The Orix Buffaloes (オリックス・バファローズ, Orikkusu Bafarōzu) are a Nippon Professional Baseball team formed as a result of 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 under ownership by the Orix Group, a leading diversified financial services company based in Tokyo.
|League||Nippon Professional Baseball
|Location||Nishi-ku, Osaka, Osaka, Japan|
|Ballpark||Kyocera Dome Osaka|
|Pacific League championships||12 (1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1995, 1996)|
|Japan Series championships||4 (1975, 1976, 1977, 1996)|
|Colors||Navy, Gold, White|
|Mascot||Buffalo Bull and Buffalo Bell|
|Playoff berths||7 (1973, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 2008, 2014)|
|Manager||Satoshi Nakajima (interim)|
The combined team began play in 2005. The Buffaloes split 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 professional baseball teams in Japan.
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 dominant 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 still went 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), in what was known as "the longest day of the Pacific League". The reason is that when the franchise sale occurred, the Kintetsu Buffaloes played the legendary "10.19" double-header for the Pacific League pennant, only to miss the pennant out because of a tie game. The sale was a surprise, at that time, it was much rarer for a Japanese professional baseball team to change owners, not to mention for a large company to sell one of its parts. In that case, Hankyu Railway was thought of as one of the big companies that would never need to do such a thing.
The sale was not without 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)Edit
Following the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball realignment, the BlueWave merged with the Kintetsu Buffaloes. The team struggled since its merger, only finishing in the top half (or A Class) of the Pacific league 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.
Baseball Hall of FamersEdit
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 managersEdit
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 – of the Seattle Mariners of MLB's American 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
- Yoshihisa Hirano (beginning 2018)
- Adam Jones (beginning 2020)
Minoru Murakami (1st)
Minoru Murakami (2nd)
|6||1943-1947||4||Masao Nishimura (1st)||343||159||175||9||.476|
|8||1954-1956||3||Masao Nishimura (2nd)||436||234||194||8||.547|
|12||1963-1973||11||Yukio Nishimoto||1,492||792||655||45||.547||5 times
|13||1974-1978||5||Toshiharu Ueda (1st)||650||363||245||42||.597||4 times
|14||1979-1980||2||Takao Kajimoto||260||133||111||16||.545||1 (1979)|
|15||1981-1990||10||Toshiharu Ueda (2nd)||1,300||664||572||64||.537||1 (1984)|
|17||1994-2001||8||Akira Ohgi (1st)||1,070||563||481||26||.539||2 (1995,1996)||1 (1996)|
|21||2005||1||Akira Ohgi (2nd)||136||62||70||4||.470|
|27||2013-2015||3||Hiroshi Moriwaki||431||207||215||9||.491||1 (2014)|
|Totals||86 seasons||24 managers||10,754||5,298||5,087||369||.510||12 times||4 times||7 times|
- 1981 until 1990
- Bravey (ブレービー) #100, a large bird
- Yuta (勇太) #101, a younger bird
- Braves Boy (ブレーブス坊や), a baseball headed warrior
- 1991 until 2010
- Neppie (ネッピー) #111, a young boy
- Ripsea (リプシー) #222, a young girl
- since 2011
- Buffalo Bull (バッファローブル) #111, a male buffalo, Bell's brother
- Buffalo Bell (バッファローベル) #222, a female buffalo, Bull's sister
- Zurui, "Negro Leaguers in Japan," Archived 2016-05-03 at the Wayback Machine BlackTokyo (September 12, 2008).
- Whiting, Robert (1989). You Gotta Have Wa. New York: Vintage Books. pp. 287–88. ISBN 0-679-72947-X.
- "Nippon Professional Baseball オリックス・バファローズ 年度別成績 (1936-2021)". NPB.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved August 19, 2021.
- (in Japanese) Official website