Chien-Ming Wang life and biography

Chien-Ming Wang picture, image, poster

Chien-Ming Wang biography

Date of birth : 1980-03-31
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Tainan, Taiwan
Nationality : Taiwanese
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-11-12
Credited as : Baseball player MLB, Pitcher with the New York Yankees ,

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Chien-Ming Wang was born on March 31, 1980 in Tainan, Taiwan. Located on the south side of the island, his hometown had been the country’s capital centuries earlier. Tainan remained one of the Taiwan’s largest cities, even though it was considered off the beaten path, particularly for tourists.

Family is a central part of life in Taiwan. Children are taught to honor their parents. Taiwanese custom dictates that boys ultimately become the head of the household. When they reach an appropriate age, they are responsible for taking care of mom and dad. Chien-Ming developed a very close bond to his parents. They ran a plant that manufactured metal products such as spoons and lunch boxes.

Chien-Ming’s relationship with his parents was tested later in life when he discovered that he had been adopted. He learned the news through baseball. As Chien-Ming prepared for a tournament, he was asked to produce official documentation of his family. The records revealed that his biological parents had allowed friends to raise him. Chien-Ming was stunned, but not despondent. He loved the couple he knew as his mother and father, and continued to view them as his parents.

Baseball helped bring a sense of calm and security to Chien-Ming’s life. He picked up the game as a fourth grader in Chien-Hsin Middle School. Chien-Ming found that he had a natural feel for the game. As a youngster, he pitched and played first base and the outfield. His school proved a hotbed for top-shelf talent. Hong-Chih Kuo, who would go on to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a year older than Chien-Ming and also had a bright future.

As Chien-Ming grew older and his body matured, opportunities on the baseball field opened to him. Tall and lanky, he was able to create tremendous velocity on his fastball with minimal effort. This ability translated to his demeanor on the mound. Even when he got knocked around, Chien-Ming remained composed. He didn’t always dominate, but he never lost his cool.

Chien-Ming attended a Taiwanese sports college, Taipei Ti Wu University. That’s where John Cox, the Yankees' Pacific Rim scouting coordinator, first saw him. Early in 2000, Cox was following a tournament in Taiwan. Chien-Ming did not impress at first, but Cox sensed something special in the teenager. His suspicions were confirmed during a close game with Chien-Ming on the hill. The youngster’s fastball suddenly had more pop and his slider had a nastier break. That competitive fire, Cox believed, made Chien-Ming a bona fide prospect.

A short time later, the Yankees signed Chien-Ming, offering him a bonus of $1.9 million—the highest sum in team history. Chien-Ming was ecstatic. He had learned about New York’s championship tradition as a kid.

ON THE RISE

Chien-Ming spoke very little English when he arrived in the U.S., so he Yankees provided him with a personal interpreter. When the arrangement didn’t work out, the team canned the interpreter. Chien-Ming felt isolated. Teammates assumed they couldn’t communicate with him and largely ignored him.

Chien-Ming, in turn, focused almost exclusively on adjusting to pro ball. He spent the 2000 campaign with Staten Island in the New York-Penn League. The 20-year-old pitched well, going 4-4 with a 2.48 ERA. He also picked up a win in the playoffs, as Staten Island took the league title.

The following year offered a new challenge for Chien-Ming. He hurt his right shoulder in spring training and was forced to go under the knife. The surgery was successful, but Chien-Ming was lost for the season. Facing rehab from a serious injury for the first time in his career, he followed doctors’ orders and prepared to return to the mound. Meanwhile, he watched with great joy as Roger Clemens won the AL Cy Young with the Yankees. When Chien-Ming was kid, the Rocket had been his idol. In fact, joining Clemens in the New York organization helped seal the deal when Chien-Ming signed his contract.

Chien-Ming rejoined Staten Island in 2002 and enjoyed another stellar season. In 13 games, he went 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA. Chien-Ming was even better in the postseason, winning both of his starts, including the game that clinched another championship for Staten Island.
Later in the summer, Chien-Ming took the hill for Taiwan against Japan in a preliminary round of the Asian Games. He cruised through five innings before being rocked for five earned runs in Taiwan’s 8-3 loss.

Despite that outing, the Yankees were clearly pleased with their young prospect. He featured a mid-90s fastball, plus a good curve and slider—all of which he could throw for strikes at any time in the count. Chien-Ming had also acclimated to life in the U.S. He was quiet and often kep to himself, but he was no longer a loner. His teammates liked and respected him, and they had the utmost confidence in him when he toed the rubber.

After a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League to start the 2003 season, Chien-Ming was promoted to Double-A Trenton. He had little trouble making the leap to the higher class of competition. In May, Chien-Ming twirled a four-hit shutout against New Britain. Two months later, he was named to the World All-Stars for the Futures Game. Chien-Ming finished the year with a record of 7-6 and a 4.65 ERA. Lingering pain in his right shoulder limited his workload somewhat, but overall he demonstrated he could hold his own against increasingly tough hitters.

Chien-Ming opened the 2004 campaign back in Trenton. He was the team’s best pitcher through the season’s first four months. Chien-Ming improved his control and attacked hitters more aggressively. The Yankees rewarded him with a promotion to Triple-A Columbus.
There, pitching coach Neil Allen and catcher Sal Fasano took the youngster under their wing. Allen and Fasano agreed that Chien-Ming’s live arm was suited perfectly for a sinker. Once he learned the grip, Chien-Ming quickly developed a feel for the pitch. He suddenly had a potent new weapon.

Fasano encouraged Chien-Ming to experiment with his sinker as often as possible. Hitters were helpless against the hard and heavy delivery. In 40 innings with the Clippers, Chien-Ming surrendered just 39 baserunners and fanned 35. He posted a 5-1 mark with a 2.01 ERA.

The Yankees granted Chien-Ming a leave of absence to throw for Taiwan during the Summer Olympics. Against Australia, he earned a victory with seven scoreless innings. In his next appearance, a start against Japan, he received a no-decision after six innings of work. Taiwan went home without a medal.
Chien-Ming returned to Columbus in September. In his final start of the regular season, he blanked Toledo for a complete-game shutout. Chien-Ming’s season ended a week later when he pulled a hamstring while pitching in the playoffs. On the advice of his agents and at the urging of the Yankees, he went to Phoenix to treat the injury.

While in Arizona, Chien-Ming was introduced to Randy Johnson, who had recently been traded to New York, and Kimiyasu Kudo, a well-known Japanese pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants. The 24-year-old took full advantage of the years of baseball experience at his fingertips. He headed into the 2005 campaign ready to make an impact at the big-league level.

MAKING HIS MARK

The Yankees didn’t necessarily expect to see Chien-Ming in the Bronx for the ’05 season. Manager Joe Torre looked to a staff of veteran starters, including Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright and Johnson. It’s not that Chien-Ming wasn’t on the radar screen of the New York brass. Torre had watched him in spring training for several years and told owner George Steinbrenner and GM Brian Cashman that he was duly impressed. With the team’s high-priced rotation, however, there was no room on the big club for Chien-Ming.

Of course, given the age of the New York staff, it was no surprise when injuries hit the club early in the season. With Wright on the disabled list, the Yankees called up Chien-Ming at the end of April. The plan was to give him a few starts and then send him back to Columbus.

Chien-Ming made his big-league debut in Toronto and pitched six solid innings against the Blue Jays. Two weeks later, his notched his first victory in a strong outing against Seattle. Chien-Ming beat the Mariners again a week later, this time on the road. When he won for a third time in May, the Yankees had no choice but to keep him on the roster—Chien-Ming was the team’s most consistent starter.

The young righty was terrific in June. He dominated the Chicago Cubs in an 8-1 victory. He throttled the Detroit Tigers in a combined shutout with Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera. Chien-Ming was now garnering attention as a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year in the AL.
Unfortunately, the workload caught up to him. In July, the Yankees placed Chien-Ming on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder. He missed nearly two months of action. Chien-Ming returned in September and showed no ill effects from his injury. He ended the year at 8-5 with a 4.02 ERA, giving up less than a hit an inning.

Torre penciled in Chien-Ming to start Game 2 of the Division Series against the Angels in Anaheim. The decision spoke volumes. The New York skipper fully trusted his rookie hurler to handle his first tasteof playoff pressure away from Yankee Stadium. Chien-Ming acquitted himself well, allowing just one earned run in 6.2 innings. But New York was doomed by poor defense, including an error by Chien-Ming. The Yankees dropped the contest 5-2 and then lost the series in five games.

New York’s early exit from the playoffs precipitated changes for the 2006 season. Johnny Damon was signed to play center field and bat leadoff. Youngster Melky Cabrera became the team’s fourth outfielder. In the bullpen, Kyle Farnsworth and Scott Proctor were counted on to bridge the gap to Rivera.

Another change—this one unanticipated—was Chien-Ming’s ascension to the role of New York’s #1 starter. Johnson and Mussina opened the year at the head of the rotation, but Chien-Ming eventually proved the most reliable of the three. Torre could rely on the second-year hurler to give him quality innings just about every time he took the hill. Because of his ability to throw strikes and induce ground balls, Chien-Ming often pitched into the seventh or eighth.

With the bullpen working overtime, Chien-Ming’s durability was key to New York’s steady play throughout the ’06 campaign. The Yankees finished at 97-65 and won the AL East by 10 games. Robinson Cano had a breakout year, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi combined for 72 homers and 234 RBIs, and Derek Jeter hit .343 and provided invaluable leadership.
Chien-Ming was sensational as well. He topped the league with 19 wins, paced the Yankees with 218 innings pitched and posted a 3.63 ERA. If it had not been for a dominant year by Johan Santana, Chien-Ming would have be the easy choice for the AL Cy Young.

Torre handed the ball to Chien-Ming to open the Division Series against the Tigers. He did his part in an 8-4 victory at Yankee Stadium. It was the first win by a Taiwanese pitcher in big-league postseason history. From there, however, the Detroit pitching staff took control. The Tigers won the next three in a row on the strength of excellent outings from Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman. For the second year in a row, the Yankees exited the playoffs in the first round.

More changes greeted the Bronx Bombers in 2007. Andy Pettitte returned to the team, Bobby Abreu—acquired the year before in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies—began his first full season in pinstripes, and young guns Philip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain pushed for spots on the pitching staff.

Chien-Ming, meanwhile, launched another run at the AL Cy Young. A gimpy hamstring hobbled him in April, but he was back at full health soon enough. In May, Chien-Ming took a perfect game into the seventh against the Mariners. Ben Broussard ended the drama with a home run. Chien-Ming was blissfully unaware of his flirtation with history—he had no idea why his teammates had stopped talking to him on the bench. Afterwards, the Yankees joked about their ace’s lack of pretentiousness. Chien-Ming had become one of the guys in the locker room.

The Yankees also loved him for his ability on the mound. Chien-Ming logged his second straight 19-win season, demonstrating greater command in the strike zone and fanning a career-high 104 batters. The only problem for Chien-Ming was his over-reliance on his sinker. When he didn’t keep the pitch down, he often got whacked. That was apparent in the Division Series against Cleveland. The Indians battered Chien-Ming in his two starts. New York lost in four games, and he bore much of the responsibility.

Chien-Ming returned to Taiwan after the playoffs. He licked his wounds and got ready for the 2008 season. He began the year in great shape with wins in his first two appearances.
The Yankees and their fans have grown accustomed to Chien-Ming’s smooth consistency on the mound and his humility and sense of humor off of it. He will tell you that he owes it all to good genes—or more accurately, good parents.

CHIEN-MING THE PTICHER

Chien-Ming is a complete pitcher. Sometimes, he has to be reminded of that. Chien-Mien boasts a full complement of pitches and throws all of them for strikes. He can get into trouble when he relies too much on his sinker.
Chien-Ming regularly reaches the low 90s with his fastball. His easy, slow delivery makes the pitch even more difficult to hit. The ball often gets on top of hitters sooner than they expect.

The sinker is Chien-Ming’s bread and butter. He grips the ball with his index and middle fingers along the widest gap in the seams. When he releases the pitch, he creates diving, downward movement. The ball bears down on the shins of a right-handed hitter and away from lefties.

Chien-Ming’s easygoing manner belies his fiery competitive spirit. Teammates recognize this and have supreme confidence in him. Chien-Ming’s performance in the playoffs has been mixed, but he always wants the ball in the big game.

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