1993 Dodgers Friendship Series to Taipei, Taiwan, October 29-31. Hall of Fame Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda is coaching at third base and gives instruction to Dodger catcher and future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. The Dodgers were the first Major League Baseball team to play in Taiwan (Republic of China). They also played two games in Japan on the friendship series trip. Piazza was named the 1993 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year on his return home.

Jon SooHoo, Dodger photographer

Taiwan: Longtime Relationships Lead to a Historic Dodger Visit and Baseball First

By Brent Shyer

The friendly relationship between the Dodgers and Taiwan (Republic of China) began in August, 1969, when the Little League World Series champions from Taichung were guests of the Dodgers for a game at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles. Taichung swept their way through the 23rd Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

In 1974, after having been impressed by watching Taiwan Little Leaguers win their fourth consecutive Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Dodger President Peter O’Malley asked his friend Dr. Creighton Hale, President, Little League Baseball, to introduce him to baseball leaders in Taiwan. With that connection, O’Malley then took his first trip to Taiwan on October 30, 1974 to learn more about the country’s Little League and amateur baseball development programs.  

(L-R): Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara, Assistant to Dodger President Peter O’Malley; Dodger President Peter O’Malley; P.P. Tang, Baseball Commissioner, Taiwan (Republic of China). O’Malley meets on November 2, 1989 with Tang in Taipei, Taiwan to discuss how to promote the opening of the newly-formed, four-team Chinese Professional Baseball League in 1990.

When Taiwan was preparing to start its professional league in 1989, O’Malley was invited to spend time with the first Commissioner of Professional Baseball, P.P. Tang, and other baseball leaders discussing ways to promote and enhance the new four-team league, comprised of Wei Chuan Dragons, the President Lions, the Mercuries Tigers, and the Brother Hotel Elephants. That was an important step in his friendship which continues with Taiwan. Tang was also President, Chinese Taipei Baseball Association for amateurs and President, Broadcasting Corp. of China.

A November 3, 1989 invitation to Peter O’Malley for dinner hosted by P.P. Tang, the President of the Amateur Baseball Association, Republic of China. Tang was also the first Commissioner of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.

During meetings from November 2-4, 1989 in Taipei, Taiwan, Dodger President Peter O’Malley (right) and his assistant Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara visit Taipei Municipal Stadium. O’Malley provided insight and advice to the start-up Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), which was to have its inaugural season in 1990. O’Malley was back in Taiwan for the first game on March 17, 1990.

P.P. Tang, the first Baseball Commissioner in Taiwan, presented this figurine of a catcher to Dodger President Peter O’Malley in appreciation of O’Malley’s advice in assisting the start-up Chinese Professional Baseball League in 1990. Tang was also head of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association.

After additional exchanges, O’Malley was invited back to Taiwan for the March 17, 1990 ceremonies of the inaugural season of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) at Taipei Baseball Stadium. O’Malley and many international friends, including Tokyo Yomiuri Giants owner Toru Shoriki, Giants Hall of Fame all-time home run king Sadaharu Oh, and Mexico City Tigres founder Alejo Peralta, gathered in Taipei to lend encouragement and goodwill, not only for the opening of the league, but to secure its bright future.

At the opening ceremonies, O’Malley said, “I commend Commissioner Tang for bringing together today representatives from both professional and amateur baseball. Good friends can work together better than strangers and today there are no strangers here, we are all good friends in baseball.” 

O’Malley met with the four pioneer professional team owners, including the Hong brothers of the Hotel Brother Elephants. O’Malley met in the same room at the famous Brother Hotel where the professional baseball league was born. The Brother Elephants became a dominant team in the 1990s winning three Taiwan Series championships. 

On April 9, 1990, Tang met with O’Malley at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles as the Dodgers celebrated Opening Day of their 100th Anniversary season in professional baseball.

Peter O’Malley (right) invited P.P. Tang, Taiwan Baseball Commissioner, to meet with him in the Chairman’s Box at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles on Opening Day, April 9, 1990.

Sam Yang, the former Secretary General of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (left), is welcomed to the Chairman’s Box at Dodger Stadium on August 17, 1991 by Dodger President Peter O’Malley (right) and Assistant to Dodger President Akihiro “Ike” Ikuhara.

O’Malley welcomed and met with Sam Yang, former Secretary General of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, at the August 17, 1991 Dodger game at Dodger Stadium.

A special pin was created by the Dodgers as a souvenir for their 1993 Friendship Series to Taiwan. The Dodgers played three games at Taipei Municipal Stadium in Taiwan (Republic of China), winning one. The Dodgers were the first Major League Baseball team to travel to Taiwan and play exhibition games.

On May 19, 1993, history was made at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers had the first radio broadcast in Mandarin Chinese on KAZN AM 1300. Also, it was the first Major League Baseball regular season game ever broadcast in four languages in the United States, as Dodger fans could choose from English, Spanish, Korean and Mandarin Chinese.

The friendship of team owners in Taiwan led to another important milestone – the 1993 Dodgers Friendship Series in Taiwan. The Dodgers were the first Major League Baseball team to play in Taiwan, making it a historic goodwill visit. In the fall of 1993, O’Malley led the Dodger delegation to Taiwan to play three exhibition games against Chinese Professional Baseball League All-Star teams. Dodger players on the tour included catcher Mike Piazza, pitchers Pedro Martinez and Orel Hershiser, first baseman Eric Karros, and outfielders Raul Mondesi, Brett Butler and Darryl Strawberry.

O’Malley participated in an October 28, 1993 press conference with new Taiwan Baseball Commissioner C.K. Chen. O’Malley said, “As more and more exchanges like this take place, we’re getting closer to the day there is a true World Series.”

Joining the Dodgers’ traveling party were Bowie Kuhn, former Baseball Commissioner; Bill White, National League President and former major leaguer; Rod Dedeaux, legendary University of Southern California head baseball coach and longtime advocate of international baseball; and Vin Scully, Hall of Fame Dodger broadcaster. A tape delayed version of the first game in Taiwan was broadcast back to the L.A. area in Mandarin on KSCI-Channel 18. 

On October 29, 1993, O’Malley and other baseball leaders were invited to the Presidential Palace to meet Taiwan President Lee Teng-Hui.

On October 29, 1993 at the Presidential Palace, Taipei, Taiwan (People’s Republic of China) during 1993 Dodgers Friendship Series to Taiwan and Japan. (L-R): Daniel Tu, Secretary General, Chinese Professional Baseball League, Taiwan; Bowie Kuhn, former Baseball Commissioner, The Kent Group; Rod Dedeaux, legendary USC head baseball coach; Raymond R.M. Tai, Deputy Secretary-General Office of the President, Republic of China; C.K. Chen, Commissioner, Chinese Professional Baseball League, Taiwan; Lee Teng-Hui, President of the Republic of China & Taiwan Nationalist Party; Dodger President Peter O’Malley; Frank Heffron, President & CEO, MLB International Partners; Aldo Notari, President, International Baseball Association; Bill White, President, National League; Eiichiro Yamamoto, President, Baseball Federation of Japan.

In 1996, O’Malley established a working agreement with the professional Sinon Bulls of the CPBL as a delegation including Sinon owner T.F. Yang visited Dodger Stadium. In 1997, the Bulls became the first team from Taiwan to train in Latin America when they worked out and stayed at Campo Las Palmas, the respected Dodgers’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, which was created and privately built by O’Malley in 1987. On February 24, 1997, O’Malley returned to Taipei to attend the season opening game of the CPBL and was asked to address the crowd before the game. 

On July 13, 1996, Dodger President Peter O’Malley (standing) welcomes T.F. Yang, Chairman, Sinon Corporation, owner of the Sinon Bulls Taiwan Baseball team to his Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles office.

On October 10, 1998, Tom Peng, President, Chinese Taipei Baseball Association visited Los Angeles and joined the festivities of the opening of a new Little League Baseball field. (L-R): Stephen Keener, Little League Baseball President; Peng; Dr. Creighton Hale, Little League Baseball, Emeritus President & CEO; Dodger Chairman of the Board Peter O’Malley. Peng later was elected as the President of the Baseball Federation of Asia and, in 2006, was named acting President of the International Baseball Federation upon the passing of Aldo Notari.

In spring 1998, the Sinon Bulls returned to Campo Las Palmas to again train and their owner T.F. Yang stayed in accommodations on site with the team for five days. In October, 1998, Thomas Peng, President, Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, visited Los Angeles and met with O’Malley. Peng joined O’Malley in attending the October 10 opening of Wrigley Little League Field in Los Angeles along with Stephen Keener, President, Little League Baseball and Dr. Creighton Hale, Special Advisor to President Keener and former Little League Baseball President.         

The Chinese Professional Baseball League has been successful for 35 years and it continues with six professional teams throughout Taiwan.