|Ballpark||Tokyo Dome (1988–present)|
|Nickname(s)||Kyojin (巨人?, giant)|
|Japanese Baseball League titles||9 (Fall 1936, Spring 1937, Fall 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1949)|
|Central League pennants||35 (1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013)|
|Japan Series championships||22 (1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1981, 1989, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2012)|
|Former ballparks||Korakuen Stadium (1949–1987)|
|Colors||Black, Orange, White
|Retired numbers||1, 3, 4, 14, 16, 34|
The Yomiuri Giants (読売ジャイアンツ Yomiuri Jaiantsu?) are a professional baseball team based in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan. The team competes in the Central League in Nippon Professional Baseball. They play their home games in the Tokyo Dome, opened in 1988. The English-language press occasionally calls the team the "Tokyo Giants", but that name has not been in use in Japan for decades. Instead, the team is officially known by the name of its corporate owner just like the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes. The team's owner is the Yomiuri Group, a media conglomerate which includes two newspapers and a television network. The Yomiuri Giants are regarded as "The New York Yankees of Japan" due to their widespread popularity, past dominance of the league, and polarizing effect on fans (baseball fans who feel ambivalent about teams other than their local team often have an intense dislike for the Giants; on the other hand, the Giants have a large fan base even in areas with a local team).
The Giants are the oldest team among the current Japanese professional teams. Lefty O'Doul, a former Major League Baseball player, named the team "Tokyo Giants". Yomiuri Giants name and uniforms were based on the New York (now San Francisco) Giants. The team's colors (orange and black) are the same colors worn by the National League's Giants, both in New York and San Francisco. The stylized lettering on the team's jerseys and caps is similar to the fancy lettering used by the Giants when they played in New York in the 1930s, although during the 1970s the Giants modernized their lettering to follow the style worn by the American Giants. The Giants' main rivalry is with the Hanshin Tigers, a team especially popular in the Kansai region.
The team is often referred by fans and in news headlines and tables simply as Kyojin (巨人, the Japanese word for "giant(s)"), instead of the usual corporate owner's name or the English nickname.
Players of note
- 1 Sadaharu Oh (王 貞治)
- 3 Shigeo Nagashima (長嶋 茂雄)
- 4 Toshio Kurosawa (黒沢 俊夫)
- 14 Eiji Sawamura (沢村 栄治)
- 16 Tetsuharu Kawakami (川上 哲治)
- 34 Masaichi Kaneda (金田 正一)
"Japan's team" and allegations of corruption
Due to the Yomiuri company's vast influence in Japan as a major media conglomerate, the Giants are successfully marketed to the Japanese people as "Japan's Team." In fact, for some years the Giants' uniforms had "Tokyo" on the jersey instead of "Yomiuri" or "Giants," seeming to imply that the Giants represent the vast metropolis and geopolitical center of Japan, even though the Yakult Swallows are also based in Tokyo and three other teams play in the Greater Tokyo Area. This bandwagon appeal has been compared with the marketability of the New York Yankees and Manchester United, except that support for the Giants nearly exceeds 50% of those polled, while in the United States and England, support is judged to be between 30 to 40 percent for the New York Yankees and Manchester United, respectively. Correspondingly, fans of other professional baseball teams in Japan are often openly derisive and contemptuous of the Giants' bandwagon marketing tactics, and an "anti-Giants" movement exists in protest of the near hegemony established by the Yomiuri Giants.
It has also long been alleged that the Giants rely on underhanded tactics to recruit the best players, involving bribes to players and amateur coaches, or using their influence on the governing council of Japanese professional baseball to pass rules that favors their recruiting efforts. This may be one explanation for the Giants' abundance of success in league play. In August 2004, Yomiuri president Tsuneo Watanabe resigned after it was revealed that the club had violated scouting rules by paying ¥2 million to pitching prospect Yasuhiro Ichiba. Ten months later, Watanabe was hired as chairman of the Yomiuri corporation. In 2012, Asahi Shimbun discovered that the Giants had violated NPB rules by secretly paying pitcher Takahiko Nomaguchi while he was still an amateur playing in Japan's corporate league.
Oh home run controversy
In 1985, American Randy Bass, playing for the Hanshin Tigers, came into the last game of the season against the Oh-managed Giants with 54 home runs, one short of manager Sadaharu Oh's single-season record of 55. Bass was intentionally walked four times on four straight pitches each time, leading Bass to famously hold his bat upside down. Bass reached over the plate on the fifth occasion and batted the ball into the outfield for a single. After the game, Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for the Giants, later stated that an unnamed Giants coach had threatened a fine of $1,000 for every strike that any Giants pitcher threw to Bass. The magazine Takarajima investigated the incident and reported that the Giants front office had likely ordered the team not to allow Bass an opportunity to tie or break Oh's record. For the most part the Japanese media remained silent on the incident as did league commissioner Takeso Shimoda. A similar situation to this was presented in the 1992 movie Mr. Baseball.
2011 Kiyotake controversy
On 18 November 2011, Giants' general manager Hidetoshi Kiyotake was fired by the Yomiuri organization for "defamation of the team and Yomiuri newspaper group." Kiyotake had recommended that Kaoru Okazaki be retained as the team's 2012 head coach. After Yomiuri chairman Tsuneo Watanabe ordered Kiyotake to replace Okazaki with Suguru Egawa, Kiyotake called a public press conference on 11 November 2011 to complain about Watanabe's interference in the club's decision-making processes. Yomiuri's response was to fire Kiyotake.
Okazaki was eventually selected to remain as the next season's coach. The story made major headlines in the Japanese media. On 13 December 2011, Kiyotake sued Yomiuri for ¥62 million for unfair dismissal and defamation and demanded that the company issue him a formal apology, printed in the Yomiuri Shimbun. Yomiuri counter-sued Kiyotake for ¥100 million, saying that he had damaged the team's image. The suits, combined into one case, opened in Tokyo District Court on 2 February 2012.
2012 Hara controversy
In 2012 Japanese weekly Shukan Bunshun reported that current team manager Tatsunori Hara had paid ¥100 million to a former Yakuza gangster in response to a threat to go public on an extra-marital affair that Hara had been involved in. The Yomiuri corporation admitted that the payout had been made, but sued Shukan Bunshun for insinuating that the incident had underworld connections. The suit is pending.
- Koji Uehara (2009-)
- Takashi Kashiwada (1998)
- Takahito Nomura (2002)
- Masumi Kuwata (2007)
- Ken Kadokura (2009)
- Hideki Matsui (2003-2012)
- Whiting, You Gotta have Wa.
- Kyodo News, "Giants ax Kiyotake after vocal Watanabe slight", Japan Times, 19 November 2011, p. 16.
- Metropolis, "The Small Print: Groovin' to the Olympic Beat", #942, 13–26 April 2012, p. 4
- Whiting, Robert, "Equaling Oh's HR record proved difficult", Japan Times, October 31, 2008, p. 12.
- Nagata, Kazuaki, "Giants ex-GM Kiyotake tells his side of the story", Japan Times, 26 November 2011, p. 1.
- Kyodo News, "Giants ex-boss Kiyotake sues Yomiuri", Japan Times, 15 December 2011, p. 2.
- Matsutani, Minoru, "Axed Giants general manager Kiyotake, Yomiuri face off in court", Japan Times, 3 February 2012, p. 2.
- Metropolis, "The Small Print: How Low Can You Go?", Issue #956, 20 July - 2 August 2012, p. 4
- Fitts, Robert K. (2005). Remembering Japanese Baseball: An Oral History of the Game. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0-8093-2630-2.
- Whiting, Robert (2005). The Samurai Way of Baseball: The Impact of Ichiro and the New Wave from Japan. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69403-7.
- Whiting, Robert (1990). You Gotta Have Wa. Vintage. ISBN 0-679-72947-X.
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|Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize Winner