Baseball is a famous sport that is quite popular in Japan. The Japanese are such avid fans of the sport that every baseball season is anticipated with much excitement. There have already have been several professional baseball teams formed through the years that provide entertainment to the masses of Japan. One of these teams is the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
More commonly known as the Fukuoka Sofutobanku Hokusu in Japanese, this baseball team hails from Fukuoka in Fukuoka Prefecture. It was only on the 28th of January in the year 2005 that the SoftBank Corporation bought the team. Initially, the team was known as the Nankai Hawks who played in Osaka. Owned by the Nankai Electric Railway Co., the team was bought by Daiei in the year 1988 and moved to Fukuoka.
A Recap of Their Games Beginning in 2010
Before becoming the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, the Daiei Hawks were able to win the Pacific League Championship in the year 1999, 2000, and 2003. Moreover, they were also able to win the Japan Series in the year 1999 and 2003. After becoming the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, the team has won the Japan Series in the year 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks were not always at the top. They actually had a seven-year drought before finally being able to win the Pacific League regular season titled in the year 2010. They had extended losing streaks prior to recovery. One of the well-known players in the team at the time was starting pitcher Wada. Together with fellow ace Sugiuchi, they were able to bring the team back to its feet.
Aside from Wada, the famous trio known as SBM at the time, composed of Settsu, Brian Falkenborg, and Mahara, defended their team rather well during the latter part of the games. The emergence of both Masahiko Morifuku and Keisuke Kattoh also helped in the bullpen. Overall, their performances combined helped in making the team win.
It was apparent that the offense strategies of the team consisted of role players who took turns on playing the big games. Combined with the speed of the Hawks, the team was able to lead the league in stolen bases during the regular season. With stolen bases amounting to 148, their nearest challenger that had 116 was no match for the Hawks. Player Kawasaki was able to steal 30 while Yuichi Honda obtained 59 bases.
Sadly, despite being in the lead, the team fell short and was not able to reach the Japan series. The team was beaten by the Chiba Lotte Marines in six games in the Climax Series. This loss came as a surprise to some fans, as the Hawks had a 3-1 series lead at the time.
Nonetheless, the Hawks were able to win the Pacific League yet again in the year 2011. They dominated all facets of the game throughout the season. A boost in their offense was made thanks to Seiichi Uchikawa who previously played for the Yokohama BayStars. He aided the team in leading the league in batting during the 2011 season.
During the Pacific League Climax Series, the Hawks battled against the Saitama Seibu Lions and emerged victoriously. Following this sweep, the Hawks faced against the Chunichi Dragons for the Japan Series, wherein the former ultimately won. This game was considered a sort of a rematch of the Japan Series in the year 1999. While the Dragons were able to extend the match to the full seven games, the Hawks remained steadfast and won 3-0. This was their first win in the Japan Series since the year 2003.
The team suffered some losses beginning in the 2012 season. Having lost some of their key players to rival teams, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks struggled to maintain their place in the games. Furthermore, some of their players who stayed with the team also suffered injuries that prevented them from fully contributing to the games. As a result, they have to reorganize internally with some young pitchers being given bigger roles.
After some time, the Hawks were finally back on track and won the Japan Series in the year 2014. Going for a back-to-back win, the Hawks again won the title in the year 2015. The league MVP and the batting title was also awarded to one of the team’s players, Yuki Yanagita. While the team fell short in the year 2016, they were able to stand up once again and win the Japan Series in the year 2017.
The Team’s Jersey, Hat, Stats, and Family of Mascots
It is typical to find fans of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks wearing team uniforms during the games in Yahuoku! Dome. Some of them may even be wearing t-shirts of their most liked baseball player. With so many people cheering for the team, along with the mascots and the cheerleaders of the Hawks, the feeling of excitement during the games is undeniable.
Fans of the Hawks keep it real when it comes to supporting their favorite team. Aside from wearing team uniforms, it is also customary for them to sing the team song following the top of the 7th inning. The singing would be coupled with the releasing of numerous yellow balloons, a color that represents the Hawks. If the team wins, there is also the display of “the victory fireworks” that fans look forward to.
Basically, the team uniforms are designed with three colors, namely, yellow, white, and black. This can be seen in their hats and jerseys. Aside from the bright colors, the team is also represented by their own family of mascots. As the name suggests, the mascots are, of course, hawks.
Out of all the professional baseball teams in Japan, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have the biggest number of mascots known collectively as the Hawk Family. The Hawk Family has been composed of these mascots since the year 1992. The first mascot on the list is known as Harry Hawk. Of yellow color, this hawk wears a uniform with the Number 100 and serves as the main mascot of the team. He is the youngest brother of the previous main mascot of the team, Homer Hawk.
His counterpart is the mascot known as Honey Hawk. She is a female hawk of pink color and plays as the girlfriend of Harry Hawk. She also serves as the cheerleader of the Honeys, which is the dancing team of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Up next is Herculy Hawk, who bears the Number 200 uniform. An orange hawk, Herculy is the rival of Harry within the team. This rivalry has been going on since their Hawk University days.
Not all the Hawk mascots are young, as proven by Honky Hawk. A middle-aged hawk, Honky serves as the mayor of Hawks town. A hawk that loves baseball, Honky is also the uncle of Harry. His counterpart is his wife named Helen. Also a middle-aged hawk, their love story began in high school, where they eventually eloped. Another relative of Harry is known as Hack Hawk. Wearing red-lined t-shirts, Hack is Harry’s nephew.
One more nephew of Harry’s is known as Rick Hawk. Rick is a younger brother of Hack. He fits the nerdy profile, as this hawk wears a pair of glasses. He also dons blue-lined t-shirts with a cap of the same color. The youngest of the three hawk brothers is known as Hock Hawk. He dons green-lined t-shirts and a matching cap.
The Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome: Home of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Similar to most professional baseball teams in Japan, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks also have a stadium they call home. This stadium is known as the Fukuoka Yahuoku! Dome. Situated in Chuo-ku in Fukuoka, the dome is more commonly known as Fukuoka Yafouku Domu in Japanese. Initially, the stadium was called Fukuoka Dome when it was constructed in the year 1993. With a diameter of 216 meters and a capacity of more than 38,000 people, this stadium is considered as the biggest geodesic dome on earth.
Aside from this title, the dome is also the first stadium that comes with a retractable roof to be constructed in the country. The naming rights of the stadium were acquired by one of the subsidiaries of SoftBank, Yahoo! JAPAN, in the year 2005. Subsequently, they changed the name of the stadium to Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome. The name was again altered to Fukuoka Yahuoku Dome in January of the year 2013.
Since the creation of the Major League Baseball Japan All-Star Series, the dome has served as a host for one game in each series. This includes the final game that many consider being a momentous event in the history of baseball in the country in the year 2006. It was when Japan was swept for the first time since the beginning of the series.
Located at 2-2-2 Jigyōhama, Chūō-ku, Fukuoka, Japan, the stadium has the coordinates 33°35′43.16″North and 130°21′43.48″East. It can be accessed via the Fukuoka City Subway under the Kuko Line at Tojinmachi. The stadium is owned and operated by Hawks Town Co. Specifically, its capacity is 38,561 for baseball and 42,000 for concerts.
The size of its left field is 100 meters, which is equivalent to 328 feet, while its left-center and right-center are 118 meters each, which is equivalent to 387 feet each. Its center field is measured at 122 meters, which is equivalent to 400 feet, while its right field is measured at 100 meters, similar to its left field. The height of the outfield fence is 5.84 meters, which is equivalent to 19.2 feet. Its surface used to be Astroturf until the owners changed it to FieldTurf in the year 2009.
The contractors for this stadium began to break ground on the 1st of April in the year 1991. The dome was finally built early in the year 1993 before it was opened on the 2nd of April of the same year. The cost of constructing this dome was estimated to be about 76 billion yen. The dome was designed and built by Takenaka Corporation and Maeda Corporation.
Current Roster of Players and What’s in Store in the Game Schedule 2018
The current roster of players for this year is being managed by Kimiyasu Kudo. The team’s pitchers are Yuto furuya, Nao Higashihama, Ryota Igarashi, Yuya Iida, Shuta Ishikawa, sho Iwasaki, Ren Kajiya, Taiga Kasahara, Shunsuke Kasaya, Shinya Kayama, Reiji Kozawa, Yuki Matsumoto, Livan Moinelo, Yuito Mori, Kenichi Nakata, Akira Niho, Ken Okamoto, Dennis Sarfate, Kodai Senga, Tadashi Settsu, Arata Shiino, Robert Suarez, Jumpei Takahashi, Rei Takahashi, Shota Takeda, Seihi Tanaka, Fumimaru Taura, Hayato Terahara, Rick van der Hurk, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Haruto Yoshizumi.
On the other hand, the team has eight catchers in their roster for 2018. These catchers are Masahiro Harimoto, Tamon Horuichi, Tomoya Ichikawa, Takuya Kai, Ryuhei Kuki, Ryoya Kurihara, Hiroaki Takaya, and Kenta Tanigawara. As for infielders, the team has Kenji Akashi, Kenta Chatani, Shogo Furusawa, Yurisbel Gracial, Yuichi Honda, Kenta Imamiya, Hikaru Kawase, Keizo Kawashima, Kenta Kurose, Taisei Makihara, Shu Masuda, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Masaki Mimori, Tetsuro Nishida, Kaisei Sone, tomoki Takata, and Seiichi Uchikawa.
The team’s current outfielders are Alfredo Despaigne, Tomoaki Egawa, Shuhei Fukuda, Yuya Hasegawa, Go Kamamoto, Ryuma Kidokoro, Yusuke Masago, Akira Nakamura, Tsukada Masayoshi, Seiji Uebayashi, Yuki Yanagita, and Yuki Yoshimura. At present, the team also has its own development squad. For pitchers, they have Hiroki Hasegawa, Yusuke Ito, Hiroyuki Kawahara, Ryuya Kodama, Shin Nakamura, Yuto Nozawa, Shuto Ogata, Kotaro Otake, Seiya Saito, Yosuke Shimabukuro, Takeshi Watanabe, Yuta Watanabe, and Amon Yamashita.
As for catchers in their developmental squad, they have Yuichi Higoshi. Their developing infielders are Ryuken Matsumoto, Kosuke Moriyama, Ukyo Shuto, and Richard Sunagawa. Finally, their developing outfielders are Oscar Colas, Yamato Higurashi, Kazuhiro Koyama, Shogo Omoto, Rikuya Shimizu, and Tsubasa Tashiro.
With such a huge popularity, the Hawks amass thousands of fans in their games. Getting tickets can be a bit hard, especially when they are to compete against their rivals. The best way to go about this is to check their game schedule in advance, which can be found in various baseball websites. Buying tickets early is the best way to go to ensure that one would get a good spot to watch and support the Hawks.