centre and had a full beer can hurled at him.
Welcome to the big leagues, Hyun Soo: Protect your mental and physical well-being at all times.
Seriously, the booing at Camden Yards as he ran down the orange carpet on Opening Day – because Kim wouldn’t accept a demotion to the minors – was unfortunate, in bad taste, dumb.
But Orioles fans made up for it by cheering Kim as he hit well as the season progressed, and he gradually became a fan favorite at Camden Yards.
What happened in the seventh inning Tuesday was beyond bad taste; It was criminal. And it could have hurt him badly. Or worse.
The background: With two outs in the seventh, reliever Donnie Hart got Melvin Upton Jr. to hit a fairly deep fly ball to left.
Kim camped under it. And as the ball was about to go into his glove, another projectile came flying out of the stands.
“I was trying to catch the ball and I thought that was actually a ball, so I thought I missed the ball. And then I found out it was a beer can, which was thrown perfectly (at) me,” Kim said through interpreter Danny Lee. “It never happened to me before, so it was surprising. I was kind of shocked.”
Kim caught the ball. And the people in the left field bleachers caught hell from center fielder Adam Jones, who was outraged – and let the fans hear it.
As, is often the case, Jones wasn’t shy in sharing his opinion after the game. And he was dead on with his thoughts.
“Someone threw a beer down at my player. First and foremost, that was about as pathetic as it gets between the lines. You don’t do that, I don’t care how passionate you are, how you think you’re passionate. You don’t do that. Yell, cuss, scream.
“We suck. We’re sacks of shit. We know, we’re horrible. We get it. We’re the opponent. We completely understand that, but to throw something at a player; that’s just as pathetic as it gets, and I hope they find the guy, and I hope they press charges.
“Kim’s not looking. You could hit him in the back of the head, you never know what could happen. That’s a full beer that’s been thrown. That’s not just part of the sport, man. Call us what you want. I’ve been hearing that for the past year (in Toronto), but to put us in harm’s way when all we’re doing is focusing on the game, that’s not part of the game.”
Then Jones had this great line – suggesting an alternative in a Canadian, hockey-loving way:
“Throw an octopus. Throw hats.”
Jones jawed at the fans, while several umpires and Orioles manager Buck Showalter ran to the outfield to get the players away from the situation.
Afterward, Kim admitted it was unsettling.
“I was put in a dangerous moment and it was definitely scary,” he said. “If I actually (had gotten) hit, it would have gotten worse, so I am asking fans that this is something that should not happen.”
Both Kim and Jones were asked if racial slurs were also directed at them – Jones said they were, but he’s used to that.
Kim, whose English is improving, said he thought so.
“I’m not too sure, probably, but something like today should never happen again,” he said. “It was the first time for me, and hopefully it’s the last time.”
Jones said he didn’t see who actually threw the beer can, but he hopes that person is duly prosecuted. Catcher Matt Wieters said he saw the whole thing develop from home plate – and shares Jones’ sentiment.
“It’s a shame that some idiot would decide to do that. There’s no point of having a guy like that in the stands,” Wieters said. “It’s something where I hope some sort of charges are pressed against that guy, because that was close to doing some damage.”