America loves sports and America loves baseball, and Hollywood has
always mirrored our love for the game, from such films as "Bull
Durham" and "Field of Dreams" to
"Air Bud: Seventh Inning Stretch" and "The Rookie." Now comes news of
a baseball story with an
overseas twist, from Taiwan, and with a tragic arc as well.
The 82-year-old biological grandfather of Washington Nationals star
pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was found dead hanging from a tree in a local
neighborhood park in
Taiwan recently, according to police reports, and while there was no
suspect it was
a suicide, as foul play has been ruled out.
While the news hit all the
national newspapers in Wang's homeland of Taiwan, in both Chinese and English
editions, not one American
or sports blog in Washington DC or Manhattan -- where Wang also
pitched for the Yankees -- has reported the sad family saga.
As readers know, Wang started playing baseball as a kid in the
fourth grade in Taiwan, and it was through baseball that he learned an
important part of his personal story, according to a 2006 story in the
New York Times.
"We were going out to a competition and needed our personal
documents,” Wang told the New York Times, explaining that meant
the names, relationships and birthdates of family members. “When I got
my documents, I learned who my biological parents were. My parents
didn’t tell me."
Wang found out then that his biological father was the man he knew as
his uncle, Ping-Yin Wang. Wang’s parents had no children of their own
and offered to raise him.
Fast forward now to August 2011 and this news item: "The biological
grandfather of Chien-Ming Wang
found hanging in Taiwan park; police suspect suicide."
News reports said in both Chinese and English media in Taiwan: ''An
elderly man who was found dead Sunday in the southern city of
Tainan has been identified as the biological grandfather of Taiwanese
baseball pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.''
A paperboy told police that around 5 a.m. last Sunday he had seen an
old man hanging
by the neck from an electric cord tied to a horizontal bar in a park.
The police later identified the body as that of an 82-year-old man
named Mr. Huang. No first name was given, as is often the case in
Taiwanese media stories
about family matters.
According to police, there was no suicide note and the old man's
surviving family said Mr. Huang did not show
any abnormal behavior before the incident. Mr. Huang was known to suffer
from high blood pressure.
He was the father of Wang's biological mother. Wang was adopted at
birth and raised by his uncle.
According to Huang's neighbors, he never boasted that he had a
grandson who played in the Major League but he did care a lot about
the 31-year-old baseball star.
The 19-game winner returned to the Major mound July 30 after a serious
shoulder injury that kept him out of competition for more than two
Baseball pundits have expressed worry that the news of his
grandfather's death could pose a setback for the right-hander.
But so far, there has been no media coverage of this family matter
in American newspapers or sports channels.
However, given that "Wang was adopted at birth and raised by his
uncle," one can see why it's not rising to the level of a
coverage-worthy story in
the American sports media.
Said one top sports reporter on the East Coast, when contacted about
this story: :I intend to ask Wang Chien-Ming about his grandfather's
apparent or alleged suicide before I write a story for my newspaper,
if I do write it up at all."
Said a longtime baseball fan from Boston: "There is a good family
drama and human interest angle here that focuses on Wang's Taiwanese
roots and how much he is loved by his fans in Taiwan, and to make
sports heroes more humanized. Baseball is not all about winning games
or making oodles of money; there are family dramas often invovled,
too. Sports is not just a money making machine, there are real people
invovled with real family stories. This should make the news in
America, too. After all, Wang is now an American baseball star, too."