Former NPB Pitcher Chih-Chia Chang Dead At 43, Was Banned From CPBL For Fixing Games

Chang Chih-Chia of Chinese Taipei has his chain adjusted against Canada in the preliminary baseball game at the Wukesong Baseball Field during Day 12 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 20, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Former Seibu Lions pitcher Chih-Chia Chang was pronounced dead at 43 years old after his landlord found him lying unconscious on his apartment floor in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, Joseph Yeh of Focus Taiwan CNA English News reported on January 2. 

Chang’s mother told on Jan. 1 that “Chang had a myocardial infarction.”

“His mother said she talked with him over the phone on New Year’s Eve, but could not reach him on New Year’s Day”, the Taipei Times reported on January 3. 

“His family was in the process of applying for travel documents to visit China to deal with the aftermath of his death”, Focus Taiwan CNA English News reported on January 2.

Chang, a right-hander, was born on May 6, 1980, in Xihu, Changhua, Taiwan and played five professional seasons with the Seibu Lions in Nippon Professional Baseball from 2002-04 and the La New Bears from 2008-09 in the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan. 

Chang played in the 2001 Baseball World Cup in Taiwan with Chinese Taipei. He posted a 4-0 record during the 13-day tournament, including a 3-0 complete game shutout victory over Japan in the bronze medal game. He posted a 0.36 ERA and 26 strikeouts while throwing 25.1 innings at the event. 

The Seibu Lions scouted Chang at the 2001 Baseball World Cup and signed him for $845,885 before the start of the 2002 season. Chang’s contract with the Seibu Lions is still the richest for a Taiwanese player in Japan to date.

During his rookie season in 2002, Chang set an NPB record by striking out at least one batter in 28 consecutive innings. His record held for 13 straight seasons until 2015 when Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks relief pitcher Dennis Sarfate broke it. 

During his three seasons in NPB, Chang posted a 26-19 record, throwing 387 innings in 63 appearances and 58 starts with a 3.81 ERA, earning one save, seven complete games and four shutouts. He allowed 351 hits, 164 earned runs, 54 home runs, 148 walks, 352 strikeouts, and a 1.289 WHIP during his career in Japan before being demoted to the Japanese minor leagues for 2005 and 2006. He was later released after the 2006 season after injuries hampered his ability. 

Chang also helped the Seibu Lions capture their 12th Japan Series title in franchise history, beating the Yomiuri Giants in the 2004 Japan Series in seven games. 

Chang returned to Taiwan in 2007, and remained unsigned until the beginning of the 2008 regular season with the La New Bears. In two CPBL seasons, Chang posted a 13-13 record with a 4.14 ERA in 48 appearances and 32 starts, throwing 210.2 innings and allowing 225 hits, 97 earned runs, 15 home runs, 80 walks, 154 strikeouts, and a 1.448 WHIP. 

Chang’s contract with the La New Bears was canceled prior to the start of the 2009 season after he was alleged to have taken part in fixing games and was banned for life by the CPBL. 

He was given a four-month prison term due for fixing games and later fined NT$120,000 in 2014 by the Taiwan High Court.

Outside of baseball, Chang worked as a chef in the Taichung area after his playing career, released an album of music, and shot TV commercials all over Asia during the peak of his popularity. 

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