Minoru Park was engulfed with laughter Thursday morning, as young baseball players ran around the field, trying to smash home runs, throw strikes or catch an errant hit.
Nothing unusual here, you might ask, especially as it’s the middle of summer.
Only this time the players had just flown in from Taiwan for their first visit to Richmond and Canada.
The youngsters, age 12 and 13, competed with local kids and everyone joined in the intercontinental fun and exchanged gifts.
The Taiwan Babe Ruth Baseball League members were teaming up with the local 5 Tool Baseball kids as part of a cross-cultural partnership.
“I told each player the competition results don’t matter. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself through the sport…” said Luxuan Huang, president of the Taiwan Babe Ruth Baseball League, which was founded two years ago.
One of the league’s players, Hao Lin, 13, said he still felt the whole trip abroad to play baseball was like a dream.
“I hope to use this opportunity to meet as many baseball friends as possible,” said Lin.
Jing Chen, another player from Taiwan, said he hopes to be a professional baseball player when he grows up, travelling abroad to compete against the top players.
Jack Thompson, coach of the 5 Tool Baseball Team - an organization that aims to help young individuals develop into baseball players and great athletes - said all team players were “super excited” to play with the Taiwanese team.
Tony Hsu, president of the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce In BC, said local Taiwanese Canadians have welcomed the group into their arms, inviting them to stay at their homes and taking them out to explore Richmond and Canadian culture.
Hsu said his organization will donate some money to help baseball lovers in Taiwan pursue their passion without worrying about financial barriers.
“We share the same love for sports, especially baseball, since it plays an important role in Taiwanese culture,” said Hsu. “It’s the shared love for baseball that unites us.”
On Saturday, the Taiwan Babe Ruth Baseball League members will head to Milner Park in Langley to compete with players there.