The Hanshin Tigers are a Japanese professional baseball team and belong to the Central League of Japan. They have the second longest history after the Yomiuri Giants. Their home stadium is Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture and their parent company is Hanshin Electric Railway Co,.Ltd, a leading private railway company in Kansai area ,which provides a railway service to connect Osaka and Kobe.
In 1934, the Hanshin Tigers were founded as the Osaka Tigers, and then in 1961 the team name was changed to the Hanshin Tigers. They won nine league championships and one Japan Series championship, but after winning the pennant and Japan Series in 1985, they remained in a slump and at the bottom rank of the league table for some years.
However, Senichi Hoshino, who was to serve as the manager of the Japan National Baseball Team for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, became the manager of the Hanshin Tigers in 2002, and strengthened the team by getting Hideki Irabu, a former New York Yankees starter, and some leading players from other Japanese teams, and led the Hanshin Tigers to the Central League championship in 2003, which was for the first time in eighteen years.
In 2004, Akinobu Okada took the team over from Hoshino, who retired voluntarily. In 2005, or his second year, Okada led the team to the league championship again, and supporters expected to begin the golden age of the team. However, since then, they have managed to stay in Class A, but have never won the league championship.
The Hanshin Tigers are a tremendously popular baseball team equal to the Yomiuri Giants. It is well-known that for every game, a lot of Hanshin fans come to Koshien Stadium and give enthusiastic cheers for the team regardless of the results of the game.
There is a famous story about Tigers supporters that in 1985 when the team won the league championship, some fans got too excited and threw the statue of Colonel Sanders in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken Dotonbori branch as Randy Bass, who made a great contribution to the team’s victory, into the Dotonbori River in Osaka Shinsaibashi area.
Not only Hideki Irabu, who was active in the New York Yankees, but also some other Japanese major leaguers such as Kenji Jojima from the Seattle Mariners and Kosuke Fukudome from the Chicago Cubs, belonged to the Hanshin Tigers.