Pittsburgh, PA – When Jung-Ho Kang was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 2014, he knew that the language barrier would be an adjustment. English can be tricky, especially American English with its contractions, abbreviations and multiple meanings. Heck, the word “bat” can mean three different things. So Kang and his management team knew that in order to endear himself to the American Public (and hopefully drive his endorsement value up), he would need a crash course in how to talk like a baseball player, with all of their banal, meaningless post-game comments.
Just last night Cubs outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was the center of attention after a spectacular catch in the fourth inning. When asked about the catch, Bradley said, “Every single day you just want to go out there and compete.” This type of uninteresting, vanilla comment allows him to connect with the press corp and fans. Bradley is a star on the rise and it’s due mostly to the fact that he’s able to say inane, non-specific baseball-related aphorisms in post-game interviews.
Kang, on the other hand, didn’t have that same advantage when he entered the league. A native Korean, Kang speaks…uh…Korean. And speaks it well. Growing up in Gwangju, South Korea; his dream was to play baseball in the major leagues, to hit a home run in the big game. Never once did he imagine that he would need to have several useless bromides on tap to shovel to quote-hungry reporters afterwards.
Kang hired Douglas Hough, owner of Hough Experience, LLC to assist in his transition. Mr. Hough started his career as an English-as-a-Second-Language instructor, but soon found that the money and the prestige were lacking. A die-hard sports fan, Hough was always frustrated that the media never covered some of the top players in the game, simply because reporters couldn’t get quotes from them in English. So he started a company dedicated to working with minor league prospects who were non-native English speakers in the hopes of allowing them to connect with a mass market.
“Our specialty is the post-game interview,” said Mr. Hough. “English speakers like Mike Trout and Derek Jeter have a connection with the fans because they can effectively communicate their vague, ambiguous statements about a recently played game to reporters. This accessibility allows more page-space to be dedicated to the player, driving their market value up.”
“Our pledge is that in less than three months, we will have any non-English speaking player perfectly equipped to make generic, boring statements to reporters after games,” said Mr. Hough. “Soon we’ll have Jung-ho saying things like, ‘At the end of the day, it’s a team game,’ or ‘They’ve got a good club over there’ in perfect English.”
The public is looking forward to it.