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2568x1445_WBC_ED_map_TAI (2)

The history of baseball in Taiwan

February 21, 2023

First brought to the island at the turn of the 20th century, baseball caught on quickly in Taiwan during the 1920s and '30s. One of the biggest reasons? The 1931 Kano baseball team. The multi-ethnic, multi-faceted squad famously shocked the world at Japan's Koshien tournament -- so much that the moment was turned into a film decades later.

From the Little Leagues to a robust pro league, baseball has continued to flourish on the "Beautiful Isle." It's so popular, it even appears on their currency. Here's a deeper look into the relationship between the game and the Taiwanese people over the years.

WBSC Rank: 2nd

Last World Baseball Classic appearance: 2017

Best WBC finish: 2013, 8th place

Famous Players

Chin-Feng Chen

The first Taiwanese-born Major Leaguer, Chen made his debut for the Dodgers in 2002. He played sparingly for four years in L.A., posting two hits in 22 at-bats. Although his time in the Majors was short-lived, he did have one of the best years in Dodgers Minor League history back in 1999: The then-21-year-old put up a .316/.404/.580 slash line with 31 homers, 31 steals, 123 RBIs and 75 walks in 131 games. Along with Joc Pederson, it's just the second 30/30 season for any Dodgers Minor Leaguer in the last 66 years.


Chien-Ming Wang

Wang is probably the most decorated MLBer from Taiwan. The tall right-hander was a sensation during his time with the Yankees, winning 19 games in back-to-back years, 2006 and '07. He tied for the Major League lead in victories in '06, finishing second to Johan Santana in the AL Cy Young vote. His hard, fast sinker made some of the best hitters in the game look confused. Wang's starts were shown on big screens in Taiwan, and he was even listed as a Time Person of the Year in '07.

An injured foot in '08 caused issues with Wang's delivery, and he was never quite the same, although he did make two separate comebacks: One in 2011 with the Nats and another in 2016 with the Royals. He'll be the bullpen coach for Chinese Taipei in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Yu Chang

The only current Taiwanese-born player in the big leagues, Chang played for an amazing four teams in 2022: the Guardians, Rays, Pirates and Red Sox. Overall, he's hit 14 homers and posted a .213 average during four years in the Majors. He has a contract with the Red Sox for 2023 and will be one of the stars for Chinese Taipei in the Classic.

Biggest Moments in History

Chinese Taipei has had huge success on the international level -- there's a reason they're No. 2 in the WBSC rankings. The team won the most recent Asia Baseball Championship in 2019 and is tied for second overall with South Korea for most ABC medals of all time with 26 (Japan is first with 29). They won silver at the 1992 Olympics and finished fifth at both the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games. One of their more memorable runs was at the 2006 Asian Baseball Championship, in which they went 5-0 and beat rival Japan, 8-7, in a dramatic ninth-inning comeback to secure the gold medal.

But their biggest success at the international level may be from some of the younger members of the population. Chinese Taipei has 23 Far East Little League World Series championships, 10 more than second-place Japan. They have an absurd 61-6 record in Little League World Series play, and from 1969-96, the team won 17 LLWS titles.

The 1974 Chinese Taipei Little League World Series champs pose with Yogi Berra

Local League setup and teams

The Chinese Professional Baseball League, or CPBL, started in the late 1980s and currently consists of six teams. Brother Hotel chairman Hung Teng-Sheng, sometimes referred to as the "Father of the CPBL," founded the first team in 1984. The CPBL runs as a split season -- April to July and July to October -- with the overall wins leader getting a bye to the championship. The two teams with the second- and third-most victories play each other to see who also makes the finals. The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions have the most titles with 10.

Many foreign-born players have come through the league over the years, including 10-year MLB vet Mike Fiers just last season. But one of the more famous appearances was by Manny Ramirez. The 12-time MLB All-Star signed with the EDA Rhinos as a 41-year-old in 2013 and captured the league's (and world's) attention. He hit .352/.422/.555 with eight homers and 43 RBIs, uncorking some memorable home runs with some extremely memorable home run calls.


Famous/notable ballparks

The 20,000 person-capacity Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium has hosted various international events since its opening in 2006. It hosted the Pool B group in the first round of the World Baseball Classic in 2013 and will be home to Pool A in this year's tourney. Because of its willingness and success hosting so many global baseball events, the city of Taichung was designated a World Baseball City by the International Baseball Federation in 2013.

Any unique food/activities at games

Beef noodle soup, squid on a stick and even KFC can be found at CPBL ballparks. There are also cheer squads and some absolutely stadium-shaking fan chants at nearly every game during the season.