Fans of Wang Chien-ming (王建民) were ecstatic yesterday as the popular New York Yankees pitcher returned home for a holiday during Major League Baseball's off-season.
More than 200 fans and journalists waited outside Wang's home in Tainan yesterday morning. When a Ford Caravan entered the alley leading to Wang's home shortly after 11am, it was quickly surrounded by the crowd eager to catch a glimpse of their hero.
The zeal of the fans forced Wang's relatives to negotiate a deal with police to establish a cordon in front of the house so that Wang and his wife could safely step out of their vehicle and enter the building.
The couple finally made it through the front door after being stranded in the car by the press of the crowd for more than an hour.
Wang's homecoming was widely publicized in the Chinese-language dailies yesterday. A large crowd of equally excited fans were on hand at Kaohsiung International Airport to greet him upon his arrival there.
Airport police were deployed to maintain order as Wang came down the escalator to the terminal's lobby.
Wang smiled and waved at the crowd but did not talk to reporters. The fans did not seem to mind as most were busy taking photos of their idol with their digital cameras and mobile phones.
Wang is expected to stay in Taiwan for at least two months since he is not due to return to the US until January. His time will be divided between his family and making public appearances.
As the spokesperson of this year's Continental Baseball Cup in Taichung, Wang will throw out the first ball next Thursday when Taiwan plays Cuba. Wang has donated the NT$5,000 honorarium he received from the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association for the event to charity.
On Nov. 25 he will participate in a climbathon hosted by Shinkong Mitsukoshi Department Store. Participants in the climbathon will also be entered in a lottery with the chance to win a baseball personally signed by Wang.