The Late Life Inning: Restoring a Baseball Legacy
by Arielle Bagood
When Chien-Ming Wang made his Major League debut with the New York Yankees in 2005, he became Taiwan’s national pride. He won the Yankees 19 games for two straight years from 2006 to 2007. But in 2008, a leg injury and a series of shoulder injuries cost him his career, and he was eventually dropped from the team. Over the next few years, he struggled to stay in the Major League and found himself as a free agent.
Frank W. Chen’s LATE LIFE: THE CHIEN-MING WANG STORY follows Wang and his journey through the minor and independent leagues, determined to prove himself as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers despite his setbacks. Time and time again, Wang is told to give up and retire — he is too old, his arm is too weak, but as he travels back and forth amongst different minor and independent teams, his spirit never breaks.
LATE LIFE is the inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking story of a fallen Taiwanese hero on the road to redeem himself. It’s as much as a literal road trip as it is a metaphorical journey as Chen and his crew quietly follow Wang from Georgia to Maryland to Washington to Kansas. As Wang jumps from team to team, we meet his greatest supporters in heartfelt interviews with his agent, trainers and family. Those who know him best know him as a stubborn but persistent fighter who continuously works through pain and rejection until he achieves what he’s worked his entire life for.
Wang’s little known story resonates far beyond baseball. As he persists through months and months of rehabilitation and training, he does so all on his own — separated from his wife and children in Florida and his parents in Taiwan. In his absence, his son boasts to his peers about about his “real ballplayer” father, and framed posters and figurines line his parents’ walls. While he yearns to return to his family, a fire burns within him to restore his legacy, not just for his nation, but also his son’s. It’s a real-life tale of family, perseverance, and devotion that anyone can empathize with.
You can watch LATE LIFE: THE CHIEN-MING WANG STORY at Regal L.A. LIVE on Wednesday, May 9th at 6:30 PM.
Arielle Bagood is fourth-year UCLA student majoring in Asian American Studies with a minor in Film/TV. She is a proud member of LCC Theater Company, UCLA’s first and only Asian American theater company. Most recently, she completed a documentary on queer Filipino-Americans and mental health which was screened as part of the 2018 Thinking Gender Student Research Conference.