Play Ball

Reviewed by: sukting

August 03, 2014

Rating: three

How long
20 episodes

A soldier deserter hides out in a little village in Hualien and lies his way into becoming the town's little league baseball coach. The background is from the 50s to 60s. How does he manage to overcome all odds to help the children to become the team champion ?

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Li Guo Yi as Lin Qi Ming / Hong Qi Sheng He boasts of being a good striker but falls out of grace after losing a match. He hits the corporal while protecting his army mate from harm while doing his national service. After that, he escapes from the camp. He gets to see Hong Qi Sheng killing himself in the lake.
He picks his identity card and hides in Ji Qi. He assumes Qi Sheng's identity to become the baseball coach. He has not been serious in training them initially but is later touched by their love for the sport and after reading Hong Kai's brother's diary. He works hard to want to fulfill their dream of being the champion.

They do not get to win but are instead hurt after knowing the truth. He is caught back to the camp and works restlessly at a coffeeshop. The boss allows him to return to Ji Qi to fulfill his promise and to make up to the children. He finally helps them to make their dream come true.

2. Ke Jia Yan as Lin Ming Yu (Xiao Wu) She comes to Ji Qi as she fails her high school exam. Her doctor father promises to sponsor her to go for US to further her studies if she is able to persuade her grandfather to go to Taipei to stay with them. She is the manager of the team and slowly grows to like Qi Ming.

3. Lu Xue Ru as Chen Hong Kai (Bu Wa) He is a primary school teacher who is interested in Xiao Wu. He is the exceptionally smart person who knows how to study and sing well. His baseball player elder brother dies in a car accident so he vows to make his dream come true. He trusts Qi Ming and Qi Ming feels the pressure when the villagers even sell their blood away in order to pay him his salary so Qi Ming also buys baseball bats for the children by pawning his watch.

4. Cai Chen Nan as A Gong He is Xiao Wu's grandfather who opens a photo studio. It's named grandmother photo studio. He is angry with his son as he marries into his wife's family. His son becomes a successful surgeon and this is because the villagers contribute money to this. His son later decides to do voluntary treatment for the villagers weekly to repay their kindness.

5. Wang Juan as Fu Ma She is the grocery shop owner. She likes money and pampers her son. Although she is twice widowed, she doesn't mind others saying about her as long as she earns an honest living. Qi Ming often treats the children to drinks bought from her store.

6. Gao Lei Ya as Yu Fu Mei She is 18 years old and comes from a poor family. Her younger siblings are in the baseball team and she starts working very young. She helps tourists to take photos at the studio. She is engaged to Bu Wa when young but he only treats her like a younger sister.

7. Lin Ya Lin as Wang Wei Ting She is the school's teacher and her father is the principal. She opposes to having the baseball team and often quarrels with Bu Wa. She is at loggerheads with Qi Ming initially but later helps the children in their studies so that they can stay in the team.

8. Liang Xiu Zhi as Principal Wang Like his daughter, he also feels that studies comes first and he is more focused in fund raising for other school utilities.

9. Qu Zhong Heng and Wen Shen Hao – guest stars as soldiers running after Qi Ming.

10. Jian Chang and Liu Rui Qi – guest stars as Qi Ming's parents

11. Liang Xiu Sheng – guest star as the pawnshop owner

12. Luo Shi Feng and Ka Shu Qin – guest star as Xiao Wu's parents

Interesting facts
Director Liang Xiu Sheng wished to get Hualien's support in shooting the drama so he found out the county head has the habit of swimming in the morning. So he waited for him by the lake to get his approval. The real baseball team parents only gave consent when the drama was shot during holidays. Xue Rui stayed in Hualien for 8 months to prepare for the shoot. It was so soothing that he gained a lot of weight and needed to slim down.

The photo studio was formally an office to show the history of sugar manufacturing. It was turned into the photo studio and the company agreed to keep it for 3 years to allow visitors to come over. Liang's son, He Qun came with his friend, Zhao Zheng Ping to visit him. Zhao was asked to be the guest star of the parent involvement team. Liang gave a red packet to Zhao but not his son. He had raised him for so many years so he did not need it.

Most favourite character
Bu Wa, he is very responsible. He values his promises and treats the children well.

Most hated character
Fu Ma, she pampers her son too much. Qi Ming sets a harsh routine to make him know his limits.

It is ‘A perfect hero' by A Du. Ending Theme is ‘I know' by BY2. I prefer the former as it is the direct opposite of the drama.

It is a drama that shows the love for the sport. Each child has a painful story to tell on their family background so baseball helps them to forget their troubles. This also changes Qi Ming to be more mature after knowing the importance to them. The setting of the village is also heartwarming on how the villagers help one another. The cast's acting is very natural. This is different from the usual idol dramas.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of5)
On story : *** (Scale of 5)
On song : *** (Scale of 5)

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