Baseball in Asia: A Brief History
Baseball has been popular in Asia since the 19th century, although the sport has developed much more in some countries than in others. Nowadays many sports and betting fans worldwide rush to use sports betting promotions and codes like the Unibet Bonus Code just to be able to place a bet on baseball. This sport has grown in many ways from its creation. And even though its popularity in the US still remains unmatched, baseball in Asio has also been a very sought-after activity.
Modern South Korea was introduced to the game by missionaries in 1838. The game did not reach Japan until much later. Nevertheless, in 1873 baseball gained popularity among college students.
The Beginning: Baseball Leagues in Asia
The Japanese Professional Baseball League wasn’t established until 1936. In those days, the sport had a national presence, not just at high school but also in college. After taking control of Taiwan in 1895, Japan introduced baseball to the island. Likewise, the development of the professional leagues has been much slower than that of the amateur. In 1982, the Korea Baseball Organization was formed. In 1990, the Chinese Professional Baseball League was established in Taiwan.
At that point, all three Asian powers had established their status. In the 1960s, Japan and Taiwan each won a Little League World Series, amounting to a combined 13 titles by the time South Korea won the World Series in 1984. Asia won 23 of the 34 Little League World Series from 1967-2000. The 1984 Olympic gold medal was won by Japan, and the 2008 Olympic gold medal was won by South Korea. In fact, Japan won the first two World Baseball Classics in its history.
Asian Players in Major Leagues
There was a long period of time before Asian players got a fair shot in the major leagues. The same applies to Japanese players, but also because of restrictive rules imposed by the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
The first Japanese player to make it to the majors was Masanori Murakami in 1964. After that, the Nippon Professional Baseball League tightened its grip. The next Japanese player in this league was Hideo Nomo, who manipulated the system 31 years later.
In the years that followed, there were many other stars that achieved this like Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and Hideki Matsui. It was Wong Kuk Lee who made his US debut in 1968, but it wasn’t until Chan-ho Park in 1994 that a Korean managed to become a big leaguer.
Asian Players in Minor Leagues
Taiwan’s Shin-Ming Tan was the first player to reach the minors in 1974. Finally, Taiwan native Chin-Feng Chen became the first Taiwanese player to play in the majors in 2002. A drastic drop in talent levels follows Asia’s big three. There were no Chinese minor leaguers in the decade after Chao Wang managed to get there in 2001. Chinese teams attended the first two World Baseball Classics and beat Taiwan at both the 2008 Olympics and World Baseball Classic in 2009. Although these victories were laudable, the alleged game-throwing by Taiwanese players clouded their fame.
Despite winning the 1954 Asian Championship, the Philippines reached no major leaguers in the following half a century. There has not yet been a major league player produced by these teams since 2010.