SEOUL, July 25 (Korea Bizwire) – A South Korean baseball pitcher voluntarily reported that he had engaged in match-fixing schemes in 2014, the governing body of the country’s professional baseball said Sunday.
Yoo Chang-sik, a left-handed pitcher for the Kia Tigers, confessed to his team on Saturday that he had deliberately walked a batter in a game on April 1, 2014, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said. Yoo, 24, was then pitching for another KBO club, the Hanwha Eagles, and he walked the Samsung Lions No. 3 hitter, Park Sok-min, in the top of the first inning.
Yoo was allegedly asked by a gambling broker to issue a free pass in the opening frame, and was paid 5 million won (US$4,400) for his effort.
Yoo earned 64 million won in his salary in 2014. He debuted with the Eagles as the first overall pick in 2011, but was traded to the Tigers in May last year.
The KBO said it has informed police of Yoo’s role in the scheme, and said it will actively cooperate with any further investigation.
Yoo is the third KBO player to come under match-fixing investigations this month, after Lee Tae-yang, pitcher for the NC Dinos in the KBO, and outfielder Moon Woo-ram, who’s playing for the military club Sangmu in the Futures League, the KBO’s minor league.
Lee has been indicted without physical detention for allegedly taking cash in exchange for issuing walks in games last season. Moon, who’s under contract with the Nexen Heroes but is doing his mandatory military service in the minors, will face military prosecution. Moon apparently approached Lee and a gambling broker with his set of fixing ideas, and organized a meeting about a week before a targeted game to discuss their strategies.
Both Lee and Moon have been temporarily suspended, and are banned from engaging in any baseball-related activities. Once their charges are confirmed in court, they will likely face lifetime bans.
In the KBO’s first match-fixing scandal in 2012, the two principal figures, Park Hyun-joon and Kim Sung-hyun of the LG Twins, were both banned for life after receiving suspended jail terms.
Yoo, on the other hand, could avoid a lifetime ban because he reported his wrongdoing to the club.
Last Friday, the KBO announced that it would accept confessions by players or club officials regarding match fixing through Aug. 12, and those who turn themselves in would not be slapped with lifetime bans.
Yoo, the first to fess up, may instead face an extended suspension but may ultimately be allowed to play in the league again.
An official with the Eagles said the club “had no idea” Yoo had been involved in match fixing. The Eagles will continue to speak with their current players for any history of fixing attempts.
The Tigers, meanwhile, said they will wait until the KBO hands down its punishment before taking further steps, adding that a suspension is a possibility.
Yoo is a career 16-33 with a 5.37 ERA in 127 appearances. He has made only one appearance, on May 28, for the Tigers this year.