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Japanese Baseball Data Archive

Japanese Franchise Histories

A Very Brief History

Japanese professional baseball as we think of it, began in 1937 with one league of eight teams. The first two years were divided into spring and fall seasons. In 1950, the league expanded to fourteen teams and was divided into two leagues with some teams from the original league going to each new league.

Several teams have changed their nicknames over the years. The Bay Stars were once the Whales, the Swallows started out with that name, changed to Atoms (from 1966 to 1973), and changed back. The Marines were once the Orions, the Buffaloes were once the Pearls, the Blue Wave were once the Braves, and the Fighters were once the Flyers. Confused? The map below tells the complete story.

Quick facts: The team named Lion(s) in 1937-1940 is a parent of today's BayStars and is in no way related to today's Lions. Another interesting twist comes with today's Marines, who are the result of three merged clubs.

Download Team Franchise Histories as Spreadsheet  

The Managers List

Bay Stars Robins
1950-1952 Whales 1936 through 1937 Spring Dai Tokyo (no nickname)
1953 merged with Robins 1937 Fall –1940 Lion
1953-1954 Robins 1941-1944 Asahi (no nickname)
1955-1992 Whales 1946 Pacific (no nickname)
1993-date  Bay Stars 1947-1952 Robins
Buffaloes Buffaloes
1936-1946 Hankyu (no nickname) 1950-1958 Pearls
1947-1990 Braves 1959-2004 Buffaloes
1991-2004 Blue Wave
2004 merged with Buffaloes
2005-date Buffaloes
1950-date Carp
1936-1943 Nagoya (no nickname)
1944 Sangyo (no nickname)
1946 Chubu Nihon (no nickname)
1947-date Dragons
2005-date Eagles
1946 Senators
1947-1973 Flyers
1974-date Fighters
1936-1946 Kyojin
1947-date Giants
1938-June 30, 1944 Nankai (no nickname)
July 1, 1944-end of 1944 season Kinki Nippon (no nickname)
1946-May 30, 1947 Kinki Great Ring
June 1, 1947-date Hawks
Lions Pirates
1950 Clippers 1950 Pirates
before 1951 season merged with Pirates
1951-date Lions
Marines Unions Stars
1950-1957 Orions 1954-1957 Unions 1946-1956 Stars
merged with Unions after 1957 season merged with Stars after 1956 season
1958-1991 Orions
1992-date Marines
1950-1965 Swallows
1966-1973 Atoms
1974-date Swallows
1936-1940 Tigers
1941-1946 Hanshin (no nickname)
1947-date Tigers
Defunct Franchises
Senators Nagoya Kinko
1937-1939 Senators 1937-1940 Nagoya Kinko
1940 Tsubasa
merged with Tsubasa after 1940 season fo form Taiyo
1941-1942 Taiyo
1943 Nishitetsu
1937-1939 Eagles
1940-1941 Kurowashi
1942-1943 Daiwa

Jim Allen’s 1999 Guide to Japanese Baseball by Jim Allen
The managers list at:
Japanese Baseball: A Statistical Handbook by Daniel Johnson

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