Baseball legend Sadaharu Oh threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday at the newly completed Taipei Dome on the eve of the venue's first international game.
The 83-year-old former slugger, revered in both Japan and Taiwan, said he hoped the first indoor baseball stadium in Taiwan would bolster Taiwanese baseball and give its players confidence as they compete on the international stage.
Oh, chairman of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Pacific League, said the 40,000-seat venue compares favorably with the indoor baseball stadiums in Tokyo and Fukuoka.
He received a rousing applause from the Taiwanese baseball players, officials and other guests when he expressed hope that Japan and Taiwan would both advance at the 2026 World Baseball Classic.
"It is my wish that Taiwan can participate in the finals. I hope the players can achieve it. Let's work hard for Taiwan and Asia," Oh said.
As part of the ceremony, Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an presented Oh with an honorary citizenship certificate of the metropolis. Chiang said he was deeply moved that Oh insisted on coming to Taipei from Japan to throw the first pitch despite his doctor's advice against traveling overseas for health reasons.
Construction work on the Taipei Dome broke ground in 2012. However, disputes between the city government and the contractor led to lengthy delays before the stadium received its operating license last month.
The stadium will host the eight-day Asian Baseball Championship starting Sunday, with host Taiwan facing South Korea in the opening game.