Baseball in Taiwan: A CPBL Game in Tainan

 Taiwan was a high priority for me as far as Asian travel goes. There were two reasons for that: amusement parks and baseball. The country may not have many theme parks, but they have some great coasters and I was hoping to get on a couple specific rides (that never happened). And as far as Asian baseball goes, Taiwan is one of the big three (along with Japan and Korea).
 I was hoping to see several games on the trip, and if I had really tried hard I could have probably seen more. But I did manage to make it to two games. What you see here is Tainan's main stadium.
 Crowds were light, but some folks chose to sit in the outfield anyway. I don't think you could travel between the outfield and infield seats.
 As you can see, the outfield is actually two levels. Those sitting below had shelter from the sun or rain, those on top possibly having a better view.
 There's a press box behind the plate but most people sat behind the dugout of their favorite team.
 I had an assigned seat here, but I could move around and basically sit wherever I want. Tickets were sold by individual teams at the games I attended, so you chose your favorite team and they gave you a ticket in their section.
 I walked from foul pole to foul pole to take pictures. You can see here that there is a bit of shade cover in the upper seats.
 The scoreboard was fairly standard. Have you tried The Beer?
 The best seats in the house (and inaccessible to actual patrons) were beneath the stands at field level.
 Taiwan has foreigners (up to two per team I think), though there didn't seem to be any big names like in Japan.
 Japan uses Roman characters on the backs of uniforms for player names, but the CPBL uses Chinese characters
 There are only four teams in the CPBL now, despite baseball being very big in Taiwan. Scandals (especially bribery and gambling) fill the history of the league. Fans still come to see the teams play and like Japan, they cheer and wave flags while wearing their team's colors.
 The level of play is on par with AA ball in America, and so is the field lighting.
 So, the cheering "squad" includes a couple drummers who can be heard all over the park. There might be musical instruments involved too.
 "Cheerleader" girls lead the fans in how to bang their noise sticks to cheer for the team.
 And it's all controlled by an "MC" of sorts, who has a microphone to speak the cheers. The job seems to be quite important and honorable, yet the MCs don't draw attention to themselves and seem to try to hide at times.
 The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions call Tainan their home, although they don't play too many games here. Actually, all teams rotate throughout the country in a sort of constant barnstorming tour. More games are played in Taipei than any other city, though most major cities see several games each season. Each team has a "home" city but that doesn't have much meaning.
 When I showed up at the Lions' fan booth outside the stadium to buy my ticket, the people were very happy to see me - I guess they don't get many foreigners. In addition to the ticket, they gave me a delicious boxed dinner (a giant steak with rice and some vegetables under the steak). And a beer:
Plus, I also got a trucker-style hat. It was pretty cool! (Maybe the ticket I bought included it. Who knows?) Regardless, I enjoyed the food and beer and had a pretty good time at the game. If Japan played its minor league games in larger stadiums I think it would feel something like this. And those who know me well know I enjoy minor league games as much as, if not more than major league games.

As for purchased souvenirs, the selection was pretty slim. I bought a couple team logo items (a ball and a large luggage tag type of thing) and a Taiwan Series commemorative ball. Those were relatively average-priced. I wish I had shelled out the extra cash for the official game ball, pricey but rare. I didn't see one here, but there was one at the other game I went to. Maybe next time I go to Taiwan, right?


  1. Wait, was that "a" beer you got with your ticket or "the" beer.

    There was one pretty big name foreigner playing in Taiwan the first half of this season - Manny Ramirez.

  2. NPB Card Guy: yeah, I had "a" beer, not "the" beer. I don't think I ever tried "the" beer while I was in Taiwan.

    In 2012 I don't think anyone important was in the CPBL (at least, before playing there). I believe Manny Ramirez was so desperate that he was trying to do what Jose Canseco did - play for whoever would take him. I'm surprised Barry Bonds didn't go that route, but perhaps Bonds just thought he was too good to play anywhere but the MLB. (Could you imagine someone like Bonds playing in Japan, Taiwan, or Korea?!)