Chan Ho Park (1973
- ) became the first Korean
player to play in the Major Leagues
when he first pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers
on April 8, 1994
. Park went on to become one of the better pitcher
s in the National League
, compiling an 80-54 record and a 3.80 ERA
in eight seasons with Dodgers. In December 2002
, Park capitalized on his success by signing a lucrative five-year deal with the Texas Rangers
at $13.5 million per season, but his career went into decline virtually as soon as he set foot in Texas
, and he never approached his former dominance.
Park was born in rural Kongju, South Korea. A high school slugger and pitching phenom, he jumped straight to the major leagues. Other Korean stars such as Byung-Hyun Kim and Jin Ho Cho followed him to the US, but recent changes in Korean baseball rules have made it nearly impossible for any new Korean talent to leave the country.