Tokyo Yakult Swallows

Last updated
Tokyo Yakult Swallows
東京ヤクルトスワローズ
Tokyo Yakult Swallows Tsubakuro logo.png Tokyo Yakult Swallows insignia.svg
Team logoCap insignia
Information
League Nippon Professional Baseball
Central League (1950–present)
Location Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Ballpark Meiji Jingu Stadium
FoundedJanuary 12, 1950;74 years ago (1950-01-12) [1]
Nickname(s)Tsubame (つばめ, swallow)
CL pennants9 (1978, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2015, 2021, 2022)
Japan Series championships6 (1978, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2021)
Former name(s)
  • Yakult Swallows (1974–2005)
  • Yakult Atoms (1970–1973)
  • Atoms (1969)
  • Sankei Atoms (1966–1968)
  • Sankei Swallows (1965)
  • Kokutetsu Swallows (1950–1965)
Former ballparks
ColorsNavy, Red, Green
   
MascotTsubakuro, Tsubami, and Torkuya
Playoff berths7 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021, 2022)
OwnershipTakashige Negishi
Management Yakult Honsha
Manager Shingo Takatsu
Uniforms
Tokyo Yakult Swallows uniforms.png

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows (Japanese : 東京ヤクルトスワローズ) are a Japanese professional baseball team competing in Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League. Based in Shinjuku, Tokyo, they are one of two professional baseball teams based in Tokyo, the other being the Yomiuri Giants. They have won 9 Central League championships and 6 Japan Series championships. Since 1964, they play their games at Meiji Jingu Stadium.

Contents

The Swallows are named after their corporate owners, Yakult Honsha. From 1950 to 1965, the team was owned by the former Japanese National Railways (known as Kokutetsu (国鉄) in Japanese) and called the Kokutetsu Swallows; the team was then owned by the newspaper Sankei Shimbun from 1965 to 1968 and called the Sankei Atoms. Yakult purchased the team in 1970 and renamed it the Yakult Atoms, before renaming it again as the Yakult Swallows in 1974, and then the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in 2006.

Kokutetsu and Sankei era (1950–1969)

The franchise was established for the first time in 1950 when the team was created by the owners of what was then Japanese National Railways (now the privatized Japan Railways Group). The team name was made the Kokutetsu Swallows. The team never finished with a winning record in their entire first decade of the 1950s. In 1961, the team ended up being third in the league for first time in their team history. Konkutetsu chose "Swallows" as JNR had an express railway, which at the time, was the fastest in Japan, which was named Tsubame (or swallow in English). Other name ideas were railway themed, such as "Service" or "Whistles". [2] Express was also considered, but was put out, due to fears within JNR of the team's name in headlines like "Express crashing" when the team was in a slump, or "Express explodes" when the team began winning a lot. (This similar issue would be the reason why Randy Bass would have his name transcribed in Japanese as Bāsu (バース, pronounced [baːsɯ]), due to Hanshin owning a bus line at the time, and bus in Japanese is known as basu (バス), which would similarly have a negative impact on Hanshin's bus line.)

Pitcher Masaichi Kaneda, nicknamed "The Emperor", starred for the team during this era and was the league's most dominant pitcher. Kaneda holds numerous career records in the Japanese leagues. For the Swallows, he went 14 straight seasons with at least 20 wins, led the league in strikeouts 10 times, wins three times, ERA three times, and won the Eiji Sawamura Award three times. Kaneda pitched for the Swallows from 1950 to 1964.

In 1965, the team was bought by Sankei Shimbun and Sankei retained the Swallows name for 1 year before switching their name to the Atoms, as they were one of the leading advocates of nuclear energy and they had no ties to the original name. [2]

Yakult era (1970–2005)

In 1970, Sankei Shimbun offloaded the team to Yakult Honsha, and Yakult kept the Atoms name for 3 seasons before bringing back the original "Swallows" name due to petitions from fans. [2] Sankei kept a minority stake in the team, negotiating a deal that broadcasts all Swallows home games on Fuji TV ONE.

The team won its first Japan Series championship in 1978.

In 1990, Katsuya Nomura became the new manager of Swallows, making drastic changes in the team. Although his first year with the Swallows resulted in them finishing in fifth place, the Swallows improved to third in the league the next year for the first time since 1980. From 1992 to 2001, the team won five Central League championships, prevailing in the Japan Series in 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2001. (Nomura managed the team to the first three of those championships.)

Tokyo Yakult era (2006–present)

In 2006, Tokyo was added to the team name, resulting in the team name of Tokyo Yakult Swallows, and the logo of Tokyo was added to the uniform for the first time since the Kokutetsu era. The team maintained a winning percentage of .500, and ended up in third place in the league.

2011 was an impressive year for the Swallows. In April, the Swallows topped the Central League and kept 1st place until September when the Chunichi Dragons climbed to win in the pennant race, ultimately leaving the Swallows in 2nd place in the Central League.

The Swallows entered the Climax Series in 2009, and faced the Yomiuri Giants for the stage 1, which ultimately resulted in a 2–1 victory. Swallows advanced for their first time into stage 2 and faced the defending Central League champions, the Chunichi Dragons. The Swallows eventually lost against the Dragons by 2–4, ending their postseason. At the end of season, Hirotoshi Ishii retired from the team.

In 2012, Norichika Aoki was posted to the Milwaukee Brewers. On 19 March 2012, the main office was moved to Kita-Aoyama which is located close to the Meiji Jingu Stadium from Higashi-Shinbashi.

In 2013, Swallows outfielder Wladimir Balentien broke the NPB single-season home run record, finishing the season with 60 home runs. [3] This was majorly due to the league secretly introducing a more juiced ball that allowed more home runs to be scored, which caused three-term NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato to resign when the juiced ball was found about. [4]

The Swallows finished the 2015 regular season with the Central League's best record and defeated the Yomiuri Giants in the Climax Series to advance to the Japan Series, where they lost to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in five games.

The Swallows clinched the 2021 Central League pennant on 26 October 2021 with a 5–1 victory over Yokohama DeNA BayStars, coupled with Hanshin Tigers losing 4-0 to Chunichi Dragons on the same night. The victory clinched the pennant with two games to spare in the regular season. This allowed them to advance to the final stage of the Climax Series, sweeping the Yomiuri Giants, 3-0, to advance to the Japan Series. They eventually won the series against the Orix Buffaloes in six games to win the Japan Series, their first since 2001. They backed it up in 2022 with an 80-59-4 record, winning the 2022 Central League pennant and returning to the Japan Series by sweeping the Hanshin Tigers in the 2022 Central League Climax Series, once again facing the Orix Buffaloes. This time however, the Buffaloes would exact revenge on the Swallows, beating them in the Japan Series in seven games, 4–2–1. Third baseman Munetaka Murakami broke the Japanese-born single season home run record in 2022 with 56 home runs, surpassing Sadaharu Oh's record of 55 set in 1964.

Current roster

First squadSecond squad

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

Coaches

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

Coaches

Development Players
Updated February 18, 2024All NPB rosters

Honoured numbers

Former players

MLB players

Managers

Top starting pitchers

PlayerYearsGamesWinLoseNumber of pitchesStrikeoutERA
Masaichi Kaneda 1950–1964814353267492040652.27
Gen'ichi Murata 1957–196945911814021549913.05
Hiromu Matsuoka 1968–1985660191190324020083.33
Takao Obana 1978–1991425112135220312253.82
Masanori Ishikawa 2002–ongoing525184183306117583.88

Source:Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB)[ citation needed ]

Mascots

The team's mascot is a black swallow with a red face named Tsubakuro (つば九郎). He is known for his feuds with the Orix Buffaloes mascots. He always wears a batting helmet. Whenever the Swallows wear special home unis, Tsubakuro also wears the same.

The number on the back of his uniform is "2896" as opposed to 111/222 used by Buffalo Bull and Buffalo Bell, the Buffaloes' mascots.

There is also a female swallow mascot named Tsubami. She wears a skirt and may be intended as Tsubakuro's little sister, just as Bell is Bull's little sister. Unlike her brother, she wears a sports visor.

Before Tsubakuro was created, the teams mascots were Yabo and Sue-Chan (ヤー坊 & スーちゃん), who were the team mascots from 1979 to 1994.

The team also had a former third mascot named Torcuya(トルクーヤ), a swallow who resembles a luchador. He always carries around a parasol and a bottle of Yakult that he carries on his back. He were the team mascot from 2014 to 2023.

The team also had a former mascot named Entaro (燕太郎), a swallow who wore a jersey and his jersey number is 8960. He was replaced by Torcuya in 2014.

Minor League team

The Swallows farm team plays in the Eastern League. The team was founded in 1950.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nippon Professional Baseball</span> Baseball league representing the highest level of professional baseball in Japan

Nippon Professional Baseball or NPB is the highest level of baseball in Japan. Locally, it is often called Puro Yakyū (プロ野球), meaning Professional Baseball. Outside of Japan, it is often referred to as "Japanese baseball".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yomiuri Giants</span> Professional baseball team

The Yomiuri Giants are a Japanese professional baseball team competing in Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League. Based in Bunkyo, Tokyo, they are one of two professional baseball teams based in Tokyo, the other being the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. They have played their home games in the Tokyo Dome since its opening in 1988. The team's owner is Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, Japan's largest media conglomerate which also owns two newspapers and the Nippon Television Network.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central League</span> Nippon Professional Baseball league

The Central League or Ce League is one of the two professional baseball leagues that constitute Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship plays against the winner of the Pacific League in the annual Japan Series. It currently consists of six teams from around the country. Unlike the Pacific League, designated hitters are not used during Central League home games.

The Japan Series, also the Nippon Series, is the annual championship series in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top baseball league in Japan. It is a best-of-seven series between the winning clubs of the league's two circuits, the Central League and the Pacific League, and is played in October or November. The first team to win four games is the overall winner and is declared the Japan Series Champion each year. The Japan Series uses a 2–3–2 format.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chunichi Dragons</span> Professional baseball team in the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball

The Chunichi Dragons are a professional baseball team based in Nagoya, the chief city in the Chūbu region of Japan. The team plays in the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball. They have won the Central League pennant nine times and the Japan Series twice. They were also champions in the 2007 Asia Series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orix Buffaloes</span> Nippon Professional Baseball team in the Pacific League

The Orix Buffaloes are a Nippon Professional Baseball team formed as a result of the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball realignment by the merger of the Orix BlueWave of Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes of Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. The team plays in the Pacific League and is under ownership by Orix, a leading diversified financial services company founded in Osaka.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Masaichi Kaneda</span> Zainichi Korean baseball player (1933–2019)

Masaichi Kaneda was a Japanese professional baseball pitcher of Zainichi Korean origin, one of the best-known pitchers in Japanese baseball history, and is the only Japanese pitcher to have won 400 games. He was inducted in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atsuya Furuta</span> Japanese baseball player and player-manager

Atsuya Furuta is a Japanese former baseball player and player-manager for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows professional baseball club in the Nippon Professional Baseball's Central League. Drafted in the 2nd round in 1990, Furuta became a leader for the Swallows as a catcher and became the first player-manager in Japanese baseball in 29 years, since Katsuya Nomura in 1977. In addition to his skills on the field, he is also known for leading a successful two-day strike in 2004 as the head of the Japanese baseball players union.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokyo Big6 Baseball League</span>

Tokyo Big6 Baseball League is an intercollegiate baseball league that features six prominent universities in the Tokyo area. Before the 1936 establishment of the Japanese Baseball League and subsequent growth of Nippon Professional Baseball, the Big6 League was widely considered the highest level of baseball in Japan.

The Eastern League (イースタン・リーグ) is one of the two minor leagues ("ni-gun") of Japanese professional baseball. The league is owned and managed by the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). Teams in the Eastern League generally play an 80-game schedule every year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tohto University Baseball League</span> Tokyo intercollegiate baseball league

Tohto University Baseball League is an intercollegiate baseball league that features 21 prominent universities in the Tokyo area.

The 2015 Nippon Professional Baseball season was the 66th season since the NPB was reorganized in 1950. In the Central League, the Yakult Swallows claimed the pennant and defeated the Yomiuri Giants in the final stage of the Climax Series. In the Pacific League, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks won the penant and defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines in the final stage of the Climax Series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2015 Japan Series</span>

The 2015 Japan Series was the 66th edition of Nippon Professional Baseball's postseason championship series. The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, champions of the Pacific League, played the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, champions of the Central League. The Hawks were the defending Japan Series champions, having beaten the Hanshin Tigers in 2014. The series was sponsored by the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and was officially known as the SMBC Nippon Series 2015.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Taishi Hirooka</span> Japanese baseball player

Taishi Hirooka is a Japanese professional baseball infielder for the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). He has previously played in NPB for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and Yomiuri Giants.

The 2021 Central League Climax Series (CLCS) was a set of two consecutive playoff series in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). The First Stage began on November 6 and the Final Stage concluded on November 12. The First Stage was a best-of-three series between the second-place Hanshin Tigers and the third-place Yomiuri Giants. The Final Series was a best-of-six with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the Central League champion, being awarded a one-win advantage against the Giants, the winner of the First Stage. The Swallows advanced to the 2021 Japan Series to compete against the Orix Buffaloes, the 2021 Pacific League Climax Series winner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2021 Japan Series</span> 72nd edition of the Japan Series

The 2021 Japan Series was the championship series of Nippon Professional Baseball's 2021 season. The 72nd edition of the Japan Series, it was a best-of-seven playoff between the Orix Buffaloes and Tokyo Yakult Swallows, the winners of the Pacific and Central League's Climax Series, respectively. Both teams were the winners of their respective league's regular season championship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2021 Tokyo Yakult Swallows season</span> Nippon Professional Baseball season

The 2021 Tokyo Yakult Swallows season is the 71st season of the franchise of Nippon Professional Baseball, their 57th season at Meiji Jingu Stadium, and their 51st season under Yakult Honsha. This was also the Swallows' second season under Shingo Takatsu. This is also Takatsu's first season managing a full 143-game season, as the COVID-19 pandemic lowered the games in 2020 to 120 games. For the first time since 2015, the Swallows made the Japan Series, and won their first since 2001 against the Orix Buffaloes.

The 2022 Nippon Professional Baseball season was the 73rd season of professional baseball in Japan since Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) was reorganized in 1950. There are 12 NPB teams, split evenly between the Central League and Pacific League.

References

  1. "リーグ略史 | セントラル・リーグ".
  2. 1 2 3 How Every NPB Team got its Name (feat. The Yakyu Cosmopolitan) , retrieved 2022-02-07
  3. Berry, Adam (September 15, 2013). "Balentien breaks Oh's Japanese home run record". MLB.com. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  4. "Japan commissioner resigns over juiced ball". ESPN.com. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2022-01-26.