The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are a Japanese professional baseball team and belong to the Central League. Their home stadium is Meiji Jingu Stadium in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and their parent company is Yakult Honsha Co.,Ltd, a food and beverage manufacturer.
The Yakult are the newest baseball team in the Central League. In 1949, they started their history as the Kokutetsu Swallows for purpose of boosting a sense of unity and the morale of Japanese National Railways staff.
In 1965, Japanese National Railways transferred the management right of the team to
Sankei Shimbun Co.,Ltd and Fuji Television Network Inc, and the team name was changed to the Sankei Swallows. In the following year, 1966, because Fuji Television was broadcasting Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy), an animation by Osamu Tezuka, the team name was changed to the Sankei Atoms.
Later, in 1970, Yakult Honsha Co.,Ltd acquired the management right of the team, and the team name was changed to the Yakult Atoms, and then in 1974, to the Yakult Swallows, which is the origin of the team name.
Although the Swallows are inferior to the Yomiuri Giants based in Tokyo in popularity, performance, and funds, they have won 7 league championships, 5 Japan Series titles, and 19 Class-A stages, and since 1990, in particular, their results have been stable.
The two leading players in the Yakult Swallows history are Kazuhisa Ishii, a lefthander, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets, and Norichika Aoki, who moved to the Milwaukee Brewers by using the posting system in 2012.
In 2005, Aoki became the second batter to win 200 hits through the season in Japanese professional baseball history after Ichiro Suzuki. He also achieved 200 hits again in 2010 and made himself with this record in NPB history. In the MBL, Aoki played for the Kansas City Royals, the San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners. Since the 2017 season, he has belonged to the Huston Astros. In 2006 and 2009, he was selected as a member of Samurai Japan, or the Japan National Baseball Team, and as a leading regular player, contributed to team’s winning these World Baseball Classic Championships.