WANG Chien-ming was a supernova in Taiwan. His success as the Ace of the New York Yankees rocketed him into a cult-like status in the island nation. The film delves into his comeback attempts, his life between endless rehab programmes, his lengthy and often lonely stints away from home and family. We follow him as he works towards a singular goal: to fight his way back into the Major Leagues.
It’s not easy trying to tell the story of Chien-Ming Wang – a household name in Taiwan, a name that conjures up so much memory for so many people. Before him, “Major League Baseball” was just a meaningless phrase to most in Taiwan, but after him, the MLB games that included his name became how most of us counted our days. Baseball for breakfast became a regular weekly routine. Some people had to work, some had to get to school, but we would all find a way to watch. Our Grandmothers, who knew nothing of the sport, were able to recognize him on TV - that’s how ingrained he had become into our culture. His performance on the field triggered an emotional sense of togetherness in us, and he became uniquely irreplaceable. To me his name evokes a sense of nostalgia, whisking me back to a better, simpler time. To many, the Chien-Ming Wang story is exactly that: a thing of the past. But to me, it is ongoing, as we all have our own Chien-Ming Wang story. His life is representative of something beyond baseball. The “rise and fall” is a part of us all, and it stays with us as we continue our own journeys in life. He and I first crossed paths in June, 2005 at the old Yankee Stadium on my first trip to New York City. That was the first time I ever saw him pitch, before he was donned the “Pride of Taiwan”. From the top deck looking down, I witnessed him standing at the center of the baseball universe. Although he was far away, the impression he left was anything but. As he stood on that mound I cheered for him; the whole world seemed to cheer for him. The next time I saw him was in May, 2013, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a small city that not many people have heard of, let alone been to. At this point he was struggling to get back into the Major Leagues, as a series of injuries had forced him to the minors and below. We had a mutual friend who he came to meet in a small rental car that barely contained his lanky frame. In a corner, we talked and shared a meal together. I learned of his reticence, his injuries, and his reluctance to be considered a hero. Afterwards, he squeezed his six-foot-four frame back into his tiny rental car. The impression he left this time wasn’t as grandiose, but it was much more vivid. As the taillights disappeared into the night, the two impressions of him began a dialogue in my mind. Here was a man who once stood in the center of the world, and was now exiled to the edge of the universe. This became the catalyst to a story, and the origin of this film. We all have our own Chien-Ming Wang story, and mine is probably different from yours. I wanted to tell my version of the story; to share with you the Chien-Ming Wang I saw. Through the film, I wanted to show you a life that not many people get to see. With him, I went on an unknown journey through 21 cities. Follow me, and you will realize that his ongoing journey is still a part of you that never left.
2018 Golden Horse Awards - Best Documentary nomination
2018 Vancouver Asian Film Festival - People’s Choice: Best Feature
2018 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival - Audience Awards: Best International Documentary Feature