Saitama Seibu Lions

Saitama Seibu Lions
Seibulionslogo.PNG Seibu lions insignia.png
Team logo Cap insignia
Information
League Nippon Professional Baseball
Pacific League (1950–present)
Location Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan
Ballpark MetLife Dome
Year founded 1950
Nickname(s) Shishi (獅子, lion)
Pacific League championships 23 (1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1963, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2018, 2019)
Japan Series championships 13 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2004, 2008)
Former name(s)
  • Saitama Seibu Lions (2008–present)
  • Seibu Lions (1979–2007)
  • Crown Lighter Lions (1977–1978)
  • Taiheiyo Club Lions (1973–1976)
  • Nishitetsu Lions (1951–1972)
  • Nishitetsu Clippers (1950)
Former ballparks
Colors Blue, White, Red
     
Mascot Leo and Lina
Playoff berths 12 (1982, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Retired numbers
Ownership Takashi Goto
Management Seibu Railway
Manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji
Uniforms
Saitama Seibu Lions uniforms.png

The Saitama Seibu Lions (埼玉西武ライオンズ, Saitama Seibu Raionzu) are a professional baseball team in Japan's Pacific League based north of Tokyo in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture. Before 1979, they were based in Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture in Kyushu. The team is owned by a subsidiary of Prince Hotels, which in turn is owned by the Seibu Group. The team experienced a recent period of financial difficulty, but the situation brightened when the team received a record ¥6 billion (about $51.11 million) posting fee from the Boston Red Sox for the right to negotiate a contract with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Between 1978 and 2008, the team logo and mascot were based on the adult version of Kimba the White Lion, a classic Japanese anime series by Osamu Tezuka.[a][b] In 2004, former Seibu Lions player Kazuo Matsui became the first Japanese infielder to play in Major League Baseball.[1]

Franchise history

Nishitetsu Clippers (1950)

In 1950, the team became a founding member of the Pacific League. It was then owned by Nishi-Nippon Railroad, which was based in Fukuoka. The team finished sixth that year, and at the end of the season was merged with the Nishi-Nippon Pirates to form the Nishitetsu Lions.

Nishitetsu Lions (1951–1972)

The Nishitetsu Lions called Heiwadai Stadium home for their entire existence. They were one of a dominant team in the Pacific League during the 1950s, winning four pennants, including three straight Japan Series against the Yomiuri Giants behind famed manager Osamu Mihara.

The team struggled through the following decade and did not witness much success on the field. In 1969–1970 the team was caught up in the infamous Black Mist game-fixing scandal, which resulted in four Lions pitchers being banned from NPB for life, as well as other players receiving lesser punishments. These losses decimated the team, which finished the 1970 season in last place.

After a third straight last-place finish, in November 1972 the franchise was sold to the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation, also a part of Nishi-Nippon Railroad. Following the sale, the team was renamed the Taiheiyo Club Lions.

Taiheiyo Club Lions (1973–1976)

Nishi-Nippon Railroad, founded by Nagayoshi Nakamura, owner of Lotte and the Orions, sold the team's sponsorship rights to Taiheiyo Club, a golf course and resort developer. Through the 1970s, the Lions finished no higher than third.

Crown Lighter Lions (1977–1978)

At the end of the 1976 season, the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation announced that the team's new sponsor was Crown Gas Lighter. With this, the team's name for the upcoming season was changed to the Crown Lighter Lions. At the end of the 1978 season, the team was sold to Kokudo Keikaku (later Kokudo), and then merged into Prince Hotels.

Seibu Lions (1979–2007)

Following the sale of the Crown Lighter Lions and their merging into Price Hotels, the team was renamed the Seibu Lions and relocated to a new ballpark in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

The Lions finished in last place following the 1979 season (as of 2019, this is the last time this has happened to them), and finished in fourth place in 1980 and 1981. However, the following seasons would mark the beginning of a period of sustained success for the team under new manager Tatsuro Hirooka and with star players such as Osamu Higashio and Kōichi Tabuchi. Tatsuro Hirooka told the players that meat and other animal foods increase athletes' susceptibility to injury, and decrease their ability to perform. He required all players to take up a strictly vegetarian diet.[2] The club won straight Japan Series in 1982 and 1983, and went the championship again in 1985, but lost to the Hanshin Tigers, who won their first Japan Series title in team history.

Following the 1986 season, the club replaced Hirooka with Masaaki Mori, who was able to sustain the team's prolonged success. Mori won eight league championships, between 1986 and 1988 and 1990–1994, and six Japan Series championships in his nine-year managing career, winning the Japan Series in 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, and 1992.

The team gained the moniker "Invincible Seibu" during the 1980s and 1990s due to their sustained domination of the league. The Lions had a powerful lineup in this period, loaded with sluggers such as Koji Akiyama, Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Orestes Destrade. Their defense also benefited from the services of skilled players such as Hiromichi Ishige, Romeo Calhoun, Hatsuhiko Tsuji and catcher Tsutomu Ito. Among the pitchers employed by the Lions in this period was "The Oriental Express" Taigen Kaku, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Hisanobu Watanabe, and relievers Yoshitaka Katori and Tetsuya Shiozaki.

Name position Title and accomplishment Note
Kouji Akiyama CF Home Run title 1987, Stolen Base title 1990, Golden Glove 1987–1996, 1999
437 HR and 303 SB in career
Belonged to Fukuoka Daiei Hawks from 1994 to 2002. Hawks manager from 2009 to 2015.
Kazuhiro Kiyohara 1B Rookie of the year 1986, Golden Glove (1988,1990, 1992–1994),
525 HR and 1527 RBIs in career
Belonged to Yomiuri Giants from 1997 to 2005, Orix Buffaloes from 2006 to 2008. Retired in 2008.
Orestes Destrade DH Home Run title 1990–1992, RBI Title 1990–1991 Played 1993–1994 seasons with Florida Marlins of MLB.
Hiromichi Ishige SS Rookie of the year, Golden Glove 1981–1983, 1985–1988, 1991–1993, MVP 1986 Manager of Orix BlueWave from 2002 to 2003.
Hatsuhiko Tsuji 2B Batting title 1993, Golden Glove 1986, 1988–1994 Played for Yakult Swallows in 1996, retired after '96 season. Current Lions manager.
Tsutomu Ito C Golden Glove 1985–1988, 1990–1992, 1994–1995, 1997–1998 Retired in 2003, Lions manager from 2004 to 2007, Marines manager from 2013 to 2017. Current Chunichi Dragons head coach.
Hisanobu Watanabe P Winning Percentage title 1986, 1988, 1990, ERA Title 1986, Strikeout title 1986, Golden Glove 1990, No-hitter 1996 Played for Yakult Swallows in 1998, retired from NPB after '98 season. Lions manager from 2008–2013.
Osamu Higashio P Wins Champion 1975,1983, ERA Title 1983, Strikeout title 1975, MVP 1983, 1987, Golden Glove 1983–1987 Member of Lions through four different team owners (Nishitetsu, Taiheyo Club, Crown Lighter, Seibu). Lions manager from 1995–2001.
Terry Whitfield OF Best Nine Award 1981, 1983
Steve Ontiveros 3B OBP 1983, 1984 Best Nine Award 1982, 1983
Taigen Kaku P MVP1991, Golden Glove 1991–1992, No-hitter 1985 Retired in 1996. Taiwan national team manager 2007.
Kimiyasu Kudoh P ERA title 1985,1987,1993,1999, Winning Percentage Title1987,1991,1993,2000, Strikeout title 1996,1999, Golden Glove 1994–1995,2000, MVP 1999, longest NPB career as player (28 years) Belonged to Fukuoka Daiei Hawks from 1994, Yomiuri Giants from 2000, Yokohama BayStars from 2007 to 2009, returned to Lions in 2010. Only active player in "Golden Age" in 2010 season. Current Hawks manager.

Saitama Seibu Lions (2008–)

In order to reinforce the affiliation between the team and their home region, the Lions added the prefecture name "Saitama" to their team name in 2008. They were Pacific League Champions that year and went on to win the Japan Series. The team logo and uniforms were further modified for the 2009 season, with the team trading in their traditional light-blue colour scheme for a dark blue design similar to that employed during the Nishitetsu Lions era in the 1950s and 1960s.

Season-by-season records

Year Team Name Finish Playoffs
1950 Nishitetsu Clippers 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
1951 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
1952 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1953 Nishitetsu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1954 Nishitetsu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (3-4, Dragons)
1955 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
1956 Nishitetsu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-2, Giants)
1957 Nishitetsu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-0, Giants)
1958 Nishitetsu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Giants)
1959 Nishitetsu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1960 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1961 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1962 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1963 Nishitetsu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (3-4, Giants)
1964 Nishitetsu Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
1965 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1966 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
1967 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
1968 Nishitetsu Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
1969 Nishitetsu Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
1970 Nishitetsu Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1971 Nishitetsu Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1972 Nishitetsu Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1973 Taiheiyo Club Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1974 Taiheiyo Club Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1975 Taiheiyo Club Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1976 Taiheiyo Club Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1977 Crown Lighter Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1978 Crown Lighter Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
1979 Seibu Lions 6th, Pacific Did not qualify
1980 Seibu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1981 Seibu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
1982 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-2, Dragons)
1983 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Giants)
1984 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1985 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (2-4, Tigers)
1986 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Carp
1987 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-2, Giants)
1988 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-1, Dragons)
1989 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1990 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-0, Giants)
1991 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Carp)
1992 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Swallows)
1993 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (3-4, Swallows)
1994 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (2-4, Giants)
1995 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1996 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
1997 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (1-4, Swallows)
1998 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (2-4, BayStars)
1999 Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
2000 Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
2001 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify
2002 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost Japan Series (0-4, Giants)
2003 Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Did not qualify
2004 Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Dragons)
2005 Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (0-2, Marines)
2006 Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (1-2, Hawks)
2007 Seibu Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2008 Saitama Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Won Japan Series (4-3, Giants)
2009 Saitama Seibu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2010 Saitama Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (0-2, Marines)
2011 Saitama Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Lost CS Final Stage (0-4, Hawks)
2012 Saitama Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (1-2, Hawks)
2013 Saitama Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (1-2, Marines)
2014 Saitama Seibu Lions 5th, Pacific Did not qualify
2015 Saitama Seibu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2016 Saitama Seibu Lions 4th, Pacific Did not qualify
2017 Saitama Seibu Lions 2nd, Pacific Lost CS First Stage (1-2, Golden Eagles)
2018 Saitama Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost CS Final Stage (2-4, Hawks)
2019 Saitama Seibu Lions 1st, Pacific Lost CS Final Stage (1-4, Hawks)
2020 Saitama Seibu Lions 3rd, Pacific Did not qualify

Current roster

First squad Second squad

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

Coaches

Pitching
Hitting
Battery
Operation/defense/base running
Infield defense/base running
Outfield defense/base running
Pitchers

Catchers

  • 37 Sena Tsuge
  • 38 Shoya Makino
  • 62 Hitoto Komazuki
Infielders

Outfielders

  • 35 Gakuto Wakabayashi
  • 46 Shohei Suzuki
  • 51 Manaya Nishikawa
  • 65 Daisuke Togawa
  • 66 Yuta Nakamigawa
  • 73 Wataru Takagi


Manager

Coaches

Farm general pitching
General Position player/Outfield defense/base running
Pitching
Hitting
Battery
Infield defense/base running
Third squad
General
Pitching
Position player
Development Players
  • 118 Shinsaburō Tawata (P)
  • 120 Toshihiro Idei (P)
  • 121 Yuto Akagami (P)
  • 122 Shinya Hasegawa (IF)
  • 123 Ken Joseph Miyamoto (OF)
  • 124 Taishi Mameda (P)
  • 125 Aoi Tohno (P)
  • 126 Jiyu Ohkubo (P)
  • 127 Daichi Nakaguma (C)
Updated August 13, 2021 All NPB rosters

Managers

No. Years
in office
YR Managers G W L T Win% Pacific League
championships
Japan Series
championships
Playoff
berths
1 1950 1 Kaname Miyazaki 120 51 67 2 .432
2 1951-1959 9 Osamu Mihara 1,189 680 458 51 .598 4 times
(1954,1956,
1957,1958)
3 times
(1956,1957,1958)
3 1960-1961 2 Tokuji Kawasaki 276 151 116 9 .566
4 1962-1969 8 Futoshi Nakanishi 1,117 531 541 45 .495 1 (1963)
5 1970-1974 5 Kazuhisa Inao 650 246 370 34 .399
6 1975 1 Shinichi Eto 130 58 62 10 .483
7 1976 0 Leo Durocher
8 1976-1977 2 Masaichi Kito 260 93 149 18 .384
9 1978-1981 4 Rikuo Nemoto 520 219 265 36 .452
10 1982-1985 4 Tatsuro Hirooka 520 295 204 21 .591 3 times
(1982,1983,1985)
2 (1982,1983 1 (1982)
11 1986-1994 9 Masaaki Mori 1,170 673 438 59 .606 8 times
(1986,1987,1988,
1990,1991,1992,
1993,1994)
6 times
(1986,1987,1988,
1990,1991,1992)
12 1995-2001 7 Osamu Higashio 937 489 425 23 .535 2 (1997,1998)
13 2002-2003 2 Haruki Ihara (1st) 280 167 110 3 .603 1 (2002)
14 2004-2007 4 Tsutomui Ihoh 549 287 257 5 .528 1 (2004) 1 (2004) 3 times
(2004,2005,2006)
15 2008-2013 6 Hisanobu Watanabe 864 438 395 31 .526 1 (2008) 1 (2008) 5 times
(2008,2010,2011,
2012,2013)
16 2014 1 Haruki Ihara (2nd) 144 63 77 4 .450
17 2015-2016 2 Norio Tanabe 286 133 145 8 .478
18 2017–present 4 Hatsuhiko Tsuji 549 305 234 10 .566 2 (2018,2019) 2 (2018,2019)
Totals 71 seasons 17 managers 9,564 4,882 4,313 369 .531 23 times 13 times 12 times
  • Statistics current through the end of the 2020 season.[3]

Former players of note

Retired number

Team announced Kazuhisa Inao's No.24 was the first retired number of the Lions on May 1, 2012.

24
Japan
Kazuhisa
Inao

P
Retired
May 1, 2012

MLB players

Retired From MLB:

Further reading

  • Whiting, Robert. "The Emperor's Team," You Gotta Have Wa (Vintage Departures, 1989), pp. 220–238.

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