Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

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The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス, Tōhoku Rakuten Gōruden Īgurusu), often shortened as the Rakuten Eagles (楽天イーグルス, Rakuten Īgurusu), are a baseball team based in Sendai, in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. It has played in Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League since the team's formation in 2005. The team is owned by the Internet shopping company Rakuten.[1]

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Rakuteneagleslogo.png Rakuten eagles insignia.png
Team logo Cap insignia
LeagueNippon Professional Baseball
Pacific League (2005–present)
LocationMiyagino-ku, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
BallparkRakuten Seimei Park Miyagi
Year founded2005
Nickname(s)Inuwashi (イヌワシ, golden eagles)
Pacific League championships1 (2013)
Japan Series championships1 (2013)
ColorsCrimson, Gold
MascotClutch, Clutchina, and Switch
Playoff berths4 (2009, 2013, 2017, 2019)
Retired numbers
OwnershipHiroshi Mikitani
ManagementRakuten, Inc.
ManagerHajime Miki
General ManagerKazuhisa Ishii
RakEagles Uniforms2020.png


2004: Origins and formationEdit

In June of Nippon Professional Baseball's 2004 season, the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix BlueWave announced that, due to financial difficulties, the two teams planned to merge into one for the start of the 2005 season. Both teams were in the Pacific League (PL), and a merger between the two would result in a team imbalance with the PL's opposing league, the Central League (CL). As a large number of players were expected to lose their jobs when the merger was finalized, the Japan Professional Baseball Players Association organized a players' strike in an attempt to force the postponement of the merger for at least one year. When team officials definitively announced that a one-year freeze on the merger was impossible, the players conducted a two-day strike on September 18–19, 2004. With the threat of further strikes looming, team representatives agreed to ease the rules of entry for new teams into NPB and that one would be allowed to join the following season.

That same month, Takafumi Horie, president of the Internet services company Livedoor, established a new professional baseball team and applied for team ownership with NPB, hoping to fill the void left by the merger of the BlueWave and the Buffaloes. Horie intended the team to be composed of players who were left jobless after the merger and planned for it to be based in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.[2] One week later a second Internet services company, Tokyo-based Rakuten, also submitted a formal application to Japanese professional baseball to form a team. Like Horie, Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani also expressed a desire to locate his new team in Sendai.[3]

In early October, the public screening process to select one of the two companies and allow them form a new NPB team began. Both Livedoor and Rakuten were given an hour and a half to discuss their team and budget propositions before a panel of five Japanese baseball executives. The panel consisted of Central League chairman Hajime Toyokura and the head officials of the Yomiuri Giants, the Yokohama BayStars, the Seibu Lions and the Chiba Lotte Marines. The screening standards include the adequacy of the applications, the prospective continuity and stability of the planned baseball teams, the prospective financial standings of the applicants and planned teams, and their planned baseball facilities.[4]

As screenings were held weekly through October,[4] more details about each potential new team emerged. Livedoor announced that their baseball club would be named the "Sendai Livedoor Phoenix", with former MLB and NPB player Tom O'Malley attached as manager and Katsunori Kojima as general manager.[5][6][7] Rakuten, likewise, announced Marty Kuehnert and Yasushi Tao as general manager and manager, respectively, of their newly named "Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles" baseball club.[8][9][5]

A telephone survey conducted by Kyodo News during the selection period of 300 people living in the Tōhoku region indicated that Livedoor was the early fan favorite to win the right to start a new team in Sendai. In the survey, forty percent of the respondents supported Livedoor's bid compared to only seven percent supporting Rakuten.[10] Rakuten, however, was considered the more likely of the two companies to be chosen by NPB. Rakuten president Mikitani had extensive connections in established Japanese business circles and already operated another sports team, the soccer club Vissel Kobe in Japan's J.League. On November 2, NPB selected Rakuten over Livedoor to create a new Pacific League team to be based in Sendai. It was the first time a new team, excluding cases of mergers or acquisitions, joined NPB since the creation of the now-defunct Takahashi Unions in the Pacific League in 1954.[9]

2005: DebutEdit

After posting losing records in their first four seasons, the team finished second behind the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in the 2009 pennant race under the leadership of manager Katsuya Nomura, the oldest manager in NPB history. In the league championship playoffs the Eagles lost the six-game series against the Fighters 1–4 and Nomura announced his retirement. In 2010 the team was managed by American Marty Brown, the former manager of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Brown was fired after a single season after the team had slumped back to last place. Hall of Fame member Senichi Hoshino subsequently managed the team for four years, including their successful 2013 season, where they defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines to claim the League championship and went on to become Japan Series champions after defeating the Yomiuri Giants.

The team's stadium was heavily damaged by floods during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.[11]

Current playersEdit

First squad Second squad













Development Players

Updated January 19, 2020
All NPB rosters

Former playersEdit

Retired numbersEdit

  • 10 – This number is worn by both team mascots, Clutch and Clutchina, and is considered the number of the fan, the 'tenth man' on the field. It is the first retired number in NPB involving a fan, inspired by some teams in other sports (such as football, which retires "12" for the "12th man", or basketball, which retires "6" for the "6th man"). There are ten starting players in the Pacific League as the league uses the designated hitter. The Chiba Lotte Marines has the No. 26 retired in similar fashion (MLB's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has retired No. 26, in similar fashion, for the original owner Gene Autry).

MLB playersEdit



Honours and recordsEdit

2013 honoursEdit

Rakuten (楽天) were victorious in the 2013 Japan Series after defeating the Yomiuri Giants .

Former managersEdit


Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
Year Manager Games Wins Losses Ties Pct. GB BA ERA Finish Postseason
2005 Yasushi Tao 136 38 97 1 .281 51.5 .255 5.67 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2006 Katsuya Nomura 136 47 85 4 .356 33.0 .258 4.30 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2007 Katsuya Nomura 144 67 75 2 .472 13.5 .262 4.31 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2008 Katsuya Nomura 144 65 76 3 .461 11.5 .272 3.89 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2009 Katsuya Nomura 144 77 66 1 .538 5.5 .267 4.01 2nd, Pacific Lost in Second Stage, 1–4 (Fighters)
2010 Marty Brown 144 62 79 3 .440 15.0 .265 3.98 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2011 Senichi Hoshino 144 66 71 7 .482 22.5 .245 2.85 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2012 Senichi Hoshino 144 67 67 10 .500 7.5 .252 2.99 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2013 Senichi Hoshino 144 82 59 3 .582 - .267 3.51 1st, Pacific Nippon Series champions, 4–3 (Giants)
2014 Senichi Hoshino 144 64 80 0 .444 17.0 .255 3.97 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2015 Hiromoto Okubo 143 57 83 3 .407 33.5 .241 3.82 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2016 Masataka Nashida 143 62 78 3 .443 25.0 .257 4.11 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2017 Masataka Nashida 143 77 63 3 .550 29.5 .254 3.33 3rd, Pacific Lost in Final Stage, 2–4 (Hawks)
2018 Masataka Nashida
Yosuke Hiraishi
143 58 82 3 .414 15.0 .241 3.78 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
2019 Yosuke Hiraishi 143 71 68 4 .511 15.0 .251 3.74 3rd, Pacific Lost in First Stage, 1–2 (Hawks)
Total -- 2139 960 1129 50 .460 -

Golden Eagles Fan Club honorary membersEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit


  1. ^ Rakuten Golden Eagles (Sendai) Team Information. Retrieved on 2013-09-19.
  2. ^ Uranaka, Taiga (17 September 2004). "Livedoor establishes pro baseball club". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ^ "Rakuten applies to create new club". The Japan Times. Associated Press. 25 September 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  4. ^ a b "NPB begins hearings on Rakuten, Livedoor bids". The Japan Times. 7 October 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Livedoor Phoenix". The Japan Times. 27 October 2004. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Livedoor appoints O'Malley as manager". The Japan Times. Associated Press. 15 September 2004. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Livedoor names GM". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. 14 September 2004. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  8. ^ Armstrong, Jim (6 October 2004). "Kuehnert to head Rakuten team". The Japan Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Rakuten awarded pro baseball team". The Japan Times. Associated Press. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Livedoor emerges as early fan favorite to own new team". The Japan Times. Kyodo News. 3 October 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  11. ^ Japan Pro Baseball and the Earthquake and Tsunami Archived 11 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine