|Ballpark||Osaka Dome (2005, 2007–present)|
|Pacific League pennants||12 (1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1995, 1996)|
|Japan Series championships||4 (1975, 1976, 1977, 1996)|
|Former league(s)||Japanese Baseball League (1936–1949)|
|Colors||Navy, Gold, White
The ORIX Buffaloes (オリックス・バファローズ Orikkusu Bafarōzu) are a Nippon Professional Baseball team that was formed following the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball realignment by the merger of the Orix BlueWave of Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan and the Kintetsu Buffaloes of Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan. The team plays in the Pacific League and is owned by the Orix Group, a leading diversified financial services company based in Tokyo.
The combined team began play in 2005 and splits their home games between Kobe Sports Park Baseball Stadium, the former home of the BlueWave, and the Osaka Dome, which was the home of the original Buffaloes franchise.
The Orix BlueWave was founded in 1936 under the ownership of a Japanese railway company Hanshin Kyuko Railway Company (阪神急行電鉄 Hanshin Kyuko Dentetsu, present: Hankyu Hanshin Holdings, Inc.), as Osaka Hankyu Baseball Club (大阪阪急野球協会 Ōsaka hankyū yakyū kyōkai). Later nicknamed the Hankyu Braves, it was one of the first Japanese professional baseball teams.
In the early 1950s the franchise made a dedicated effort to attract foreign talent, particularly African-American veterans of Negro League baseball, including infielders John Britton and Larry Raines, and pitchers Jimmy Newberry and Rufus Gaines. These players were the first Americans other than Wally Yonamine to play Nippon Professional Baseball after World War II.
Starting in the mid-1960s, the Braves became one of the strongest teams not only in the Pacific League but in all of Japanese professional baseball. Between 1967 and 1972, the Hankyu Braves won the Pacific League pennant five times, but lost the Japan Series each time against the Yomiuri Giants. Manager Yukio Nishimoto was known as "the great manager in tragedy" because of those losses. But the Hankyu Braves won Japan Series three times in a row from 1975, against the Tokyo Giants in 1976 and 1977, led by manager Toshiharu Ueda. At that time many good players in Japanese baseball history played for the Hankyu Braves, including pitcher Hisashi Yamada and outfielder Yutaka Fukumoto.
In the 1980s, the team was still strong but lost the pennant to the Seibu Lions every year except 1984.
On October 19, 1988, Hankyu Railway sold the franchise to the lease company Orient Lease (since 1989 known as Orix Group). That was known as "the longest day of the Pacific League" because it was also the day when the Kintetsu Buffaloes played the legendary double-header for the Pacific League pennant (but they could not have won the pennant because of a tie game). The sale was a surprise, because it was much rarer in those days in Japan for the ownership of a professional baseball team to change, not to mention for a large company to sell one of its parts; Hankyu Railway was thought of as one of the big companies that would never need to do such a thing.
The sale was made with two assurances: the team name would remain "Braves", and the franchise would stay in Nishinomiya. During the first two years of new ownership, the team was known as the Orix Braves and played in Nishinomiya.
In 1991, the team moved to Kobe and became the Orix BlueWave. Longtime fans were shocked by these changes. However, since Nishinomiya and Kobe are close to one another, and the new home field of the team was better than the old one, most fans accepted the move, although with some nostalgia for the historic "Braves" name. The team was sometimes called Aonami or Seiha (青波) by fans and the baseball media, which means "blue wave" in Japanese.
Orix Buffaloes (2005 to present)
Following the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball realignment, the BlueWave merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. The team has struggled since its merger, and has finished in the top half (or A Class) of the Pacific league only once from 2005 to 2013.
In 2008, The Buffaloes finished 2nd in the Pacific League, going 75-68-1 and finishing 2 1/2 games behind the Saitama Seibu Lions, but were swept by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at home in the 1st stage of the Climax Series.
In 2013 the Buffaloes finished in 5th place with a 66-73-5.
Baseball Hall of Famers
Elected mainly for Hankyu Braves service
- Yutaka Fukumoto, CF, 1969–1988 (inducted 2002)
- Takao Kajimoto, P, 1954–1973 (inducted 2007)
- Hisashi Yamada, P, 1969–1988 (inducted 2006)
- Tetsuya Yoneda, P, 1956–1975 (inducted 2000)
Elected for service with other teams, as well as Hankyu and Orix
- Hiromitsu Kadota, DH, 1989–1990 (inducted 2006)
- Futoshi Nakanishi, Head coach / Hitting coach, 1985–1990†, 1995–1997 (inducted 1999) †For Kintetsu Buffaloes
- Akira Ōgi, MGR 1988–1992†, 1994–2001, 2005 (inducted 2004)
- Toshiharu Ueda, MGR, 1974–1978, 1981–1990 (inducted 2003)
Elected mainly for Kintetsu Buffaloes service
Notable former players and managers
as Orix Buffaloes
- Cliff Brumbaugh — RF
- Karim García — OF
- Kazuhiro Kiyohara (清原 和博) — 1B/3B
- Norihiro Nakamura (中村 紀洋) — IF
- Chan Ho Park — P
- Lee Seung-Yeop — 1B
- Yoshitomo Tani (谷 佳知) — OF
- Ryan Vogelsong — P
- Masato Yoshii (吉井 理人) — P
as Orix BlueWave
- Koo Dae-sung — P
- Yasuo Fujii — OF
- Shigetoshi Hasegawa (長谷川 滋利) — P — formerly of the Anaheim Angels and Seattle Mariners
- Troy Neel — IB
- Takahito Nomura (野村 空生) — P
- Kazuhiro Sato (佐藤 和弘) (also known as "Punch" Sato) (パンチ佐藤), OF
- Ichiro Suzuki (鈴木 一朗, イチロー) – OF — now playing for the Miami Marlins of MLB's National League
- So Taguchi — OF
as Kintetsu (and Osaka Kintetsu) Buffaloes
- Charlie Manuel — OF
- Norihiro Nakamura (中村 紀洋) — IF
- Hideo Nomo (野茂 英雄) — P
- Tuffy Rhodes — OF
- Masato Yoshii (吉井 理人) — P
as Hankyu (and Orix) Braves
- Mitsuhiro Adachi — P — underhanded big-game pitcher who defeated the Yomiuri Giants
- Roberto Barbon — IF
- Yutaro Imai— P — once pitched a perfect game
- Hideji Kato (加藤 英司) — 1B
- Brad "Animal" Lesley — P
- Bobby Marcano — IF
- Hiromi Matsunaga (松永 浩美) — 3B
- Tokuji Nagaike — OF
- Nobuyuki Hoshino — P
- Yoshinori Sato — P
- Daryl Spencer — IF
- Greg "Boomer" Wells — 1B (the first non-Japanese triple crown hitter in NPB history)
- Masafumi Yamamori — OF
- Joey Butler (2014)
- Hideo Nomo (1990–2005, 2008)
- Shigetoshi Hasegawa (1997–2005)
- Masao Kida (1999–2005)
- So Taguchi (2002–2009)
- Koo Dae-Sung (2005)
- Yuniesky Betancourt (2014)
- Chan Ho Park (1994–2010)
- Tuffy Rhodes (1990–1993)
- Brad "Animal" Lesley (1982–1985)
- Troy Neel (1992–1994)
- Daryl Spencer (1952–1963)
- Cliff Brumbaugh (2001)
- Charlie Manuel (1969–1972, 1974–1975 as player; 2000–2013 as manager)
- until 2010
- Neppie #111, a young boy
- Ripsea #222, a young girl
- since 2011
- Buffalo Bull #111, a male buffalo, Bell's brother
- Buffalo Bell #222, a female buffalo, Bull's sister
- Zurui, "Negro Leaguers in Japan," BlackTokyo (September 12, 2008).
- Whiting, Robert (1989). You Gotta Have Wa. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 287–88. ISBN 0-679-72947-X.
- (in Japanese) ORIX Buffaloes