The Chunichi Dragons (中日ドラゴンズ, Chūnichi Doragonzu) 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 (most recently in 2011) and the Japan Series twice (in 1954 and 2007). They were also champions in the 2007 Asia Series.
|League||Nippon Professional Baseball
|Location||Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan|
Vantelin Dome Nagoya
|Year founded||January 15, 1936|
|Nickname(s)||Ryu (竜, dragon)|
|Central League||9 (1954, 1974, 1982, 1988, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011)|
|Japan Series championships||2 (1954, 2007)|
|Mascot||Doala, Shaolon, and Paolon|
|Playoff berths||6 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)|
|Management||Chunichi Shimbun Co., Ltd|
The Chunichi Dragons were formed in 1936 as the Nagoya Club. The franchise was acquired by the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper company in 1946. They became the "Dragons" in 1947, but experimented with a number of variations on their team name before settling on Chunichi Dragons in 1954.
The Dragons' most famous player, Michio Nishizawa, played for the team from 1936 to 1958. He entered the league as a 15-year-old pitcher. He developed into a 20-game winner by 1939. Nishizawa's most memorable pitching feats occurred in 1942. On May 24 of that year, Nishizawa pitched a remarkable twenty-eight complete innings, totalling 311 pitches in a 4–4 tie against the Taiyō Whales at Korakuen Stadium. Later that year, he tossed his first and only no-hitter, accomplishing the feat against the Hankyu team. Despite a career ERA of 2.22, the heavy workload combined with injuries sustained during two years of service in World War II forced him to switch positions to first base, and later the outfield. After early struggles with the bat, Nishizawa developed into a feared hitter. He swatted a then-league record 46 home runs in 1950. His best season came in 1952, when he led the league in both batting average and runs batted in. Altogether, Nishizawa appeared in five All Star Games and won the Best Nine Award three times.
Forkball-specialist Shigeru Sugishita dominated the Central League for the Dragons from 1950 to 1955, winning more than 30 games twice (winning at least 23 games each season), and garnering three Eiji Sawamura Awards.
Led by Sugishita and an aging Nishizawa, the Dragons won their first Japan Series championship in 1954, defeating the Nishitetsu Lions 4-games-to-3.
In 1962, the Dragons became one of the first NPB teams to sign established MLB players when they brought on former stars Larry Doby and Don Newcombe.
Michio Nishizawa went on to manage the team from 1964 to 1967. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 and his number 15 jersey is one of only two retired by the team.
The Dragons were the first Japanese team to hire a foreigner as manager, Wally Yonamine, who led the team from 1972 to 1977. (Yonamine spoke fluent Japanese, and was later elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.)
In 1974, the team won the Central League title for the first time in 20 years, and this victory stopped the Yomiuri Giants from winning the league for the tenth consecutive year. Another league title came in 1999, and in that year, Dragons set a record by winning 11 consecutive games at the opening of the season.
In the 2004 season the team reached the Japan Series, but lost to the Seibu Lions, the Pacific League Champions, and in 2006 they lost the Japan Series to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. At that point the team had won the Central League pennant seven times since 1950, but their last Japan Series victory was in 1954, the longest such drought in Nippon Professional Baseball.
2007 Japan Series titleEdit
In early 2007, the NPB playoff rules were changed: The top team in the league would advance automatically, while the second and third teams in the league would play a best-of-three series. The winner would face the first-place team in a best-of-five series to see who would advance to the Japan Series finals.
The Dragons took advantage of the new playoff system, and after finishing second in the season standings, swept the Hanshin Tigers in a best-of-three series, then, in a huge upset, swept the heavily favoured Yomiuri Giants in a best-of-five series to advance to the Japan Series against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. In an exact reversal of the 2006 Japan Series, Hokkaido won game 1 of the series, but the Dragons won the next four straight games, including a combined perfect game from Daisuke Yamai and star closer Hitoki Iwase in the deciding Game 5, to become the 2007 Japan Series Champions, ending 53 years of frustration and the longest Japan Series drought in NPB history. The Japan Series victory allowed the Dragons to advance to the 2007 Asia Series, in which they went 2-1 in the round robin, then defeated the SK Wyverns, 6-5.
Post 2007 Japan Series titleEdit
3 years later, they faced the Chiba Lotte Marines in the 2010 Japan Series, but lost to the Marines in seven games, including a 2-2 tie in the longest Japan Series game ever, which lasted 15 innings. A year later, the Dragons were back in the 2011 Japan Series, but fell to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in seven games. In 2012, they made the Central League Climax Series, by first defeating the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in 3 games in the first stage, but lost to the eventual Japan Series champion Yomiuri Giants in 6 games in the final stage, while the Giants also had a 1 game advantage. As of 2022, this was the last time the Dragons made the playoffs, as they have failed to do so since.
Franchise Regular Season RecordEdit
|1947||Chunichi Dragons||Japanese Baseball League||67–50|
|1948||Chunichi Dragons||Japanese Baseball League||52–83|
|1949||Chunichi Dragons||Japanese Baseball League||66–68|
|1950||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||89–44|
|1951||Nagoya Dragons||Japan Central League||62–48|
|1952||Nagoya Dragons||Japan Central League||75–43|
|1953||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||70–57|
|1954||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||86–40|
|1955||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||77– 52|
|1956||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||74– 56|
|1957||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||70– 57|
|1958||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||66– 59|
|1959||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||64– 61|
|1960||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||63– 67|
|1961||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||72– 56|
|1962||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||70– 60|
|1963||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||80– 57|
|1964||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||57– 83|
|1965||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||77– 59|
|1966||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||76– 54|
|1967||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||72– 58|
|1968||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||50– 80|
|1969||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||59–65|
|1970||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||55–70|
|1971||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||65–60|
|1972||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||67–59|
|1973||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||64–61|
|1974||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||70–49|
|1975||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||69–53|
|1976||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||54–66|
|1977||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||64–61|
|1978||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||53–71|
|1979||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||59–57|
|1980||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||45–76|
|1981||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||58–65|
|1982||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||64–47|
|1983||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||54–69|
|1984||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||73–49|
|1985||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||56–61|
|1986||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||54–67|
|1987||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||68–51|
|1988||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||79–46|
|1989||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||68–59|
|1990||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||62–68|
|1991||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||71–59|
|1992||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||60–70|
|1993||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||73–57|
|1994||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||69–61|
|1995||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||50–80|
|1996||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||72–58|
|1997||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||59–76|
|1998||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||75–60|
|1999||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||81–54|
|2000||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||70–65|
|2001||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||62–74|
|2002||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||69–66|
|2003||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||73–66|
|2004||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||79–56|
|2005||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||79–66|
|2006||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||87–54|
|2007||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||78–64|
|2008||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||71–68|
|2009||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||81–62|
|2010||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||79–62|
|2011||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||75–59|
|2012||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||75–53|
|2013||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||64–77|
|2014||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||67–73|
|2015||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||62–77|
|2016||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||58–82|
|2017||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||57–72|
|2018||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||61–68|
|2019||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||68–73|
|2020||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||60–55|
|2021||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central||55–71|
|2022||Chunichi Dragons||Japan Central League||66–75|
The Dragons uniforms were based on the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) Dodgers. The team's colors (blue and white) are the same colors worn by the Dodgers (both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles). From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, the stylized lettering on the Dragons' jerseys and caps was virtually identical to the Dodgers' uniforms during that same period.
Baseball Hall of FamersEdit
The following Hall of Famers played, coached and/or managed for the Dragons, and are listed with the years they were with the club.
Japanese Baseball Hall of FameEdit
American Baseball Hall of FameEdit
- 10 Tsuguhiro Hattori (服部 受弘)
- 15 Michio Nishizawa (西澤 道夫)
- Joely Rodriguez (2020–)
- Wei-Yin Chen (2012–2020)
- Matt Clark (2014)
- Larry Doby (1962)
- Don Newcombe (1962)
- Bob Nieman (1963)
- Vance Law (1990)
- Alonzo Powell (1992-1997)
- Matt Stairs (1993)
- Darnell Coles (1996)
- Samson Lee (2000)
- Akinori Otsuka (2003–2007)
- Kenshin Kawakami (2009–2010)
- Kosuke Fukudome (2008–2012)
In popular cultureEdit
- The Dragons became known to audiences in the U.S. through the 1992 movie Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck and Ken Takakura. The film is based around a difficult season in the career of aging New York Yankees first baseman Jack Elliot (Selleck), who is traded to the Chunichi Dragons during spring training, and is forced to deal with high expectations and cultural differences during the Dragons' pennant run.
- In Haruki Murakami's 2002 novel Kafka on the Shore, one of the characters, Hoshino, is a devoted fan of the Chunichi Dragons, wearing the team's cap everywhere he goes.
- In 2009 a Nintendo Wii game aimed at children, Doala de Wii, was released. The game is based on the popular team mascot "Doala".
- The 2012 video game Yakuza 5 features a team called the "Nagoya Wyverns", which is a reference to the Dragons. One of the main characters briefly played for the team, and it features heavily in the game's plot.
The team has 3 mascots, Doala, Shaolon, and Paolon. Doala is the main mascot of the team, and he was introduced in 1994, replacing their former mascot, Gaburi. Doala is a koala because Nagoya was home to Japan's first koala due to its sister city status with Sydney. Doala is quite known for his stunts. Shaolon is the team's second mascot and was introduced in 1997. He is a blue dragon and he has appeared on the logo for a long while now. Paolon is the team's third mascot and she was introduced in 2000. She is a pink dragon.
- ^ "Doby Contracts to Japan Club". The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Associated Press. June 24, 1962. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- ^ Weber, Bruce (March 4, 2011), "Wally Yonamine, 85, Dies; Changed Japanese Baseball", The New York Times
- ^ Baseel, Casey. "Why are the Los Angeles Dodgers wearing the caps from Nagoya’s professional baseball team?" Rocket News 24 (Jan 31, 2016).
- ^ 中日ドラゴンズ関係 野球殿堂入り [Chunichi Dragons related hall of famers] (PDF) (in Japanese). Baseball Museum Japan. 201. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- ^ "Japanese Team Signs Nieman". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. United Press International. January 18, 1963. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- (In Japanese) Chunichi Dragons official web site