Korean born pitcher Chan Ho Park first appeared in the Majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994. Last night, pitching for the Pirates, the 16 year veteran recorded his 124th career victory against the Marlins. With the victory, he now has more career Major League wins than any other Asian-born pitcher.
I know I have already written about longevity and consistency, which are two big characteristics you must have to succeed in any endeavor in life. But Chan Ho Park also displays two other vital necessities - perseverance and passion.
In the free agent era of professional sports leagues, where the games truly are businesses, we have gotten used to teams receiving makeovers and players changing cities.
After a solid start to his career in L.A., he signed a big contract with the Texas Rangers, but struggled in his new home. He was later traded to San Diego in the fourth year of that contract and this is where the roller coaster began.
Chan Ho Park has played for seven different Major League teams - L.A., Texas, San Diego, the Mets, Philadelphia, the Yankees and Pittsburgh, with a second stop with the Dodgers mixed in.
So why does the word perseverance come to mind when I think of Chan Ho Park? Because it would have been easy to give up. Chan Ho Park undoubtedly has made a lot of money playing baseball. The five year contract he signed with the Rangers in 2002 was worth $65 million. Many players like him, rather than continuing to bounce around from team to team, bruising their ego and their legacy, decide to take the money they made, walk away and retire at a young age.
But that isn't the route Chan Ho Park followed. He has played for six teams in the last five years - including two this year, the Yankees and Pirates. He has been an average pitcher, with a record of 18 wins and 18 losses and an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 4.46.
I would bet that Chan Ho Park loves what he does and couldn't imagine doing anything else. If he did, he would of by now.