Growing up and learning to play in South Korea


Editor’s Note: Early this season I started noticing tweets from a very insightful and funny Twitter feed, written up by an ex-pro named Eric Sim. I thought then that I’d love to see him stretch out and write longer than 280 characters. More recently, I thought, why shouldn’t that stretching out happen here on the pages of South Side Sox?

So, guess what? I’ve promised everyone surprises along the way, and there will always be more to come. But I’m happy to announce that Sim will be contributing his special brand of essays to our pages on a monthly basis.

Now, Sim has no connection to Chicago, but given that he not so long ago lived the same grinding lifestyle as so many of the White Sox prospects we are tracking every day here, he’s here to provide some illumination on that life. And my guess is he’s going to make you laugh — and think a little, too.

Just a heads-up, like the majority of professional athletes — even those with Bible verses on their Twitter bios — Sim is a bit salty. If colorful language offends your sensibilities, do yourself a favor and skip to our next article.

But now, without further delay, please give a warm welcome to our newest writer, straight outta the Great White Pacific Northwest, former catcher-turned-pitcher, Eric Sim!

Hi, my name is Eric Sim, a washed-up minor leaguer nobody who spent the majority of my career in glorious Low-A ball.

Here’s a little bit about me:

I was born in South Korea, played Little League baseball and some middle school baseball there, got beat up every single day by coaches because that’s just what they do down there, was over that shit so immigrated to Canada, and played high school ball in British Columbia.

After that, I went to JUCO in bumfuck nowhere, Kansas, for two years, was recruited to play at the University of South Florida in Tampa for a year, got drafted as a junior, signed the minor league a.k.a. slave contract, played from June 2010 through September 2015 as both a catcher and pitcher, and got released in November 2015 via phone call.

I didn’t have a job until March 2016, when I signed an Indy ball contract based on a bullpen video I made while throwing at Driveline baseball ( punched 95 mph ), got released by the team in two months because I walked a shit ton of hitters, played in a semipro league in Seattle while training at Driveline, last hitter I ever faced was during the NBC World Series where we played against the Kansas Stars (made up of all former big leaguers) and pitched to Jason Marquis (former big league pitcher, who was hitting for fun), threw one fastball, gave up a single up the middle, got pulled, flew back home, and hung up my cleats.

Yes, I have been through a lot.

Also, just a friendly reminder that English is my second language, my GPA is 2.5 on a good day, I took gerontology as a major at USF because I told my athletic advisor I hated school and just wanted to focus on baseball, so he picked gerontology out of the hat for me.

I have never written an article of any sort, so if you have a problem with that, just don’t @ me on Twitter (@esim3400 if you want to anyways).

So, let’s begin where everything started.

I was born in Busan, South Korea, where I lived until I was 13 before immigrating to Canada. I started playing baseball in Korea because I was a fat kid and my parents wanted me to exercise to lose some damn weight; it wasn’t my choice.

I started playing in Little League and was pretty good, so I joined a team where I had to take a bus an hour and a half to the field, one way. Apparently they were the best team in the area, but who gives a shit because, well, it’s Little League.

Now, playing baseball in South Korea is something else ... none of you will understand.

This was our schedule — and mind you, I was nine years old:

One thing that kept me going was thinking, “Well, it can’t get any worse than this.”

Then middle school baseball happened.

This is what I got to experience in one year of middle-school baseball, before fleeing the country to get the fuck out of that system. My schedule went like this, no lie:

Then we moved to Canada. I’d go to school from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., practice from 5-7 p.m. with the nicest Canadians (who were always smiling and having fun) on a nice grass field (it was all dirt fields in Korea), and went home.

Canada 1, South Korea 0.

Eric Sim played six seasons in the minors and touched Triple-A ball in 2012 (owns a career average of .500, oops). He’s the first Korean-Canadian ever drafted, and he doesn’t care if you’re not impressed by that, because he doesn’t really care about anything. He operates a hilarious and thought-provoking Twitter feed @ESim3400, so follow, if you want. When not dropping wisdom about his glorious days in the minor leagues, Sim currently manages a bar in small-town Canada, and makes a lot more money than he made playing baseball.



South Korean Little Leaugers Shot Fleeing To North Korea By Coach

Thank you, Eric.

You paint a vivid, unpleasant picture here and I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. I compare it to my own Little League and very brief Jr. High (middle school) experience and shudder. I was "the fat kid", too, but all I really took was verbal abuse from coaches, which I got tired of in the 7th grade and finally quit.

I appreciate your willingness to share this stuff with us and hope you’ll continue to do so if so inclined. I don’t twitter, but if I did, you’d have another new follower. I hope you’re finding more pleasure and happiness in your new career and life. Sounds like you’ve earned it.

Thanks for the insight, Eric

The rise of Korean female golfers has been astounding. I wonder if their schedules are similar?

Very likely

The country acts very much like the military service – it chooses directions and the citizens follow. Somebody of authority decided that they should be good in women’s golf – poof, they outwork everyone else and you see the results.
I am firsthand witness to to their bowling program. They identify their team 6-9 months out for important events, move them to the Korean Olympic Training facilities and spend 12 hours/day 6 days/week in classroom, the gym and bowling facility. The result, they are always among the best in World Championships. For several years they did not appear to be the happiest of athletes but that has changed for the better recently.
It’s not all bad. If an athlete earns a gold medal in any World Championships in their sport, or in the Asian Games (held every 4 years, their most important competition for any sport), they receive a pension of around $1000/month for life – 2 gold/$2000 is the max. They also are exempted from military service – otherwise mandatory – remember their Northern neighbor is not Canada.
During the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon the Seoul newspaper ran a story detailing that if athletes X, Y and Z did not win a gold medal the following day (one was a bowler), they would go into the military the next day. The bowler won, I don’t know about the others. They understand pressure.

Illuminating background, thank you.

I appreciated the contrast between Canadian and South Korean approaches

Winning while enjoying the journey seems to be the difference. I’m holding on to that thought while watching the WS this year and I see many of the posters here doing the same.

Watching Palka’s Home run shot last night was pure joy, as was the game ending double play, even if they hadn’t been game winners. Somethings in baseball are just poetic.

If I were Sox management

I’d beg Thome to mentor Palka non-stop off season.

Was thinking something similar watching last night’s game.

This is a good article

I read the full description of the 9 year old S. Korean day to my (current, USA based) 9 year old. Maybe he’ll whine less now knowing he’s got it made!

Shit, I cried because I hated being in Girl Scouts

What a piece of crap I was. Welcome to our little den of Sox suffering Eric. Glad to have ya!

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