Taiwan Major League
|TV partner(s)||Era Television|
The Taiwan Major League (TML 臺灣大聯盟) was a professional baseball league in Taiwan that operated from 1996 to 2003. It was established by TV tycoon Chiu Fu-sheng after a row over CPBL broadcasting rights. The Chinese Professional Baseball League absorbed the TML in 2003.
Throughout TML's history, all four teams were directly owned and managed by the Naluwan Corporation, a subsidiary of the TVBS media group both of which were then chaired by Chiu Fu-sheng. TVBS held the broadcasting right of CPBL games from 1993 to 1996 during CPBL's heyday, but lost it in August 1995 to Videoland Television Network, a subsidiary of the Koos Group whose baseball team Koos Group Whales later joined CPBL in 1997. Chiu therefore established TML in December 1995 in anticipation to maintain advertisement revenue. The other TML's keyman was local Sampo Corporation(聲寶企業)'s then chairman Chen Sheng-tian(陳盛沺); his amateur baseball team Sampo Giants had been requesting to join CPBL since 1992, but was repeatedly rejected by CPBL for unexplained reasons. Chen later decided to join force with Chiu and turned Sampo Giants into Taipei Gida, and sponsored this team until the end of 2000 when he realized there was no possibility for TML to profit. TML's first historical game was played by the visiting Taipei Gida and Chiayi-Tainan Luka at Chiayi County Baseball Stadium on February 28, 1997.
Throughout TML's history, TML, often with considerable incentives, had been attracting active CPBL players to break their CPBL contracts and join TML. A total of near 30 CPBL players, both Taiwanese and foreign, were broke from CPBL and joined TML. TML also had a much looser policy on international players, such as allowing a team to register eleven international players in the 1997 season, and seven in the 1998 season.
Chiu annually leased the teams' logos and naming rights to different sponsors for advertising purposes, so every year each team would bear different name from different sponsors, while the home city and mascot remained the same. Also, players were sometimes shuffled after a season to "balance each teams' strength"; all TML players' were directly signed by the Naluwan Corporation and not the team they played for. These circumstances prevented TML from gaining popularity comparable to CPBL, and TML also had difficulty in opening new market in the aftermath of The Black Eagles Incident.
On January 2003, Chiu finally agreed to a government-brokered merger with CPBL, and reorganized his four teams to two. Chiu also resigned from his chairperson position in TVBS. President Chen Shui-bien, who acted as the middle person in the merger agreement, asked First Financial Holdings to purchase one of the teams, while Macoto Bank voluntarily took over the other.
Before CPBL's 2003 season started, CPBL decided to fine each former "traitor", or those who broke contracts with CPBL, that returned with the former TML teams because of their previous contract-breaking. Both Macoto Bank and First Financial Holdings originally refused to pay the fine, and the players were banned from playing in the 2003 season. In 2004, Macoto Bank and La New Corporation, who purchased the team from First Financial Holdings, gave in to CPBL demands, and paid the fine by adding extra restrictions in these players' contracts. The ban was subsequently lifted.
The mascots Gida, Agan, Luka and Fala originated from Taiwanese aborigines symbols that mean suns, robots, braves, and thunder gods respectively. This is contrary to standard practice of CPBL, whose member organization all chose animals as their mascots; when the merger took place, the two former TML teams changed their mascots to meet standard CPBL practice.
- Taipei Gida (台北太陽), absorbed into First Financial Holdings Agan in 2003.
- Taichung Agan (台中金剛), absorbed into Macoto Gida in 2003.
- Chianan Luka (嘉南勇士), absorbed into Macoto Gida in 2003.
- Kaoping Fala (高屏雷公), absorbed into First Financial Holdings Agan in 2003.
Other than the home cities of member teams, games were also held in minor cities, although at a lesser frequency. TML has also suggested a Taiwan championship series between TML and CPBL, but was rebuffed by the latter.
- 1997: Chiayi-Tainan Luka defeated Taipei Gida, 4–3
- 1998: Taipei Gida defeated Kaohsiung-Pingtung Fala, 4–3
- 1999: Taichung Agan defeated Taipei Gida, 4–2
- 2000: Taipei Gida defeated Kaohsiung-Pingtung Fala, 4–0
- 2001: Taichung Agan defeated Taipei Gida, 4–2
- 2002: Taichung Agan defeated Kaohsiung-Pingtung Fala, 4–1