Tokyo Yakult Swallows
|Tokyo Yakult Swallows|
|League||Nippon Professional Baseball (1950–present)|
|Ballpark||Meiji Jingu Stadium (1964–present)|
|Central League pennants||7 (1978, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2015)|
|Japan Series championships||5 (1978, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001)|
|Retired numbers||1, 8, 27|
The Swallows are named after their corporate owners, the Yakult Corporation. 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 restored its original Swallows name in 1974. Then it was renamed 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 former Japanese National Railways. The team name was decided to be the Kokutetsu Swallows. The team never finished with a winning record in the entire decade of the 1950s. In 1961, the team ended up being third in the league for first time in their team history.
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.
Yakult era (1970–2005)
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.
- 1: Tsutomu Wakamatsu (若松 勉)
- 6: Shinya Miyamoto (宮本 慎也)
- 8: Katsuo Osugi (大杉 勝男)
- 27: Atsuya Furuta (古田 敦也) – Player manager in 2006–2007
- Masaichi Kaneda (1950–1964)
- Tsutomu Wakamatsu (1972–1989)
- Hiromu Matsuoka (1968–1985)
- Takeshi Yasuda (1971–1981)
- Akihiko Ohya (1970–1985)
- Joe Pepitone (1973)
- Roger Repoz (1974–1977)
- Charlie Manuel (1976–1978)
- Dave Hilton (1978–1979)
- Bob Horner (1987)
- Floyd Bannister (1990)
- Johnny Ray (1991–1992)
- Rex Hudler (1993)
- Hensley Meulens (1995–1996)
- Dwayne Hosey (1997–1998)
- Roberto Petagine (1999–2002)
- Jason Jacome (1999–2000)
- Aaron Guiel (2007–2011)
- Masato Yoshii (1998–2002)
- Kazuhisa Ishii (2002–2005)
- Shingo Takatsu (2004–2005)
- Akinori Iwamura (2007–2010)
- Ryota Igarashi (2010–2012)
- Norichika Aoki (2012–2017)
- Tony Barnette (2016–Present)
The team's mascot is a black swallow with a red face named Tsubakuro. He is known for his feuds with the Orix 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.
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