Even a former big-league pitcher, a franchise slugger and Major League-caliber southpaw were not enough to prevent Hanwha Eagles manager Han Dae-hwa from quitting Tuesday .
According to the Daejeon-based club, the 52-year-old tendered his resignation Monday and assistant coach Han Yong-duk will serve as interim manager for the remainder of the season from Tuesday. The Eagles have 28 games left in the 2012 season.
“I apologize to fans for our bad record,” Han said. “I have realized I am not a competent manager. I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to leave the team but it is too bad this had to happen during the season.”
Han was in the final year of a three-year contract.
As of last week, the Eagles had the worst record in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) at 39-64 with two draws, 22 games behind the league-leading Samsung Lions and 15 games off fourth place, the lowest slot for the playoffs.
There was a bright outlook for the Eagles, which finished last in 2010 and tied for sixth in 2011, after adding former Major League hurler Park Chan-ho and slugging first baseman Kim Tae-kyun to a roster that included left-handed fireballer Ryu Hyun-jin, who is currently on the big-league clubs’ radar.
The 39-year-old Park has a 5-8 record with a 4.65 ERA and Kim is eyeing becoming the first player in 30 years to hit .400 in the Korean league. Ryu is also 5-8 with a seventh-best in the league 3.20 ERA.
However, a sluggish offense, sixth in team batting average, and poor performance from the bullpen have dashed the Eagles’ hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Han was one of a few star players-turned-managers in the league.
Known for his go-ahead, three-run home run against Japan in the final of the Baseball World Cup in 1982, Han made his professional debut with the OB Bears, the forerunner of the Doosan Bears, in 1983. But his heyday was from 1986 to 1993 with the Haitai Tigers (now the Kia Tigers), which won the Korean Series six times in that stretch.
The third baseman also helped the LG Twins win the league championship in 1994. The Daejeon native hung up his cleats in 1997 with 163 home runs, 712 RBIs and a career batting average of .279. He also won eight Golden Gloves.