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Colonial Project, National Game

Colonial Project, National Game: A History of Baseball in Taiwan

Andrew D. Morris
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 290
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  • Book Info
    Colonial Project, National Game
    Book Description:

    In this engrossing cultural history of baseball in Taiwan, Andrew D. Morris traces the game’s social, ethnic, political, and cultural significance since its introduction on the island more than one hundred years ago. Introduced by the Japanese colonial government at the turn of the century, baseball was expected to “civilize” and modernize Taiwan’s Han Chinese and Austronesian Aborigine populations. After World War II, the game was tolerated as a remnant of Japanese culture and then strategically employed by the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Even as it was also enthroned by Taiwanese politicians, cultural producers, and citizens as their national game. In considering baseball’s cultural and historical implications, Morris deftly addresses a number of societal themes crucial to understanding modern Taiwan, the question of Chinese “reunification,” and East Asia as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94760-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Map of Taiwan
    (pp. xii-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    In March 2009, Taiwan’s national baseball team faced its bitter rival, the Chinese national team, in the Asia round of the World Baseball Classic at the Tokyo dome. Baseball, an integral part of Taiwanese culture for more than a century, is still relatively unpopular and unknown in the People’s republic of China (PRC). But that did not stop the PRC team, managed by American Terry Collins, from defeating Taiwan (the Republic of China, or ROC) by a decisive score of 4–1, the second straight Chinese upset of Taiwan.

    Coach Ye Zhixian made a public apology to the people of...

  6. 1 Baseball in Japanese Taiwan, 1895–1920s
    (pp. 7-29)

    In December 1998,Asahi ShimbunCEO Nagayama Yoshitaka made a short visit to southern Taiwan. He told his hosts that he had only one purpose for making this trip: to fulfill the lifelong wish that his friend, the famed and recently deceased author Shiba Ryōtarō, had never realized—to run a lap around the bases at the Jiayi Institute of Technology.¹ Shiba late in life became known as an influential Taiwanophile, but his nostalgic view of a Japanese Taiwan, centered on its baseball culture,² is perfectly common some six decades after the end of the colonial empire. The mimetic qualities...

  7. 2 Making Racial Harmony in Taiwan Baseball, 1931–1945
    (pp. 30-53)

    By 1930, after thirty-five years of colonial rule, Taiwan had been transformed into a relatively stable, peaceful, and prosperous Japanese colony. With a population that was still 95 percent rural, Taiwan had become a reliable “sugar bowl” and “rice basket,” providing foodstuffs and light industrial products for Japan’s home islands. In the cities, thousands of college-educated Taiwanese, as one scholar described, had “entered the ranks of Japanese [intellectuals], becoming almost indistinguishable from them.”¹ And an official government publication had boasted in 1929, “Today one may travel alone and unarmed without the slightest danger of molestation at the hands of savages...

  8. 3 Early Nationalist Rule, 1945–1967: “There’s no Mandarin in baseball”
    (pp. 54-78)

    In late 1945, the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang or KMT) took the reins of Taiwan’s government. In order to achieve a trueChinese “Retrocession” (Guangfu,literally, “Glorious return”),¹ the Nationalists set about stripping Taiwanese culture of its Japanese legacies while simultaneously restoring an essential and timeless “Chineseness,” which the Taiwanese people presumably had been longing for for half a century. That these “Chinese traditions” were in fact quite recent Nationalist inventions—which by definition could not have been part of a Taiwanese consciousness before 1945—hardly seemed to matter.

    Few arriving in Taiwan as part of the Nationalist diaspora understood how...

  9. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  10. 4 Team of Taiwan, Long Live the Republic of China: Youth Baseball in Taiwan, 1968–1969
    (pp. 79-103)

    Taiwan’s first great postwar Olympic athlete was C.K. Yang (Yang Chuanguang), who won a silver medal in the decathlon at the Rome Olympics in 1960. To this day, his epic battle there with close friend and UCLA track and field teammate Rafer Johnson is known as one of the most touching and memorable moments in Olympic history. Yang, known around the world as the “Asian Iron Man,” set the world decathlon record in 1963. That same year he was even named by the American magazineSports Illustratedto be the “World’s Best Athlete.”¹ ROC Olympic Committee chief Hao Gengsheng called...

  11. 5 “Chinese” Baseball and Its Discontents, 1970s–1980s
    (pp. 104-124)

    After 1969, Taiwan’s Little League phenoms would win the next nine of twelve Williamsport Little League world championships. As if this were not enough agony for the youth of America, the Little League Baseball (LLB) establishment also began inviting Taiwan to send teams to the Senior League and Big League world championships held every summer, respectively, in Gary, Indiana, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Taiwan’s teenage representatives—essentially national all-star teams like the Little League squads—were even more dominant in these competitions. In the Senior League category (calledQingshaobang,ages thirteen through sixteen), Taiwan’s teams won nine straight world championships...

  12. 6 Homu-Ran Batta: Professional Baseball in Taiwan, 1990–Present
    (pp. 125-148)

    The 1980s and ’90s saw Taiwan’s baseball talent succeed at the professional level for the first time since Taiwanese players joined Japan’s professional leagues in the 1930s and ’40s. After World War II, several decades passed before Japanese professional teams showed interest in Taiwanese players—a fact understood in Taiwan as proof of the harm done the game by the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party—until pitcher Chen Xiuxiong defeated Japan’s national team in the 1971 Asian Championships and the 1972 World Cup.¹ One month after the second defeat, Japan’s professional Seibu Lions club sent a representative to Taipei to start...

  13. Conclusion: Baseball’s Second Century in Taiwan
    (pp. 149-166)

    On 31 December 2000, Taiwan’s president Chen Shui-bian made his first New Year’s address to the nation, remarks meant to sum up his first seven months in office and also to “Bridge the New Century.” Chen had much to discuss, from the political revolution completed by his own victory and his once-illegal party’s climb to power, to the world economic recession and Taiwan’s entry into the World Trade Organization, and tense relations with China and the increasing possibility of an armed conflict across the Straits. The president summed up his remarks with comments on the unique “Taiwan spirit” forged during...

  14. Appendix: Taiwanese Professional Baseball Teams and National Origin of Foreign Players
    (pp. 167-170)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 171-224)
    (pp. 225-234)
    (pp. 235-258)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 259-271)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)