With so many professional baseball teams in Japan due to the sport’s immense popularity, it can be a challenge for someone who knows nothing about Japanese baseball teams to remember each one of them. At present, there are several commendable teams that are leading in the recent baseball seasons. One of these teams that are maintaining their strong lead in the games is none other than the Chunichi Dragons.
More commonly known as the Chunichi Doragonzu in Japanese, the Chunichi Dragons are based in Nagoya, which serves as the chief city in the region of Chubu. The Chunichi Dragons participate in the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball. In total, the team has won the Central League pennant 9 times. Their most recent Central League win was in the year 2011. They have also won the Japan Series in the year 1954 and the year 2007. They emerged as the champions in the Asia Series in the year 2007.
The Baseball Franchise History of the Chunichi Dragons
It was in the year 1936 when the Chunichi Dragons were first formed. Back then, they were called the Nagoya Club, which was based on their location. After the acquisition of this franchise by the Chunichi Shimbun newspaper company in the year 1946, its name underwent a lot of variations. Finally, it was decided that the team would be called the Chunichi Dragons in the year 1954.
The most famous player of the team would be none other than Michio Nishizawa. He played for the Chunichi Dragons beginning in the year 1936. At the time, the player was only 15 years old. Just after 3 years, the player was already able to develop into a 20-game winner. His pitching peaks happened in the year 1942. In fact, he was able to pitch 28 complete innings on the 24th of May of that year. His performance at the time was truly remarkable.
During the same year, he also tossed his first and what would be the only no-hitter when he was playing against the Hankyu team. It was a successful game that further made his name shine in the industry. He stayed with the Chunichi Dragons until the year 1958. He had a career ERA of 2.22. However, he sustained injuries during his two years of service in WW2. Coupled with a heavy workload, Nishizawa had to change his role to first base and outfield after some time.
Initially, he had some struggles with the bat. However, Nishizawa did not give up and went on to become a formidable hitter. He was able to swat 46 homes in the year 1950, which was considered a league record at the time. Many consider his best season to be in the year 1952 when he led the games not just in batting average but also in runs batted in. As a result of his tremendous performances, he was able to appear in five All Star Games. Furthermore, he was also awarded the Best Nine Award for three times.
From the year 1950 to the year 1955, another shining star in the team was fork-ball specialist Shigeru Sugishita. He won over 30 games twice and obtained three Eiji Sawamura Awards. Together with Nishizawa, they led the team to win its first Japan Series in the year 1954. They had to beat the Nishitetsu Lions to become the champions of that series. Nishizawa remained faithful to the team as he aged. He eventually became the manager of the Chunichi Dragons from the year 1964 to the year 1967.
For the first time after a 20-year drought, the Chunichi Dragons were finally able to win the Central League title in the year 1974. The Chunichi Dragons stopped the Yomiuri Giants from making a 10th winning streak in the league. The team won again in the year 1999 when the Dragons were able to win 11 consecutive games since the beginning of the season.
The NPB playoff rules were altered in the year 2007. Seeing this as an opportunity, the Dragons took advantage of the situation. They were able to beat the Hanshin Tigers as well as the Yomiuri Giants to advance to the Japan Series. The championship game was a battle between the Chunichi Dragons and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Initially, Hokkaido led the game, having won game 1. However, they were in for a surprise. The Dragons persevered and won the next four consecutive games. Finally, the Chunichi Dragons emerged as the champions of the Japan Series in the year 2007.
Nagoya Dome: Home of the Chunichi Dragons and its Mascot Doala
The previous home of the Chunichi Dragons and its adorable mascot Doala was the Nagoya Stadium. Located in Nagoya, Japan, this stadium is mainly used for baseball. With a capacity of 35,000 people, this stadium opened in the year 1948. It is owned by Nagoya Dome Co. and operated by the Chunichi Dragons.
Its left field and right field have a size of 100 meters each, which is equivalent to 328.1 feet each. Its center field is measured at 122 meters, which is equivalent to 400.3 feet. The height of its outfield fence is 4.8 meters, which is equivalent to 15.7 feet. The stadium was renovated in the year 2010.
The current home of the Chunichi Dragons is the Nagoya Dome. Also located in the city of Nagoya, the dome was constructed in the year 1997. Officially, the dome has a capacity of 40,500 but it can only seat up to 38,414 people now. The Nagoya Dome is also an example of a geodesic dome.
Since the day it was opened, the Nagoya Dome has become the headquarters for the Chunichi Dragons. Aside from the Chunichi Dragons, other baseball teams like the Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix Blue Wave also use the dome at certain times of the year. The Nagoya Dome has an official theme song entitled “Here for You.” The song was written by James Havens, a local FM radio DJ. The song was released by Victor Entertainment.
The dome can be accessed by taking the Nagoya Municipal Subway. Its left field and right field have a size of 100 meters each, which is equivalent to 328.1 feet each. Its center field has a measurement of 122 meters, which is equivalent to 400.3 feet. The height of its outfield fence is 4.8 meters, which is equivalent to 15.7 feet. Its surface is made up of Short Pile Artificial turf.
Purchasing Tickets, New Era Hats, and Other Merchandise
If one is interested in buying tickets to watch their games, one can pick up tickets at several convenience stores. These include Lawsons, Circle K, or SunKus. If one cannot buy tickets in advance, one may also opt to buy on the day of the match at the Nagoya Dome Ticket Booths. Tickets are sold near Gates 1 and 8. The tickets would only be available from 10 AM until the end of the 5th inning.
Prices of the tickets vary depending on the age as well as the seats. For children, tickets would only cost 500 yen per head. On the other hand, tickets for adults would differ depending on the type of seat. It would cost around 2,500 yen to 5,800 yen per head for infield seats. As for outfield seats, it would cost about 1,500 yen to 1,800 yen.
It is also common for fans to buy Chunichi Dragons merchandise to support the team. It is typical for fans to purchase a pair of plastic baseball bats. These bats are used by hammering them together in tune with the chants of the fans. However, it is important to note that other items can get a bit expensive.
There is food available in the stadium during these events. These may include miso kushi katsu, French fries, karaage, and sausages. Attendees can also have kegs of beer be brought to their seats. Aside from the cap, jerseys, and balloon, a popular merchandise of the dragons is a pair of koala ears. After all, as weird as it might be, their mascot is a koala and not a dragon.
Fans already begin to anticipate the games around the month of March. The baseball season in the country begins in the later part of March or early part of April. It begins with spring training and proceeds to baseball games. These games can occur almost every day except Mondays.
The Team’s Uniform, Current Roster, Spring Training, and Game Schedule 2018
The design of the uniforms of the Chunichi Dragons was highly influenced by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their colors are blue and white, which depicts a clean and royal image. Initially, the stylized lettering used on the jerseys and caps of the Dragons were almost the same as the Dodger’s from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
At present, the Chunichi Dragons are being managed by Shigekazu Mori. The pitchers of the team are Takuma Achira, Takuya Asao, Kento Fujishima, Onelki Garcia, Dillon Gee, Sho Ishikawa, Junki Ito, Hitoki Iwase, Shotaro Kasahara, Yusuke Kinoshita, Raidel Martinez, Taisuke Maruyama, Katsuki Matayoshi, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Takuya Mitsuma, Shinnosuke Ogasawara, Ryuya Ogawa, Ryosuke Oguma, Toshiya Okada, Yudai Ono, Yu Sato, Tatsuya Shimizu, Daisuke Sobue, Hiroshi Suzuki, Shota Suzuki, Shinji Tajima, Keisuke Tanimoto, Shunta Wakamatsu, Daisuke Yamai, Takumi Yamamoto, Yuya Yanagi, and Kazuki Yoshimi.
The seven catchers of the team are Takuma Kato, Iori Katsura, Takuya Kinoshita, Masato Matsui, Shota Ono, Shota Sugiyama, and Shingo Takeyama. The team’s infielders are Toshiki Abe, Masahiro Araki, Naomichi Donoue, Nobumasa Fukuda, Masami Ishigaki, Shun Ishikawa, Ryota Ishioka, Kyohei Kamezawa, Yota Kyoda, Taiki Mitsumata, Hayato Mizowaki, Kei Nomoto, Shuhei Takahashi, Wataru Takamatsu, Tetsuya Tani, and Dayan Viciedo.
As for the team’s outfielders, they are Zoilo Almonte, Issei endo, Atsushi Fujii, Ryosuke Hirata, Masataka Iryo, Kosuke Ito, Hiroki Kondo, Takahito Kudo, Yusuke Matsui, Steven Moya, Yohei Oshima, and Shota Tomonaga. The team also has its own developmental squad. It is composed of catcher Ariel Martinez, outfield Masaru Watanabe, and pitchers Hiroto Fuku, Tatsuro Hamada, Tomohiro Hamada, KentoMarc Ishida, Mikihiro Nishihama, Akito Okura, Masashi Yamamoto, and Shu Yoshida.
Being the warmest place in Japan during the winter season, Okinawa is the location of the spring training of the professional baseball teams in the country. Nine out of twelve pro-teams visit Okinawa for spring training in the month of February. It is common for fans to also go to Okinawa to watch their idols train prior to the beginning of the games.
Even media people go to Okinawa to watch the players practice and train for the upcoming baseball season. After all, it is not every day that one can witness so many pro-baseball teams in a single day. This year, over 2,000 fans and 200 media people went to Chatan Park Stadium to see the different baseball teams in early February.
On the first day of Spring Training, one of the players that attracted the attention of many was Daisuke Matsuzaka, a new addition to the Chunichi Dragons team. He previously played for the Boston Red Sox before signing a deal with the Chunichi Dragons.
Other teams that joined the spring training this year were the Yomiuri Giants, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, the Chiba Lotte Marines, the Hanshin Tigers, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, and the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles. All nine teams can practice all over Okinawa for free almost all the time during this period.
While the Chunichi Dragons had it tough during the past few seasons, its future looks bright with the addition of yet another outstanding player to the team. The Dragons fans continue to support and cheer for the team through its ups and downs. With the baseball season currently ongoing, a lot of things can happen in every game. For fans rooting for the Chunichi Dragons, make sure to buy tickets in advance in order to get the best seats and watch as the Chunichi Dragons reach for the championship title this year.