Hanwha Eagles pitcher Park Chan-ho waves to the home fans on leaving the mound in the sixth inning of a game against the Kia Tigers at Hanbat Sports Complex in Daejeon, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Jung Min-ho
Hanwha Eagles pitcher Park Chan-ho said Wednesday that he is thinking about retirement.
“I didn’t come back to the domestic league to just extend my career and I’m just really glad that I had an opportunity to undergo this experience. But fans and teammates have given me the message that they want me to stay,” the 39-year-old said. “I would like to play more but at the same time, regarding injuries and other factors, I’m not sure (whether to continue). There are many things to think about.”
The former Major League pitcher said that his parents also are concerned about their son and encouraged him to wrap up his career over the Chuseok holiday.
When asked about a plan after his potential retirement, Park said he is interested in studying baseball management, noting, “I feel there is a strong need for further development in the administration side of the sport, not in players’ performance.”
In his last game this season against the Kia Tigers, Park threw 92 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and allowing five runs. Although his team ended up with a 5-4 loss, many home fans gave him a standing ovation when the first Korean Major League player left the mound.
Park’s talent was recognized early. The prodigy won team MVP three consecutive seasons when he attended Gongju High School in South Chungcheong Province and was discovered by many college recruiters. When he was in his second year at Seoul’s Hanyang University, he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent 16 years in the Major League until 2010 to leave an indelible mark of 124 career victories, the most by an Asian pitcher. When he returned to Korea after a one-year stint at the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, local fans gave him a hero’s welcome.
Since Park signed a one-year deal with the Eagles last year, he has played an active role, pitching in 23 games, and finished his first and maybe last season in the domestic league with five wins, 10 losses and a 5.06 ERA.
“I have experienced many things playing in Korea. I’m really grateful for my teammates who supported me instead of ostracizing me. My first victory here against the Doosan Bears at the Cheongju Baseball Stadium is my most memorable moment,” Park said. “After all, I still haven’t decided whether I have to quit. I will make the decision after discussing the matter with my team, considering many factors.”