Chinese Professional Baseball League
Uni Lions 7 Lamingo Monkeys 9
10 cans of Budweiser, water, rice bowl – NT$550
Att: 2500 estimate
On the day I moved down to Tainan in south west Taiwan, I decided to go to my first baseball game. My new apartment had no wi-fi and not having a residence card means I can’t get a sim-card so had to rely on wi-fi in 7 Eleven to get maps up on my phone. It was about a 2 mile walk to the ground from my apartment which in the late afternoon heat was quite a distance.
The Tainan Municpal Stadium is one of the oldest, if not oldest sports grounds in Taiwan and was a great place to watch baseball. The stadium is on a main road, to the north of downtown and you don’t notice it when walking from the east until you actually reach it. Tickets were sold from the back of the West Stand, right hand baseline side of the ground and you just point to where you want to sit. I picked block D and the ticket was 400 Taiwanese Dollars – about £8.
I bought a rice bowl, which had a piece of Taiwanese sausage, a chicken drumstick and 2 or 3 other pieces of unknown things, an egg and what I think was morning glory. I also got myself a bottle of water with it still about 34C as the time ticked towards the 5:05 start. I entered and it turned out my seat was on the left hand baseline side of the ground but you could freely walk round between the two sides.
The baseline sides of the ground were identical, 15 blocks of seats. Each block was 15 rows high and about 15 seats wide with a roof held about by substantial pillars behind row 13. Between was a smaller stand, which was a couple of food outlets inside including a pizza hut and somewhere to pick up a few beers. The curved side round the outfield was split into two tiers, a smaller 4 row lower and an uncovered upper tier which had 11 or 12 rows of green steps – no seats just concrete.
Shortly before the game started I went and bought a few cans, and to my surprise Budweiser was on sale at NT$45 for a 330ml can. It was my first time watching an American sport so I felt I should indulge and be happy I’d got to the ground! With drinks holders in every seat, it meant I could sit and just drink my beer through a straw, so it was minimal effort to sit, sip and enjoy.
I have to admit whilst I had done a bit of research I wasn’t 100% sure how baseball ‘worked’ or how long the game would last. I imagined about 2-3 hours, it really was a weird feeling not knowing if A) I would actually like the sport or B) Knowing much about it! I took a seat in block H, 14 rows back just to the left of 3rd base and the view was very good.
The first 3 innings were without score. The first lasted 13 minutes, the second 18 minutes and the third half an hour, and I was beginning to get a bit worried about a low scoring game. The pitching was pretty good and hits were being kept to a minimum. That said, not knowing exactly how many hits for a game is normal I didn’t know what kind of game I was watching!
In the 4th inning Lamingos opened the scoring with a massive home run that flew well over the fence. It was an entertaining inning to watch as Lamingos got a number of hits but the score stayed at 1 to 0. The Lions 4th inning was not that impressive and unsurprisingly they remained on 0 after 4 innings.
The 5th inning turned out to be the best of the game, Lamingos started with a few hits and got their second home run of the game, and with 2 men already on bases they came away with 3 runs. They were unable to add to that, and ended their 5th inning ahead by 4 to 0. Uni Lions needed some kind of miracle to stay in the game and they pulled two runs back.
The crucial inning of the game was the 6th as Lamingos extended their lead to beyond the reach of the Uni Lions. It lasted a total of 46 minutes but was only the 2nd most entertaining of the game! 6 got home for Lamingos before the second triple home run of the night and it came in style. 3 smashed the ball just to the right of centre and it went into orbit, not clearing the fence but the outfield stand and out of the stadium. It took the score to 8 to 2 and that was that.
Uni Lions got their first home run of the night in their 6th innings and added a further run to it but were still 8-4 behind with 3 innings to play. The 7th inning was a comedown after 2 6 run innings and was over within 13 minutes.
The 8th inning saw Lamingos 3rd home run of the night and ended the game as a contest as it made it 9-4 Lamingos. Surprisingly the home side did start a comeback and managed to get themselves 3 runs with just 1 man out to take the game to 9-7. It was helped by some poor fielding by Lamingos and they somehow survived being pegged back further as they led 9-7 with an innings to play.
Uni Lions failed to complete the comeback even after skittling Lamingos with 5 minutes. Their own 9th inning lasted a matter of minutes and Lamingos wrapped up a 9-7 win.
Got to admit I really enjoyed it, the game lasted 4 hours and 2 minutes in the end. A new sport for me so I was always going to be open minded. It was an interesting culture collision, a mix of a very American sport, being played in Taiwan which is in the Far East. I was the only one I saw with a beer but the locals were enjoying pizza and popcorn but washed down with tea rather than alcohol.
A great evening and I will be back. Given my new apartment has no internet connection, I was can confirm a second report from Sunday’s game does follow but it is shorter.