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Asia-Pacific Coach Makes a Rare Return to Williamsport
By Colin Brown
In stadiums filled with thousands of people and millions more watching on television from around the world, the lights shine brightly not only on the players, but coaches, too. While the experience is usually very new to all who participate, one coach finds things somewhat familiar.
“I was a player in 1994 so I know Williamsport,” said Asia-Pacific coach Hsiang-Kai Shih via team interpreter Chia-Hsien Lin. “I gave myself a goal to come here and compete with all the elites from around the world. When I was here in 1994 the only thoughts in my mind were to do my best and to enjoy my time in Williamsport.”
In 1994, Shih and his team finished 1-2 in pool play, picking up their win over Canada.
“I believe that Coach Shih is a very good coach because he is very careful and he knows how to teach what he has already learned,” said Asia-Pacific manager Kuo-Chiang Lee.
From the memories Shih made in the 1994 Little League World Series, he was able to motivate his team to reach the pinnacle that he once achieved.
“Because I was here, I know how people treat the players who are here,” said Shih. “So I encouraged the players to do their best during all of the competitions and games in order to win the title to get a ticket to Williamsport.”
“He always told us how beautiful Williamsport is and how the environment is here,” said Lee. “The people here love baseball and are very friendly—we are very happy to be here.”
“Coach Shih told me that the environment here is very beautiful,” said Asia-Pacific pitcher and infielder Tung-Jua Yeh. “Coach teaches us that there will be a big crowd here so don’t be distracted—just focus.”
The players turn to their first-year coach for expert advice as Shih spent his time after the 1994 World Series playing baseball at the professional level.
“Most players like to ask me about how the other players from around the world perform—such as their speed and their skills,” said Shih. “I tell them that players here are very good so they need to do their best—I am very glad to share my experience (with) those players.”
One adjustment Asia-Pacific team had to handle was the significant time difference. Eastern Standard Time is 12 hours behind China Standard Time. When the team is playing afternoon and evening games in Williamsport, they would usually be sound asleep in the middle of the night back at home.
They’ve adjusted, though, and are ready to play. After three rounds, Asia-Pacific is in a must-win situation to advance in the World Series. Regardless of the outcome, Shih is thrilled to be back in Williamsport.
“I feel very joyful and excited about being here,” he said.