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The are a professional baseball team based in Bunkyo, Tokyomarker, Japanmarker. The team competes in the Central League of Japan's top-tier major league, Nippon Professional Baseball, and they play their home games in the Tokyo Domemarker, opened in 1988. The team is sometimes called the "Tokyo Giants" in the English-language press, but like the Hanshin Tigers and Orix Buffaloes, the team is officially known by the name of its corporate owner. The team's owner is the Yomiuri Group, a media conglomerate which includes two newspapers and a television network. The Yomiuri Giants are regarded as "The New York Yankees of Japan" due to their wide-spread popularity, past dominance of the league, and polarizing effect on fans (baseball fans who feel ambivalent about other than their local team often have an intense dislike for the Giants; on the other hand, the Giants have a large fan base even in areas with a local team).

The Giants are the oldest team among the current Japanese professional teams. Lefty O'Doul, a former Major League Baseball player, named the team "Tokyo Giants". Yomiuri Giants name and uniforms were based on the New York Giants. The teams colors (orange and black) are the same colors worn by the National League's Giants, both in New York and San Francisco. The stylized lettering on the team's jerseys and caps is similar to the fancy lettering used by the Giants when they played in New York in the 1930s, although during the 1970s the Giants modernized their lettering to follow the style worn by the American Giants. The Giants' main rivalry is with the Hanshin Tigers, a team especially popular in the Kansaimarker region.

The Giants are also unsurprisingly the richest club in the league after winning the championship continuously for the past years. They won nine Japanese Baseball League titles before the establishment of the two league system in 1950. Starting in 1965, the Giants won nine consecutive Central League pennants and Japan Series titles, in large part because of the hitting of Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh. The Yomiuri Giants have won more pennants and Japan Series titles than any other team in the NPB. In 2008 season, they also managed to achieve a biggest comeback victory in Central League history, by recovering a 13-game defecit to Hanshin Tigers to the place of Central League Champion.

The team is often referred by fans and in news headlines and tables simply as Kyojin (巨人), Japanese for "Giants", instead of the usual corporate owner's name or the English nickname.

Players of note

Current Manager

  • (原 辰徳, also former Giants player)


Current players



Former players



Retired numbers



The Giants as "Japan's team"

Eiji Sawamura
Due to the Yomiuri company's vast influence in Japan as a major media conglomerate, the Giants are successfully marketed to the Japanese people as "Japan's Team." In fact, for some years the Giants' uniforms had "Tokyo" on the jersey instead of "Yomiuri" or "Giants," seeming to imply that the Giants represent the vast metropolis and geopolitical center of Japan, even though the Yakult Swallows are also based in Tokyo and three other teams play in the Greater Tokyo Areamarker. This bandwagon appeal has been compared with the marketability of the New York Yankees and Manchester United, except that support for the Giants nearly exceeds 50% of those polled, while in the United Statesmarker and Englandmarker, support is judged to be between 30 to 40 percent for the New York Yankees and Manchester United, respectively. Correspondingly, fans of other professional baseball teams in Japan are often openly derisive and contemptuous of the Giants' bandwagon marketing tactics, and an "anti-Giants" movement exists in protest of the near hegemony established by the Yomiuri Giants.

It has also long been alleged that the Giants rely on underhanded tactics to recruit the best players, involving bribes to players and amateur coaches, or using their influence on the governing council of Japanese professional baseball to pass rules that favors their recruiting efforts. This may be one explanation for the Giants' abundance of success in league play.

Ironically in 2009 the Giants played the Japan national baseball team in a warm up friendly before the World Baseball Classic.

Oh home run controversy

In 1985, American Randy Bass, playing for the Hanshin Tigers, came into the last game of the season against the Oh-managed Giants with 54 home runs, one short of manager Sadaharu Oh's single-season record of 55. Bass was intentionally walked four times on four straight pitches each time, leading Bass to famously hold his bat upside down. Bass reached over the plate on the fifth occasion and batted the ball into the outfield for a single. After the game, Oh denied ordering his pitchers to walk Bass, but Keith Comstock, an American pitcher for the Giants, later stated that an unnamed Giants coach had threatened a fine of $1,000 for every strike that any Giants pitcher threw to Bass. The magazine Takarajima investigated the incident and reported that the Giants front office had likely ordered the team not to allow Bass an opportunity to tie or break Oh's record. For the most part the Japanese media remained silent on the incident as did league commissioner Takeso Shimoda. A similar situation to this was presented in the 1992 movie Mr. Baseball.

Trivia

  • It has been said because of the lengthy MLBPA strike in the United States, and because of Japanese lore of the meaning of 60th anniversaries, the 1994 60th Anniversary Yomiuri Giants were the luckiest team in professional baseball. Many journalists called the 1994 team the World Champions of Professional Baseball.
  • Contact information: Yomiuri Giants, Takebashi 3-3 Building, 3-3 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda, Tokyo 101-8462


Notes

  1. Whiting, You Gotta have Wa.
  2. Whiting, Robert, " Equaling Oh's HR record proved difficult", Japan Times, October 31, 2008, p. 12.


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