Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wang Honored In Return To Staten Island

STATEN ISLAND, NY- It was a special night for Chien-Ming Wang and the Baby Bombers. The second-year Yankee starter was honored by the Staten Island Yankees in his first return to Richmond County Ball Park since pitching the Class A farm club to its second NY-Penn League Championship in three years in 2002.

Before the game, the current 11-game winner was honored by the farm club in a 10-minute ceremony which included the retirement of his #41 jersey- becoming just the second player to have that distinction. Ex-Yankee Jason Anderson is the other.

Introduced to an energized crowd which included many Wang supporters who carried signs including "We Love Wang," the starter smiled in response. After being presented with a #17 Staten Island jersey which he put on, Wang threw out the first pitch to more cheers. Possibly a bit overwhelmed by the big moment, he one-hopped the throw to S.I. catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Hopefully for the big club, it's not a sign of things to come when goes for win number 12 later tonight in the Bronx against Tampa Bay.

"I'm really happy to comeback here," he said at an in-game press conference attended by about 30 media members. "It brings back a lot of pleasant memories...I express my gratitude towards the fans who came out and showed up."

To commemorate his special night, each fan received a Chien-Ming Wang Bobblehead. "I think it's really cute but on the Yankees, they don't allow players to have hair that long," he sarcastically remarked.

The 26 year-old from Taiwan got his minor league start with the Baby Bombers back in 2000 after being signed as a free agent. In his debut season, he finished with 75 strikeouts in 87 innings- an impressive total which places him ninth all-time among Staten Island pitchers. That year, he helped lead the franchise to its first ever title.

He returned in 2002 and once again was a key contributor, going 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA, allowing 63 hits in 78.1 innings and striking out 64. To top it all off, the 6-3 righthander dominated Oneonta by permitting just three hits in eight innings and fanning five in a shutout of the Tigers to seal the team's second championship.

Wang had some good advice for the current crop of Baby Bombers who want to make it to the big leagues: "Work hard. Listen to your coach. Get as much out of it as you can."

It didn't take long for him to respond when asked what he'll remember most about his two years in Staten Island:

"Winning the championship down here and spraying the champagne around the locker room."

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