They are (as far as I can tell) the only two men who have played for the Twins in America and in Korea. Both players spent time with the LG Twins, the Minnesota Twins’ overseas, um, twins.
The LG Twins play their games at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. As far as I can tell, they have no affiliation with the Minnesota Twins aside from the name. LG is one of the core franchises of the Korean Professional Baseball League. Founded in 1982 as the MBC Blue Dragons, they became the Twins in 1990. In Korea, as in Japan, it is customary for teams to be sponsored by and named after companies, and the LG Twins are named after Korean electronics giant LG (short for “Lucky Goldstar“).
LG proved to be lucky for the Twins in their first season under the name, as they won the Korean championship in 1990 with a 71-49 record. In 1994, while American baseball teams were striking, the Korean game was still going, and the Twins took home another championship after an 81-45 season. The American Twins struggled during the late 1990s, but the Korean Twins reached the championship series in 1997, 1998, and 2002, though they lost each time. Unfortunately, the LG Twins haven’t had a winning season since that ’02 campaign, and last year they stumbled to a 59-72 record, tied for sixth place in the eight team league.
A few notable American players have donned the LG Twins uniform over the years. The most well known is probably Junior Felix, who played for the Blue Jays, Marlins and Tigers on this side of the Pacific in the early 1990s. Felix was a member of the 1998 LG team that lost the championship to the Hyundai Unicorns. Former Mets/Padres first baseman Roberto Petagine hit .332 with 26 homers for LG in 2009. Jung Bong, a Korean-born pitcher who spent a few seasons with the Braves, was on the LG starting staff in 2010, going 10-9 with a 3.58 ERA. Major Leaguers Efrain Valdez, Jeremy Johnson, and Rick Bauer also played for LG.
And, of course, Quinlan and Dumatrait. Quinlan had a grand total of six at bats for the Twins in 1996, and he did not reach base in that time. After spending a couple seasons with Hyundai, Quinlan spent 2002 with LG, and he helped the Twins reach the championship series (they lost to the Samsung Lions). Dumatrait played in Korea in 2010 after being released by the Tigers. He did not have a great year on the mound overseas. He finished with a 4-6 record, 29 strikeouts, 37 walks, and an ERA of 8.22 in 61.1 innings. In fairness to Dumatrait, the Korean League appears to be more hitter-friendly than MLB. In 2010, Korean pitchers averaged 3.8 walks per nine innings and a 4.58 ERA as opposed to 3.3 and 4.08 respectively for the Major Leagues.
I’m sure you’re already thinking of booking a flight to Seoul to catch a Twins game, so here are a few more tidbits to keep you informed for your trip:
- The Twins have one of the largest stadiums in Korea, but they share it with the Doosan Bears, so be sure you know which of the two is playing before you buy your tickets
- The Kia Tigers (formerly the Haitai Tigers) are the Yankees of Korean baseball. They have won the championship 10 times – by far more than any other team. The Tigers defeated the Twins for the 1997 title.
- Unlike American baseball, the Korean game features cheerleaders, and they sing.
Congratulations. You are now ready to enjoy some Twins baseball, Korean-style!