DAEJON, South Korea – Park Chan-ho, easily the best pitcher in the history of Korean baseball, has returned home after 18 years overseas to close his career where it started.
The 38-year-old Park signed with the Hanwha Eagles for the KBO's minimum salary of 24 million won, after previously been given a blank check by the team to fill in his salary for himself. However, Park will instead donate his pay and the additional offer of the 400 million won for wages and 200 million won for performance bonuses Hanwha had set aside for Park to the Korean amateur baseball league.
“Today is a special day. I felt a strong affection for my home country for 18 years (while overseas). I pictured myself playing in Korea someday. Today is an emotional day that the dream came true,” he said.
Park has been a leader in the development of Korean baseball throughout his career, the most recent contribution being the launch of ‘Camp 61’ for youths in Goyang with other baseball stars from the KBO like Lee Dae-ho and Lee Seung-yeop last month.
Park will wear his #61 jersey, as he did with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he made his Major League debut in 1984.