(what’s Japanese for “just throw strikes or I’ll beat you to death with my bare hands”?)
Late on the afternoon of May 22, the globalization of the Mets became more than a marketing campaign.
The pitching coach Rick Peterson was standing on the mound in the eighth inning of a game against the Yankees at Shea Stadium, trying to tell reliever Dae Sung Koo whether to throw a fastball or a curve, inside or out. When it became apparent that Koo could not understand the difference, Peterson looked away for a moment.
He caught the different faces of baseball staring back at him: a Dominican shortstop, a Venezuelan second baseman, an Italian-American catcher, a Polish-American first baseman and an all-American third baseman, every one of whom had descended on the mound and surrounded their South Korean pitcher. Desperate for assistance, Peterson said to the infielders, “Don’t any of you guys speak Korean?”
In the midst of a one-run game before a sellout crowd against their intracity rivals, the Mets’ infield busted up laughing, as did Koo. When the home-plate umpire came out to ask Peterson why he was taking so long, the infielders said almost in unison, “Do you speak Korean?”
“It was a ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” Peterson said. “But I loved looking at all those faces.”