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"But I try. I always want to be like my father, you know, could run and all. When I saw his spikes—baseball and track—they really fascinated me. I said to myself, gee, if you wear these kind of shoes you have to be very outstanding. I put my feet into my father's shoes. They were not good anymore, those spikes, but I tried to wear them. Once I took some needle and sewed them and I tried to run on a field. I was maybe 10. When I go home my father saw his shoes and he got mad and bawled me out—oh, he didn't bawl me out so much as ask why I sewed his shoes like that. He was pretty interested to know how I will be as an athlete.
"Then World War II came and we hid in the mountains—when I shot the snake—and I got sick with malaria. A terrible thing to have. I was afraid later that I would be a carrier, but I went to a doctor several times here to check my blood, and no more. I am glad to be normal now! But after World War II it came back. I was about 14 or 15 and, you know, at 14 or 15 you grow up. But what I did was be sick in a bed for a year. Sometimes get better, then worse again. Seemed a long time. I thought I was going to die. I lose my confidence, my faith in myself.
"Finally somebody told my father about a doctor who was traveling around. My father talked to him, and he came to my house and looked at me: my eyes, my heart. He said, 'Don't worry. I can fix him.' He gave me medicine. Up to then, every day the fever came on a certain time, suppose 9 o'clock—it was different maybe one hour up or down. But a terrible thing. Get cold, then get hot. And afterward feel nothing. He gave me medicine two days. First day, the fever didn't come out very bad. Second day, it didn't come out at all. I thought it would come out again, but the doctor told me to eat that pill for a month, so I continued it and I got well.
"And then I just grew up, you know? Whoosh. No muscles, just bone. Very tall and thin. People called me Bamboo. I was really embarrassed, people calling me Bamboo because, as you know, Chinese people are short, and being like me, tall, it's unusual, you know, over there. When I'd stand in class, so tall, people only up to my shoulders, I was ashamed. People laugh at me and I hate myself. I was sad. I used to cry, because people give me a bad time. You know how teen-agers are. And I couldn't fight them, because I was too weak. And I really don't like people to fight against people. No matter what they say. I learned to forget it, I learned to avoid this kind of thing. But sometimes I thought about being like this, so tall and thin, what am I going to do? What's going to happen to me? I don't think I would have girl friends, or things like that. I worried about that.
"But then I said to myself, people laugh at me, so what. Keep well, stay alive. I learned to determine something in my mind: if you're ever going to do it you have to do it, complete it. The first thing that came to my mind was, O.K., I'm going to try to run. We had the school track meet and I ran in it. Third place. People laughing. I was so tall. Short people—whoosh!—like that. I felt bad but my father said, 'Oh, don't worry. Still long way to go. You can build your muscles.' But my mother really worried. She doesn't want me to—she doesn't want people to say that I'm tall and thin, like that. She doesn't want people laughing."
I tried to play baseball. I went to the coach, who was the principal of our school, Taitung Agricultural High School. I said, 'Uh, will you take me as, you know, one of the baseball players?' I said, 'I know that I can practice and maybe get used to it.' I thought maybe he would take me as a ball carrier or a bat carrier, something like that. He refused to have me. He couldn't take very many, and the others were better than I was.
"During the summer I practiced playing baseball. Many kids did not, because they did not like to practice hard in the hot summer. But I practice and practice, and when we were back in school one day a fellow came to me and said, 'The principal wants to see you.' I said, 'What for? He doesn't want to see me.' He said, 'He likes to talk to you.' So I went over there. I think, oh, what I do? Think, something happened to my father, a farmer. But he said, 'This is your glove, and this is your uniform. How would you like to change and go over to the practice field and work out?'
"I was so happy, so happy. But in practice when I throw the ball I was—so funny form, you know? I couldn't throw hard. The athletes start laughing at me. I was so happy to join them, and I was so embarrassed when they laugh at me. The coach was mad. He bawled them out who laughed, and he said, 'If you laugh at people someday he will be much better than you are. You better not laugh at people. You never know. He have a long way to go, and maybe he can learn faster than you and someday laugh at you. Put yourself in that position. Suppose people laugh at you. How do you respond to them? How do you feel?' Said, 'Think about it.' And they didn't laugh at me anymore.
"We practice, and in a month I can compete against them in some ways—catch a ball or hit. And then I can hit the ball good. And I can run. I got faster and faster. I built muscles, you know? Even now, from baseball playing, my right arm is bigger than my left.
"They made me pitcher. I learned most balls, except knuckle ball. I could throw fast ball, outdrop, curve, and I could throw from below—underhand, sidehand, overhand. The coach asked me, you know, curve ball, do like this and like this and like this. And I just, you know, discover myself. I was only a fair pitcher, but in that school—most of the time we just played against ourselves—I was good. I struck out 17 men one time. And then we had a big game—the players and the coach and some teachers all mixed together on the same team to represent the school. We won the game and a big, big cup. Afterward we had a banquet, and the coach said again, he review what he said to the athletes who laughed at me. Two of them cried, you know?"