Saturday morning we woke up at about 11 am (a bit tired from our 'language exchange' the previous night... more Taiwanese drinking games!!) and thought to ourselves... let's go to a baseball game today! So we called our friend Eric to ask him how we could get to Tainan (a city in southern Taiwan) to watch our local team, the Taichung Bulls, play the Tainan Lions. Within an hour of waking up we were at a bus station and by 1:20 we were on our way to Tainan via bus.
If you asked me how to get to the Tainan baseball stadium I would NEVER be able to tell you though, because [in typical Taiwanese fashion!] Eric took us to the bus station, bought us our tickets, wrote down the name of the stadium for us, told the bus driver where we needed to get off and that we needed a taxi once we got there, and all I had to do was show the taxi driver the words Eric wrote down and he took us directly to the stadium.... So in the blink of an eye (and a three hour bus ride) we arrived at the Tainan baseball stadium:
Now I guess I really didn't have any special expectations of the Taiwanese baseball game, but I figured it would be similar to an American baseball game, only smaller... but boy was I wrong. It was absolutely nothing like an American baseball game.
The crowd was completely separated according to team allegiance; one side with the home team and one side for the visitors. We actually sat in the Tainan section because we didn't know any better! Each section of the stadium has it's own drummer and "cheer leader" guy who chants into a microphone to lead the crowd in cheering on their respective teams. Our section also had a group of trumpets to play along! (seriously, real trumpets!) It was absolutely amazing. This guy - and the fans - cheered the entire game. Their enthusiasm did not wane one bit throughout the entire 12-innings.
They cheered every time anything happened in the game, and lots of times when nothing at all was happening. Someone catches a ball - that calls for a chant! Someone gets a hit and makes it to first base - it's time for the trumpets to play Popeye the Sailor Man! Your team is up to bat - that's a time to be especially loud!
There were also about three flag guys per team waving flags in the air with the beat of the drum. Nick and I really had to admire their enthusiasm, even if we did find it a bit excessive at times (and the drum definitely wasn't good for my headache!). It sure isn't anything like a relaxing day at the ball park back at home.
Nick and I scored some fantastic seats, first row in front of first base, and had a great view of the game... most of the time. But every other inning, the cheer leaders would come and stand on top of the dug out, RIGHT in front us to lead cheers, completely blocking our view!! (I don't think fans would approve of this in the US). However, their enthusiasm and organization were lacking at times.
Just before the 7th inning stretch, they started handing out balloons to the entire crowd...
I had no idea what was happening, but of course I played along and blew mine up as well. In the middle of the 7th inning, the cheerleaders got on the field and the entire crowd held their balloons in the air:
And then... all at once, we let them go!
And that was it for the balloons. It was quite random, but definitely entertaining! haha.
With all of the hoopla going on, you would have thought it was playoffs or that they teams were huge rivals... but no, this was just a normal game, and from what I'm told, this is standard at any baseball game!
In case you're wondering: the game ended after 12 innings in a 4-4 tie!