Baseball has seen a resurgence in Taiwan in the past few years and all that peaked in 2020 when the CPBL was the first professional league in the world to starts its season – even as the coronavirus pandemic raged elsewhere.
English language coverage of Taiwan’s most popular sport took CPBL games to millions worldwide, and new fans across the planet started following Taiwan’s four top league teams.
Unfortunately all that has changed this year with the English language broadcasts now a thing of the past, and some teams not even maintaining their English language social media accounts which proved so popular mere months ago.
One change for the better, however, is the addition of a fifth pro-team to the top flight of the game here in Taiwan – that team being the Wei Chuan Dragons – for now based jointly out of the city of Hsinchu and Tianmu in northern Taipei as they await a new stadium in Taiwan’s tech-valley of Hsinchu.
The team is not ‘altogether new‘ though and is essentially an old face returning to the baseball fold.
And it did so to much aplomb last weekend when a short ‘single game series’ against the CTBC Brothers in Taichung was heavily promoted and on Saturday April 24th, pulled in the CPBL’s highest crowd of the season to date – just under 15,000.
The game was essentially a rerun of an old rivalry that used to light up the early years of the 31 year old CPBL, and going into the ninth on the night, the scoreboard had the Brothers crushing the Wei Chuan Dragons, 7 – 1.
A late flourish at the top of the ninth brought back four runs for the Dragons, but the glory that night of memories and flashbacks went to the Brothers.
And, in keeping with the times, and the general ambience on the day of looking back at how the CPBL used to be – the players even donned old-time uniforms for the game – and we managed a quick interview with long time Brothers legend Steven Chou (周思齊), the Brothers left-fielder now aged 39, and on the day the host team’s DH – designated hitter.
Here’s what he had to say just prior to his on the night two hits in three at bats and one RBI:
(TTT – The Taiwan Times / SC – Steven Chou)
TTT: (after learning he shared a birthday with America’s former First Lady) What question would you ask Hilary Clinton if you met her – given that you share the same birthday?
SC: (after initially being buzzed by the Q, with a deadpan straight face followed by a smile) I’d like to ask for sponsorship of the Brothers from The Clinton Foundation if I had a chance to meet her.
TTT: Which players and teams did you admire in your childhood?
SC: I started to play baseball when I was 11, and I’m a real Brothers fan. The Brothers outfielder Guang-Hui Wang*, also known as heartthrob, was my favorite at that time.
He was well-known in his homeland and maintained a great connection with the fans.
TTT: As a professional, you have had a well recorded, and interesting career – how do you feel now, in mid-2021, post-COVID, thinking about what has happened over your career? Any regrets or still room for improvement?
SC: My career has been relatively bumpy, sharing good times and bad with the Brothers. I encountered the match-fixing problems, and SARS in the past, and we are currently in the middle of the pandemic.
But, I’m satisfied with the status quo, and looking forward to winning more championships.
TTT: What has been the most important moment in your career to date?
SC: I see every moment on the baseball field as important as baseball is what you need to focus on at that moment in time.
TTT: And onto this season – how do you see the rest of the first half panning out?
SC: It’s a special year due to the COVID pandemic, and the appearance of the Dragons, facing off against four teams in a week. The change of strategy (in the game now) means adjustments from (all of us) with different matchups and (associated) analysis.
TTT: Away from baseball, how do you like to relax? Do you watch baseball on your days off?
SC: I like to do sports mostly on my days off. Aside from baseball I play basketball and watch MLB, NBA, KBO and NPB.
- Guang-Hui Wang is a now retired 15 years Brothers player, and later manager of the team for three seasons.
** for fans of the Brothers – or the Dragons – May 2nd, sees the next face to face in this decades old rivalry.