Year Founded: 1946
Current Home Stadium: Sapporo Dome (Capacity: 40,476)
Previously Known As: Senators (1946), Tokyu Flyers (1947), Kyuei Flyers (1948), Tokyu Flyers (1949–1953), Toei Flyers (1954–1972), Nittaku Home Flyers (1973), Tokyo Nippon-Ham Fighters (1974–2003)
Championships Won: 3 – 2016, 2006, 1962
Top Players in Team History:
1) Isao Harimoto, OF: 1959-75 (Hall of Fame, 3085 career hits – NPB record), 1962 PL MVP, 15 x All-Star Team, 14 x Best Nine.
2) Katsuo Osugi, 1B: 1965-74 (Hall of Fame, 1000+ career hits in PL & CL, 6 x All-Star Team, 5 x Best Nine)
3) Yukio Tanaka (Mr. Fighters), SS, OF, 1B: 1986-2007 (9 x All-Star Team, 4 x Best Nine, 5 x Diamond Glove)
4) Yu Darvish, SP: 2005-11 (2 x PL MVP, 2007 Sawamura Award, 3 x All-Star Team)
5) Michihiro Ogasawara, 1B & 3B: 1997-2006 (2006 PL MVP, 2 x PL Batting Champion, 2006 PL HR & RBI King, 5 x Best Nine, 6 x Golden Glove, 8 x All-Star Team
Most Famous Manager: Keiji Ozawa (1976-84, 1993-94) – Most Wins in Franchise History
Current Top Fielder: Shohei Otani: 2016 Stats – 323 AB, .322 AVG, 22 HR, 67 RBI, .416 OBP, .588 SLG
Current Top Pitcher: Shohei Otani: 2016 Stats – 10-4, 1.86 ERA, 174 K’s
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were birthed in the year 1946 as the Tokyo Senators. In 1947 the Senators were purchased by the Tokyu Corporation, a well-to-do private railway company in Japan. Their name was changed to “Flyers” which they would be called for the next 25 years even though they would be purchased by the Toei Company in 1954. Through their first several years of existence, the Toei Flyers had joined the Pacific League and played at Komazawa Stadium in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo. The stadium was torn down in 1961 to make room for venues for the 1964 Summer Olympics. In 1962, the Flyers played in Jingu Stadium (current home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows) and won their first and only Japan Series (against the Hanshin Tigers) while playing in Tokyo.
In 1964 the team moved to Korakuen Stadium, home of the Yomiuri Giants, which they shared from 1964-1987. In 1974, the team was purchased by the Nippon Ham Company and became the Tokyo Nippon Ham Fighters. For nearly forty years, the Fighters played second fiddle to the ever popular Central League Tokyo teams, the Yomiuri Giants and Tokyo Swallows. In 1981 the Nippon Ham Fighters won their only Pacific League pennant (under the Nippon Ham Company, that is) while in Tokyo and lost in the Japan Series to their big bad roommates, the Giants. In 1988, both the Fighters and Giants moved into the brand new Tokyo Dome. For the next 15 years, the Fighters never really enjoyed much success and played to many sparse crowds in their new home.
In 2004, it was time for the Fighters to find a new home. They headed north to the island of Hokkaido. Sapporo, Japan’s fifth largest city, became home to the Fighters. Since that time the Fighters have created a huge fan base in Hokkaido, playing in the Sapporo Dome. They have enjoyed much success, including 2 Japan Series championships (in 2006 and 2016) and consistently are one of the top teams in NPB.
About The Author:
My name is Max. I’m 29 years old. I was born, raised and currently live in Los Angeles, CA. I am a huge fan of the game of baseball and grew up a Dodger fan. I have been following Japanese baseball since I was a kid but have gained a more serious interest in it over the last several years. Thank you to T-Ray and the Hanshin Tigers English News website and to all the other English speaking fans of NPB for sharing your continued knowledge and passion of the game of baseball in Japan. If you would like to follow me on twitter you can do so @MistaMaxG.