Kevin Sim will flex his muscles in the Perfect Game, which brings a smile to “Hercules.”
“I was expecting him to be a ballplayer,” said Jong-soo Shim, Sim’s father.
Sim, a Torrey Pines High School senior, is among the nation’s top prep athletes participating in the Aug. 11 event at Petco Park. Thirty-one players were selected, with two being from San Diego County: Sim and Jordan Thompson of Helix.
But Sim is the first South Korean native in the Perfect Game’s 17-year history. That his father was one of the most prolific power hitters in the Korean Baseball Organization adds to Sim’s story line.
“It will be an unforgettable experience for his baseball career,” Shim said.
Shim had quite the run in Korea’s top league. He swatted 328 homers in 1,450 games and was known as “Hercules” for his long flies, thanks to his dedication to weight lifting and a diet which included 30 eggs a day.
“I don’t remember much of him playing,” Sim said. “But I’ve see clips of him here and there. When we go back there he gets a lot of media and press attention. He doesn’t like all that.”
Shim is as strong as he is modest. He’d rather chat about his son squaring up a baseball than talking in circles about his glory days.
“It’s a great honor for him,” Shim said.
It was a grand decision Shim made for his family when Sim was 7 years old. Shim decided to leave the country where he was a sports icon after 15 seasons and relocate to San Diego.
The choice led to Sim being a star at Torrey Pines, where he batted .271 with four home runs and 23 RBIs last season. Sim has already committed to the University of San Diego.
It was Shim’s love for his children that made the move easy.
“It was mostly because of baseball and education for the kids,” he said. “It’s a pretty tough and different environment in South Korea after you decide to play baseball at 11 or 12. They tend to focus on baseball too much.”
“My dad used to practice from 9 in the morning until 9 at night,” Sim said.
Sim’s affection for baseball is 24/7. But he’s also into studying history, playing video games and spending warm days at the beach.
On the hot corner and with his bat, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Sim shines. He’s rated as the state’s No. 1 prep third baseman.
“Whenever Kevin comes up to the plate all the outfielders have to scoot back,” Thompson said. “Because he is going to hit it to the fence or 50 feet over the fence.”
The over-and-under of grins coming from Shim next week is hard to gauge. What’s not is the pride in his son, one he’s worked tirelessly with to perfect a swing which earned Sim a Perfect Game invitation.
“When it comes to hitting we are pretty similar,” Shim said. “We have spent countless hours hitting together.”
Sim can rewind the time machine by watching his father swat homers. But he prefers being on the diamond, where the clock stands still.
“There is no time limit in baseball so you just get to go out there and play your game,” he said. “On the field there is no one to really tell you what to do. It’s like my little place to have fun.”
Shim’s glow of satisfaction proves that enjoyment leaks into the stands. Sim isn’t “Hercules,” but his strong bond with his father is as evident as his baseball skills.
Top: A pair of San Diego County baseball players, including Kevin Sim of Torrey Pines High School, right, will participate in the Perfect Game at Petco Park on Aug. 11, an event for the nation’s top prep players. At left is Jordan Thompson of Helix High. Courtesy photo
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports