Remembering Michael Kim
*In Memory of Michael Kim (July 27, 1990--Nov 3, 2006), this was originally published in the Toronto Sun, Nov. 8, 2006. The annual Michael Kim, 20-team bantam tournament takes place this weekend in Mississauga North .... 2012 Canadians in the Minors 2012 Canadians in College 2012 Canadians draft list Letters of Intent
By BOB ELLIOTT
The numbers on Michael Kim:
He hit .323 driving in 128 RBIs and scoring 209 runs in four seasons, as a lead off hitter for the Mississauga North Tigers.
On the mound the righty had a combined 24-9 won-loss record with a 2.22 earned run average for coach Remo Cardinale.
The most significant number now is eight.
Michael Kim, 16, was hit by a Ford F-150 pickup truck Thursday walking along the grassy shoulder of Mississauga Road, where pedestrians are supposed to walk, after getting off his school bus.
He passed away Friday at Sunnybrook Hospital. Funeral services take place at noon Thursday at St. Joseph’s Catholic in Streetsville. Visitation is Wednesday at the Lee Funeral Home in Streetsville.
Cathy and John Kim, Michael’s parents, decided to participate in the organ donor program after much discussion.
“I was against the idea at first,” John Kim said the other night in his living room talking about the donor program. “My wife convinced me it was a good idea.”
Michael Kim, who would unselfishly give himself up to move a runner in a close situation, is still giving.
Eight people will benefit from the Kims’ decision to participate in the organ donor plan. Centre fielder Kim is Mississauga’s version of Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle in the way he has raised awareness for the donor program.
The description of a team player, Michael Kim was the one who lent his jacket to a pitcher who didn’t have one on a cold day. The one nicknamed “coach,” despite being the same age as everyone due to the way players respected him. The one who always yelled “1-2-3 Tigers!” before the Tigers took the field and the one who made sure players, not coaches, lugged the equipment to the parking lot.
Kim began playing for the Mississauga Majors and coach Terry Jones in grade three. Then, he moved to the Mississauga Bengals and coach Ron Gayadeen.
In 2003, Kim joined the Tigers, third-place finishers at the OBA peewee eliminations. The host Windsor Riverside Expos picked up Kim for the nationals and he hit an inside-the-park grand slam in an 11-7 win over Alberta.
Kim was always a speedster winning gold in the 200-metre junior division when attending St. Joseph’s Elementary School.
For a school project he wrote down his 50 goals on the front and back, of his pin-striped uniform No. 51.
Some of our favorites which show the wide-eyed idealism of a teenager, his loves, his goals and his desires include:
No. 47 Write a book.
No. 44 Play in a world poker tournament.
No. 43 Walk on the Great Wall of China.
No. 39 Play a game at Yankee Stadium.
No. 38 Meet Wayne Gretzky.
No. 35 Meet Barry Bonds.
No. 33 Travel across Europe.
No. 29 Get a hit off Roger Clemens.
No. 25 Dunk on a 10-foot net.
No. 21 Play golf with Tiger Woods.
No. 17 Get a baseball scholarship.
No. 15 Represent my country in the World Baseball Classic
No. 10 Become a sports trainer to prevent kids from getting injured.
No. 9 Buy a Koala.
No. 8 Play baseball on the moon,
No. 5 Get married and share my life with her.
No. 3 Travel through Korea, I am Korean but have never been there.
No. 2. Compete in the Olympics in track.
No. 1 Play major-league baseball, I have a passion for the game.
So many dreams unfulfilled.
Now it’s up to the other eight.
“Michael is gone but his heart still lives on,” said Cathy Kim.
Michael Kim was three, sitting in his mom’s lap at SkyDome the night in 1993 when Joe Carter hit the game winner off Mitch Williams to win the World Series.
He never got into trouble. Well, he almost never ... he tried to take his father’s Bob Gibson-Reggie Jackson autographed ball, signed at the 1991 all-star game at SkyDome, to play catch on the lawn.
“We looked at Michael as an angel,” the mother of a teammate said Monday.
That was Michael Kim an angel in the outfield.
Remo Cardinale fielded calls from opposing coaches in Burlington, Brampton, Whitby, Windsor and Pickering all around the loop. All called to express their sympathies of the “wascalliy wabbitt” who would reach on an infield hit, steal second, move to third on a ground ball and come in on a scoring fly ball.
He played with passion no matter the score. He competed in track and hockey with the Credit Valley Wolves and played centre field for the St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School Bulldogs. In September, he made Mike Siena’s Oakville Royals, moving on to the next level, hoping to gain a scholarship south of the border.
The well-respected Kim would lower his head and be embarrassed to hear that roughly 300 Gonzaga students gathered at his school and walked to the accident site, then placed flowers, signs, candles, rosaries along the side of the road in his memory.
My favorite memory of Michael Kim, was not pitching a gritty seven innings, or coming on in relief as a peewee in Hull, Que., with Quebec City fans drinking quarts of Labatt’s 50, the volume going up on every sip on every pitch, to shut down the opposition’s rally, or racing into the gap to save a pitcher from an extra-base hit with two out and the bases loaded, or stealing second as the throw sailed into centre and then sliding into third on a bang-bang play, jumping up and clapping his hands.
No, it would be seeing him getting ready to pitch extra innings against Markham. He turned when he heard the cheers as the Tigers scored the winning run.
He tossed the ball towards the clouds, threw his arms in the air, ran, skipped, jumped as he headed to hug his teammates in the third-base dugout. It was a sign of pure joy, one we had not seen since Jumpin’ Joe Carter toured the bases after his three-run homer.
Former teammates Chris Rutherford, Kevin Kozai, Kyle Young and Michael Cardinale, along with close friends John Furtado and Nick Polumbo, will carry Kim on his final ride.
Who benefitted from the Kim family’s decision to aid others?
“Legislation prevents me from discussing cases specifically,” said Gracie Bogart, organ and tissue donation co-ordinator. “However, organ donation is a legacy, that allows families an opportunity to transform tragedies into a positive, by saving lives.”
Under these stressful times Cathy Kim thinks hard as she tries to recall who benefitted from her wishes after her son passed.
A young man wound up with her son’s lungs.
A young woman received his pancreas.
Another young man received his liver.
Michael Kim’s kidneys went in different directions, one each to a child in need.
His eyes will go to two different kids so that they can see.
And his heart has gone to a young man.
That’s eight organs.
That’s eight people who will live a better life due to the loss of Michael Kim.
The youngster who received the heart of Michael Kim received the heart of a lion.
“They told us that we will be able to write people who received the organs,” Cathy Kim said. “I would really like to write the person who received my son’s heart.”
Michael Kim may be gone, but the heart of a champion still beats strongly.