Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Random Topps Card of the Day: 1994 Topps Traded #70T Chan Ho Park

(Due to the flooding that occurred in my neighborhood on Thursday, April 18, 2013, I was not able to get this post out at the scheduled time. I am just catching up now.)

Thanks to the Topps Card Randomizer, introducing the Random Topps Card of the Day for Tuesday, April 23, 2013:

  • Official Card Set Name and Card Number: 1994 Topps Traded #70T.
  • Player Name, position, team: Chan Ho Park, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Major League Debut: April 8, 1994.
  • Last Line of Statistics: 1993 stats (Han Yang University): Not Available.
  • Any special information about player: Signed with the Dodgers as a Free Agent 01/14/1994. Bats: right. Throws: right.
  • Number of regular Topps Cards (includes regular and traded cards only): 15. This is his first Topps card.
  • Blurb on the back: "Chan made his ML debut on 4-8-94 as the first Korean-born player ever to make "the bigs." he (SIC!) signed with L.A. because, he says, when pitching in a 1991 amateur tournament in Dodger Stadium, "The Dodgers touched my heart.'"
  • Commentary: My daughter has this phrase that she liked to say, whenever she sees Asians doing awesome things, whether its on the latest TV Dance program, or just out in public. "Asian Invasion." (Please keep in mind that I am Filipino, my wife is Chinese, making both my kids, well, half of each (would that make them Chinapino-American, Filipinese-American, both of which are portmanteaus). Regardless. The "Asian Invasion" as my daughter would call it, did not begin with Hideo Nomo (although Nomo-mania did open the floodgates), but with the Korean-born Chan Ho Park. Does anybody remember the controversy (if you could call it that) about what the heck were managers going to do if they had to talk to him on the field? Would there be a need for an interpreter to go out there? While it is now allowed, it was a hot-button topic in 1994. And can you imagine the fun manager Tommy Lasorda and eventually Bill Russell had when both Park (Korea) AND Nomo (Japan) were in the starting rotation? Throw in Ismael Valdez from Mexico, Ramon Martinez & Pedro Astacio of the Dominican Republic, and Tom Candiotti from the US and the Dodgers had a virtual United Nations on his hands. It's a good thing that all shared a common language...baseball. Park made the Opening Day squad of the Dodgers in 1994, but after two relief appearances in which he allowed five hits, five runs (all earned), and five walks in four innings of work (six strikeouts), he spent the rest of the year with the Double-A farm team in San Antonio, where in 20 starts, Park went 5-7 with an ERA of 3.55 and 100 strikeouts in 101.1 innings of work. He didn't return to Hollywood until September call up time the following year, having spent the season in Albuquerque. This probably explains while the other card companies still included him in their products, Park was not seen on a Topps card until 1997. In his first full season with the Dodgers, Chan Ho went 5-5 in 48 games (10 starts, with a 3.64 ERA and 119 strikeouts. He would be part of the starting rotation from 1997 through 2001, even earning his lone All-Star berth in 2001 (in which he was charged with the loss after giving up the home run to Cal Ripken). After going 75-49 with a 3.79 ERA, 966 strikeouts, and 1.306 WHIP, Park signed as a Free Agent with the Texas Rangers in 2002. He would go on to spend three-and-a-half seasons in Texas, with a cumulative 22-23 record and 5.79 ERA. He was traded to San Diego before the 2005 trading deadline for Phil Nevin. It was during his time in San Diego that it was discovered that Park, who went on the DL due to intestinal bleeding, was suffering from a congenital defect called Meckel's diverticulum. He had successful surgery to correct this, and six days later, his wife gave birth to the couple's first child in the same hospital. After a season plus with the Padres, he would spend time with the Mets & Astros (2007), Dodgers (a homecoming of sorts in 2008, in which he joined an exclusive club of pitchers to have made starts against all 30 teams), Phillies (2009), and Yankees & Pirates (2010). While his stint with the Padres was his last in the US, Chan Ho Park continued pitching with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan in 2011 and the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2012. He retired as an active player on November 30, 2012. Thanks in part to Chan Ho Park, the number of Asians playing professionally in the United States, and in the Majors, continues to grow. In the process, it is helping to make baseball a truly global game.
  • Lo-Hi Beckett value: $0.60-$1.50.
  • How many cards of this player do I own?: 20.
Tomorrow's card will be: 2009 Topps #497. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. We're looking back at a card from 1986 here on the blog tomorrow.


JayBee Anama

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