The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are a Japanese professional baseball team and belong to the Pacific League. Their home stadium is Sapporo Dome in Sapporo City, Hokkaido, and their parent company is Nipponham Foods Ltd.
The team was founded in 1946 as the Senators, which were affiliated with Japan Baseball Federation. In the following year, 1947, Tokyu Corporation, a leading private railway company in Kanto area, purchased the team, and then the team name was changed to the Tokyu Flyers.
In 1949, the Tokyu Flyers joined the Pacific League, and then in 1954, Tokyu Corporation entrusted the management of the team to Toei Company Ltd, a film making company, and as a result, the team name was changed to ‘the Toei Flyers’.
Later, in 1973, Nipponham Foods Ltd purchased the team and the team name became ‘Nippon-Ham Fighters’. Their home stadium was the Korakuen Stadium and the Tokyo Dome, which were the same stadium as the Yomiuri Giants. However, the number of spectators decreased, so in 2004, the Fighters moved to Sapporo City in Hokkaido, which had no professional baseball team, and since then they have played in Sapporo Dome stadium.
The Fighters won seven league championships, three Japan Series titles, four Climax Series titles, and one Asia Series title. After moving to Hokkaido, in particular, they have kept a good performance and become a strong team which can go into Class A.
Nippon-Ham Fighters has an excellent reputation for bringing up young players, and has produced many star players such as Yu Darvish, who moved to the Texas Rangers, Sho Nakata, who played as a cleanup slugger of the Japan National Baseball Team, in the 2015 WBSC Premier 12, and Shohei Otani, who joined the Fighters drafted first in 2012, and has played an active role as an unique ‘two-way player (a pitcher and fielder)’,
Above all, Otani has drawn much attention from MLB as well as in NPB. In the 2016 series, he achieved the first record of 10 wins, 100 hits, and 20 home runs in the NPB history, and also broke the NPB pitch velocity record of 165km/h ,and made a great contribution to his team’s league victory and the Japan Series title. After the season, he was selected as one of the nine best players in the category of a pitcher and a designated hitter.
A lot of Japanese leading players belonged to the Fighters in the past, such as Tsuyoshi Shinjo,who played for the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants and then in 2003 made a comeback to NPB and played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, and Hideki Okajima, who was transferred from the Fighters to Boston Red Sox in 2006, and played an active role along with Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 2007 World Series.