As the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) opened to an influx of fans whose passion for the sport was rekindled by the national team’s performance at the World Baseball Classic last month, the government has been pushing for a fifth team in the league, officials said.
“We need to seize the opportunity to vigorously promote the sport and hope that a fifth team can be formed by the end of this year,” Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said yesterday on the sidelines of a baseball field.
Several conglomerates have been in talks with CPBL president Huang Cheng-tai (黃鎮台) over the possibility of sponsoring a professional baseball team and there has been “great interest,” Chiang said, without revealing the names of the firms.
Chiang yesterday was the starting pitcher for a team composed of Cabinet officials, called Chunghwa Lao Bang (中華老棒隊), in an exhibition game against Dong Yuan Elementary School’s baseball team.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Chiang put the team together after Taiwan were ranked fourth in the International Baseball Federation’s world rankings, the best ranking in their history, mainly due to the national team’s performance at the World Baseball Classic in Japan.
The Executive Yuan’s team was defeated 12-5 by Dong Yuan Elementary School.
Chiang said the team was formed as a show of the Cabinet’s determination to spur the development of baseball in Taiwan.
“The performance of the national team at the World Baseball Classic made people zealous for baseball and we wanted to take this opportunity to encourage more children to play baseball to cultivate young talent and to develop baseball into a real national sport,” Jiang said.
The CPBL was founded in 1989. At its peak in 1997, Taiwan had two leagues and 11 professional teams.
The Taiwan Major League, formed in 1996, ran at a loss and was absorbed into the CPBL in 2003. The CPBL had nine teams, but after a series of game-fixing and corruption scandals, the number of fans attending games fell and the league now has only four teams.