In Asia, American-style baseball is most commonly enjoyed in countries such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, while countries with traditionally British influence enjoy cricket.
Baseball was first introduced to Taiwan during the Japanese occupation prior to World War II, and gained popularity after the international successes of several little league teams during the 1970s and 80s, as well as the successes of the national team (playing as Chinese Taipei) in international events. International matches between Taiwan and its neighbors Japan and Korea have high ratings as Taiwanese support their national team, especially in the context of their friendship with Japan and mixed-feelings towards and rivalry with South Korea.
The largest professional league in Taiwan is the CPBL, started in 1989 and currently consisting of 5 teams based around the island in its major cities. Similar to Japan and Korea, the teams are sponsored by large corporations to offer integrated advertising for their products and services.
Culturally, the stadium atmosphere in Taiwan is a combination of American stadium culture and Japanese-influenced practices. Fans are encouraged to participate in cheering in cooperation with cheerleaders, and each team has certain cheers and chants that fans will often remember and chant together while waving inflatable 'cheer-sticks' or other items. Themes vary depending on the team, from cute and playful to more serious and dramatic. Fans of the visiting team will often congregate in the outfield sections of the stadium to 'counter-cheer' against the fans of the home stadium.
The majority of players in the league of Taiwanese origin, specifically those of native aboriginal groups who, although only represent 2% of the general population, have found success in athletics and entertainment fields. Foreign players are allowed by the league's rules, however each team is limited to 4 athletes, with only 3 allowed to be active on the team roster at a given time. Many MLB athletes such as Manny Ramirez have been 'traded' to CPBL teams over the years, and may pick up a Chinese nickname for ease of recognition among new fans.
In 2020, the CPBL has gained worldwide fame for being the only league open during this coronavirus episode. Taiwan's handling of the pandemic has been exceptional, and life continues on normally, however since large gatherings are not permitted, the league plays to a crowd of spectators made from paper cutouts and 'robots' while broadcasting to audiences at home.
Current Teams Active in the CPBL
Fubon Guardians (富邦悍將)
The Guardians are based in New Taipei City at the north of the island, whose home stadium is the Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in the west of Taipei. The owner, Fubon Group, operates several companies including banking, insurance, cable television, and mobile phone operator Taiwan Mobile. Their mascot is a 'guardian', and the theme is reminiscent of a Roman stadium atmosphere with dramatic music and mass cheering.
Rakuten Monkeys (樂天桃猿)
The Monkeys are based in Taoyuan at the north of the island, whose home stadium is the Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in the northwest of Taoyuan near the airport. They were recently acquired by Japanese company Rakuten, an e-commerce company who have had a presence in the Taiwan market for some time. Their mascot under their previous owner (Taiwanese local company La New) was a monkey, and theme was more light and playful. After the transfer of ownership to Rakuten, new uniform designs were introduced, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, changes to stadium atmosphere have yet to be seen.
CTBC Brothers (中信兄弟)
The Brothers are based in Taichung in the center of the island, whose home stadium is the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, although they were traditionally a Taipei-based team, however due to the Guardian occupation of the Taipei market, the Brothers moved to Taichung unofficially. The owner is CTBC, a large banking and insurance company. They were one of the founding members of the league as the 'Brother Elephants' (under hotel company Brother Hotel), and after an ownership change to CTBC, the team dropped the elephant from their name while retaining it as a mascot for the team.
Uni-President Lions (統一獅)
The Lions are based in Tainan in the south of the island, whose home stadium is the Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium. The owner is Uni-President, a conglomerate who is the largest food and beverage producer in Asia, and is the operator of the Taiwan market branches of 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Mister Donut, Carrefour (French Walmart), among others. The Lions were one of the founding members of the league under the company name, later adopting a lion as the mascot. The success of 7-Eleven in Taiwan and its association with Uni-President resulted in the team also being referred to as the "7-Eleven Lions".
Wei Chuan Dragons (味全龍)
The Dragons are based in Hsinchu in the north of the island, and have varying home stadiums due to their temporary participation in the minor league while the details of major league participation is finalized. The team was revived in 2019 and was permitted to join the league under the condition of playing one season first exclusively in the minor league. The owner is Wei Chuan, a food producer which may be viewed as 'second' to Uni-President in size and scale. The team is currently playing in its first season since the team was canceled after a messy corporate buyout in 1999 and resulting scandals which has affected the brand's public image to this day.