He certainly does. Playing for Tainan's Fu Cheng League All-Stars in this year's regional and national playoffs, Wang was invariably the best boy on the field. He is a slick shortstop, a pitcher with a crisp fastball and perhaps the best curve on the island and an awesome hitter. In one game during the national finals at Taipei, Wang repeated his feat of a year ago by hitting three homers in one game as Tainan ripped Hsinchu 31-0. The first homer was a three-run shot in the second inning that cleared the left-field fence by perhaps 75 feet. The second, also good for three runs, went out of the park on a line to left center. The last was even more impressive, a high drive to straightaway center that landed about 40 feet beyond the barrier and drove in two more runs. It was a prodigious performance even for a player who had come to Taipei with a .480 batting average, 14 home runs in 81 at bats, a .975 fielding percentage and six wins as a pitcher.
Despite all the awards he has won, the fan mail he receives, the tumultuous welcome, which drew 30,000 people to the airport when the team returned from Williamsport last August, the pandering by high government officials and the attention he has gotten from the press, Wang has kept the self-effacing manner expected in a society that brooks no displays of self-esteem, particularly from children. Even the frank adulation of his classmates at the 10,000-student Hsiao-hsin school, where he averages 99% in his six courses, has not turned his head. Wang learned the game there, practicing in the school's huge grassless center courtyard, breaking a few windows in the process. When he unexpectedly returned to the school wearing his pale blue double-knit uniform one rainy day when he was scheduled to be off at the regional playoffs in Kaohsiung 40 kilometers away, the pupils in his boys-only classroom rose and loudly applauded him as he moved to his seat in the back row.
"Why do you think you defeated the Americans so easily?" Wang had been asked a few minutes earlier.
"We were very lucky, I think," he said.
"And what about your own game? Why have you become so good?"
"I try to practice hard, but mostly I think I have much good fortune," said Wang, who like most Chinese players did not know his batting average and could only guess at the number of his home runs and pitching victories.
"Do you think your team will have a chance to visit Williamsport again this year?"
"Maybe not," he said, even though Tainan was favored to win the island's title once more. Then for the first time he volunteered a slightly boastful remark about Taiwan baseball, perhaps because his answer had nothing to do with him personally. "There are so many good teams here. I guess we have a chance, but remember that last year we were very lucky to win our own championship. In the regional tournament here in the south the Giants lost 3-1 to Kaohsiung. The rules allow the first two finishers in each region to go to Taipei for the national playoff. There we had more very good fortune and were able to defeat Kaohsiung 2-1 in the deciding game. After that we played games only against other countries and the closest score we had was 4-0 with Japan. I think that last year there were four teams in Taiwan that could have won the World Series."
"He's right," grunted Wang's stolid friend and teammate Chen Chinghsiung, opening his mouth for the first time. He is a massive (5'7", 154 pounds) outfielder-pitcher who was a substitute on last year's title winners and captained this year's Tainan team. Unlike Wang, Chen appears to be an early maturer, a boy who uses his size to dominate his contemporaries in Little League. For this year at least, Chen's statistics were as good as Wang's and only his lack of a curveball and running speed prevented him from being the shortstop's equal.
It was Chen, a hard-throwing side-armer, whom Tainan's Manager Wu Ching-san decided to start against Kaohsiung in the pivotal game in the southern region, where Taiwan's best baseball is played. 'r> the top of the first inning, after a walk and a single by Wang, Chen blasted a homer over the left-field fence in Kaohsiung's new $350,000 ball park. The hit provided the only runs he needed as he pitched a one-hitter, Tainan winning 8-0.