Thursday, June 20
Taiwan to miss one LLWS, return in 2003

Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan will sit out of the Little League World Series for one more year, but the island hopes to return in 2003, a baseball association spokesman said Thursday.

Taiwanese teams dominated the Little League World Series for years, winning 17 championships. But when the U.S.-based tournament tightened its rules five years ago, it became difficult for the island to field teams and it dropped out.

The new rules require Taiwan to have more teams playing in the qualifying rounds in Taiwan, said Richard T. C. Lin, secretary general of the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association. The organizers thought that in the past, Taiwan had too few teams and was able to unfairly load them up with star players.

Some had hoped that Taiwan would return to the tournament this year, but that would have been too early, Lin said.

``There's no way we could participate this year. We'll make a fresh try next year,'' Lin said.

Taiwan won its first title in 1969, a 6-0 victory over Briarwood Little League of Santa Clara, California. Since then, no participant has been more successful. Taiwanese teams have won 17 championships, including four in a row from 1971-74 and another five in a row from 1976-81.

But many became suspicious that Taiwan was cheating, allowing teams to practice out of season, and said that Taiwan's school system allowed teams to draw players from a larger talent pool than other countries. After Taiwan won back-to-back titles in 1995 and '96, Little League said it would strictly enforce residency rules. Taiwan withdrew from Little League in 1997, saying they could not meet those guidelines.

Fans booed in 1973 when Taiwan's team from the southern city of Tainan beat Bitburg Air Base, Germany, 18-0 in the first round, then Tampa, Florida, 27-0, before routing Tucson, Arizona, 12-0 in the title game.

After Taiwan's fourth consecutive championship in 1974, Little League excluded foreign teams for one year, saying that Taiwan and some other teams were training out of season.