Taiwan has always been known as a creative, cultural, and technological country. While U.S. travelers are familiar with sprawling Asian cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai, the country of Taiwan has been Asia’s best-kept secret for decades. While the country is a 12 hour direct flight from the United States, you don’t need to travel all the way to Taiwan to enjoy its splendor. We dive into the sport that brings us all together at Taiwan Day 2017.
On August 20th, The New York Mets and Taiwan Tourism Bureau hosted the 13th annual Taiwan Day at Citi Field when The Mets took on the Miami Marlins. As an added bonus, The Taiwan Tourism Bureau in partnership with SNY, is sending two lucky fans to Taiwan! This trip will include roundtrip airfare to/from a NYC area airport to Taipei, Taiwan plus a five-day, four-night stay at the five-star Regent Taipei Hotel! Taiwan has a beautiful blend of frenzied city life and a calm countryside.
American visitors can find much to enjoy when visiting Taiwan. Few tourists realize their vacation around the world can still include comforts from home, such as baseball.
Taiwan Tourism at Citi Field
During the Mets game at Citi Field, there was a tourism information table filled with traditional Taiwanese snacks, giveaways, and family fun activities. The Taiwanese mascot, “Oh Bear,” appeared at the game and got the fans revved up for the game. There were also traditional Taiwanese folk dance performances. This performance involved a religious folk icon, Santaizi, who can be found at Taiwanese temple festivals. Outside of the stadium, the crowd went wild as the upbeat music and dance excited the fans with their families.
This was an American team playing, but the crowd was full of visitors from Taiwan. They were eager to compare their hometown games to American baseball.
In addition to the dancing, there was a contemporary Taiwanese music performance. The band, Liu Sheng Ji, performed music with traditional Oriental instruments and mixed them with a Western flare, creating a sound that incorporated rock, jazz, blue, R&B, Funk, electronic music and disco all in one.
Concerts and additional performances like this are commonplace at a Taiwanese stadium. Fans come to every game expecting to be entertained at every minute.
Why does Taiwan Day happen at a baseball stadium?
Taiwan used to be occupied by the Japanese. These colonizers were the ones who first brought baseball to Taiwan. Taiwan even references baseball on their currency! As you may know, this small country is just a tiny island compared to China’s vast expanses. Taiwan has struggled for complete independence and recognition as a sovereign nation. Baseball is one of the ways that Taiwan tries to stand out from China on the national stage.
Little League Champions
Taiwan won the Little League World Series 17 times in the span of 1969 to 1996. For Americans who were paying close attention to their favorite sport, Taiwan was making a name for itself. Perhaps US viewers had never heard of this island before, but if they were winning championships, they deserved recognition. This was huge for a country that was struggling with much-larger China to be recognized as a sovereign nation. Would this be Taiwan’s big break? Suddenly Taiwan was pumping out players (at the youth and adult levels) of international renown.WILLIAMSPORT, PA – AUGUST 30: United States Vice President Joseph Biden speaks to the teams and crowd before the game between California (Chula Vista) and Asia Pacific (Taoyuan, Taiwan) in the little league world series final at Lamade Stadium on August 30, 2009 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Investing In Taiwanese Professional Baseball
Sadly, Taiwan’s baseball industry suffered a few scandalous setbacks. Following some unfortunate mismanagement in the 90s, Taiwan was ready to revisit its relationship with professional baseball teams in the 2000s. Even US players were getting in on the action. Manny Ramirez played for the EDA Rhinos at the tail-end of his career. Taiwanese players who have been scattered all over the globe are slowly returning to their home country to play, and their being paid better than ever to do so. Monthly salaries for players jumped about 20% in the CPBL in 2016.Mandy Cheng/AFP/Getty Images
Cheaper to Be a Fan In Taiwan
US tickets to major league games can be in the $20 to $50 range, while it’s usually never higher than $16 USD to see a game in Taiwan. You can also snack on amazing things like grilled octopus and fried dumplings. The stadium experience in Taiwan is truly fantastic for fans, including cheerleaders, drum squads, celebrity photo ops, and more. American visitors will feel right at home cheering for some of the best players in the world!