Tainan stadium packed with fans in pro baseball's season opener
Taipei, March 13 (CNA) The Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium had a big crowd of 7,800 fans in the season opener of Taiwan's 2021 pro baseball season on Saturday, with the visiting CTBC Brothers topping the defending champion Uni-President Lions 10-4.
It was the first time in 13 years that the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), the top-tier professional baseball league in Taiwan, held its season opener at the Tainan ballpark, which has a capacity of 10,000 fans.
Only 78 percent of the seats were allowed to be sold to comply with the government's COVID-19 prevention measures.
José de Paula, who was voted the CPBL's MVP in the 2020 season, pitched four innings for the Brothers and gave up three runs, before being relieved by Tsai Chi-Che (蔡齊哲) in the fifth with two runners on and nobody out.
Tsai got the Brothers out of the jam with no damage, holding his team's 4-3 lead.
CTBC extended its lead to 6-3 in the top of the sixth when Chang Chih-Hao (張志豪) slammed a two-run home run off reliever Wu Cheng-yu (吳承諭), and then put the game out of reach in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk and a three-run blast over the center field wall by Hsu Chi-hung (許基宏).
Saturday's game welcomed the presence of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Taiwan's first head of state to attend the professional baseball league's season opener since 2010.
The CPBL has a slightly different look in 2021, with five teams instead of four. The Wei Chuan Dragons have rejoined the league after the team was disbanded in 1999.
But the league has kept the COVID-19 crowd measures it finished the season with last year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CPBL started the 2020 season with zero fans in the stands. But as Taiwan kept the disease at bay, the league gradually increased attendance limits from 250 to 1,000 and 2,000 and then to 50 percent capacity, before hitting 78 percent capacity in the second half of the season.
According to the CPBL, the league will keep the cap on the number of fans allowed into stadiums at 78 percent through the entire 2021 season to comply with COVID-19 prevention efforts.
Under the protocols, fans will be required to wear face masks at all times, except when they eat, and they will have to register their names and ID numbers before entering the stadium.
Last year, the CPBL gained international attention as the first professional baseball league in the world to start its season.
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