Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Wonderful World of Taiwanese Baseball

Photo Credit: Travel Geek

We recently asked a few of our expat friends to tell us their favorite parts of Taiwan that they had not expected or anticipated liking upon first arriving. We got answers that ranged from morning trips to the fruit and vegetable markets to the cycling routes along the north coast; the wonderful world of pancakes (see our post here), to the alien-like architecture, to free diving off of Liuqiu. One of the many responses that stuck out, however, was the joy and experience of attending Taiwanese baseball games. And oh boy are our friends correct.

Grab your crackerjacks folks, it’s time to head to the ballgames.

History of Baseball in Taiwan

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Wonderful World of Taiwanese Baseball 2
Photo Credit: Culture Teld

Now there is Baseball and then there is Taiwanese baseball. The Japanese introduced the game to Taiwan during Colonial Rule. For much of the early 1900’s baseball in Taiwan was played by Japanese players. Most of the games were held in Taipei and came to be very interconnected with the economic and political elite. In the 1920’s and early 1930’s, however, this began to change with the Neng-Gao Club and later Kano Team which would go on to incorporate Japanese, Han Chinese, and indigenous Taiwanese in their rosters (see the award winning film Kano here). When Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists arrived in Taiwan in the wake of WWII they sought to erase much of the Japanese influence on the Island, however, they kept the tradition of baseball alive. The sport would go on to grow in the form of minor league teams and become a defining point of identity for the Island. These teams and the sport became a point of national pride through much of the 70’s and 80’s as Taiwan gained recognition on the world stage. The 90’s brought a professional baseball league and nationally famous players. People followed the games obsessively and the players themselves became public icons. In the years since the mid-90’s Taiwanese baseball has had some major setbacks including cheating and game rigging scandals that forced multiple players and teams to resign. Since the 2016, however, baseball is seeing a revival in Taiwan as more and more people are coming back to watch and participate in the games.

To read more, check out the 101 of Baseball through Taiwan’s Digital Archives Program.

Baseball Season in Taiwan

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Wonderful World of Taiwanese Baseball 3
Photo Credit: WBSC

While there are baseball stadiums around the island, most of the bigger games are played in Taipei or Taoyuan. The Chinese Professional Baseball League, or CPBL, games typically take place in the late afternoon and evening once the weather gets warmer between March and mid November. You can find a schedule for the upcoming games at the CPBL website here.

What to Expect at Your First Ball Game

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Wonderful World of Taiwanese Baseball 4
Photo Credit: LA Times

Cheerleaders, diehard fans, near-constant crowd chanting, grandstand bands, cheap entry tickets, great food, and beer vendors with backpacks. Yes, you read that correctly, baseball in Taiwan is an entire nine-inning experience.

Americans have football, much of the rest of the world has fútbol, and while we have heard tell that baseball in Japan is an entirely different level of the experience, afternoons at a ballgame in Taiwan make for some of the best entertainment that you can find. Cheerleaders (who are often as individually popular as the base ball players themselves), and the band will often lead the crowd or diehard fans in different chants and cheers that everyone seems to know by heart. For the first time foreigner, attending a baseball stadium in Taiwan can feel like a cross between a tailgate party, a rock concert, and a full body workout and this is without the energy of the game itself. It is important to note that the noise / fanfare goes on regardless of the action on the field. There is no quiet before a pitch or really a dull moment in any form. Luckily there are plenty of options for refreshments that are often wonderfully affordable (there are not the stadium prices that you face in other parts of the world). “The good times have truly never seemed so good.”

If you and your friends or colleagues find yourselves with an afternoon to spare, take our advice and catch a baseball game in Taiwan. It may just become one of your new favorite parts of the island.


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