Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks

The Hawks did not perform particularly well in the single-league era, which ended in 1949. However, the 1950s and 60s saw the Hawks rise to the top (or near it) as it reached the Japan Series six times, winning the last two. These teams included the most accomplished catcher in NPB history, Katsuya Nomura (657 home runs = 2nd all-time) as well as submarine pitcher Tadashi Sugiura, both of whom played a major role in giving the franchise its first Japan Series win in 1959.

 

In the decades that followed, the team fell on hard times, with no championships for 35 years. They produced some excellent talent, though, as Nomura moved into a managerial role and employed tactics never before seen in NPB. He dubbed his management style, learned primarily from ex-teammate Don Blasingame, as ID yakyu, which stood for Important Data. Until Nomura came around, very little attention was paid to the tendencies of pitchers or hitters, to picking up on mannerisms of players, or to reviewing game film.

 

Through the 1988 season, the team was situated in Osaka, but Nankai Electric Railway sold the team to the Daiei department store chain, and the team moved southwest to Fukuoka, where it kept the team name. Then in 2005, Daiei sold the club to its current owners, the SoftBank Group Corp, a technology conglomerate.

With seemingly unlimited cash at their disposal, the team has done what other teams seem hesitant to do: they have two full minor league squads (most teams have only one) and draft deeper than other teams (clubs are free to end their own draft in whatever round they choose), signing many players to development player contracts, and arguably producing talent more successfully than any other club in Japan.

 

The Hawks’ recent dynasty includes six Japan Series wins in the 2010s – one against each of the Central League teams – plus the first Japan Series of the 2020s. They currently have a 12-game winning streak in Japan Series matches.

Team Slogan 2021: 鷹く (Takaku) = Highly (play-on-words with Hawk)

Current Standout Player: Kodai Senga (28, RHP): 121.0 IP, 11-6, 149 K, 2.16 ERA, Golden Glove, Best Nine in 2020; Yuki Yanagita (32, OF): .342/.449/.623, 29 HR, 86 RBI, PL MVP, Golden Glove, Best Nine in 2020.

Franchise Established on: February 22, 1938

Pacific League Pennants Won: 21 (Most recently in 2020)

Championships Won: 11 NPB (1959, 1964, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2014-15, 2017-20), 2 JBL (1946, 1948)

Notable MLB Exports: Masanori Murakami (Giants), Tadahito Iguchi (White Sox, etc.), Kenji Johjima (Mariners), Munenori Kawasaki (Mariners, Blue Jays), Tsuyoshi Wada (Cubs)

Spring Training Location: Miyazaki Prefecture

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