South Korean baseball team in Vero Beach for spring training


The South Korean baseball team, the Wyverns, has taken to the fields at Historic Dodgertown
The South Korean baseball team, the Wyverns, has taken to the fields at Historic Dodgertown

The SK Wyverns return to Historic Dodgertown, making this the sixth consecutive year the team has held their Spring Training in Vero Beach. The team’s Spring Training opens today.

The Wyverns of the professional Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) recently introduced American Trey Hillman as the team’s field manager. This is Hillman’s first season managing in the KBO. His previous managerial experience was with the Kansas City Royals (2008-2010), and the Japanese Professional Baseball Pacific League Nippon Ham Fighters (2003-2007). Hillman also coached for the Los Angeles Dodgers (2010-2013) and Houston Astros (2014-2016). He also managed in the Minor Leagues for 12 seasons.

“It’s a thrill to get to manage a team that gets to start Spring Training at Historic Dodgertown,” said Hillman. “Having worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers for three years, I have a direct appreciation for the organization’s lineage. As SK’s first foreign manager it’s a humbling experience, especially to tie it in where I have my first (KBO) managerial Spring Training.”

This is Hillman’s second visit to Dodgertown. His first trip here was in 1996 as the manager for the Florida State League Tampa Yankees, which finished in first place that year.

The SK Wyverns were founded in 2000 and reached the Korean Series Championship eight times since its initial season. In 2007, 2008 and 2010 they were the Korean Series champions.

The SK Wyverns’ 2017 roster includes six Americans – Pitchers Merrill Kelly and Scott Diamond, and infielder Danny Worth, manager Hillman, and coaches Dave Jorn and Lyle Yates.

As the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948-2008, Historic Dodgertown offers teams training rooted in tradition and Hall of Fame history. From Holman Stadium, to the major league designed fields, locker rooms, training rooms and weight rooms, teams gain valuable playing opportunities on the same fields as Dodger Hall of Fame greats such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, managers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda, executives Walter O’Malley and Branch Rickey, and broadcasters Red Barber, Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrin. In total, more than 140 Hall of Famers have stayed, trained, played and visited Historic Dodgertown.

“I know that from a facility standpoint, our team will be well taken care of, and it’s going to be a great experience having our first three weeks together as a team here at Historic Dodgertown,” Hillman said.

Historic Dodgertown Chairman Peter O’Malley has developed friendly relations for decades with South Korea. He invited the professional Samsung Lions to Dodgertown for training and instruction from February 28-March 14, 1985. They became the first Korean team to train in the United States.

On March 9, the Lions played the Dodgers in an exhibition game at Dodgertown, as Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and the Commissioner of Baseball in South Korea General Jyong-Chul Suh were guests of O’Malley and participated in first pitch ceremonies. In addition, former Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn was also in attendance. In remembrance of this historic event, a plaque is on the wall on the far side of the press box at Holman Stadium. In 1990, two Korean coaches from the Lions visited Dodgertown, learning training techniques, for two weeks. On Sept. 9, 1990, the O’Malley Dodgers were the first team in MLB to have a regular season game broadcast in Korean. The entire Lions team would return for Spring Training at Dodgertown in 1992, 1993, 1995 and 1997.

In 1994, O’Malley signed the first player in Korean history to a major league contract, pitcher Chan Ho Park. That historic event opened the door for 19 additional Korean players to play Major League Baseball. Park, a founding partner of Historic Dodgertown, is the winningest Asian-born pitcher in MLB with 124 wins. His first time pitching in a Dodger uniform was February 19, 1994 during Spring Training at Dodgertown. In 1996, Hanyang University became the first university from South Korea to train at Dodgertown. Park attended Hanyang University.

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