Excerpted Letters from Commissioner Emeritus Selig
On January 17, 2015, former Los Angeles Dodger All-Star pitchers Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo were honored by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation with the first “Pioneer Award” at a major baseball dinner in Los Angeles. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig was in attendance to make the Pioneer Award presentations at the dinner.
The award was in recognition of the challenges that Park and Nomo faced coming to America, including learning a new language, and the doors they opened when they signed Major League Baseball contracts.
In 1994, Park was the first player from South Korea to sign a major league contract and it was with the Dodgers. The following year, Nomo signed with the Dodgers, becoming the first player born in Japan to sign a contract in MLB in 30 years. Masanori Murakami, from Japan, pitched in the 1964-65 seasons for the San Francisco Giants and then returned to Japan’s professional leagues. But, Nomo pitched the balance of his career in America.
Since Park’s signing, 13 more players from South Korea have played in MLB through 2014, while more than 50 players have followed Nomo from Japan to play in MLB through last season.
In 2012, Park and Nomo became founding partners of Historic Dodgertown – Vero Beach, Florida and each has helped encourage teams from Asia to train there.
On February 10, 2015, Commissioner Emeritus Selig wrote letters to Park and Nomo to congratulate them.
The following are excerpts from those letters:
Dear Chan Ho,
On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am honored to congratulate you on receiving the inaugural Pioneer Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation last month. It was a privilege for me to contribute to your introduction that evening and to highlight your many achievements in our game during your 17-year All-Star career in the Major Leagues.
The globalization of our sport over the last two decades was clearly one of the most exciting developments during my tenure. Like your fellow Pioneer Award winner Hideo Nomo, there is no question that your seamless transition to a new league and a new culture played a pivotal role in that process.
I am grateful that our paths crossed again in Los Angeles, and I wish you all the best.
I am writing to congratulate you on receiving the inaugural Pioneer Award from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation last month. It was an honor for me to contribute to the introduction played at the event in Los Angeles and to highlight your All-Star career in Major League Baseball, your pair of no-hitters and your many other milestones as a part of our game.
On and off the diamond, you continued a great Dodger tradition of breaking new ground and represented Major League Baseball with honor and grace to the fans of Japan and beyond.
Thank you again for being one of our sport’s finest ambassadors during such a wonderful chapter for Major League Baseball.