Cultural Commentary - By Dan Bloom on Friday, August 5, 2011 3:50 - 140 Comments - Post a Comment - Report Abuse
America loves sports and America loves baseball, and Hollywood has always mirrored our love for the game, from such films as “Bull Durham” and “Field of Dreams” to “Air Bud” and “The Rookie.” Now comes news of a baseball story with an overseas twist, from Taiwan, and with a tragic arc as well.
The 82-year-old biological grandfather of Washington Nationals star pitcher Chien-Ming Wang was found dead hanging from a tree in a local neighborhood park in Taiwan last week, according to police reports, and while there was no suicide note found at the scene or at his home, police observers suspect it was a suicide, as foul play has been ruled out. While the news hit all the national newspapers in Wang’s homeland of Taiwan, not one American newspaper or sports blog in Washington DC or Manhattan — where Wang also pitched for the Yankees — has reported the sad family saga. Why not?
As readers know, the great Wang Chien-ming started playing baseball in the fourth grade in Taiwan, and it was through baseball that he learned an important part of his personal story, according to a 2006 story in the New York Times.
“We were going out to a competition and needed our personal documents,” Wang told the New York Times, explaining that meant the names, relationships and birth dates of family members. “When I got my documents, I learned who my biological parents were. My parents didn’t tell me.”
Wang found out then that his biological father was the man he knew as his uncle, Ping-Yin Wang. Wang’s parents had no children of their own and offered to raise him.
Fast forward now to August 2011: “The biological grandfather of Chien-Ming Wang was found dead in a Taiwan park and police suspect suicide.”
News reports said in both Chinese and English media in Taiwan: ”An elderly man who was found dead Sunday in the southern city of Tainan has been identified as the biological grandfather of Taiwanese baseball pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.”
A paperboy told police that around 5 a.m. last Sunday he had seen an old man hanging by the neck from an electric cord tied to a horizontal bar in a park.
The police later identified the body as that of an 82-year-old man named Mr. Huang. No first name was given, as is often the case in Taiwanese media stories about family matters.
According to police, there was no suicide note and the old man’s surviving family said Mr. Huang did not show any abnormal behavior before the incident. Mr. Huang was known to suffer from high blood pressure.
He was the father of Wang’s biological mother. Wang was adopted at birth and raised by his uncle.
According to Huang’s neighbors, he never boasted that he had a grandson who played in the Major League but he did care a lot about the 31-year-old baseball star.
The 19-game winner returned to the Major mound July 30 after a serious shoulder injury that kept him out of competition for more than two years.
Baseball pundits have expressed worry that the news of his grandfather’s death could pose a setback for the right-hander.
But so far, there has been no media coverage of this family matter in American newspapers or sports channels.
However, given that “Wang was adopted at birth and raised by his uncle,” one can see why it’s not rising to the level of a coverage-worthy story in the American sports media.
Said one top sports reporter on the East Coast, when contacted about this story: “I intend to ask Wang Chien-Ming about his grandfather’s apparent or alleged suicide before I write a story for my newspaper, if I do write it up at all.”
Said a longtime baseball fan from Boston: “There is a good family drama and human interest angle here that focuses on Wang’s Taiwanese roots and how much he is loved by his fans in Taiwan, and to make sports heroes more humanized. Baseball is not all about winning games or making oodles of money; there are family dramas often involved, too. Sports is not just a money making machine, there are real people involved with real family stories. This should make the news in America, too. After all, Wang is now an American baseball star, too.”
This post was submitted by Dan Bloom.
Entertainment News > Cultural Commentary > U.S. Media Fail to Report Chien Ming Wang Family Tragedy
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