Since my trip to Pingtung around a month ago, I knew I had to make the effort to get down to the Li De Baseball Stadium in central Kaohsiung.
Now on my trip to EDA Rhinos 8-9 Uni Lions in June, I had passed the Li De Stadium on my way around Kaohsiung City that morning.
At the time I hadn’t a clue how to find the second team fixtures for the CPBL and it was only on clicking the II button in the fixtures that I found them. Anyway, I went down to Pingtung in July and since then, Lions first team games have worked against me. The Lions first team have played in Kaohsiung, played two weekends in Tainan and then last weekend, Li De Stadium wasn’t being used.
It turned out that this fixture, on 21st August was my last chance to see Uni Lions II play at Li De this season. Unfortunately I had a mix up with weekends, and it was only after getting home from a day-out with my girlfriend on Saturday, that I realised, it was the game was ‘this’ Sunday.
It didn’t require any pre-planning, except checking train and bus times, even then I had a rough idea of what I was doing. No alcohol consumed on Saturday and I set my alarm for 8:30. I was going to see off at 9:10 but got talking to my girlfriend and worked out, it was far too early anyway.
I left my apartment at 9:40 and was on the 9:50 bus into central Tainan. Sunday morning traffic was light and I managed to get my iPass topped up and bought a quick drink before the 10:28 train down to Kaohsiung.
Into Kaohsiung and I went out the front entrance of the station, right and left into Tongai Street. Now instead of strolling along the canal, I continued down to Qixian 2nd Road and went right before turning left into Chenggong 1st Road and right into Wangsheng Street, where the ground appeared across the next set of crossroads.
Located in Cianjin District, part of downtown Kaohsiung it was a true inner city venue. It was a venue that has a lot of history but the stadium that sat before my eyes was a shadow of its former self. If you go on Google Images, you may find pictures like this but it has been scaled back in recent years.
It had been the main stadium in Kaohsiung having being built in the Japanese colonial era but since the opening of the 20,000 seater Chengcing Lake Stadium in 1999, it’s no longer the main venue in the city.
I popped into the supermarket opposite before taking a circuit around on what was a very hot afternoon. No outfield stands exist, and instead, there is just a path above the outfield fence. As a result of the lack of enclosure to the ground, it is now unable to host professional matches.
The two stands that remain on the infield sides have netting right in front of them but there are seats on the concrete steps. I walked back to the corner where I started, and tried to find an entrance to the spectator stands.
Down passageways marked as ‘toilet’ either side of the building behind the home plate, I found the entrances to the stands with no through passage between them inside. The view I found, looked shocking at best. On the right side, there was 3/4 rows, but then the team dug-outs obscured the view to the right. Above the dug-outs was a single row of seats set back and to the right, were several blocks of 4-5 rows of seats, which had their views obscured by the netting and dug-out.
I decided to take a few pictures before leaving, and taking a spot in the stand to the left, where it appeared a few Lions supporters had congregated.
The view in the other stand was not much better, the net, the dug-out but I eventually settled on a seat in the third row, to the right of the dug-out. It was now 12:20 and I had a bit of time still to waste, as I had first arrived at the stadium just before 12. The match eventually got underway at 12:35 on a hot, sunny Kaohsiung afternoon.
The game started off fine, the Lions took an early lead. A triple was turned into the opening run after a grounding out at 1st, 1-0. The Lamigos could only reply with a double but from there on, they dominated proceedings.
A home run leveled the scores before 3 singles were turned into two more runs, 3-1 Lamigos. A huge throw to the home plate denied a further run, with the man on 3rd looking to get home after a catch in left field. A second home run followed in the bottom of the 3rd and it was followed by 2 blank innings with the score Lamigos 4-1 Lions.
There was healthy support for the Lamigos II, provided by Lamigo Monkeys fans, little did I know that the first team’s 1:05pm game v EDA Rhinos in Pingtung had been cancelled. It did help boost numbers, as there’d been a tiny crowd, the last time I’d seen the II teams meet in Pingtung. Their second team played well and restricted the Lions to just 2 hits in the opening 6. A couple more singles from them in the 6th, and it was now 5-1.
Into the 7th, and a scoreless inning as the game appeared to be fading out but it perked up again in the 8th. Liu Yu Chen’s two run homer made it 5-3, and with 0 outs, the Lions looked to have half a chance of recovering the game. Sadly 3 very quick outs ended it, and Lamigos restored their 2 run lead in the bottom of the 8th. A double, an RBI double and a single made it 7-3 before the Lamigos 2nd team wrapped it up, giving away just a hit in the top of the 9th.
I left and my intention was to get back to Kaohsiung station, and decide where to go from there. If the first train departing was going to Tainan, I was going home and if the first train departing was going to Pingtung, I was going there.
I got back at 1545, and the next two trains north were headed for Xinzuoying. The next train south was at 1603 and the next train home was 1608, to Pingtung it was…
The signs didn’t look good on the train to Pingtung with lots of water in the fields after leaving Kaohsiung City. I got off the train in sunshine but had an unusually bad feeling and after walking 15 minutes to the stadium, quickly realised I’d wasted my time. The game was clearly not going ahead, and a quick check on my phone’s wi-fi revealed it wasn’t, due to a soft outfield.
It was a shame because it was due to be Orlando Roman v Mike Loree, one hell of a CPBL pitching battle. That was what had incited me into the trip, and I was pretty gutted it was off but it meant I’d be home fairly early.
I walked back to the station and took the 1708 train to Tainan. On an alcohol free weekend, I went to sleep instead only to be woken around Qiaotou by a man wanting to practice his English. I actually enjoyed talking to him, his English was good and he was interested to know why my English was so different to others in England. He quickly understood when I explained accents and it was a feel good moment. He got off at Gangshan and the rest of the trip back went by pretty quickly.
Back into Tainan station for 1840 and I was on a bus at 1850, only for the driver to sit at the lights for 10 minutes and not go anywhere. Home by 1935 and despite seeing just 1 game, it had been a useful day out. It was also the 499th place I had seen sport being played at.
Next trip? I’m not sure. I’m hoping to get my 500th sports ground in at some point before the end of the year, where? I don’t know.
Until my CPBL weekly round-up from next week, bye for now.