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Park, all-time winningest Asian-born pitcher, retires

Former All-Star pitcher Chan Ho Park, the Major Leagues' first South Korean-born player and winningest Asian-born pitcher, announced his retirement on Thursday, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

An official with Park's current South Korean team, the Hanwha Eagles, said Park informed the club of his intentions via letter and that the Eagles would "respect the decision." Park will hold a news conference on Friday at a Seoul hotel.

The 39-year-old right-hander, who enjoyed his greatest success with the Dodgers from 1994-2001, last pitched in the Majors in 2010 for the Pirates, his seventh team in 17 seasons. He spent 2011 pitching in Japan before returning home last season.

"I always felt like Chan Ho was one of my sons and that Jo and I were his parents away from home," Tommy Lasorda said. "He was a true competitor and paved the way for players from Korea. Chan Ho had a great career and was the exemplification of class, dignity and character."

Park finished his big league career with a 124-98 record over 476 games, including 287 starts. He posted a 4.36 ERA and racked up 1,715 strikeouts.

The Dodgers signed Park in 1994, and the native of Kongju, South Korea, made history with his Major League debut on April 8 of that year, when he gave up two runs in an inning of relief work against the Braves at Dodger Stadium.

Park made only two appearances in both 1994 and '95, but spent all of '96 with Los Angeles, starting 10 times out of his 48 appearances and logging a 3.64 ERA. He moved into the club's rotation full-time in '97 and stayed there for five seasons, going a collective 75-49 with a 3.79 ERA and 966 strikeouts in 1,067 innings.

Park won 18 games with a 3.27 ERA in 2000 and closed his first stint with the Dodgers the next year with 15 wins, a 3.50 mark and an appearance in the All-Star Game, where he served up a home run to Cal Ripken Jr.

That was one of a few famous roundtrippers Park allowed. He surrendered Barry Bonds' record-breaking 71st and 72nd homers that Oct. 5 in San Francisco, and on April 23, 1999, he was on the Dodger Stadium mound when the Cardinals' Fernando Tatis became the only player in big league history to hit two grand slams in an inning.

Park took advantage of free agency after the 2001 season, signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Rangers. But he never settled in with Texas, going 22-23 with a 5.79 ERA there before the club dealt him to the Padres on July 30, 2005.

From 2006-10, Park pitched for the Padres, Mets, Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees and Pirates. He spent plenty of time back in the Minor Leagues, including almost the entire 2007 season.

In what turned out to be his final Major League appearance on Oct. 1, 2010, Park made history again. His three scoreless innings of relief for the Pirates against the Marlins earned him his 124th career win, passing former Dodgers teammate Hideo Nomo's record for most victories by an Asian-born pitcher.

Injuries limited Park to only seven games for the Orix Buffaloes in 2011. Although his return to Korea this year drew big crowds, he finished 5-10 with a 5.06 ERA.

Andrew Simon is a contributor to
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