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Kia Tigers

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Kia Tigers

KIA Tigers
KIA 타이거즈
Team logo Cap insignia
League Korea Professional Baseball (1982–present)
Location Gwangju
Year established 1982
Nickname(s) Tiger, The Great
League championships (6): 1988, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2009
Korean Series championships (10): 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2009
Former name(s)
  • KIA Tigers (2002–present)
  • Haitai Tigers (1982-2001)
Former ballparks
Colors Red, Black
Retired numbers 7, 18
Ownership Kia Motors
Manager Kim Ki-Tae
General Manager Seo Young-Jong
Kia Tigers logo used in 2002~2009

KIA Tigers Professional Baseball Club (Korean Series, ten times, with a perfect 10-0 series record and a 40-12-2 game record.

After the success of the 1980s and 1990s, the fortunes of the team began to turn, resulting in them finishing bottom of the league for the first time in 2005, and again in 2007. In 2009, However, Kia Tigers won the 2009 KBO season and 2009 Korean Series.[1]

They were previously known as the Haitai Tigers (해태 타이거즈). Their home stadium is Gwangju Kia Champions Field in Gwangju.


1982 Season

Haitai Tigers was third professional baseball team to be created in South Korea, next to OB Bears and MBC Chungyong, founded on January 30 of 1982 with 14 players. Kim Dong-Yup, the first manager of the team was fired after just one month, and Jo Chang-Soo took over his position and led the team to 38 wins 42 losses. Due to the lack of position players, many players in the league both pitched and batted. Kim Sung-Han of the Tigers set an interesting record of 10 wins and highest RBI the first year.

1983-1985: Kim Eung-Ryong's first three seasons

Haitai Tigers hired Kim Eung-Ryong as manager, who studied baseball in the USA, eventually led the team to its first victory in 1983. The Tigers won the Korean Series with 4 wins and 1 tie-game against the MBC Chungyong (currently LG Twins). Although the team did not make it to the playoffs for the next two years, it set the foundation for the golden years to come by signing in future megastars Lee Soon-Chul, Sun Dong-Yeol and Kim Sung-Han. Bang Soo-Won pitched the first no-hit-no-run game in Korean baseball history in 1984 against the Sammi Superstars.

1986–1997 : Haitai Tigers Dynasty – Sun Dong-Yeol and Lee Jong-Beom

In 1986, the Tigers finished in 2nd place in the pennant race with a team ERA of 2.86 and BA of 2.72 to go straight to the Korean Series against the Samsung Lions. They went on to win their second Korean Series win with 4 wins and 1 loss.

Until 1989, the Haitai Tigers won once more against the Samsung Lions and twice against the Bingrae Eagles (current Hanwha Eagles) to make an astonishing four consecutive Korean Series wins. Kim Jung-Soo, Kim Joon-Hwan, Moon Hye-Soo, Park Chul-Woo respectively were named MVPs of each series.

Haitai Tigers lost the playoffs to Samsung Lions in 1990, but won the next Korean series the following year. In 1991, the Tigers set a record of 6 out of 10 golden glove winners.

1993 was the year of rookie shortstop Lee Jong-Beom, closer Sun Dong-Yeol and starters Lee Dae-Jin and Lee Gang-Chul. The Tigers won 81 out of 126 pennant race games and also their 7th Korean Series.

In 1994, Lee Jong-Beom batted an average of 0.393, the second highest in Korean baseball history, but the team lost the semi-playoffs to the Hanhwa Eagles. The Tigers ended up in 4th the next year due to Lee Jong-Beom and Lee Dae-Jin leaving the team for military service, which is mandatory for all male Koreans over 18.

Star closer Sun Dong-Yeol was also transferred to the Chunichi Dragons in 1996, but Lim Chang-Yong and Gang Tae-Won filled in his position to lead the team to its 8th Korean Series win over the Hyundai Unicorns.

The next year, Lee Jong-Beom and Lee Dae-Jin returned from military service and with their help the Tigers again won the Korean Series to bring the total to nine champion wins.

1998-2001: The decline of the dynasty

Due to the Asian financial crisis in 1998, Haitai was forced to sell the team to Kia in 2001. Until then the Tigers which was also in financial difficulty, could not keep its major players to stay. Eventually they lost Lee Jong-Beom to the Chunichi Dragons, and closer Lim Chang-Yong and manager Kim Eung-Ryong to the Samsung Lions.

2001-2004: Kim Sung-Han

Lee Jong-Beom returned from Japan, and rookies Hong Se-Wan, catcher Kim Sang-Hoon and pitcher Kim Jin-woo joined between 2001 and 2002 to lead the team to the playoffs for three years from 2002 to 2004. But each time they were beaten by LG Twins, SK Wyverns, and Doosan Bears respectively.

2005-2008: Dark age

Kia Tigers lost 76 games to end up in an embarrassing 8th place in 2005. Manager Yoo Nam-Ho was fired and Seo Jung-Hwan took charge, but again ended up in last place in 2007 despite his effort and joining of former MLB player Hee-seop Choi.

Battery coach Jo Beom-Hyun was promoted to the new manager in June 2007. Former MLB pitcher Seo Jae-Weong joined the team the next year in 2008, but because of a weak lineup, unstable defense and bullpen problems, the Tigers finished the pennant race in 6th place.

2009: The renaissance of the dynasty

2009 started off uneasily for the Tigers, and it looked as if the strong starting rotation of Rick Guttormson, Aquilino López, Yoon Suk-Min, and Yang Hyeon-Jong was going to go unaided by the batting lineup. But with Lee Jong-Beom's leadership and Choi Hee-Seop's revival from his three-year-long slump, and Kim Sang-hyeon's amazing batting, the Tigers won the pennant race with the second lowest team ERA of 3.92 and win percentage of 0.609.

Kia Tigers won the 2009 KBO season and 2009 Korean Series, which is the first double victory since 1997.[2] 24 year old Outfielder Na Ji-Wan was named the series MVP

2011-: 2nd Dark age

On October 18, 2011, Sun Dong-Yeol and Lee Sun-Cheol returned to the Tigers. Sun Dong-Yeol was named the new manager and Lee Sun-Choel was named the new head coach of the KIA Tigers.

In Sun's first season, the Tigers finished a disappointing 5th place after making the play-offs in 2012. Struggling for most of the year, a late play-off surge saw the Tigers fall just short of their great rivals, the Lotte Giants, who claimed the 4th and final post season position. The final weeks, however, inspired a lot of confidence that 2013 would be a good year after starting pitchers Seo Jae-Weong, Kim Jin-woo and Yoon Suk-min all posted complete game wins.

Sun Dong-yeol was retained as manager of the Tigers and after a very promising pre season, the Tigers were considered one of the favorites for the Korean Series. Their early season form was blistering and, by early May, they sat top of the table. The batters, especially Choi Hee-seop, came alive and left handed pitcher Yang Hyeon-Jong was enjoying his best run since notching up 16 wins in 2010.

But the Tigers made a disastrous trade when they off-loaded 2009 MVP Kim Sang-hyeon to the SK Wyverns for right handed pitcher Song Eun-beom. Song had previously pitched in the Korean Series against Samsung but his form plummeted and KIA went on to rue the missing power from Kim once Choi, and others, faded horribly as the season progressed. They were effectively out of the play-off hunt with over a month to go and their embarrassment was complete when the expansion NC Dinos, playing in their first season of top level baseball in Korea, finished about the Tigers. KIA ended 2013 with just 51 wins from their 128 games in 8th place, ahead of the Hanwha Eagles.

In 2014, the Tigers moved to their new home, the 27,000 capacity Gwangju KIA Champions Field. Sun Dong-yeol was given his third season with the club, but Lee Sun-cheol moved on. Free Agents Lee Yong-kyu (Hanwha) and Yoon Suk-min (Baltimore) left the club but the Tigers brought in LG Twins' center-fielder Lee Dae-hyung as a free agent. Lee, born in Gwangju, was joined at his home town club by Kim Byung-hyun, a 2-time World Series champion. Their 3 foreign players were starting pitcher D.J. Houlton, closer Jairo Asencio and first baseman Brett Pill. Houlton was replaced midway through the season by Justin Thomas.

Unfortunately, the Tigers would go on to have another poor season. Despite posting some solid batting numbers, the Tigers finished 8th in the standings, one place above the Eagles, with a .422 winning percentage from their 128 games (54 wins, 74 losses). The team had the second worst ERA in the League (5.52), and the joint most number of blown saves (21). Yang Hyeon-jong finished 2014 with 16 wins, his best figures since 2010. First baseman Pill hit 19 home runs for the season, the same number as Na Ji-wan and Lee Beom-ho. Infielder An Chi-hong struck a career-best 18 home runs and a .339 batting average but it wasn't enough to make Korea's Asia Games roster in September. An will, therefore, miss the 2015 and 2016 seasons, along with shortstop Kim Sun-bin, to do his mandatory military service.

The Tigers controversially re-signed manager Sun to a new 2 year deal with an annual salary of 380 million won (US$359,500) and a 300 million won signing bonus just days after the regular season ended. Irate fans swamped the club's website demanding the 51 year old tear up his new contract. 6 days later, on October 25th, Sun announced that he was stepping down as Tigers manager.

On October 28th 2014, the club announced that Kim Ki-tae, born in Gwangju, would be their new manager, having signed a 3 year deal. In 2013, Kim led the LG Twins to their first post-season in 11 years, but quit just a month into the new season. As a player, Kim led the League in home runs (1994) and won the batting title in 1997. After retiring, Kim was voted the league's best ever designated hitter.

Retired numbers

Lee Jong-Beom

Sun Dong-Yeol

Season by Season Records

Year Team Final Rank Pennant Race Games W L Win% BA ERA Postseason
1982 Haitai Tigers 4 4 80 38 42 .475 .261 3.79 Did not qualify
1983 Haitai Tigers 1 2 100 55 44 .556 .268 3.17 Winner
1984 Haitai Tigers 5 5 100 43 54 .443 .248 3.16 Did not qualify
1985 Haitai Tigers 3 3 110 57 52 .523 .272 3.64 Not held
1986 Haitai Tigers 1 2 108 67 37 .644 .259 2.86 Winner
1987 Haitai Tigers 1 2 108 55 48 .532 .252 3.16 Winner
1988 Haitai Tigers 1 1 108 68 38 .639 .283 2.86 Winner
1989 Haitai Tigers 1 2 120 65 51 .558 .255 3.34 Winner
1990 Haitai Tigers 3 2 120 68 49 .579 .270 3.36 Playoff
1991 Haitai Tigers 1 1 126 79 42 .647 .259 2.89 Winner
1992 Haitai Tigers 3 2 126 71 54 .567 .272 4.21 Playoff
1993 Haitai Tigers 1 1 126 81 42 .655 .251 2.92 Winner
1994 Haitai Tigers 4 4 126 65 59 .524 .271 3.60 Semi-playoff
1995 Haitai Tigers 4 4 126 64 58 .524 .242 3.06 Did not qualify
1996 Haitai Tigers 1 1 126 73 51 .587 .245 3.14 Winner
1997 Haitai Tigers 1 1 126 75 50 .599 .258 3.65 Winner
1998 Haitai Tigers 5 5 126 61 64 .488 .258 3.91 Did not qualify
1999 Haitai Tigers 7 7 132 60 69 .465 .278 5.21 Did not qualify
2000 Haitai Tigers 4 4 133 57 72 .442 .252 4.95 Did not qualify
2001 Kia Tigers 5 5 133 60 68 .469 .278 5.01 Did not qualify
2002 Kia Tigers 3 2 133 78 51 .605 .269 3.92 Playoff
2003 Kia Tigers 3 2 133 78 50 .609 .272 3.62 Playoff
2004 Kia Tigers 4 4 133 67 61 .523 .267 4.51 Semi-playoff
2005 Kia Tigers 8 8 126 49 76 .392 .260 4.81 Did not qualify
2006 Kia Tigers 4 4 126 64 59 .520 .255 3.33 Semi-playoff
2007 Kia Tigers 8 8 126 51 74 .408 .257 4.49 Did not qualify
2008 Kia Tigers 6 6 126 57 69 .452 .260 4.08 Did not qualify
2009 Kia Tigers 1 1 133 81 48 .609 .267 3.92 Winner
2010 Kia Tigers 5 5 133 59 74 .444 .260 4.34 Did not qualify
2011 Kia Tigers 4 4 133 70 63 .526 .269 4.10 Semi-playoff
2012 Kia Tigers 5 5 133 62 65 .488 .256 3.90 Did not qualify
2013 Kia Tigers 8 8 128 51 74 .408 .261 5.12 Did not qualify
2014 Kia Tigers 128 Did not qualify


Current Lineup



  1. ^ (Korean) (KS Game 7) Na Ji-Wan 'goodbye home run'…KIA, realize tenth title great ambition
  2. ^ (Korean) 'V10' 타이거즈, 12년 미뤄뒀던 '신화'를 쓰다...KIA 우승 의미

External links

  • Official Website
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