The Korean Baseball Organization saved current Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames’ career. It also glorified him as a “God” in the country after he won the 2015 league’s MVP award.
Thames joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and sounded grateful for the three seasons he spent abroad, but said he never felt comfortable with the attention he received from being the country’s best player.
“I would say it was difficult, because I’m a very private person. You know, hang out at the house, play video games, watch movies, eat. I’m usually always alone, so when I was over there, there was no privacy,” Thames said. “I mean, I could be at dinner with my mom, or I can be doing anything and there’d always be a constant stream of fans. Like my first or second year, it was ok, but after the MVP, I didn’t care what city I was in, it can be a hole in the wall bar or restaurant, didn’t matter, people would always recognize me. And even though that’s truly a blessing, but as you can tell, there’s some nights you go 0-4 with four punch outs, you’d just want to be alone and all the sudden people want pictures and autographs, and it’s like ughh, alright, whatever, but it was alright.”
It got to the point one night where Thames was on a date and while getting amorous, he was interrupted mid-kiss by a fan.
Thames said it was “for an autograph and picture.” So how did he respond?
“I was like no, are you kidding me? You can’t do that. You can’t do that to somebody,” Thames laughed. “It’s one thing if I’m sitting alone eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger, but I’m like lip-locked. Like come on man, he was like, ‘oh, I’m sorry,’ and it’s like whatever, dude. The damage is done.”
Overall though, Thames’ Korean experience allowed him to parlay that success into a three-year $16 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Thames said coming back to the majors wasn’t about the money, it was that he finally feels confident between the ears.
“I chose to go back here, because I felt I left a lot on the table, and I felt like I was in better control of my mental state. So I wanted to see what would happen,” Thames said. “I mean, having physical strength and speed and everything was never my down suit. It was always a matter of could I control my mind, could I not be a head case, could I be consistent mentally, and two weeks in, I feel like I’m doing ok right now. So I have to keep up that process and that routine.”
Thames is currently tied for the major league lead with 7 home runs. The 30-year-old isn’t getting ahead of himself, but is trying to ride the momentum correctly.
“This is baseball. There’s hot streaks and cold streaks,” Thames said. “There’s ups and downs, there’s going to be 0 for 10’s, 0 for 20’s, there’s going to be 15 for 20’s. Like it’s just how crazy of a sport it is, but it’s all how you got to stay consistent mentally, and it reduces like the length of slumps and increases the length of hot streaks.”