Rangers outfielder Choo pledges support to minor leaguers

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Texas Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo, remembering the lean years after he arrived in the United States from South Korea to pursue his major league dreams, has pledged $1,000 to each of the 191 minor leaguers in the team's farm system.

He hopes the money will help tide them over as baseball, along with virtually all sport worldwide, is on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Twenty years ago, when I came from Korea, I had nothing," Choo told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday. "Baseball gave me a lot of things. I want to pay back to other people. Especially with a hard situation in the world, to be able to help is great."

Choo said he started thinking about how to help as the Rangers traveled on a charter flight from their Spring Training base in Arizona to Texas after Major League Baseball ordered the facilities shut down.

"I did seven years in the minor leagues," said the 37-year-old Choo, who left South Korea to join the Seattle Mariners organization in 2001.

"I know the minor leagues is better than 15-20 years ago, but I still know that money is difficult."

Although he's looking forward to baseball's return, Choo, who is from Busan, said that for the time being he just hopes to see people in the United States following the social distancing guidelines health authorities recommend to slow the spread of the virus.

He was alarmed on a trip to the grocery store on Tuesday to see plenty of people failing to stay six feet from others and not wearing masks.

"There were people walking and talking to people with no masks on," he said of his brief foray from his home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"People are playing in the park. Kids are playing around in the park.

"So, I want to say something: if we want it back to a normal life, everyone has to stay home."