Wang had his SI jersey retired on Thursday
Before Chien-Ming Wang became a reliable starter for the Bronx Bombers, he was an ace for the Baby Bombers and pitched the team to two NY-Penn League Championships. On Thursday, the Yankees celebrated his accomplishments as Wang returned to Staten Island.
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“I’m really happy to come back here,” Wang said. “It brings back a lot of memories to be back here.”
Wang played for the Baby Bombers in two separate seasons. In 2000, Wang made his professional debut in Staten Island. He went 4-4 with a 2.48, helping the team win its first championship in its history. After injury forced him to miss the 2001 season, Wang returned in 2002. He went 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA that year, but it was his eight shut-out innings in Game 2 of the Championship Series that clinched the Yankees’ second crown in three years.
“Winning the championships here and spraying the champagne around the locker room,” Wang listed as his favorite moments. They should be, as Wang is the only player in the team’s history to be a member of two championship teams.
The Staten Island Yankees celebrated that feat with “Chien-Ming Wang Night” on Thursday. They retired Wang’s number 41, his number in 2002, making it only the team’s second retired number. The Yankees also retired Jason Anderson’s 19 when he became the first Baby Bomber to reach the Major Leagues.
As part of the festivities, fans received a Chien-Ming Wang Bobble Head doll when they entered the stadium. “I think it’s a really cute doll,” Wang said of the toy with long locks, before joking, “but the Yankees, they don’t allow your hair to be that long, so it probably needs to be cut.”
Wang donned a replica jersey and watched as a plaque with his number was revealed in the upper deck. The largely Taiwanese crowd cheered wildly as Wang walked to the mound to make the first ceremonial pitch to catcher Francisco Cervelli. The pitcher, though, bounced the ball in front of home plate, which prompted a smile from Cervelli.
“I’m very happy to be here and I owe gratitude to the fans for showing up,” Wang said of the large gathering. “I’m very surprised because the last time I remember I was playing here with the Staten Island Yankees, I don’t remember a lot of fans from my country being here at that time.”
Before leaving, he offered advice to the current Staten Island Yankees working their way to the big leagues: “Work hard at the basic fundamentals and listen to your coaches here in Staten Island.”
After all, those coaches did a fine job helping Wang begin his journey to the big leagues.
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