Other Leagues (including Taiwan)
Taiwanese Baseball Primer
By Andrew Wong
Baseball in Taiwan may seem strange to a foreigner. It should. Even though it is the same game, it is played in a different country. In Taiwan the concession stands sell instant noodles instead of hot dogs with mustard. Numerous fan support means the season drags on for more than nine months. Local Taiwanese refer to the matchups as the fight between the tiger and dragon, a traditional Chinese metaphor for intense conflict. And was there ever intense conflict in the early years of baseball in Taiwan.
Baseball was first introduced by the Japanese in the 19th century so, in 1990, the ROC Professional Baseball League was born. The electrifying battles between the Brothers Elephants, the Wei Chuan Dragons and the President Lions [the latter two owned, respectively by Wei Chuan Foods Co. and President Foods Co.] succeeded in drawing standing-room-only capacity crowds.
Although baseball is the No. 1 sport, an even superior hobby is gambling. After professional baseball was launched in 1989, gamblers embraced the sport, taking bets from basement offices, over the telephone or even via the Internet.
The CPBL relished in its glory until 1997 when a gambling scandal ripped the masks off a number of two-faced baseball players. Lured by the temptation of personal profit and turning their backs on Taiwan's baseball tradition, these players plunged Taiwan baseball into a multi-year dark age from which it has only the last two/three years had the chance to recover.
The infamous "Black Eagles" scandal knocked the CPBL down from its podium. In late January 1997, three members of the China Times Eagles were accused of fixing games in exchange for bribes. Other players and other teams were also guilty. The incident led to the demise of the China Times Eagles and the ban of many top players from the league. Despite playing more games, the league saw the total attendance decline by half.
If you think Central Park in New York is scary, you ain't seen nothing yet. On Aug. 2, 1996, four players from the Brother Elephants were abducted and held in a hotel room in the city of Taichung. Second baseman Fu-lien Wu was reportedly roughed up and pitcher Yi-hsin "Knife Thrower" Chen had a pistol barrel shoved in his mouth. According to prosecutors, the kidnappers were from a syndicate that had lost $125,000 on an Elephants game. They believed the players had intentionally thrown it after being paid off by a rival gang.
Even the 1997 high school baseball championship suffered when five players from the Pingtung High School team had to be taken home by their parents in the middle of the game because the poor young players had received threats from a group of men, apparently gangsters worried about their bets. Eventually, 21 players, a coach and 12 alleged mob men were convicted in September 1997. Also, Weichuan Dragons manager Hsu Sheng-ming was stabbed four times in April 1996 after dropping his daughter off at school. Thus the gambling scandals were finally thought to be put behind the CPBL.
Then when Naluwan failed to aquire the television rights to the CPBL, they formed the four-team TML that began play in 1997. It took away many quality players from the scandal-plagued CPBL. The CPBL was also extremely displeased to see the TML raiding college players who were not yet mature enough to play pro ball.
The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) is still the oldest league in Taiwan after the Taiwan Major League (TML) merged to begin the 2003 season. The TML was formed in 1997 the rivalry between the two leagues in tiny Taiwan hurt the sport of baseball immensely on the island.
The average salary is $58,000 US a year while foreigners make about $96,000 US a year. The average ticket price is $6 US.
Taiwan won the baseball World Cup in 2001 and has seen its first professional ballplayer, outfielder Chin-Feng Chen, make his debut with MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers.
Current Teams (CPBL)
China Trust Whales
First Securities Agan
What's A Season Like?
Each team plays 50 games a season. In total, there are 300 games a year. In the 2002 season, there were 45 games and once, there were 100 games were played by each team. Each team plays about two or three times a week and then takes a week off, depending on the schedule. There is usually a week off after a three-game series. In 2003, the CPBL merged with the TML to become the CPBL, which has six teams and use these stadiums: Taipei Stadium, Tianmu Stadium, Shingcung, Longtan, Shingchu, Taichung, Hualen, Jayi, Tainan, Kaoshung 1 and 2 and Pingtong. The top two teams fight for the CPBL series championship. Here are the 2002 championship results for both the old TML and the CPBL before the merger.
The CPBL has a season-ending banquet in which it honours its finest players. The league gives out awards for having the most home runs, RBIs, stolen bases and for being the Best Nine player and best pitcher. It also gives out the MVP award.
Seeing A Game
Games are available for everyone to see. The six teams do not have a home stadium - they rotate, from Taichung to Koahsiung to Taipei and so on. That way, everybody around Taiwan gets to experience the game of baseball. Tickets average out at about $6 US. Stadiums usually have a capacity of around 5,000-10,000 with crowds of usually 1,000-2,000. The 2003 opener drew 10,000.
|China Trust Whales|
|First Securities Agan|
|2003 will be the first year in CPBL|
|2003 will be the first year in CPBL|
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