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01/18/2005 Archived Entry: "Taiwan Baseball News: Baseball probe continues as more players under scrutiny by Jason Pan"

Baseball probe continues as more players under scrutiny

2005-01-03 / Taiwan News, Contributing Writer / By Jason Pan

The legal proceedings on Taiwan's biggest sports scandal moved into the next phase, on Friday, with potentially more damaging revelations, as the judicial probe focused on a second list of 27 individuals who played in the local Chinese Professional Baseball League during the turbulent times of the mid-1990's.

Coming right after Friday's guilty verdict for 22 of the 23 former players and coaches (mostly with the now defunct Chinatimes Eagles club), this on-going investigation might have much more serious consequences because the second list contains even more prominent names, some of whom are still active in pro baseball today.

In contrast to the protagonists in Taiwan's "Black Eagle Scandals" the second list of 27 names is mainly associated with the Brother Elephants, the Sinon Bulls, and the Weichuan Dragons teams from the 1990's.

Among the 27 individuals, those still active in the CPBL include familiar names such as Lin Yi-tzeng ("Sultan of Steal," manager of Brother Elephants), Hong Yi-chung ("Iron Catcher," manager of La New Bears), Chang Tai-shan ("Jungle Prince," home run king in 2004 with the Sinon Bulls), Huang Chung-yi ("Brother Tung," all-star second baseman with the Sinon Bulls). Yeh Jun-chang (Sinon Bulls catcher), and Wang Chuan-jia (all-star outfielder with the President Lions).

In a gathering of baseball journalists this past weekend, one writer who had covered the CPBL since its inception in 1990 summed up the group consensus. "This judgment is the correct decision and is good for the future of baseball. Those 22 players got what they deserved. It would be a real huge story for the media to write about if the courts had found them 'not guilty'. They are already out of baseball and should never be allowed to return. From what we knew of what had gone on in those days, there was no doubt certain players took money and threw games with quite suspect on-field performances.... It is also important to kick these bad elements out of pro baseball, and separate them from the honest players who were under threats by gangsters but refused to go along. Let us not tar everyone with the same brush just because they were playing in the game during those times....."

With these viewpoints in mind, those on the second list might have been caught up in the affair through "guilt by association."

For the prosecutors probing into the scandal at that time, it was suspected that gambling syndicates had also contacted players on other baseball teams and a second list of 27 players and coaches was drawn up in 1997 for investigation into their possible involvement.However, this second group were not charged in the case and were not indicted. Friday's second court judgement also stated that the CPBL and club owners should bear some responsibility for allowing underworld gambling rackets get to players.

Reading from a written statement, head of the judges' panel Wen Yiao-yuan declared, "When these game-betting incidents occurred, the circumstances and the whole environment of pro baseball in those times was much different. The CPBL league and the baseball clubs did not provide the necessary security and protection for players....The salary structure at the time was unfair for players.... This had led to some undisciplined individuals in the game being unable to resist temptation, and linking up with the gambling syndicates for the illegal actions, which then reached out to involve some of their teammates...."

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