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American pitcher calls on Korean league to set its priorities straight

June 16, 2015
Shane Youman of the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization is seen in a gray undershirt in this photo taken on June 11, 2015, during a game against the Samsung Lions in Daegu. Youman was fined 200,000 won (US$180) for not donning a black undershirt as stipulated in the dress code. (Yonhap)

Shane Youman of the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization is seen in a gray undershirt in this photo taken on June 11, 2015, during a game against the Samsung Lions in Daegu. Youman was fined 200,000 won (US$180) for not donning a black undershirt as stipulated in the dress code. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea-based American pitcher Shane Youman has called on the top baseball league here to set its priorities straight, after getting fined for not adhering to a dress code.

In an email to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), a copy of which was obtained by Yonhap News Agency on Monday, Youman, a left-handed starter for the Hanwha Eagles, discussed a recent decision by the league to fine him 200,000 won (US$180) for wearing a gray shirt under his jersey.

Youman’s choice of the shirt was in violation of a rule that forces teammates to wear undershirts of the same color. The Eagles’ players are to wear black undershirts on road games, according to the KBO, and Youman pitched with a gray shirt in an away matchup against the Samsung Lions last Thursday.

In his email, Youman said his shirt was “in no way a distraction to another player” and claimed the KBO should start focusing on “more important things around the league.”

“I’m quite confused as to why this fine was issued. Instead of worrying about my grey undershirt, how about we do something about all the colorful — fluorescent, and metallic — gear players wear during games throughout the KBO?” Youman wrote. “A grey undershirt is unacceptable, but it’s OK to wear elbow gear, leg gear, as well as other gear that don’t match a particular team’s uniform. I won’t even mention fielding or pitching gloves.”

According to the KBO, the dress code was set up in March and the teams were duly notified. Under the rules, the first-time offenders are only to receive a warning, and the fine is for a second violation.

An official with the KBO said Youman had been warned once and was fined for his second violation. Three-time offenders are to be fined 300,000 won, and the fourth offense will lead to a 1 million won penalty.

The official said, however, he understood where the pitcher was coming from.

“After the end of this season, we will sit down with the teams to set up guidelines on protective gear and other equipment,” the official said. “We will obviously consider the players’ comfort level but we will penalize things that go against the rules.”

Youman, who is pitching in his fourth KBO season, also said the league should be more concerned about security for players and coaches than about colors of undershirts.

“I love the fans, but they have easy access to us at the stadiums as well as hotels. There’s no way they should be able to grab our arms, or come within our personal space when we go to and from the stadiums unless we allow them to,” Youman said, adding that the issue is more important for visiting teams. “Also, there’s no reason fans should be able to hang out in the lobbies of hotels to wait on us. That should only happen if they are paying customers of that establishment. I’m guessing it will take something to happen to a player, coach, announcer, or cheerleader before the KBO League takes action, and provide better security.”

The KBO official agreed with Youman that security issues should be addressed, and further steps will be taken after discussions with the clubs.

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