The Buffaloes have existed in their current form since 2004, when the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes merged. They have been mostly unsuccessful since then, although they have produced some excellent talent over the course of their collective existence.
Orix purchased the Hankyu Braves, who played in Nishinomiya, moved them to Kobe and rebranded them as the BlueWave in 1991. The Braves had a highly successful twelve-year stretch in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, but were unable to win a Japan Series until the Yomiuri Giants’ dynasty ended. The team did boast the world’s greatest base stealer (until Rickey Henderson came along) in Yutaka Fukumoto, whose 1065 stolen bases nearly doubles the next highest career total. In the 1980s they employed Greg “Boomer” Wells, who became the first import in NPB history to win a Triple Crown (1984) and holds the record for best career batting average by a right-handed hitter (.317). Upon moving to Kobe, the team also boasted arguably the greatest Japanese player to reach the majors: Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro set the gold standard for hitters by winning seven straight batting titles and holding the single-season hits record from 1994 until 2010.
Kintetsu got its “Buffaloes” moniker in 1959 (though it was singular at the time) because of popular manager Shigeru Chiba, whose nickname was mogyu, or buffalo. Aside from a brief successful run from 1979-81, the Buffaloes have avoided contention for much of their existence. Kintetsu also had its share of extremely talented players, including the second Japanese player to ever play in MLB, Hideo Nomo, and the greatest import home run hitter in NPB history, Tuffy Rhodes (464).
Until recently, the Buffaloes were known just as much for losing as they were for not offering appropriate salaries to their players. Their best talent often leaves for greener pastures upon free agency, whether domestic or overseas. That said, they have a lot of young talent that has carried them to two straight pennants (2021-22) and the Japan Series Championship in 2022.
Team Slogan 2023: We Can Do It!
Current Standout Player: Yoshinobu Yamamoto (24, RHP): 193 IP, 15 W 5 L, 205 K, 1.68 ERA, Best Nine, Golden Glove, Sawamura Award, PL MVP in 2022
Current Manager: Satoshi Nakajima (since mid-2020)
Franchise Established on: November 2, 2004 (merger of Orix Blue Wave and Kintetsu Buffaloes)
Pacific League Pennants Won: Hankyu/Orix 14 (1967-69, 1971-72, 1975-78, 1984, 1995-96, 2021-22); Kintetsu 4 (1979-80, 1989, 2001)
Championships Won: 5 (1975-77, 1996, 2022)
Notable MLB Exports: Hideo Nomo (Dodgers, etc.), Shigetoshi Hasegawa (Angels, Mariners), Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners, etc.), So Taguchi (Cardinals, etc.), Yoshihisa Hirano (Diamondbacks, etc.), Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox)
Spring Training Location: Miyazaki City, Miyazaki