By Melissa Keogh
A “rockstar” baseball player from Taiwan will help shine a spotlight on South Australia when he hits big for Adelaide’s baseball team later this year.
Chang Tai-Shan is one of the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s (CPBL) top sluggers and has been recruited by Adelaide Bite for the upcoming 2017/18 Australian Baseball League season.
The deal with the 40-year-old big hitter – nicknamed the ‘Tarzan’ by his fans – is expected to help boost SA’s exposure in Asia and generate a number of commercial deals.
Baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry in China, and Adelaide Bite executive officer Nathan Davison says SA stands to benefit from the deal.
Nathan heads to Taiwan this week to officially announce the signing of the veteran slugger, who holds the CPBL’s record for the most home runs at 289.
“He’s at that time in his career where he’s looking to get to that 300 home run and play in another country,” says Nathan, who is also executive officer of Baseball SA.
“We get a lot of interest (from overseas players to play in Adelaide) but not people of this calibre.”
In February a Taiwanese team came to Brisbane and played one exhibition game which was viewed by half-a-million people on FacebookLive and about 150,000 YouTube viewers.
Nathan says the partnership could lead to commercial sponsorship, while a TV deal for the games to be aired or streamed in Taiwan is also on the cards.
“We have the opportunity to convince people to come and see beautiful Adelaide,” he says.
“We have a facility here, but it’s getting to the right people and saying, ‘did you know that we can do this in Adelaide?’”
The Adelaide Bite team is based in West Beach and is one of the Australian Baseball League’s founding teams.
Its first game for the upcoming 2017/18 season kicks off on November 17 in a four-match series against Sydney Blue Sox.
Bite will return to the diamond at West Beach, Adelaide, to face off against Melbourne Aces on November 23.
Nathan says the exposure Chang Tai-Shan’s recruitment is expected to bring could help boost the profile of baseball in SA.
“We hover around the second or third (top sport in SA) and we get up there with netball and basketball from time to time in playoffs,” he says.
“Baseball has a global footprint and we have the opportunity to expand ours.”
Nathan says the language barriers between the big hitter and fellow teammates could prove a challenge, however the 40-year-old’s experience on the diamond is likely to inspire Bite youngsters.
“He’s a very experienced guy,” he says.
“Hopefully he gets plenty of hits.”