Tag Archives: baseball

Taiwanese pitcher ends season with new Dodgers ERA record

Taiwanese pitcher Kuo Hong-chih concluded the best MLB season of his career on October 3 by securing the Los Angeles Dodgers record for the lowest ERA based on a minimum of at least 50 innings pitched.
The 29-year-old pitched a scoreless inning as a relief against the Arizona Diamondbacks, lowering his ERA to 1.200. That was slightly better than the previous record of 1.202 set by Cy Young award-winning reliever Eric Gagne in 2003.
”Gagne is still my idol,” Kuo said after the game. Gagne recorded 152 saves from 2002-2004 for the Dodgers before an arm injury derailed his career, though he attempted numerous comebacks before retiring in April 2010.
Aside from his record-setting ERA, his WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) was an astounding 0.78. Anything below 1 is considered outstanding.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan)

Baseball: Taiwan’s national passion

On August 30th, US Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr., shook hands with each member of Taiwan’s Kuei Shan little league baseball team before their championship game at this year’s Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. Taiwan went on to take second place, losing to California 3-6.

Earlier that month, another Taiwanese little league baseball team lost 6-7 to Brooklyn, NY, in the semi-final of the 2009 Bronco World Series in Monterey, CA. Also, on August 10th, Taiwan’s senior league team lost 1-14 to Houston, TX, in the 2009 Palomino World Series in San Jose, CA. Coming second and just to make it to the semi-finals for these little league teams are massive achievements worthy of celebration. Still, it is a far cry from 1974, when Taiwan’s little league, senior league and big league all took home championship honors.

Baseball is Taiwan’s national sporting passion. The game was introduced during the Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to the end of World War II. The first official baseball game ever recorded in Taiwan’s history was played in 1906 between two local high schools. In 1931, a school team representing Taiwan won second place in Japan’s national baseball tournament and earned the respect of its Japanese counterparts. By the mid-1940s, baseball easily qualified as Taiwan’s national sport.

After the Kuomintang (KMT) government took over the governing of Taiwan, the first major baseball craze came in the 1970s when Taiwan suffered a series of diplomatic and political setbacks. In 1971, Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations and the government tried to compensate by supporting international sports competition as a substitute of international political participation. The people of Taiwan sought to find heroes and a new identity.

Taiwan’s little league baseball teams (11-13 years old) competed in championships on the other side of the globe and people stayed up well past midnight to watch the live broadcasts of the games. These young baseball players regained a part of Taiwan’s national pride. They won an incredible nine Little League World Series Championships in the 13 years from 1969 to 1982.

Taiwan’s senior leagues (14-16 years old) and big leagues (16-18 years old), also under the sponsorship of the Little League World Series, have also been successful. In total, Taiwan won 17 Little League World Series Championships from 1969 to 1996.

When those young players grew up, they formed the core of Taiwan’s adult baseball teams. Taiwan’s adult teams have not achieved the success of its young players, but they are still considered world-class, winning two Olympic medals – a bronze in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and silver in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. They have also grabbed four top-three honors in the biennial Baseball World Cup.

In 1989, professional baseball finally arrived in Taiwan with the formation of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL). The first game was played in 1990. CPBL was the fourth professional baseball league in the world at the time, after Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in Japan, and Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in South Korea.

In 1997, a competitor, Taiwan Major League (TML) was founded to challenge the monopoly of CPBL. But due to financial pressures TML agreed to merge with CPBL in 2003. At present, CPBL has four teams with an average game attendance of about 3000 spectators.

Whereas steroids have tarnished the image of the game in the United States, gambling and game-fixing scandals have tarnished the game’s image in Taiwan. This has seriously eroded the game’s fan base in Taiwan.

While Taiwan has produced some great talents over the last few decades, the best players are usually courted to play for professional teams in Japan and the US. In the 1980s, Taiwanese pitchers such as Kuo Tai-yuan, Soh Katsuo (aka Chuang Shen-hsiung) posted impressive numbers with the Seibu Lions and Chiba Lotte Marines, both of Japan’s NPB. More recently, young stars such as outfielder Chen Chin-feng and pitchers Wang Chien-ming, Tsao Chin-hui, and Kuo Hong-chih became the first group of Taiwanese players to play for North American Major League Baseball (MLB) teams.

Especially popular is Wang, who, playing for the New York Yankees, reached 50 MLB wins more quickly than any other player for two decades. He has become Taiwan’s first true star in American baseball and a national hero. Now there are over 20 Taiwanese baseball players competing in the US minor leagues, all with the dream of becoming the next Wang.

The Taipei-based China Times said that even though Taiwan did not win the game this time, the baseball team has inherited the traditional spirit of Taiwanese little league –great sportsmanship and a fierce fighting spirit which won them their first championship in Williamsport 40 years ago.

The United Evening News commented that Taiwan should be proud of the kids who came from the aborigine tribes, training with old equipment and facilities. However, it is not right when all the best players depart for the American major leagues or that Taiwanese baseball fans know more about Wang and the New York Yankees than any domestic team. The paper urged the government to map a long-term plan to develop the island’s baseball to establish it as truly the national sport.

Taiwanese baseball team takes 2nd place at World Series

Earlier this month, some of the world’s best little and big league teams descended on San Jose and Monterey, California, to see which teams and nations would take home championship trophies. Taiwan’s little league baseball team arrived to participate in the Bronco League World Series in Monterey from August 4th to 11th. On August 10th, they reached the semi-finals, but unfortunately lost to a team from Brooklyn, New York. A few hours away in San Jose, its big league team competed at the Palomino World Series starting August 7th. Last night, Taiwan’s team made it to the final playoff and came in second against a team from Houston, Texas.

Taiwan’s little league has been among the leading teams in recent years. In the Bronco League World Series, Taiwan were runners up in 2006 and 2008, and third in 2007. In the Palomino World Series, Taiwan won the championship in 2006 and came second in 2007 and 2008.

The Palomino has long been considered the training ground for players 17-19 wishing to go on to Major League Baseball. Although Taiwan’s professional teams are not a dominating force in the world of baseball, the island still produces stellar players such as Chien-ming Wang, the starting pitcher for the New York Yankees.

In Taiwan, baseball became a national passion after the Hongye (Red Leaves) baseball team from Taitung County defeated its seemingly invincible Japanese counterpart in 1968. Over the next 27 years, Taiwan would go on to win an incredible 17 Little League World Series Championships in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. At its peak in 1974, Taiwan’s little league, senior league and big league all took home championship honors. This year, the Kuei-shan Elementary School from Taoyuan County will represent Taiwan in the 2009 Little League Baseball World Series from August 21st to 30th.

Closer to home, Taitung County’s Taiyuan Elementary School kicked-off their tournament campaign on August 4th in Monterey. Located in the eastern part of the island, Taitung County is home to the legendary Red Leaves baseball team and has produced many professional baseball players. The big league players are from Pin-cheng Senior High School in Taoyuan County. Baseball is king there and it is where the best teams – such as Kuei-shan – can usually be found.