Former Chinese Taipei manager I-Chung Hong becomes CPBL's TSG Hawks first manager

Former Chinese Taipei manager I-Chung Hong becomes CPBL's TSG Hawks first manager
I-Chung Hong, the Taiwan professional baseball record holder with 991 wins, was named inaugural manager of the expansion team TSG Hawks. The Hawks will participate in the CPBL minor league season in 2023 before making their debut in 2024.

TAIPEI, Taiwan | The Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL)’s expansion team, TSG Hawks, announced Monday that I-Chung Hong, who managed Chinese Taipei at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, has been appointed the inaugural manager of the franchise.

As a former manager of CPBL’s La new Bears, Lamigo Monkeys and Fubon Guardians, Hong’s 991 wins make him the winningest manager in the island's baseball history.

TSG Group Chairman William Hsieh stated: “Hong is our first and best candidate, and we hope to bring the team to the playoffs within three years and win the title in five years.”

Hawks President Joseph Wang also confirmed that a three-year contract has been offered to Hong.

Hong, a native of the southern city of Kaohsiung, was the founding member of CPBL Brother Elephants (now CTBC Brothers) in 1990. Hong was the starting catcher for the Elephants in the CPBL inaugural game on 17 March, 1990.

Hong started his coaching career with Chinese Taipei during the WBSC 35th Baseball World Cup in 2003 and became the manager of La new Bears in 2004 following the departure of former manager Takuji Ohta.

In 2006, Hong was a coaching staff member during the inaugural World Baseball Classic before he led the Bears to win the Taiwan Series title and represented CPBL in the Asia Series. In 2007 he was named Chinese Taipei manager during the Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament and subsequently led the team to the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.

During his tenure with La new Bears and Lamigo Monkeys, Hong garnered 884 wins and 717 losses and led the franchise to a league-record seven Taiwan Series titles. In 2020, he signed a three-year contract with Fubon Guardians and went 107-127 during his first two seasons with the Guardians before stepping down and becoming the advisor of the franchise.

“There are so many things in life that you cannot control. As a lifetime baseball man, I am thrilled now to still be able to step on the field,” said the 61-year-old Hong during the press conference. “As this [contract] could be my last managerial duty, I will treasure every moment I have and help these young kids to play well.”

As the manager with the most (seven) Taiwan Series titles, Hong said: “There were four teams when I won my titles. It will be tougher to win it all when there are six teams.”

On a final note, Hong added: “I hope this team will be the pride of southern Taiwan”.

The CPBL, inaugurated in 1990 and merged with the Taiwan Major League in 2003, will open the 2023 season with six franchises: Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions, CTBC Brothers, Fubon Guardians, Rakuten Monkeys, Weichuan Dragons and TSG Hawks.

CPBL is a WBSC Associate Member.