CPBL: Lions legendary slugger Kuo-Ching Kao calls it a career after 20 years
27/05/2024 2 Minute Read

CPBL: Lions legendary slugger Kuo-Ching Kao calls it a career after 20 years

Nicknamed 'The Green Tank', Kao spent his whole career with the Lions in the Chinese Professional Baseball League and led the franchise in virtually all hitting categories, including home runs, hits, doubles and RBIs. He contributed to six Taiwan Series titles.

TAINAN, Taiwan | Two months after Kuo-Ching Kao announced his retirement, fans packed the Tainan Baseball Stadium on Sunday, May 26, to celebrate Kao’s illustrious career despite the rainy weather that delayed his retirement game for more than two and half hours.

Lions’ manager Yueh-Ping Daddy Pie Lin penciled Kao into the leadoff spot in the lineup in his 1,785th and final game in the Lions uniform. Kao collected one RBI and finished his career as a .300 hitter with a franchise-leading 134 home runs and 903 RBIs. At 45 years and 233 days, Kao also became the oldest player to appear in a Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) game.

Kao’s baseball career started under the lead of his elder brother Chien-Lung Kao (former Sinon Bull and La New Bear between 2000 and 2005) in the rural atmosphere of Taiwan’s eastern coast city, Taitung. The younger Kao later followed his brother’s footsteps to receive formal training at Taiwan’s baseball powerhouse Meiho Middle School in Pingtung County, which is roughly 200 kilometres away from his hometown.

His international career started when he was selected at age 14 to represent Chinese Taipei in the U-16 Baseball World Cup in 1993 and again three years later for the U-18 Baseball World Cup in 1996, prospectively, in addition to playing in the World Port Tournaments in 1999 and 2001.

Kao’s first international tournament highlight came in the Asian Baseball Championship 2001, in which he belted a two-run home run off Japan’s Nagisa Arakaki to send Chinese Taipei to the final and ultimately win the championship for the first time in 12 years.

In 2003, Kao was drafted in the fourth round (22nd pick overall) by the Lions. He displayed his raw power by producing 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases in his rookie season (2004) before registering a grand slam in his first Taiwan Series appearance. In 2007, Kao set the new CPBL single-season hit record while winning the Best-Ten Gold Gloves and being named the MVP of the year.

Kao was described by his teammates as “one who is crazy about training,” and he also attributes his longevity in professional baseball to his “constant and hard training.” Being humble, he describes himself as “not a very talented athlete, so I need to make up by committing to vigorous training.” Kao is also the first player in CPBL history to hire a personal trainer.

“I want to be remembered as one who did not sit on his talent but worked very hard to achieve all I have done,” said Kao.

In addition to his professional performances, Kao was also a frequent member of the national team even after turning professional. Kao represented Chinese Taipei in the Asian Baseball Championship 2007, Olympic Final Qualifying Tournament 2008, World Baseball Classic 2009, and Asia Series 2008, 2011, and 2013. He also participated in the East Japan Earthquake Relief Baseball Match in 2012.

Off the field, Kao contributed considerable time and resources to charity events as well as grassroots development of baseball by serving on the Taiwan Indigenous Baseball Development Association (currently chaired by CPBL all-time homerun leader Ngayaw Age of the Weichuan Dragons). Kao also served as Vice President of the Players Association.

During the retirement ceremony, Kao expressed his heartfelt appreciation to his coaches, teammates, management, fans, and especially his family, including his mother and late father, who had inspired Kao to stay in baseball.