Myers: Taiwan baseball is ‘hot noisy’ and ingrained in national identity

From Steven Lee Myers at the New York Times on August 5, 2018:

As the batter steps to the plate, the clamor crescendoes, a rhyming, thumping chant, often tailored to his name.

Cheerleaders prance atop the dugout, accompanied by blaring recorded music or even live drums and brass instruments. Fans wield all manner of noise makers — clappers, pairs of plastic bats, small vuvuzelas — pretty much nonstop for nine innings.

They are not trying to distract the opposing team’s batter, but to cheer on their own. How any batter manages to concentrate enough in the din to get a hit is anyone’s guess.

“Yi qi an da! Yi qi an da!” (pronounced ee-chi-ahn-dah) goes one of the more general chants, which is, roughly, the way to say, “Let’s get a hit together.”

On a recent night, Chin Jou-lin, an ebullient 28-year-old fan, was sitting along the right-field line at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in this city in northwest Taiwan. She said she had heard that in America you could actually hear the crack of the bat hitting the ball. She giggled, incredulous.

“I can’t imagine,” she said.

To say baseball is a national obsession in Taiwan might be an overstatement since its fortunes have risen and fallen over the years. It does, however, seem deeply ingrained in its national identity as a small but spirited bastion of democracy.

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Originally published: August 8, 2018. Last Updated: August 8, 2018.