39-year-old pitcher Noh Kyung-kyung says, “Enjoy life.
Exercise tailored to my body is the secret to longevity”

Baseball’s SSG’s Noh Kyung-eun takes the mound in the top of the seventh inning to pitch a no-hitter and record his 13th hold of the season against Samsung in a 3-1 win at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on May 30. Courtesy of SSG

“Manager, I want to go to the All-Star Game this time.”

Noh Kyung-eun (39), a bullpen pitcher for baseball’s SSG, approached manager Kim Won-hyung (51-SSG), who was standing in the outfield of the stadium after his team’s training last month, and spoke softly. She asked Kim, who is the Dream All-Star manager for the 2023 KBO League All-Star Game, which will be held on March 15 at Sajik Stadium in Busan, if he could recommend a player for the All-Star Game. Kim laughed and said, “Until then, keep up the good work. I won’t be able to make a recommendation until you perform well.”

After her conversation with Kim, Noh realized how much she had changed. Ten years ago, the All-Star Game was “someone else’s business. “When I was younger, I waited for the All-Star Game so that I wouldn’t have to play in it,” she said when we met at Incheon Literature Stadium on May 5. “I had the opportunity to play in the 2013 season, when I was a starting pitcher, but I wanted to take a break, so I didn’t bother to ask my manager for a recommendation,” she said.

Now, however, Noh is eager to play in the All-Star Game. “I’ll be 40 next year. I’m at the age where I can retire at any time, and I suddenly realized, ‘I’ve never been to an All-Star Game in my entire baseball career.’ I felt like if I didn’t get this opportunity, I’d never make it to an All-Star Game in my life.”

SSG’s Noh Kyung-eun takes the mound in the top of the seventh inning of a 3-6 home game against KT at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on March 15. Noh has been a key part of the team’s bullpen this season as they have been in and out of contention. Courtesy of SSG

Noh was named a Dream All-Star on the Korean Baseball Organization’s (KBO) manager’s recommendation list on Thursday. This is Noh’s first All-Star Game appearance in 21 years, since she was drafted by Doosan in 2003.

One of the reasons Kim was able to confidently name Noh as a player to play in the All-Star Game is because Noh has fulfilled the “do well” criteria Kim laid out earlier. As of the 12th, Noh has been a key part of SSG’s bullpen, posting a 6-3 record with two saves and a 3.95 ERA. She also leads the league in saves with 18 on the season. In the fan voting for the All-Star Game, Noh finished second (501,643 votes) behind Koo Seung-min (33-Lotte-94,981 votes), the top vote-getter in the Dream All-Star Midseason League.

If she hadn’t been so persistent, she could have actually finished her career without playing in the All-Star Game. In 2021, Noh struggled with a 3-5 record and a 7.35 ERA for his former team Lotte, and was released by the team after the season. She could have chosen to retire from the game, but she didn’t, and took a tryout with SSG and passed. Last year, Noh had a “sophomore slump” for SSG, going 12-5 with a 3.05 ERA and seven saves in relief.

SSG bullpen pitcher Noh Kyung-eun, who has been selected to play in the KBO All-Star Game for the first time in the 2023 season, smiles with his glove and ball in front of the team’s dugout before the game against KIA at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on March 5. Courtesy of SSG

The key to Noh’s “long run” is consistency. “You have to stick to your game plan,” Noh said. You can’t say, ‘I’m not feeling well today, so I’ll take the day off.’ I’ve gotten into the habit of doing my planned workouts no matter how hard the day is, so I don’t feel like I’m lacking in physical strength compared to athletes who are younger than me.”

The day of this interview was no exception. After not taking the mound in a home game against KIA on May 5, she headed home only after completing a 30-minute anaerobic strength training routine after the game. “When I’m on the field, I don’t do anaerobic workouts, but instead focus on aerobic workouts, running on a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes. If I play two games in a row and have the next day off, I have a routine where I always do shoulder exercises on the day of the second game. It’s a way to ‘tighten up’ my muscles because I won’t be touching the ball the next day.”

Conversely, there are some exercises that Noh never does. “Just because ‘baseball genius’ Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) does an exercise doesn’t mean I can do it and be as good as him. “There are some exercises that he does that I shouldn’t do because there are certain exercises that work for him and I have certain exercises that work for me.

For example, Noh doesn’t do chest and biceps exercises. “I have very stiff muscles, so if I do chest and biceps exercises, my muscles interfere when I throw the ball and it becomes uncomfortable. You have to understand your body to be able to play for a long time.”

Thanks to her rigorous training routine, Noh is preparing for the All-Star Game as if it were a regular season game. As soon as she was selected to play in the All-Star Game, she vowed to pitch her heart out. “It’s been 10 years since I’ve had the opportunity to play in an All-Star game. I’m not going to throw a single ball,” she said.

Of course, she doesn’t plan to just sit back and throw the ball throughout the All-Star Game. “This could be the last All-Star Game in my baseball career, so I want to take advantage of everything I can get out of it. I want to laugh and have fun with the fans at the event. 한국야동 It’s a moment that may not come around again, so everything about this All-Star Game is important to me.”

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