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Park Sets US Pro Mark for Most Wins by Asian-born Pitcher

Park Sets US Pro Mark for Most Wins by Asian-born Pitcher

Posted October. 04, 2010 11:22,   


Park Chan-ho has broken the U.S. Major League Baseball record for most pitching victories by an Asian-born player, earning win No. 124 Saturday.

He shared his joy with his fans Sunday on his personal homepage, saying, “If one sets clear goals and pursues them, dreams will eventually come true.”

Park had long hoped to be the winningest Asian-born pitcher in the majors over his 17-year career starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994. So what was the driving force behind his resurrection?

○ Emergence: four-seam fastball

Park was a diamond in the rough while playing for Gongju High School in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, and Hanyang University in Seoul. The Dodgers saw his potential and signed him to a deal worth 1.2 million U.S. dollars.

A fastball pitcher, he made his debut in the U.S. majors but had to undergo harsh hazing and was sent to the minors for two years.

He began to stand out in 1996, becoming one of the top fastball pitchers with a speed of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour. Park had great velocity on his four-seam fastball, or rising fastball.

He also liked to throw the slurve, a slider-curve combo pitch which became his trademark. Following 14 wins in 1997, Park picked up more than 10 wins per season through 2001.

Park then pursued free agency and signed with the Texas Rangers for 65 million dollars over five years. Rangers owner Tom Hicks even provided Park with a personal plane.

○ Comeback: two-seam fastball

Park struggled in Texas, however, due to high expectations and a hip injury that prevented him from throwing his powerful fastball.

He posted nine wins in his first year with the Rangers in 2002, but had just one in 2003 and four in 2004. Many criticized him for not living up to his huge contract, and in mid-2005, Park was traded to the San Diego Padres.

At more than 30 years old, Park could not through the fastball like he used to and was desperate for a change. The two-seam fastball he began throwing in 2003 was seen as his breakthrough.

The two-seam fastball requires the index and middle fingers to be placed along the seams, and enables a minute change when the ball approaches the hitter. It is used to induce a weak groundout.

Park’s 12 wins in 2005 and seven in 2007 were thanks to the two-seam fastball.

After spending most of 2007 in the minors, Park returned to the Dodgers in 2008. He saw a bit of success there as a reliever thanks to the two-seam fastball and more stable control of the ball.

Last year, Park moved to the Philadelphia Phillies and pitched in the World Series as a setup man.

○ Future: cut fastball

Fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, cutter and changeup. These are what Park says he has thrown while playing in Florida Saturday.

“I threw all of these balls today. Though the mark of 124 wins might be beaten, the pitches I made today will always stay with me,” he said.