Chapter 12 – People Scratching at Lottery Tickets 01
11th Dec, 2022.
Gun Choi arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona.
It was a 21-hour long flight.
There was no direct flights so he had to transfer at Los Angeles.
“Hmm, Look at the temperature even in winter.”
Gun Choi braced his mind as he went through immigration at the airport.
Before his departure to America, he heard that his father had voluntarily resigned.
But it was a shock when it happened to his family.
His parents said to him that he only needed to focus on his practice.
But Gun Choi didn’t feel good.
He wanted to be successful and be able to support his family.
After passing through an immigration desk, he looked for a sign for him.
With a few attempts, he found his name on a sign.
It was a man with black hair and frameless sunglasses.
Gun Choi recognized him at once.
‘He’s still same.’
He waved his hand and approached him.
“David, it’s been a while.”
David, Gun Choi’s agent, smiled and waved his hand.
“Mr. Choi, I was a little afraid that you were not going recognize me.”
“You are pretty much the same as before, David.”
David took the lead and said,
“Ok, this way. I prepared a car.”
The car was a Chrysler 300C, a 286 horse-powered sedan.
But the car looked like too much for David.
David used to drive both a Benz S class and a Porsche 911 in turns.
“Is this a rental car?”
David shrugged his shoulder at Gun Choi’s question.
“No, it’s not.”
“Did you drive this car to Arizona?”
“Sure, a ballpark lender provided this car. I don’t like to drive long distances.”
David leased a whole ball park for one day of showcasing.
There should be a proper investment to get something, and this was what David thought.
Gun Choi thought David was careless. But Gun Choi knew that he also had a different side to him.
When David was on a negotiation table with teams, his attitude would totally change.
He knew where to attack and what to protect.
David turned the wheel and said,
“The showcase is set to be 3 days later due to your time lag.”
Gun Choi tilted his head and asked,
“You don’t have any other work to do?”
“We’ve used the internet for over 20 years already. I can work anywhere except in a meeting.”
David was humming as he drove.
Gun Choi thought David was in a good mood.
“Looks like you made something?”
David smiled to Gun Choi’s asking.
“I landed a 3 year-contract. The contract amount is 50 million.”
Around 20 million per year. The total amount wasn’t large but not bad.
Agents at the Major leagues got 5% fee out of annual salaries.
That is to say, David made $270,000. Of course, this was the sum before taxes.
Gun Choi asked David briefly,
“Was it Greg?”
Greg was a right-handed pitcher, 35 years old, who won 17 games last year.
“Where did you sell Greg?”
“Oh, Gun Choi, selling him? Your joke goes too far.”
Gun Choi bent his brow.
“Greg won 17 games last year but he’s too old. How could it be possible?”
“That’s why 3 years. If he was younger by 3 more years, the amount would be 120 million.”
Gun Choi calculated himself when he could reach the age for FA.
‘If I start at 27, after 6 seasons is FA. Then in the winter at 32 years of age? What a coincidence!’
He could be eligible for FA at an age that was 3 years sooner than Greg.
This meant that he could sign for over a 100 million dollar contract if he could enter the Major Leagues and play well.
“Gun Choi, let me ask you one thing.”
“What is your hidden weapon, the one you spoke of last time? I just want to make sure of that.”
Gun Choi thought the time had come. He wanted to surprise David, but he needed to give correct information to the agent.
Gun Choi answered shortly.
“It is a knuckleball.”
David shouted in surprise at Gun Choi’s answer.
“Oh, knuckleball, Mr. Choi. Were you lying when you said that you’ve recovered?”
Gun Choi was startled at David’s furious voice.
“A lie? My recovery was perfect.”
“Then why the knuckleball?”
David had a negative opinion of the knuckleball but Gun Choi didn’t know about this.
“Why the knuckleball? This is the most dangerous weapon.”
David sighed deeply and said,
“Gun Choi, it is powerful, but there are not many catchers who can take it. Only Chan Gang from the Phillies or Yadin from the Angels can catch that.”
Chan Gang was the best catcher at the Major Leagues from the end of 2010 up until now, and Yadin was a superb catcher who was highly rated on defense.
According to David, a normal catcher couldn’t catch a knuckleball.
But Gun Choi thought differently.
“That’s why I said please find a catcher who’s good at catching a breaking ball.”
David nodded his head.
“Gun Choi, you still don’t know. A knuckleball is not a breaking ball. It’s a magic ball. It’s not so simple only with a catcher.”
He was negative towards Gun Choi’s knuckleball from cover to cover.
There was a silence for a while due to David’s firm voice.
David couldn’t bear it and started to talk.
“Gun Choi, how’s your ball speed?”
David’s voice was stiff. He thought that Gun Choi would prepare a splitter or fork ball.
But he never expected a knuckleball.
Gun Choi replied.
“94 miles per hour.”
David was surprised at his answer.
“Are you sure?”
Gun Choi bent his brow at David’s excited action.
“I don’t have any reason to tell a lie, it’ll be proven in 3 days.”
As David heard the ball speed, he smiled.
“Good for you. It’s worth preparing for the showcase.”
He didn’t think about the knuckleball anymore.
‘94 mph, it’s almost the same as when he was in his best condition. Then I can sell him at a high price.’
David had sent invitations to 7 teams that needed to improve their pitching strengths.
Four teams sent a RSVP. Two of them had interest on him from his Minor League experience.
David thought there would be a proper team who could make a contract with Gun Choi.
‘It would be a minimum salary for 3 years but I have the Major Leagues promotion bonus and sign-up bonus. It will be enough profit.’
He stopped his car at a baseball town. There, they could see series of baseball fields.
Gun Choi opened his eyes wide at the scene of green grass and logo of the baseball town.
“Right. The Giants had spring camp here 3 years ago.”
Gun Choi imagined that there would be a Major Leaguer on the empty ground.
‘Wait everybody. I’ll be there soon.’
David gave enough time for Gun Choi to see the baseball town.
David asked him in a low voice.
“Are you confident?”
Gun Choi answered shortly.