Romak, first SSG Landers baseman in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), receives the 2020 Tip O’Neill Award before a home game against the Samsung Lions at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, 25 miles west of Seoul.
The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame awards the award annually to the Canadian player who “excels through individual performance and team contribution while remaining true to the highest ideals of baseball”. The award is named after James “Tip” O’Neill, an early Canadian Major League Baseball (MLB) star. The winners will be announced in December, but the awards ceremony will take place on July 1st on Canada Day.
Michael Danagher, Canada’s Ambassador to South Korea, will present Romak with a plaque because the trophy itself is too big to be carried to Incheon.
Since the award was first presented in 1984, MLB stars have dominated the winners list, including former MVPs Larry Walker, Joey Votto and Justin Morneau. Romak, a native of London, Ontario, is the first player to be honored outside of North America.
In 139 games last year, Romak beat .282 with 32 home runs and 91 RBIs, finishing second on the team in the last two categories.
After the MLB season was shortened to 60 games last year while the KBO ran a full season despite the coronavirus pandemic, American sports cable giant ESPN held KBO games up to the Korean Series. That put the performances of foreign players like Romak in the spotlight internationally.
“It was great to show sports fans that there is high-level baseball outside of the big leagues,” Romak told Sportsnet.ca.
Speaking of the pre-game ceremony, Romak said, “I’m really very grateful for all the work people have done. I have to apologize to my teammates for getting up there and going through this. I am” I’m sure , I will hear from you. The fact that my family is here and we can do it on Canada Day, there are a lot of Canadian expats in the area who are big fans of ours coming to the games, it’s going to be an all-round great day. “(Yonhap)