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How Kim's success is inspiring young players in the AAPI community

Posted at 12:42 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 15:42:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – At every San Diego Padres game, the fans chant for Ha-Seong Kim, a defensive wizard also known for his helmet flying off as he rounds the bases.

ABC 10News recently spent some time with the Padres starting shortstop and his trainer, David Lee, at the team’s Spring Training facility in Arizona and he talked about his new role as a fan favorite.

“Obviously, I'm very grateful for all the support that I get from the fans, especially in San Diego. Coming from a foreign country, I didn't really expect to receive that kind of love,” Kim said.

He’s getting that love from kids playing on local baseball fields, who say Kim represents new possibilities for the Asian American Pacific Islander community.

Joshua Asuncion, a student athlete, said, “Coming from an Asian player like myself, it makes the Asian community want to watch him and follow in his footsteps.”

It’s representation that wasn’t always there, but it’s something young athletes have noticed.

Young baseball player and student Kazuki Aoshima said, “I felt like I was a bit of a minority. I didn't really let it affect my play in baseball.”

Kim recognizes his responsibility, saying, “That starts with me. I need to put a better performance every season so that the younger Asian players going forward can have a better reputation and a better chance of moving to the big leagues.”

And young athletes and their parents said Kim’s changing the game for them, both on and off the field.

“For me, MLB is a very inclusive sport and it doesn't discriminate against anybody. One day, I hope to be one of those people as an Asian and play with people from all over the place, whatever their race,” Aoshima said.

Anh Voh, a mom of a young ballplayer, added, “As a minority, to see so many professional athletes that look like us playing at the top of their game, that's prideful and that helps our son look at TV and see people that look like him and aspire and work towards those aspirations.”