Hankyu Braves were a professional baseball team that existed between 1936 to 1988 and played in the Pacific League. Before being renamed to the current Orix Buffaloes the team used to be called Orix BlueWave. Their parent company was the Kansai private railroad company Hankyu Railway and their home field was the Nishinomiya Stadium.
The team was founded in 1936 as Hankyu’s corporate baseball team to oppose Hanshin Electric Raliway’s Osaka Tigers. By naming their team “Hankyu” they became the first professional baseball team to incorporate their company name into their club name.
Before the war they never made it to the championships, but they managed to hover around 3rd place consistently after the Giants and Hanshin.
In 1947 they changed their name to Hankyu Bears only to change it again the next year to Hankyu Braves. They fought in the Pacific League as the Hankyu Braves up to 1988 when the team was sold to Orient Lease (now: ORIX).
After the war the Nankai Hawks dominated the Pacific League, until the Braves won their first league championship in 1967 and then achieved a 3 year winning streak up to 1969.
The Hankyu’s golden age started after the 1968 draft, when strong players joined the team, such as Hisashi Yamada, who has recorded 284 career wins and was known as the best submarine pitcher in history, and Yutaka Fukumoto, who in his career totaled 2543 hits and was named “Stolen Base King” for his 1065 stolen bases.
Yet when they faced the Giants fabled players Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh in the Japan Series 5 times up to 1972, they lost on all occasions.
When they finally achieved their long awaited Japan Series victory in 1975, they won the championship 3 times in a row up to 1977 and were called the “King Braves”.
However in the middle of the 80s their golden age had come to an end and the Seibu Lions replaced them as the new leading team in the league.
What is more, because interest towards the Pacific League faded, the Nishinomiya Stadium became almost always empty. As the Braves financial situation continued to decline, Hankyu announced on the 19th of October in 1988 that they would sell the team to Orient Lease. During their time the Hankyu Braves left a record of 10 Pacific League pennants and 3 Japan Series championships wins.