In my whole life, I have been moving from place to place. Not that I don't like moving, but I was so happy that the Guardians decided to settle in Taipei this year. Xinzhuang stadium has always been my favorite stadium, and now it's my home. I just love how crazy the noise gets, when the fans get loud, we can feel the sound bounces off the roof. After the renovation, we now got a great locker room, a fantastic lounge, and cafeteria, a nice weight room along with a field in great condition.
It’s gonna sound a little weird, but I just love the new showers so much! We got this rain shower thing , like water coming out of the ceiling, and we can even switch between different modes. It’s way better than the original normal shower, it’s just so comfortable and awesome.
Alright, this is not a story about showers, so…...let’s get started.
When I was a little kid, my two elder brothers played baseball, basketball, and football. But baseball has always been the one for me. Coming out of high school, I wasn’t a prospect or anything like that, not on anybody’s radar in terms of being drafted. Back then, I was actually a better-known football player than a baseball player. I had a scholarship offered by Villanova to play baseball, and also a chance to do both at Brown University, but I decided to focus on baseball and my academics, it’s pretty much my love for baseball that made me continue to play baseball in college, and that’s why I chose to play baseball at Villanova, and it turned out to be great!
（羅力於美式足球比賽中擔任四分衛 (持球者)，照片來源NJ Counties Online）
In the past 15~20 years, sports in general have become very, or sometimes, too specific. Kids nowadays often tend to focus on only one sport. Actually, playing different sports do help the kids to improve their game, both physically and mentally. For example, the basic principle in the throwing motion of football and baseball are pretty alike and compatible. With both require using your back leg to generate power, and your arm has to be on time at release point to accurately execute the throw. The kinetic chain is pretty much transferable between them. Playing in these two sports helps the kids to pick up the same basic principles they share easier.
It’s important for kids to play lots of different sports, and sports don’t always have to be about skills and winning. Sports should be a chance for kids to be athletic and to have fun. It’s also healthier for them, too, playing on different teams, playing with different kids and just enjoy the competition for what it is. It’s okay if you don’t win, you gotta learn the defeat, learn to lose in the right way.
Don’t put pressure on kids to play only one sport and be good at it when they’re still young, that’s not what it’s about. When you’re older, say high school, if you’re into one sports, it’s okay to narrow down the options. But before that, diversity and trying new things is important to develop the love for learning in general. Personally, I would like my kids to enjoy themselves in all kinds of activities, and as they grow older, they’re going to make their own decision. I want to be the one facilitating their passion, not pushing them into doing something they don’t like.
Just as in my case, between football and baseball, it was more of a decision about what was going to make me happier, and the answer was quite apparent. Villanova was a good fit for me, people I know there are all my kind of guy, I really had a great time there.
As for my major, it was political science. I originally tried to be an economics major, but after taking that disastrous test in my sophomore year, which I studied so hard for it, I had second thoughts. I couldn’t figure out any of the answers on the paper, and I just sat there for an hour. I don’t enjoy that much dealing with these numbers and models stuff, and I figured that people, history, and culture are more interesting to me. So, as I handed out that empty test paper, I decided my next major would be political science.
It was always a dream of mine to become a professional baseball player, but I gotta have a backup plan for that. If I was not drafted after college, the plan was going straight to work, and hopefully find a job in Manhattan. Thankfully, I did get drafted. San Francisco Giants picked me up in round 50, and only four more players got drafted after me. Pretty close, huh?
Looking back from now, that was the turning point. My life would be a lot different was it not for baseball. What matters the most is I don’t think I’d have the life perspective I have now, in terms of how I view the world. Growing up in New Jersey, about a 30-minute-drive away from New York City, everyone in that area kind of grew up with the idea of getting a job and staying close to New York – after all, the NY is where everything happens.
I got to travel a lot because of baseball. Playing in the States, I’ve lived in Arizona, Oregon, and Georgia. I started to realize that there are a lot of other places that I can see myself living in, outside of New Jersey. That was the first step, later I’ve got the chance to play in Mexico, Puerto Rico, here in Taiwan, and a year in Korea.Baseball gave me the opportunity to experience different ways of life and different perspective people have around the world, and that could really change a person. Was it not for baseball, I think I’ll be working somewhere near New York, and my wife will be working still in New York as well. For me, I like how my life turned out to be.
Whenever I got to choose between staying in the hotel room and use the room service or step out of the hotel and to explore, the former is never really in an option. When I was younger, I was a little more intimidated getting out of my comfort zone, it was the new cities, new people, and new cultures over the years that made me a person willing to explore.
This is my sixth season playing in CPBL. When my family is here with me, every morning is family time, after breakfast, we’ll head for a place such as an indoor playground to let the kids play, then about lunch time I’ll come to the stadium. My son will watch my game on TV for an inning or two, and it’s about to get boring for him. I’ve brought him to the stadium for a couple times, running outside and playing catch. I hope we get to do that longer, at least long enough for him to grow older to remember our life here, and remember me as a baseball player.
Every morning and every night I’ll talk to my wife and my kids on Facetime ( stuff is pretty amazing!), so we can see each other. Since morning here in Taiwan is about the night time in Arizona, and vice versa, the time difference hasn’t been a trouble. My family loves Taiwan, and I feel very fortunate to play baseball and make a living this way. As a family, we got a lot of time to spend together, especially in the off-season as the training only takes a couple hours a day. If my wife were still an attorney and I’m working some other job, there wouldn’t be so much family time as we have now. Being able to play baseball is a thing I certainly appreciate and feel thankful for.
I couldn’t be happier than the way Fubon treat me, they make me and my family extremely comfortable. I really appreciate the respect and care of the organization, they have just done a great job from day 1. I think I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be with Fubon. For a player, being able to walk in a clubhouse every day and call it a home, well, that has gotta be the best feeling!
棒球對我的意義 | 張泰山
2005 (上) | 林英傑