Korea’s pioneering major leaguer Chan Ho Park is retiring from baseball, putting an end to a colorful 18-year professional career which spanned nine teams in three different countries.
Park, nicknamed the “Korean Express” during his best years at the Los Angeles Dodgers, held a press conference in Seoul on Friday to announce his retirement.
“I’m a lucky man,” the 39-year-old Park said. “For someone who was born in the countryside of Korea to become a professional ballplayer who played in the major leagues, it even makes me wonder if I’m the luckiest player in the history of Korean baseball.”
The Dodgers signed Park in 1994 during his sophomore year at Hanyang University. After notching his first win in 1996, Park’s breakout 1997 season in which he led the Dodgers with 14 wins and a 3.38 earned-run average catapulted the hard-throwing righthander into national hero status back home.
Until his last season in the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010, Park capped off 124 career wins, the most victories for an Asian pitcher in the big leagues.
Park said he was considering joining the front office team of the San Diego Padres, which are owned by Peter O’Malley, who signed Park as the Dodgers’ owner in 1994.