In the winter of 2013, the joining of a player completely changed the history of a club. Eric Thames (37) made a mark in the history of the KBO League and made the history of the NC Dinos club rewritten.
On the 16th, Thames officially announced his retirement through social media. In addition to his retirement message written in English, he wrote a separate retirement message for Korean fans, translating his thoughts into Korean.
He said, “Everything happened in a few days in 2013, from thinking about retirement to signing with NC. I never thought I would fall in love with a country like this. I had no idea how much fun it would be to play in the KBO. I really did my best for all the reasons for your support,” he said. “Thank you so much for embracing me and Dinos. No matter which KBO team you support, I love you all! I’m going to visit Korea, and if you see me, don’t hesitate to say hello!!”
In the winter of 2013, Thames signed a contract with NC for a total of 1 million dollars and chose a new stage challenge, and his relationship with Korea began. In the major leagues, he seemed to be degrading from a promising player to a mediocre player in his mid-to-late 20s. In 2013, Thames was never called up to the major leagues.
However, this choice completely changed Thames’ career as a player. At the time, NC introduced Thames as a mid-to-long-distance hitter. His slugging power could have improved on the Korean stage, but it was hard to imagine what the future would be like. Above all, NC recruited Thames, who was an outfielder, as a first baseman. He had no first baseman experience. But both NC and Thames took risks.
As a result, this venture was a great success. Thames has been out of the ordinary since 2014. Although it was an era of riding two players, Thames nevertheless wrote the best figures in the league. He finished with a batting average of .343, 152 hits, 37 homers, 121 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.111. In this year, Seo Kun-chang’s 200 hits, Park Byeong-ho’s 52 home runs, Kang Jung-ho’s shortstop’s first 40 home runs, etc., the three ‘Neckvengers’ at the time received more attention, but it was only a preview for the next season.
Eventually, in 2015, he returned with more muscle and bombed the league. First of all, I wrote two great records that are hard to come by. Joined the 40 home run-40 steal club, and recorded two cycling hits in one season. All of these were first-time records. It changed the history of the NC and KBO leagues at the same time. He won the MVP award with a batting average of 3.81, 180 hits, 47 homers, 140 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.288.
Just as Thames had its best season, the NC club also achieved the best results since its establishment at the time. With the performance of Thames, after recording the highest score of 2nd place in the regular season, he stepped on the stage of the first Korean series. It was runner-up, but this later became an experience and stepping stone that led to the first integrated championship in 2020.
In addition, Thames built the ‘Nite Trio’ with Na Seong-beom and Lee Ho-jun, and NC became the first team to record 100 runs with 3 players in one team this year (Tames 140 runs, Na Seong-beom 135 runs, Lee Ho-jun 110 runs). . The ‘Nite Trio’ later became the origin of the name of the NC center hitting trio and was modified little by little. In 2016, when Park Seok-min joined, it was transformed into ‘Natei Park’ and ‘Nate Park바카라‘, and in 2020, a variation called ‘Natei Trio’ was created by Na Seong-beom-Yang Eui-ji-Altair.
The legendary ‘Nite Trio’ was disbanded at the end of 2016. Until 2016, a total of 3 seasons, 390 games, 472 hits, 124 home runs, 382 RBIs, an on-base percentage of 4.51 li, a slugging average of .721 OPS of 1.172, and in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers and 3 + 1 maximum He successfully made a U-turn in the United States by signing a contract worth 24.5 million dollars.
Previously, there were cases in which foreign players from the KBO League returned to the major leagues. However, like Thames, it was actually the first time that he had grown and matured a bit more on the Korean stage and returned after receiving a guaranteed major league contract. And this year, he had a successful season with a batting average of .247, 31 homers, 63 RBIs, and an OPS of .877 in 38 games, completely changing the perception of the KBO league in the major leagues. Since then, it has had a positive impact on the advancement of Korean players to the United States and the U-turn of foreign players from the KBO.
Thames continued his relationship with Korea. After a successful season in Milwaukee in 2017, he returned to Korea to support NC’s postseason. In the first game of the playoffs against Doosan, he spontaneously rode up to the cheering squad lift and led the cheering, and the team won at the time. Also in 2019, he made a surprise appearance on the entertainment program ‘The King of Mask Singer’ and showed his love for Korea.
Thames has become an indispensable figure in NC history. It is questionable whether there will ever be a foreign player who surpasses Thames in the future. The three-year relationship with Thames left a big footprint in the history of the NC club and the history of the KBO league.