Sun, May 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Presidential Office, AIT play ball

FRIENDLY MATCH Teams from the Presidential Office and the American Institute in Taiwan yesterday used a softball game to `soften' the Taiwan-US relationship

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Wu puts out a base runner from the American Institute in Taiwan.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Staffers of the Presidential Office and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) faced each other in a softball game yesterday at the Tachia Riverside Park in Taipei.

"Baseball is the national sport of both Taiwan and the Untied States, and that is why we challenged each other to the softball game, to develop a new mode of US-Taiwan relationships," said James Huang (黃志芳), spokesman of the Presidential Office.

With Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) as its captain, the Presidential Office team has been practising for weeks and has gained an excellent record of beating other government administration teams, as well as teams consisting of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators and journalists.

The AIT team's captain is Dave Keegan, the institute's deputy director.

He said that he had really enjoyed the game, but admonished the media not to draw a connection between the game and politics.

With several years' practice behind them, the AIT team won yesterday's game after nine innings by 15-9.

Huang said that the purpose of yesterday's friendly game was to use softball to "soften" the Taiwan-US relationship, although they did have some cases of "diplomatic" competition.

"The pitchers on both sides strived to take out top officials on the other team," Huang said. "In fact, Joseph Wu and Dave Keegan both struck out."

Huang said the final score was not important, because the game had succeeded in its goal of strengthening friendship between the AIT and the Presidential Office.

The umpire, Liao Wen-Chin (廖文靖), chief executor of the Taipei City Softball Commission, strictly enforced the rules to make sure the host team gained no unfair advantage. The AIT even had a "triple out" in the seventh inning, which completely terminated the Presidential Office's chances of reversing the result.

The Presidential Office team was formed last year to take on the AIT and other embassies and representative offices in Taiwan.

"The game is the first step, and we have agreed to play another one. Other foreign offices could follow soon," Huang said.

Dave Davison, the AIT's management section chief, said they had just taken part in a tournament of the Taipei Softball League and were well prepared for victory.

The Taipei Softball League, currently consisting of seven teams, is organized by foreigners living in Taiwan.

"Almost of us have been playing ball games since childhood, and we prefer the interaction of playing a game to getting dressed up with neckties indoors," Davison said.

Chen Shih-chieh (陳世杰), the pitcher of the Presidential Office team, remained silent about his success in striking out Keegan twice, joking that "any tension in the two countries' relationship has nothing to do with me."

Liu Shih-chun (劉世忠), English secretary to the President, displayed his skill in catching fly balls on left outfield.

"I can't believe that even the women on the AIT team sent the ball flying over my head," said Liu, who was kept busy chasing fly balls yesterday.

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