“Just seeing my name being there, batting fourth in that lineup, was incredible,” Morse said in a telephone conversation from Taiwan. “I’m looking at the lineup. I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m batting between Cano and Granderson.’ It was an accomplishment for me.”
For Morse, the trip to participate in the Taiwan Series has served as a treasured experience and further cemented his status in the sport following his breakout 2011 season with the Nationals. Morse has been mobbed crowds after games and continued crushing the ball in them – Friday night (which already happened in Taiwan) – he smashed an RBI double and a 450-foot homer to center fielder. “It was a really good one,” he said.
Morse, who’s joined by Nationals pitchers Ross Detwiler and Collin Balester, has found himself widely recognized, a product of Taiwan’s love of baseball and playing behind Taiwanese idol Chien-Ming Wang. One night, he went to the night market in Taichung.
“Within five minutes, there was a crowd of about 100 people,” Morse said. “Security came over. I had to get quarantined in the McDonald’s.
“This is a first for sure. I didn’t what to expect. I’ll tell you what, when I stepped off the plane, the Taiwanese people have been so kind. They know they’re baseball, too. It’s unreal. They’ve been so nice to me and my fiancée. I didn’t know there was so many Nationals fans. Chien-Ming Wang is so big here. They know me.”
Morse has appreciated how welcoming the people have been, and he’s always bonding with the other major leaguers. Friday afternoon, he was chatting with Cano and they realized they had played against each other in Class low-A.
“We were like, ‘It’s been 10 years? What?’ ” Morse said.
He’s hung out often with Detwiler and Balester and come to know Jeremey Guthrie, Logan Morrison, Danny Valencia, Jeff Mathis and Ty Wigginton particularly well – “pretty much everybody,” Morse said.
Morse has been awed at the reaction Wang receives in his home country, where he’s the biggest sports celebrity.
“He’s such a great ambassador here,” Morse said. “I had no clue. This whole country is so big on him. On TV, they play replays of our games everyday. It’s on TV. I think he’s such a great representative of Taiwan.
“It’s unbelievable. He probably can’t leave the house much. It’s pretty intense. Before the games, they have a big ceremony and stuff. They announce everybody, and there’s a standing ‘O’ for Wang. And here, it’s ‘Wang Ming-Chien.’ ”
League officials asked Morse if he would consider attending the trip during the 2011 season, and he immediately became interested. With a few games left, he’s glad he came.
“It’s been awesome,” he said.