Southpaw pitcher Kuo Hong-chih to join Lions soon: sources
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuo Hong-chih (郭泓志), a left-handed Taiwanese former pitcher for the LA Dodgers, is expected to join the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions in the near future, in a potential boost to Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) box office sales, according to informed sources.
September 22, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The sources said that Kuo will become a billboard pitcher with the Lions in the foreseeable future as both Kuo and the team have almost finished related negotiations and may sign an official contract shortly after the Moon Festival.
The sources said Kuo will become the first beneficiary of a new regulation set by the CPBL in June of this year. Under the regulation, those who perform well in professional baseball teams abroad will be allowed to conduct negotiations over joining any of the CPBL's four professional teams as long as their outstanding performances are recognized by the board of executive directors under the CPBL.
The Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions team started to negotiate with Kuo in early July, and should complete negotiations by the end of September, the deadline for such negotiations. If an official contract is signed after the end of the negotiations, Kuo will appear in the CPBL in 2014.
This year's box office sales were the second-highest they have been in the CPBL's 24-year history, with average attendance reaching 6,226 fans per game as of Sept. 20, second only to the record high of 6,878 fans per game set in 1992, the CPBL's third operating year, according to CPBL data.
The holding of the 2013 World Baseball Classic in early March in Taichung as well as former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez's joining of in the EDA Rhinos in mid-March helped to ensure that average attendance soared past the 10,000-mark in March. The attendance gradually declined in the following months to only 4,220 fans per game in September.
Should Kuo Hong-chih move to the Lions, he is expected to boost CPBL box office sales for the Tainan-based team and the CPBL in 2014, observers said.
This year, average game attendance for matches including the Lions reached 5,336, almost double the corresponding figure for last year, yet still behind the other three CPBL teams. Accordingly, the Lions hope Kuo will help boost the team's popularity.