The Baseball philosophy of manager Wang Tzyy-Tsann mixes the martial with art. For three games at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., last week, he imposed a drill sergeant's discipline on his preteen troops from Taiwan. Wang lifted a slugger, who had driven in seven runs during a game, after the player committed an error at third base, replaced a hitter in the middle of an at bat for whiffing at a pitch and issued as many rebukes as a man can when his team is cumulatively outscoring the opposition 43-1. Said Glen Orndorff Jr., manager of the Shippensburg, Pa., team, which lost 9-0 to Taiwan in Sunday's championship game, "We got ballplayers. They got robots."
Wang, a tight rope of a fellow, puts it this way: "The game of baseball is very beautiful. You can play it to perfection if you pay attention to the fundamentals."
His players did just that—hitting .404 in their three games and pitching superbly—to give Taiwan its 14th World Series title in the last 22 years. In the finale, righthander Sun Chao-Chi fanned 16 of the 20 batters he faced and allowed only two hits. "It's no big deal," he said afterward, wearing a face to match his words.
Shippensburg had drawn its power from battery mates Bobby Shannon and David Orndorff, the manager's son, and from the charged-up home-state crowd. Bobby struck out 14 hitters in Shippensburg's 3-1 quarterfinal win over Mobile, Ala., on Friday. Between pitches, he moped around the mound as if he had just been told to clean up his room. "I was telling myself to calm down," said Bobby. "Then I just started to throw, and they didn't touch me."
On Saturday about a third of Shippensburg's 7,000 citizens headed 2½ hours north to Williamsport to see their team's semifinal against Cypress, Calif. They passed up Shippensburg's big weekend event, the annual corn festival, during which all manner of corn edibles and corn crafts are available on Main Street. The sacrifice proved worthwhile. In the top of the fifth, with Cypress ahead 3-2, David legged out a two-out run-scoring hit to tie the score. Up stepped Bobby. "Bob-BEE! Bob-BEE!" chained the crowd. He responded by belting a two-run homer to left on the first pitch.
The drama continued in the bottom of the sixth. With a runner on third and the score 5-4, Joe Katchka of Cypress laid down a bunt in front of the mound. David, who was pitching, fielded the ball and threw Joe out. Then the runner, Eddie Zamora, broke, and first baseman Bob Knox fired to Bobby at the plate. Bobby is 5'7¼", 160 pounds, and as his brother John says, "Ain't too many people going to push through him." Eddie was no exception. Bobby made the tag and ended the threat.
Shippensburg seemed well poised for Sunday. No matter that Taiwan had blasted the European champion, Ramstein (West Germany) U.S. Air Force Base, 14-0 in the quarters and the Canadian champ, Trail, B.C., 20-1 in the semis. No matter that Taiwan's number-9 hitter was batting .800 going into the final game. No matter that Chao-Chi, the team's ace, who towered over the tournament field at 5'9½", had yet to pitch.
Shippensburg's hopes remained high until the fourth. Bobby had allowed Taiwan only one run, thanks largely to an off-speed "dart" pitch he had learned from the coaches of Trumbull, Conn., which stunned Taiwan in last year's title game. But Bobby tired, and a bevy of Taiwanese hits and Shippensburg errors followed.
After the game, Taiwan's players showered Shippensburg's with two paper bags full of gifts—baseballs, banners and collapsible lanterns. Then the Taiwanese players gathered in a circle and doffed their caps to the crowd of 40,000, revealing their matching buzzcuts. "It is so they stay cool in the summer," said Wang. "And so they look more like kids."