Chinese Professional Baseball League
The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL; Chinese: 中華職業棒球大聯盟) is the top-tier professional baseball league in Taiwan. The league was established in 1989. CPBL eventually absorbed the competing Taiwan Major League in 2003. As of the 2019 season, the CPBL consists of four teams.
|No. of teams||4|
|Lamigo Monkeys (6th title)|
|Most titles||Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (9 titles)|
|Qualification||Asia Series (2005–2013)|
|TV partner(s)||CPBL TV|
Fox Sports Asia
Videoland Television Network
Eleven Sports Network
|Level on pyramid||1|
Baseball was first introduced to Taiwan during Japanese rule, and gained popularity when the national little league baseball teams won numerous Little League World Series championships in the 1970s and 1980s. The national baseball team also performed exceptionally well in many international competitions. However, the development of baseball in Taiwan was limited due to the lack of a professional league, and therefore many players were reluctant to commit to the sport.
The idea of forming a professional baseball league in Taiwan was first suggested by local Brother Hotel's chairman Hung Teng-Sheng (洪騰勝). He formed his amateur Brother Hotel baseball team in 1984, and intended to professionalize his team and form a professional league within a few years. Throughout 1988 and 1989, Hung visited numerous Taiwanese businesses, trying to convince them to form professional baseball clubs. Most of his requests were rejected, but Wei Chuan Corporation, Mercuries Chain Stores, and Uni-President Corporation all supported the idea and formed teams. The Chinese Professional Baseball League was established on October 23, 1989, with Hung Teng-sheng acting as secretary-general. Because of his contribution to professional baseball in Taiwan, Hung is sometimes referred to as the "Father of the CPBL." Chung Meng-shun (鍾孟舜) designed every original logo of the four founding teams.
Taiwan Major League
In 1997, the newly founded Taiwan Major League began to compete with the CPBL. The two leagues were often competing with each other, but eventually, the TML merged with the CPBL.
All teams are owned by and named after large Taiwanese corporations, a similar practice seen in Japan's NPB and South Korea's KBO. Each team manages a regional market with a home city, but does not play its games exclusively in that market. Other than the home cities, regular season games are also held in Hsinchu, Douliou, Chiayi, Pingtung, Luodong, Hualien, and Taitung with less frequency.
Each season spans from March to October, with a one-week all-star break in June or July, which separates the season into first and second half-seasons. Playoffs are held in late October or early November, with three teams competing in two rounds. A team may qualify for playoffs either by winning a half-season title, or be awarded a wild card berth by attaining the highest place in the seasonal ranks. If a team wins a half-season title, it will not be considered in the seasonal ranks when the winner of the wild card is being decided. If both half seasons were won by the same team, another wild card berth will be given through the same mechanism after the first berth has been awarded.
Due to recent reduction in the number of teams, the regulation above may be modified to better apply to the current situation.
Since 2005 the champion team will represent Taiwan in the Asia Series to compete with other champion teams from Nippon Professional Baseball (Japan Series), KBO League (Korean Series), Australian Baseball League (Claxton Shield), and the Confederation of European Baseball (European Champion Cup).
A typical monthly salary for a foreign player is in between 5,000-12,000 USD, these positions are normally filled by AA, AAA, or Japanese minor leaguers. The number of foreign players allowed on a team's roster is limited to four. Of the four players only three are allowed to be activated on the major league roster, the remaining foreign player can practice and prepare with the team or play in the minors. A foreign player, once sent to the minor league team, must wait a week before being allowed to be recalled to the major league.
Foreign players, from regions other than Japan and South Korea, are given Chinese epithets to increase familiarity with Taiwanese fans. These epithets, usually two to three characters in length, are generally loose transliterations of the players' names and are generally chosen as terms meant to convey strength or might. One example is Jeff Andra, whose epithet is Feiyong (飛勇) — meaning, literally, a flying brave man. Recently however, most foreign players are just simply given a direct Chinese transcription. Some players (mostly foreign players) have now adopted the custom in the rest of the world by placing their surnames on the back of their jerseys using the Latin alphabet. Some teams now have adopted Latin alphabet jerseys, a trend that has picked up in recent years. The Fubon Guardians only have uniforms with such, and the other teams are adopting such jerseys on occasion.
|Chinatrust Brothers||中信兄弟||Taichung City*||Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium*||20,000||1990|
|Fubon Guardians||富邦悍將||New Taipei City||Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium||12,500||1993|
|Lamigo Monkeys||Lamigo桃猿||Taoyuan City||Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium||20,000||2004|
|Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions||統一7-ELEVEN獅||Tainan City||Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium||12,000||1990|
* Brother Elephants did not reach an agreement with Taichung City Government, but nonetheless play their home games in the regional market.
CPBL Minor League took shape in late 2003 as a result of cooperation with Chinese Taipei Baseball Association. Alternative service draftees, players deemed eligible to complete their national service obligation in the field of baseball, were sent to CPBL member organizations to fill their roster. There are currently four minor league teams, each plays about 80 games annually. Similar to NPB's minor leagues, the minor league teams are each owned by CPBL member clubs as reserve teams rather than independent organizations. Starting in 2019, a new minor league club is set to be operated by the Australian Baseball League as their "winter ball" league as an Australian team is set to begin play in the top CPBL league in 2020.
|Wei Chuan Dragons|
|Chinatrust Whales (defunct)|
|China Times Eagles (defunct)|
|Macoto Cobras (defunct)|
|Mercuries Tigers (defunct)|
* Taiwan Series was not held in 1992, 1994 and 1995 because Brother Elephants and Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions won the titles by virtue of winning both half-seasons, resulting in no losers in the 3 seasons' Taiwan Series.
- As of the end of the 2017 season.
Home Run Derby
Most Valuable Player award
Rookie of the Year Award
CPBL Manager of the Year Award
CPBL Golden Glove Award
Most progress award
- Main article: CPBL most progressive award (comeback player)
Taiwan Series MVP
Taiwan Series Outstanding Player
CPBL All-Star Game MVP
CPBL MVP of the Month
Colors of Cheersticks in CPBL
- Wei Chuan Dragons: Red
- EDA Rhinos: Purple
- Brother Elephants: Yellow
- Mercuries Tigers: Blue
- Uni-President Lions: Green at beginning, then changed to orange and green, and all orange now.
- China Times Eagles: White and black
- Jungo Bears and Sinon Bulls: Light green
- Chinatrust Whales: Green and white at beginning, then changed to blue, then all white.
- Macoto Gida, Macoto Cobras and dmedia T-REX: Red at beginning, then changed to orange and black, then red and black.
- First Financial Agan and Lamigo Monkeys (La New Bears): Light blue at beginning, then changed to teal, now black and white.
- Fubon Guardians: Aquamarine
Despite its young age, professional baseball in Taiwan had suffered game-fixing scandals several times. Such scandals have led to decline in attendance and also the disbanding of some teams.
The August 3 Incident
The first scandal was the "August 3 Incident", when a group of weapon-carrying local gang members rushed into a Taichung hotel and threatened five Brother Elephants players, including star pitcher Chen Yi-Hsin (陳義信), in order for them to cooperate with the gang and fix games for their gambling business on the evening of August 3, 1996. CPBL reported the incident to the police immediately and the gang members were soon arrested, but rumors about game fixing swirled in Taiwan.
The Black Eagles Incident
The rumors came true in January 1997, just before the season started. With solid evidence, police arrested several CPBL players suspected of being in illegal gambling. During the process, many players, mostly from the China Times Eagles, were found to be involved in the game-fixing and were promptly expelled by CPBL. In June 1997, only two Taiwanese players on the roster of the China Times Eagles were not involved in any sort of scandal, and the rest of the league had to lend their players to the Eagles so that they could finish out the season.
The China Times Eagles were eventually disbanded the next season as a result, and attendance declined sharply, from its peak of 6,000 in 1994 to merely 1,500 in 1998. However, the fiasco did not end there. In August 1997, several Mercuries Tigers players were threatened by gambling gangs under similar circumstances as the August 3 Incident. In April 1999, the Wei Chuan Dragons' then manager Hsu Sheng-ming (徐生明) was attacked near his residence in Taipei. The Mercuries Tigers and the Wei Chuan Dragons were also badly affected by the financial loss brought on by the scandal and were disbanded after the 1999 season. The scandal was later nicknamed "The Black Eagles Incident", a reference to the Black Sox Scandal, and also because the China Times Eagles were the most involved in the scandal.
2005 game-fixing scandal
In July 2005, another gambling-related scandal surfaced when the local Next Magazine published a story with photographs of Chinatrust Whales' Australian pitcher Brad Purcell at a Taipei lounge bar along with several local gang members. This article also pointed out several games which may have been fixed between May and June 2005, and listed nearly ten players involved, mostly from foreign countries.
Local prosecutor Hsu Wei-Yueh (徐維嶽) took up the case and arrested La New Bears catcher Chen Chao-Ying (陳昭穎) and Macoto Cobras coach Tsai Sheng-Fong (蔡生豐) on July 27, both of whom were immediately expelled from the league. However, on August 22, Hsu released the two, stating that "they had made full confessions". Brad Purcell himself had been released earlier by the Chinatrust Whales (and expelled from the league) and fled Taiwan before any trial could start.
Hsu later summoned a total of fifteen players, including Sinon Bulls American pitcher Jeff Andra, La New Bears Puerto Rican infielder Victor Rodriguez, and Chinatrust Whales Dominican pitcher Emiliano Giron, and claimed that they were involved in gambling. None of the players admitted to being involved in game-fixing but Hsu ruled that the imprisoned players needed bail of NT $100,000 to be released. CPBL immediately expelled the players who were arrested. Only the Brother Elephants and the Uni-President Lions were unaffected by this scandal.
The circumstances of this scandal remain unclear, with the lack of evidence and confessions, and the fact that Hsu Wei-Yueh himself was later arrested for his involvement in bribery scandals, which led to his trial and sentence in 2005.
dmedia T-REX scandal
On October 8, 2008, Banciao district attorney's office called the owner of dmedia T-REX Shih Chien-hsin, the team's GM, spokesperson, one coach, and three players to the office for allegedly being involved in game-fixing. The three players, Chen Yuen-chia (陳元甲), Chen Ke-fan (陳克帆), and Cory Bailey, were later released after posting bail. In accordance with CPBL policy, the three were immediately expelled and they were banned from playing professionally in the league. Due to the involvement of management/operation personnel in the scandal, the team was expelled from CPBL on October 23, 2008.
The Chinatrust Whales also announced their disbandment on November 11, after playing twelve years in the CPBL. The league now only has 4 teams.
2009 game-fixing scandal
The day after the final game of the 2009 Taiwan Series authorities raided the Brother Elephants' dormitory in Taipei and ordered several players to report to the prosecutors' office for questioning regarding game-fixing allegations. In the following weeks, multiple players from the Brother Elephants, Sinon Bulls, and La New Bears were questioned, and some of them were arrested and eventually charged. Furthermore, Elephants manager Shin Nakagomi was also charged and later pled guilty in exchange for being released and allowed to return to Japan. Some of the convicted players were given prison sentences ranging from one to four years.
The CPBL has long been criticized for lacking protection of players' rights, and players do not have a union like the MLB, NPB, and KBO. Players are often given one-year contracts that sometimes include terms that favor team management. Unrestricted free agency does not exist in the CPBL, as the CPBL fears that teams with lower payrolls could be overtaken by high-payroll teams. If a player wishes to sign with another team for any reason, then he must get the consent of the team he was playing with before. The player's team may counteroffer. That does not apply to a player seeking to sign with a team in another country.
The CPBL is governed by a General Managers' Council, which means the members of the council are the respective general managers (GMs) of each team. This is unlike any other professional baseball league around the world, where the governing body usually consists of a committee of selected individuals unaffiliated with any other franchise. The CPBL governing structure effectively renders the league powerless in regulation and enforcement of many policies, as GMs can easily veto any major resolutions. Since major reform would require a unanimous approval of the council, it is difficult to initiate major reforms.