Lin nods in agreement. He's a bashful man, and nothing embarrasses him more than when Strong calls him "the Rickey Henderson of Taiwan." But the fact is that at 33, Lin is the best nonpitcher in the country—a graceful centerfielder, a steady hitter and a roe on the bases. Lin doesn't have as many teapots as Huang, but as Huang will tell you, "Every one of Lin's teapots is good."
Lin is called Daw Sheoi (the Handsome Thief). Last year he stole 34 bases in 85 games. "I can still run fast because I am a fighter," he says from behind his teacup. "Everyone has his duty, and since my talent is running, I must run." And his friend Huang? "He's very changeable. He knows seven pitches, so it's hard to stay with him."
Huang is from the bustling port city of Kaohsiung, where his parents sold noodles on the street. After Little League he was the only member of his team to keep playing ball. "I loved it, and my parents supported me," he says. He attended Fu Jen University in Taipei, where he played baseball. Then, after mandatory military service, he spent two years playing in Japan. Today his parents live with him, and if they could, so would most children in the neighborhood, who flock about his gate at all hours of the day.
Confucius said that "to love unbending strength without loving learning is liable to lead to undiscipline," but Huang is in no danger of falling prey to that. He likes to read poetry, especially the Tang Dynasty master Li Pai, and he owns a number of ink calligraphy brushes with which he copies some of his favorite verses from memory. "Everywhere I go, I visit writers and poets," he says. "Mostly they want to talk about baseball. I ask them about calligraphy. I want to improve."
He approaches pitching just as carefully, preparing his body for punishment by running, lifting weights and taking massages. "My arm has been trained," is how he explains winning 20 games the summer of 1990.
Huang is a Buddhist, but he is not immune to Chinese mysticism. "Buddhism influenced me very much," he says. "My emotions remain placid, and that's important for a lengthy season. That doesn't mean I don't care about winning, only that I keep it in perspective. As for pitching, I like it for two reasons. One has to do with my figure. People thought I looked like a pitcher. The second has to do with my blood type. Chinese catchers are blood type A. They must consider many situations. Pitchers are blood type O. Blood type O is most calm and patient and willing to fight. When I'm pitching, I'm happiest when I outsmart someone. Western pitchers throw very fast, but they aren't always controlled. We Chinese can't throw as fast as they do, but we are very controlled."
Yes, they are. "The gentleman is easy of mind," said Confucius.