By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, we take a look at a special anniversary, and the one that got away from the Mariners.
Mural created in honor of Michael Chang
Thirty years ago this June, Michael Chang became the youngest men’s player to win the French Open. It was Chang’s first and only Grand Slam title.
Chang’s most memorable match of the run in 1989 was versus three-time former French Open champion Ivan Lendl. Chang fought through leg cramps to win a 5-set match which spanned 4 hours and 37 minutes.
Chang collapsed in exhaustion and broke down in tears after defeating Lendl.
Notably, Chang’s victory occurred during the height of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Chang recalled being glued to reports of what was happening during this turbulent time in China. He believed his victory was a small way to put smiles on Chinese people’s faces at a time when there wasn’t much to smile about.
In commemoration of this victory, a mural was made this past spring in honor of the Hoboken, N.J.-native. Artist Ricardo Roig put up the mural as a commissioned project with the city of Hoboken. The 40-foot-tall and 43-foot-wide mural was officially unveiled on May 10.
“I passed by the wall all the time,” explained Roig of the side of the building where he created the mural. “It is next to the tennis courts.”
Roig, a New Jersey artist, completed a mural for the Amazon.com warehouse in the area and was looking for another project.
In speaking with one of the tenants of the building, he said that Roig should do a mural depicting Michael Chang since he was from the area.
“Michael Chang’s from Hoboken?” Roig inquired. The 35-year-old confessed that Chang was before his time, but thought the idea of Chang overlooking tennis courts would be a great visual.
After doing research, Roig thought the idea was good since it was the 30th anniversary of his French Open triumph and Chang had local connections. He was able to get approval and found an image he thought would be great for the mural.
Roig proposed the project with the city under a new ordinance which dedicated funds to public art.
“It also helped that the Hoboken mayor played tennis in high school,” said Roig. Ravinder Bhalla, the city’s mayor, is the first Sikh mayor of New Jersey.
While he received city approval, Roig also received news that the county planned to pave the tennis courts by May 1. Thus, he had just 5 days to erect the mural because it was unlikely to be allowed to place a hydraulic lift on the newly paved courts. So, Roig rented a hydraulic lift and the paint for the mural.
Roig’s friend, a graphic designer, blew up the graphic that he was going to use to the actual size and broke it down to a 3-foot by 3-foot square.
“Each square is numbered and then you go and put squares up on the wall by number,” Roig explained. He had a friend do the measuring and assist with handing him paint.
What made the project a little challenging was Roig’s fear of heights.
“I was asked by friends if it made me feel safer to have a harness.” Roig responded unknowingly, “There was a harness?” Despite the fear, Roig concentrated on the mural and immersed himself in the project. “I was scared the whole time, but focused on the art. In life, when you want something bad enough, you have to do something that makes you uncomfortable.”
The mural was finished within three and a half days, according to Roig.
He hopes that Chang will have an opportunity to view the mural.
Lin drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona State University (ASU) catcher Lyle Lin was once drafted by the Seattle Mariners in Major League Baseball (MLB)’s amateur draft. Lin was drafted directly out of high school by the Mariners with hopes of cultivating him in their farm system. However, Lin, a native of Taiwan, decided to go to ASU to play college baseball. I had a chance to catch up with him when he visited Seattle to play the University of Washington (UW).
Lin has been a success playing for the Sun Devils. In fact, last year, Lin was drafted by the defending World Series Champs, the Houston Astros in the 29th round of the 2018 MLB Draft. In an interview at the time, Lin declined to go pro again.
“Several teams have contacted me on the second day of the draft, but I turned down those opportunities because the signing bonus did not meet my expectations,” said Lin. Players drafted by MLB teams do not have to sign with the team that drafts them if they cannot agree on financial terms. This happens in cases where the player is an underclassman in college or in high school, giving the player options to return to school.
“I would love to get drafted again,” Lin said during ASU’s early May visit to play the Huskies.
In 2018, Lin was the starting catcher for the Sun Devils and was second on the team with 72 hits. He had impressive numbers at the plate and was one of the consistent members of the team. During the Sun Devils’ first game against UW, Lin came into the game as a replacement and promptly had two hits in the game, including an impressive double which nearly was a home run.
When the Mariners drafted him in the 16th round of the MLB Draft in 2016, they were one of the few teams that talked to him. Lin did get to visit Seattle when he was drafted by the Mariners, where he took a tour of the ballpark and locker rooms. While he didn’t get to meet Ichiro on his visit, he had the opportunity to meet Nori Aoki who played with the Mariners that year.
A catcher, Lin really enjoys the challenges that the position brings.
“I enjoy talking to the pitchers and the conversations with the managers.”
It was his favorite position to play while growing up. His father introduced him to the sport at a young age. He moved to the United States when in high school and instantly excelled playing for his high school team in Southern California. He received a scholarship to play at ASU in Tempe. Now a junior, Lin was chosen as a first team All-Pac 12 Conference player. He has led the team with nine games of three or more hits.
Lin says that he’s “living out a dream and hopes bigger things happen for him in the future.” At this point, he is focused on his dreams of playing in the major leagues.
Lin was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 14th round of the MLB Draft in early June. Not many baseball players get drafted in the major leagues. Lin has done it three times. He now will get a chance to play professionally with the hopes of making it to the majors someday.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.