As we near the close of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I thought I’d do some quick research on the first player to make it to the Major Leagues from Asian countries (see table below). While players from some countries – like Japan and China – made it to the majors decades ago, other nations have been represented only recently.
In the 1990s, we welcomed players from South Korea (Chan Ho Park, left, was the first), Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines. Today, however, Asian-born players make up a small proportion of all major leaguers. Currently, MLB has only one player born in Hong Kong (Austin Brice), nine from Japan, six from South Korea, and five from Taiwan).
This is obvious a topic deserving of in-depth research, so, stay tuned!
|Country||First MLB Player||Debut Year||Team||Years Played||Notes|
|China||Harry Kingman||1914||New York Yankees||1914|
|Indonesia||Tom Mastny||2006||Cleveland Indians||2006-08||Grew up in Indiana; played for the Yokohama BayStars in 2009|
|Japan||Masanori Murakami||1964||San Franciscon Giants||1954-65||Also played for Nankai Hawks (1963, 1966-74); Hanshin Tigers (1975); Nippon-Ham Fighters (1976-82)|
|Philippines||Bobby Chouinard||1996||Oakland Athletics||1998-2001||Played high school baseball in Oregon|
|Singapore||Robin Jennings||1996||Chicago Cubs||1996-97, 1999, 2001|
|South Korea||Chan Ho Park||1994||Los Angeles Dodgers||1994-2010||Also played for the Orix Bufaloes and Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball League|
|Taiwan||Chin-Feng Chen||2002||Los Angeles Dodgers||2002-2005||Also played for the Lamigo Monkeys in the Chinese Baseball League (2006-16)|
|Vietnam||Danny Graves||1996||Cleveland Indians||1996-2006||His father is American and his mother Vietnamese|
|Kingdom of Hawaii||Johnnie Williams||1914||Detroit Tigers||1914|