Crossing Continents: How Baseball Became a Shared Passion for Taiwan and Holland

Tomorrow, Saturday 11th of March 2023 the Taiwanese baseball team plays against the team of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the 2023 World Baseball Classic tournament.

The Taiwan team WBSC rank is currently 2nd while the Kingdom of the Netherlands WBSC rank is currently 7th.

You can’t ask to wonder, how did baseball become so popular in both Taiwan and the Netherlands, and why the Dutch team is referred to as the kingdom of the Netherlands? Let’s explore a bit more in how baseball became popular in our countries.

Short history of baseball

The game originated from older bat-and-ball games played in England in the mid-18th century. After these game were brought to North America by immigrants, where it evolved to the modern version. By the late 19th century, baseball was one of the main the national sports in the United States. In 1876 the Major League Baseball was founded. Around the world Baseball became more popular since the 1900’s with a strong growth after WWII when Americans introduced the game locally.

History of baseball in the Netherlands

The history of baseball in the Netherlands is quite interesting. The Dutch league was founded in 1912 but actually Baseball isn’t a big sport in the Netherlands, It is not televised often and not widely known. But why the Netherlands is so good in baseball then?

As you noticed before the team is officially called ‘The kingdom of the Netherlands’. And here is the key point, not only players from the the Netherlands but also players from other countries in the Kingdom are included in the Dutch team. This includes Caribbean island nations such as Curacao, Aruba and Sint Maarten, as well as the islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius.

And guess what, there baseball is highly popular with young players looking for a professional career around the corner in the United States. And so combined the Dutch kingdom’s team is a strong team.

With recent years getting good results in the world baseball classic, getting fourth place in both 2013 and 2017.

Players to watch: Xander Bogaerts and Kenly Jansen

[2] image, Baseball team of the Netherlands

History of baseball in Taiwan

Baseball was introduced in Taiwan during Japanese colonial times but grew in popularity in the 60’s and 70’s when Taiwan youth teams won many competitions. They have a 61-6 record in Little League World Series play, and from 1969-96, the team won 17 LLWS titles.

Recently the Taiwan team won the Asian Baseball Championship in 2019 and is tied with South Korea for second most ABC medals of all time with 26 (Japan is first with 29). They won silver at the 1992 Olympics and finished fifth at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games.

Taiwan has a baseball competition and a stadium visit is popular among Taiwan people. Their Main baseball stadion is located in Taichung. The Taichung intercontinental baseball Stadium has a capacity of 20,000 people.

As a host of group A of the 2023 WBC a game is really worth a visit. Expect a full stadium, good food, and cheerleading squads and fans chanting their team to victory.

Players to watch: Chin-Feng Chen, Chien-Ming Wang and Yu Chang.

[3] image, Baseball in Taichung 1967.

World baseball classic 2023

Lets go back to the 2023 world baseball classic: For this year 20 teams have qualified for the WBC and both Taiwan and the Netherlands are placed in Group A and have to play against each other. Top 2 teams of each Group will move on to the knockout phase.

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Interestingly all the games in Group A will be played in Taiwan in Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium (Taichung, Taiwan) so the Taiwan team has its home fans cheering for them. Quite cool I feel as it shows the world how passionate Taiwanese people are in baseball.

The game will start on March 11th, 12:00 Dutch time, 19:00 Taiwan time. Dutch channel ESPN will televise the game.

Hope you felt interesting to read this article about Taiwan an Dutch baseball history.

I wish good luck to both teams!

Interesting or helpful links and resources

I gave a brief history about Taiwan baseball history but if you want to know more about the topic I highly recommend this podcast from Formosa files in which they elaborate on it more deeply.

If you have netflix I also highly recommend this documentary about the Taiwanese MLB player Chien-Ming Wang. It follows the player who, after a promising debut in the Major league for the New York Yankees, got injured and sidelined as he tries to come back to the major league. The documentary really shows how passionate he is as he tries to follow his dream of playing in the Major League Baseball.

Image credits

[1] Simon Liu / Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan) (中華民國總統府), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

[2] Tranpan23 on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

[3] 余如季, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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