Remembering legendary baseballer Hsu Sheng-ming
The China Post news staffTaiwan lost a baseball legend last month.
September 14, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Hsu Sheng-ming (徐生明), the manager of local professional baseball team the EDA Rhinos (義大犀牛), died on Aug. 24 of a heart attack.
The acclaimed 55-year-old manager's sudden death was a shock to all Taiwanese baseball fans as Hsu was both the youngest and the most successful coach in the history of professional baseball in Taiwan.
He held the record for number of wins with 715 victories in the two professional baseball leagues of Taiwan: 105 in the short-lived Taiwan Major League (TML) and 610 in the still-extant Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL).
Hsu was also Taiwan's youngest professional baseball manager. At the age of 32, he helmed the now-disbanded Wei Chuan Dragons (味全龍).
The renowned manager also contributed to Taiwanese baseball at the international level. In 2004, Hsu served as manager for Taiwan's national baseball squad, leading Chinese Taipei to a fifth-place finish at the Athens Olympics, despite battling kidney disease.
Looking back on Hsu's life, he was both a prominent player and an outstanding manager. His life epitomizes the history of baseball in modern Taiwan.
Picking up the sport at the age of 10, Hsu, who was born in southern Kaohsiung's Meinung (美濃) in 1958, proved himself to be a talented baseball player. Because of his excellent baseball skills, Hsu was selected in 1969 as a member of the Tainan Giants, a Little League All-Star Team in Southern Taiwan.
The team later claimed a national championship title and ultimately won the LLB world championship in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1971.
The Giants were one of the dozens of Taiwanese teams that dominated the LLB from the 1960s up to the 1990s.
Hsu continued to dominate the mound as a star pitcher, known for his dazzling knuckleball, as he advanced to adult-level baseball.
He later became the first Taiwanese ever to play on an amateur team in South Korea until he later came back to Taiwan following the establishment of the CPBL in 1990.
At the age of 32, Hsu took over as the manger of the Dragons, capturing the championship in 1999, and holding the title for three consecutive years, which can be seen as the pinnacle of his coaching career.
Following the disbandment of the Dragons in 2000, together with some Dragons players, he joined TML's First Financial Holdings Agan (第一金剛) to serve as the team's manager.
After TML disbanded and merged with the CPBL, Hsu returned to the CPBL to coach the Chinatrust Wales (中信鯨) and the Sinon Bulls (興農牛) until he joined the Rhinos, which took over management of the Bulls last year.
Hsu was most memorable among the fans because of his unique coaching style that utilized surprise tactics, earning him the nickname: “baseball magician.”
He was known for his volatile temperament, often confronting umpires on controversial calls and even his own players when they disobeyed his instructions.
But what made Hsu special was his determination to fight the game-throwing that has plagued professional baseball in Taiwan for decades. During his tenure as Dragons' manager, he was wounded in a knife attack in April, 1999, for refusing to go along with a game-fixing scam.
As pointed out by baseball commentator Tseng Wen-cheng (曾文誠), one of the most impressive things about Hsu was his insistence on mining locally sourced talent.
Earlier this year, the Rhinos recruited former MLB star Manny Ramirez, whose short-lived tenure helped boost CPBL ticket sales.
Hsu, however, repeatedly said that Taiwanese baseball should not rely on foreign imports alone. In 2012, he raised NT$5 million to launch a 10-year project to cultivate local baseball talent in Kaohsiung.
The China Post expresses gratitude for Hsu's lifelong contribution to Taiwan baseball. We bid farewell to the baseball giant. His lifetime dedication to local baseball will always be remembered.