Chan Ho Park, the first Korean player in major league history, has retired from baseball, per a report in the Korea JoongAng Daily. Park pitched for the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization in 2012, and was a teammate of Hyun-jin Ryu, for whom the Dodgers bid $25.7 million for exclusive negotiating rights.
Park, 39, was 124-98 in parts of 17 major league seasons, with a 4.36 ERA in 1,993 innings, with 1,715 strikeouts and 910 walks. He pitched for the Dodgers from 1994-2001, and enjoyed his best year in 2000, when he was 18-10 with a 3.27 ERA, and was an All-Star the next season when he went 15-11 with a 3.50 ERA.
Park ended his 2000 season with three consecutive starts with no runs allowed, with 34 strikeouts and nine walks during that span. His 25-inning scoreless streak is tied for the 12th longest in Los Angeles Dodgers history.
Park was signed by the Dodgers out of Hanyang University in Seoul in 1994 for $1.2 million, and made his major league debut on Apr. 8 of that year. He pitched an inning of relief in a game that was memorable for another reason, as Kent Mercker of the Braves no-hit the Dodgers that night at Dodger Stadium. Park was just the 18th player since 1965 to make his professional debut in the major leagues.
Park also holds a dubious record that will likely never be broken, as he allowed two grand slams to the same player in the same inning, as Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals took him deep twice in the third inning on April 23, 1999.
Park's 124 wins are the most ever by an Asian-born pitcher, one more than former teammate Hideo Nomo. Park's 1,177 strikeouts are ninth-most by a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher.
Clayton Kershaw has struck out 200 or more hitters in each of the last three seasons but before him, Chan Ho Park was the last Dodger to have at least 200 strikeouts in consecutive seasons. Park struck out 217 batters in 2000 and 218 in 2001 for the Dodgers, then signed a five-year, $65 million deal with the Texas Rangers.
Things didn't work out in Texas for Park, who had a 5.79 ERA (an 83 ERA+) in 68 starts in 3½ seasons with the Rangers before they dumped him on the Padres. Park wasn't any better in San Diego, with a 5.08 ERA (79 ERA+) in 34 games, including 30 starts, and after allowing seven runs in just four innings with the Mets in 2007 Park's career seemed over.
But Park resurrected his career in 2008 when he returned to the Dodgers. He was in spring training as a non-roster invitee and though he lost out on the fifth starter job to Esteban Loaiza, Park was added to the major league roster by the fourth game of the season. In 54 games, including five starts, Park put up a 3.40 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 95⅓ innings.
In November 2011, Park became part-owner of Vero Beach Sports Village, on the former site of Dodgertown, as part of a group that included Nomo, Minor League Baseball, and former Dodgers owner Peter O'Malley and his sister, Terry Seidler.