The Dragons have been around for longer than any team not named the Giants or Tigers. While those two teams enjoy widespread popularity in Japan and abroad, the Dragons would be hardly known by the casual fan if they didn’t happen to be the team of Tom Selleck’s character in Mr. Baseball.
Perhaps this is because, despite its long history, success has been somewhat sporadic for the Nagoya-based club. They were the second team to win the Central League pennant in its six-team format (1954) , and even won the Japan Series that year, led by the outstanding forkball-throwing Shigeru Sugishita, who picked up his third Sawamura Award the same season. The Dragons remained in middle of the pack for most of the next two decades.
Most Japanese baseball history buffs will remember the Dragons’ 1974 season. With ex-Giant Wally Yonamine at the helm, the Dragons interrupted Yomiuri’s nine-year Japan Series dynasty by winning the pennant over the Giants on the next-to-last day of the season. The team featured ace pitcher Senichi Hoshino, who exacted revenge on the Giants for not drafting him in 1968 – despite verbally promising they would choose him with their first pick. This same Hoshino would manage the Dragons to a pair of pennants (1988, 1999), though neither ended with a Japan Series title. (His story continues with the Hanshin Tigers and Rakuten Eagles, though.)
Under legendary manager Hiromitsu Ochiai, the team finally won a second Japan series in 2007, becoming the first team in Central League history to achieve the feat despite not finishing the regular season in first place. Two pennants under Ochiai (2010, 2011) ended with the team losing to the Marines and Hawks respectively, and since then, the Dragons have struggled mightily, finishing in the bottom half of the standings every year from 2013 to 2019. An exceptional performance in 2020 from ace Yudai Ohno and a rock-solid bullpen saw them break the streak, as they finished in third place, sandwiched tightly between the Tigers and Baystars.
The team mascot, Doala, is a hybrid of a dragon and a koala. It has been present at Dragons home games since 1994. Nagoya, after all, became the first city in Japan to have koalas in its zoo in 1984. (Nagoya and Sydney are sister cities.) The mascot was a celebration of that boasting right.
Team Slogan 2021: 昇竜復活 その先へ Shoryu fukkatsu sono saki e (Revival of the Rising Dragon: Moving Ahead)
Current Standout Player: Yudai Ohno (32, LHP): 148.2 IP, 11-6, 148 K, 1.82 ERA (CL-best), 10 CG, 6 CGSO, Sawamura Award in 2020
Franchise Established on: January 15, 1936
Central League Pennants Won: 9 (1954, 1974, 1982, 1988, 1999, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2011)
Championships Won: 2 NPB (1954, 2007), 1 JBL (Summer 1936)
Spring Training Location: Chatan, Okinawa