Professor Andrew Morris: The Relationship Between Taiwan Baseball and its History Ep 96

28 September 2020

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

 

With major league baseball playoffs soon upon us, we thought that this episode might appeal to our baseball fans. It seems like a distant memory now, when about a month into the Coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan was the only place on the planet where live professional baseball was being played. My guest on this episode is Professor Andrew Morris whose research on baseball in Taiwan presents a fascinating new angle and way of seeing Taiwan’s history. I came across his writings and research when I was doing some research for my interview (episode 77) with Richard Wang the English-speaking broadcaster of CPBL games in Taiwan.

 

How important is baseball to Taiwan? Did you know that there’s a baseball related image featured on Taiwan’s currency or that Taiwan’s little league baseball team won 17 times from 1979 to 1996?

 

Interestingly, Professor Morris began our interview by sharing his own mistaken assumption of baseball as a symbol of American culture in Taiwan. He went on to explain that baseball was introduced to Taiwan by Japan, while it was a colony of Japan from 1895-1945. We covered a broad range of topics including how baseball survived the arrival of the Kuomintang in Taiwan, the rise of Taiwan’s little league team, the establishment of a professional baseball league in Taiwan (CPBL) which has had its ups and downs, and the short-lived Taiwan Major League.

 

 

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

 

  • How Professor Morris got interested in the topic of baseball and the history of Taiwan
  • How baseball in Taiwan is not as it seems on the surface, a symbol of American culture in Taiwan
  • What were some of the most surprising and interesting things that Professor Morris has learned about baseball in Taiwan over the course of his research
  • The role of Taiwan’s Indigenous people in the game of baseball in Taiwan
  • What baseball tells us about Taiwan’s Japanese colonial era
  • How Chiayi (嘉義) is known as the spiritual home of baseball and how that was captured in the film Kano
  • How “Kano,” is the nickname of the old Chiayi Agricultural and Forestry Vocational High School, which comes from the two Japanese words “Ka-gi No-rin”
  • The Kano baseball team became the best team in Taiwan and is remembered by the Japanese
  • How Kano is remembered as an example of the success of Japan’s colonialism in Taiwan
  • Baseball as a pathway for Indigenous peoples during Taiwan’s Japanese colonial period
  • Professor Morris’ thoughts about the film Kano and its historical accuracy
  • The Japanese influence that we still see in Taiwanese baseball today
  • How after the Kuomintang arrived in Taiwan, around 1946, they tried to remove and erase Japanese culture, but baseball was allowed to remain
  • What happened to baseball after the Kuomintang arrived in Taiwan
  • How baseball games were played in the aftermath of the 228 massacre and a famous baseball coach was killed in the 228 massacre
  • Taiwan’s little league baseball team and how it served to bolster Republic of China (ROC) nationalism
  • The 1968 legend of what led Taiwan creating a little league team and participating in the little league world series
  • How in 1969, the Taiwanese little league team played in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA for the first time and won
  • Between 1969-1996 the Taiwanese little league team won the Little League World Series 17 times and became a source of pride for the Taiwanese who watched the games late at night
  • The story (from the 70s) of how a coach of a little league team comprised mostly of Black players sensed the anti-Chinese and anti-Taiwanese sentiment against the Taiwanese little league team
  • How the Taiwanese little league team became a source of Taiwanese pride (different from ROC pride)
  • How the KMT hired Chinatown thugs to beat up the pro-Taiwanese little league fans and fights would break out between them after little league games
  • What happened to Taiwan’s little league team
  • The legacy of Taiwan’s little league team
  • How the American little league teams that were able to beat Taiwan’s little league team were celebrated an ESPN made a 30 for 30 film about this
  • The story behind the image of the youth baseball team that appears on Taiwan’s 500 dollar bill
  • The establishment of the CPBL and its game throwing and gambling scandals
  • The short-lived Taiwan Major League (TML) and how it differed from the CPBL
  • How baseball has been tied to Taiwan’s national identity in the past but that has changed as Taiwan has become more democratic
  • The research that Professor Morris is working on now
  • Professor Morris’ recommendations of other books on the subject of baseball in Taiwan

 

Related Links:

 

Professor Andrew Morris’ Cal Poly webpage:
https://history.calpoly.edu/faculty/andrew-morris

Professor Andrew Morris’ Digital Commons page (which has full text of some of his articles):
http://bit.ly/ADMorrisDC

 

Colonial Project, National Game: A History of Baseball in Taiwan (Asia Pacific Modern Book 6) by Andrew D. Morris: https://amzn.to/3cALcmf

 

 

Kano vocational school of forestry and agriculture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Chiayi_University

 

 

Kano (film): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2247566/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kano_(film)

 

 

ESPN Films 30 for 30: Little Big Men

(A film about the Kirkland National Little League of Kirkland, Washington, which defeated the Puzih little league of Chiayi County, Taiwan. The Kirkland, Washington team, was the first American little league team to win the Little League World Series in over a decade): https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1717745/

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Little_League_World_Series

 

 

Book recommendations about baseball in Taiwan:

 

Playing in Isolation: A History of Baseball in Taiwan by Junwei Yu: https://www.amazon.com/Playing-Isolation-History-Baseball-Taiwan/dp/0803211406

 

Empire of Infields: Baseball in Taiwan and Cultural Identity, 1895-1968 by John J. Harney: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=John+J.+Harney%2C+Empire+of+Infields%3A+Baseball+in+Taiwan+and+Cultural+Identity&ref=nb_sb_noss

 

Taking in a Game: A History of Baseball in Asia by Joseph Reaves: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Joseph+Reaves%2C+Taking+in+a+Game%3A+A+History+of+Baseball+in+Asia&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

Taiwan’s professional baseball league the CPBL’s English website: http://www.cpbl.com.tw/eng/history/

 

Watch Taiwan’s professional baseball league CPBL teams Rakuten Monkeys and Uni Lions on the Eleven Sports Taiwan Twitter account:

https://twitter.com/ElevenSportsTW

 

Understanding the History of Taiwan through Dr. Jerome Keating Ep 97

 

Richard Wang Announcer of Taiwan Baseball Games: First Pro Sports Since Covid-19 Pandemic Ep 77

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