Memories of Thames… “I thought I could do it until I was 50.”

The memory of the NC Dinos toward foreign hitter Eric Thames (37) is clear.

Thames, who announced his retirement on the 16th, was a symbolic player for the NC club in the KBO League. He signed a contract with NC in 2014 and recorded a career batting average of 0.349 (472 hits in 1351 at-bats), 124 homers and 382 RBIs. Following his batting average of 0.343, 37 homers and 121 RBIs in his first season, he showed a stronger impact with 0.381, 47 homers and 140 RBIs the following year. He became the first player in KBO league history안전놀이터to join the 40 (home run)-40 (steal base) club and to hit cycling hits (hit for the cycle) twice in one season. As a result, he even won the league MVP (Most Valuable Player). After hitting 40 homers for two consecutive years in 2016, he signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers of the US Major League (MLB) after the season and left the KBO League.  

Leaving behind his brief MLB career, Thames signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in December 2020. However, in April 2021, in his NPB debut match with the Yakult Swallows, he suffered a fatal injury in which the right Achilles tendon tendon ruptured while defending. Thames, who failed to regain his athletic ability, eventually took off his uniform while touring the minor leagues. NC coach Kang In-kwon recalled Thames, “I really liked the routine from training in the morning. At that time, I wasn’t familiar with the routine, but I worked hard and adapted well to life in Korea.” Coach Kang picked Thames as the player who showed the strongest impact in the KBO League without hesitation.

Park Min-woo, an infielder who played the ground together, said, “I knew I would play (as a player) until I was 50. I worked hard and had a good body. My speed did not drop as a year passed.” . It’s also a pity. He is a player who made a mark in the history of our country (baseball).”  

Thames said on social media, ‘From thinking about retirement to signing with NC, all of this happened in a few days in 2013. I never thought I would fall in love with a country so quickly. I definitely had no idea how much fun it would be to play in the KBO.” Thank you so much for embracing me and Dinos. I love you all no matter which KBO team you support. I plan to visit Korea frequently, and if you see me, please don’t hesitate to say hello.”

Former NC coach Kim Gyeong-moon, who coached Thames, said, “That friend was strong here (upper body) and weak here (lower body). So I said, ‘Stop here and pay attention to the lower body.’ …It’s a waste. (Achilles tendon injury) was a fatal blow,” he said, looking back, saying, “He was also a player with feet (running ability), and he matched well with Korea.”

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