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Park Ties MLB Record for Most Wins by Asian-born Pitcher

Park Ties MLB Record for Most Wins by Asian-born Pitcher

Posted September. 14, 2010 11:40,   


Park Chan-ho of the Pittsburgh Pirates has tied the record for most wins by an Asian-born pitcher in the U.S. Major League Baseball.

Against the host Cincinnati Reds Sunday, the 17-year veteran pitched a scoreless eighth inning with his team down 1-0. The Pirates then scored three runs in the ninth to win, giving the Korean a share of the milestone of 123 victories set by Hideo Nomo of Japan in 2005.

The victory was Park’s first for Pittsburgh and raised his season’s record to 3-2 counting his games with the New York Yankees.

As a sophomore at Hanyang University in Seoul, Park entered the majors before Nomo. Park signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in January 1994 a six-year contract worth 109,000 U.S. dollars per season with a signing bonus of 1.2 million dollars.

Park was hardly a match in the beginning for Nomo, who had starred in the Japanese leagues. In Japan, Nomo went 78-46 over a five-year period after posting 18 wins in his rookie year of 1990.

After joining the Dodgers in 1995, the Japanese was named Rookie of the Year by going 13-6 with an ERA of 2.54.

Park played in the minors for two years before being called up to the majors. He demonstrated his potential by going 5-5 in his first full season in 1996 and won at least 10 games per season from 1997 to 2001, a period considered the peak of his career.

His best year was when he went 18-10 in 2000, besting Nomo’s 8-12 record set with the Detroit Tigers the same year.

Park fell behind Nomo early in victories but continued to add to his win column. The Korean had 80 career wins through 2001 and closed the gap versus Nomo to just two. After joining the Texas Rangers with a huge free-agent contract in 2002, however, Park began a slump with just nine wins that year and one in 2003.

Nomo returned to Los Angeles after having played for a number of teams and produced back-to-back seasons of 16 wins in 2002 and 2003. He became the first Asian-born pitcher to reach 100 wins in April 2003.

Then the Japanese pitcher’s career declined. Nomo won just four games in 2004 and five in 2005. Pondering retirement, he even played in Venezuela before joining the Kansas City Royals in 2008. He failed to post a win, however, and retired in July that year.

Park reached 100 career wins in June 2005 with the San Diego Padres, and added seven more in 2006. He produced seven victories between 2007 and last year with the New York Mets, Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, then won two with the Yankees and one with the Pirates this season.

Just one more victory will make Park the winningest Asian-born pitcher in Major League Baseball history. He is 113-86 as a starter and 10-11 as a reliever.

Nomo won all of his games as a starter.

Park posted a comment on his homepage Monday, saying “Let me not think that I’m facing an unlucky situation now. I’ve never had an unhappy moment in my life,” a message he says he wrote in his diary days ago.

“Thank you very much. I love everyone who has always been on my side.”