Former Major League Baseball pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo were honored by Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig at the “In the Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular as the first-ever recipients of the “Baseball Pioneer” Award. Park and Nomo were recognized at the Foundation’s 12th annual affair at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. Park and Nomo are both founding partners of Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, the year-round, multi-sport, training and conference center. Historic Dodgertown Chairman Peter O’Malley, who made the historic signings of the pitchers for the Dodgers, was in attendance.
In 1994, Park became the first player from South Korea to sign a Major League Baseball contract. Upon signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Park has opened the door for 13 more players from South Korea to play in Major League Baseball up to date. Park went on to enjoy a successful professional career, posting a 124-98 record with a 4.36 ERA over 17 seasons. From 1994-2001 Park played with the Dodgers, earning All-Star honors in 2001 after posting a 15-11 record with 3.50 ERA. He then went on to play for the Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2010 while with the Pirates, Park picked up his 124th victory, passing fellow award recipient, Hideo Nomo, as the pitcher with the most wins by an Asian-born player. Currently, there are three South-Korean born MLB players, including Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and Dodger pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.
In 1995, Nomo became the first player from Japan in 30 years to sign a MLB contract. Nomo’s signing led the way for more than 50 players from Japan to play in the MLB. Nomo debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 where he found immediate success, winning NL Rookie of the Year honors and earning the nod to start the All Star Game. He went on to pitch 13 seasons with eight different teams posting a 123-109 record with a 4.24 ERA, before retiring in 2008. Most notably, Nomo threw two no-hitters. He is the only Japanese-born player to throw a no-hitter in MLB and is one of only five players in MLB history to have thrown a no-hitter in both the American and National Leagues. There are currently 12 Japanese-born players in the MLB, including Ichiro Suzuki and Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees. In 2014, Nomo became the youngest player inducted into the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame.
In addition to presenting the Baseball Pioneer Award, Selig was saluted as he retires from his position, and former Dodger Dusty Baker received the Tommy Lasorda Managerial Award.
The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation has helped baseball scouts in need due to job loss, illness or financial hardships over the past 11 years through the success of the annual “In the Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular. Dennis Gilbert heads the foundation that has raised in excess of $1 million to support scouts in need.