Each of Taiwan’s six special municipalities is to have a professional baseball team next year, as the CPBL yesterday announced that a Kaohsiung-based team run by Taiwan Steel Group (TSG) would start playing in the league’s second division and join the top flight in 2024.
“The glory era of Taiwan baseball is back,” CPBL commissioner Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) told a ceremony in Taipei to introduce the TSG Hawks.
“This is a historic day... The TSG Hawks are joining our league as the newest franchise,” he said, adding that the Hawks would “bring more excitement” by adding a fifth competitor for each of the existing teams.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Tsai, who is also Legislative Yuan deputy speaker, said that the league would have six teams for the first time since 2008, fulfilling the dream of many Taiwanese baseball fans.
“The TSG Hawks will be based at Chengching Lake Stadium,” he said, adding that they would attract fans in Kaohsiung and Pingtung County.
Senior representatives of the five other teams — the Taipei-based Wei Chuan Dragons, the New Taipei City-based Fubon Guardians, the Taoyuan-based Rakuten Monkeys, the Taichung-based CTBC Brothers and the Tainan-based Uni-President Lions — attended the ceremony to welcome the new team to what Tsai called the “CPBL family.”
TSG chairman Hsieh Yu-min (謝裕民) unveiled the team’s logo, showing a stylized soaring hawk in the shape of the letter T, and the colors for the team’s uniforms, which would mostly be dark green.
Former CPBL public relations official Toyo Liu (劉東洋) would be the Hawks’ general manager, while Lin Chen-hsien (林振賢), who played for the Mercury Tigers in the 1990s and whose last coaching position was at the then-La New-Lamigo Monkeys, would be their interim head coach and team coordinator, Hsieh said.
“Besides referring to TSG, our T logo also represents Taiwan,” Hsieh said, expressing the hope that the team would soon participate in international tournaments.
TSG, which last year posted revenue of NT$70 billion (US$2.37 billion), owns 56 companies and subsidiaries, including 14 TAIEX-listed units.
The conglomerate’s focus areas are metal production, chemicals, telecommunication and online networks, as well as sports and recreation activities, he said.
TSG, which also owns the Tainan-based TSG Steel soccer franchise and the TSG Ghosthawks basketball team, would be Taiwan’s only operator of teams in each of Taiwan’s three major sports, he said.
TSG would budget about NT$200 million for the Hawks each year, he said, adding that the team would start to recruit players this year to start playing in the CPBL’s second division next year and join the top flight in 2024.
The team’s philosophy would be based on “professionalism, hard work and discipline,” he said.
“We only want players on our team who have good ethical behavior... Players with bad characters and poor conduct are not welcome on our team,” Hsieh said.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) addressed the event in a video message, while Kaohsiung Sports Development Bureau Director Hou Tsun-yao (侯尊堯) attended in person.
Hou said that the new franchise would attract new investment and infrastructure projects to the area near its ballpark, including a mass rapid transit line extension and city-backed urban renewal plans.
“Around the stadium we will see new projects for residential buildings and shopping malls,” Hou said. “Watching a baseball game will be a whole-day event for the whole family.”
The CPBL had six teams in the 2000s, before the Chinatrust Whales folded and the Dmedia T-REX had their franchise right revoked over a game-fixing scandal. The league had four teams for more than a decade, before the return of the Wei Chuan Dragons in 2020.
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