Ahn the Right Track - STAC Grad Playing Pro Baseball in Korea
In his two years at St. Thomas Aquinas College, Andrew Ahn was Mr. Dependable, leading the Spartans baseball team with exactly 100 starting appearances and missing just one game in that span.
Though he was born in the United States, his father was born in Korea and after graduating from STAC in the spring of 2011, Andrew flew to his father's homeland, where he was able to land a slot with the nation's only independent professional team, the Goyang Wonders. The Wonders are currently in their first season, are the first independent professional team to be created in Korea, and were admitted into the KBO (Korea's major leagues) to play against their franchise's minor league squads this year.
After starting his collegiate career at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Ahn was released from the baseball program and recruited by St. Thomas Aquinas, where he became a fixture for his two seasons. The middle infielder earned East Coast Conference player of the week honors, and was also selected as an all star in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League while playing summer ball.
Playing baseball in Korea represented a major adjustment for the Long Island native, however. "I came out here and tried out for this team in November," recalled Ahn. "I made it and we started winter training in December and went to Japan for spring training from January to March. The spring camp I went to in Japan was my first professional spring camp and will probably be my hardest spring camp of my pro career. We might have had two or three off days throughout the two and a half months as we pretty much woke up at 6:00 am every day and were on the ball field until 5:30 pm. On top of that after dinner we had night practice from 8:00 to 9:30. It was physically and mentally draining as it was the toughest two months of my life."
While the adjustment to the strenuous schedule resulted in limited playing time early on, Andrew has been used more in the latter half of the season, primarily in a defensive role and has yet to make an error this season. He has also had the benefit of learning from manager Kim Sung Geun, who is "the most famous and well known manager in Korea," according to Ahn. "He is basically has the fame that Joe Torre did when he managed the Yankees."
Even though he may be separated from his alma mater by about 7,000 miles, Ahn's success has not been lost on Spartan Head Coach Scott Muscat. "Andrew Ahn was the epitome of NCAA's definition of student-athlete," stated the veteran helmsman, "making a great effort every day both in the classroom and on the field. Even as an amateur, he had a professional approach to his preparation so it is no surprise that he is playing in the Korean minor leagues."
With the regular season just concluding, there is likely little rest for the weary ahead. "Even with our games coming to an end we still practice and train for next season," Ahn noted. "To be honest I don't know if I'll be given a vacation after the games are done because we go straight into practice and training mode with no off days."
He is also quick to point out that several of his teammates have been signed to contracts elsewhere in the KBO this season, and with his skill set and work ethic it would seem to be a matter of time before the Spartan standout becomes one of them.