Baseball Wiki

The Saitama Seibu Lions (埼玉西武ライオンズ Saitama Seibu Raionzu?) are a professional baseball team in Japan's Pacific League. As a company, it is a subsidiary of Prince Hotels, belonging to Seibu Group. Recently, the team had stood on shaky financial ground, until the Boston Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Lions got a 6 billion Japanese yen (about USD 51.11 million) posting fee. Between 1978 to 2008, the team logo and mascot is based on the adult Kimba the White Lion, a famous classic anime series by Osamu Tezuka.[1][2]

In 2004, former Seibu Lions player Kazuo Matsui became the first Japanese infielder to play in Major League Baseball.

Franchise history[]

Nishitetsu Clippers (1950)[]

In 1950, the team became a founding member of the Pacific League, and was owned by Nishi-Nippon Railroad based in Fukuoka. The team finished sixth that year, and at the end of the season the team was merged with the Nishi-Nippon Pirates to form the Nishitetsu Lions.

Nishitetsu Lions (1951-1972)[]

In 1951, the Nishi-Nippon Pirates and Nishitetsu Clippers merged to form the Nishitetsu Lions. They were one of the top Pacific League teams of the decade, winning four pennants and winning three straight Japan Series against the Yomiuri Giants. Osamu Mihara managed the team throughout their 1950s success period. The team was not as successful in the following decade and in 1973 was sold and became the Taiheiyo Club Lions. The Nishitetsu Lions called Heiwadai Stadium home for their entire existence.

Taiheiyo Club Lions (1973-1976)[]

In November, 1972, the Nishitetsu Lions were bought by the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation from Nishi-Nippon Railroad. The company was founded by Nagayoshi Nakamura, owner of the Lotte and the Orions. The team's sponsorship rights were then sold to Taiheiyo Club, a golf course and resort developer, and the team was renamed. The team remained as the Taiheiyo Club Lions until after the 1976 season. Through the course of the 1970s, the Lions finished no higher than third.

Crown Lighter Lions (1977-1978)[]

At the end of the 1976 season, the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation announced that the team's new sponsor was Crown Gas Lighter. With this, the team's name for the upcoming season was changed to the Crown Lighter Lions. At the end of the 1978 season the team was sold to Kokudo Keikaku (later Kokudo, then merged into Prince Hotels), a Seibu Railway Group company.

Seibu Lions (1979-2007)[]

The Crown Lighter Lions were sold to Seibu Group in 1978, and since then have used the name Seibu Lions, and relocated to a new ballpark in Tokorozawa, Saitama.

The "Golden Age" of Seibu Lions(1982-1994)[]

Seibu Lions started their history in the last place in 1979. But with new manager Tatsuro Hirooka and starplayers such as Osamu Higashio, Koichi Tabuchi, they started their Golden Age with two-year straight Japan Series winning in 1982-1983 and 1985 league champion. In the years with next manager Masaaki Mori, Lions had neary dominated the Japanese professional baseball scene over ten years with devastating batters and pichers. Lions had various type of batters- sluggers such as Kouji Akiyama, Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Orestes Destrade, skilled players such as Hiromichi Ishige, Hatsuhiko Tsuji, and smart catcher Tsutomu Ito. And they also had great pichers- starting pichers: "The Oriental Express" Taigen Kaku, Kimiyasu Kudo, Hisanobu Watanabe, bullpen pichers: Yoshitaka Katori, Testuya Shiozaki. Mori won 8 league championship(1986-1988,1990-1994) and 6 Japan Series championship(1986-1988,1990-1992) in his nine-year managing career. Seibu Lions was called "Invincible Seibu" because of their accomplishment in those days.

Stars in their "Golden Age"[]

Name position Title and accomplishment Note
Kouji Akiyama CF Home Run Title 1987, Stolen Base Title 1990, Golden Glove 1987-1996,1999
437 HR and 303 SB in career
Belonged to Daiei Hawks from 1994-2002. Current Hawks manager.
Kazuhiro Kiyohara 1B Rookie of the year 1986, Golden Glove (1988,1990,1992-1994),
525HR and 1527 RBIs in career
Belonged to Yomiuri Giants from 1997-2005, Orix Buffaloes from 2006-2008. Retired in 2008.
Orestes Destrade DH Home Run Title 1990-1992, RBI Title 1990-1991 Played 1993-1994 seasons with Florida Marlins of MLB.
Hiromichi Ishige 3B Rookie of the year, Golden Glove 1981-1983,1985-1988,1991-1993), MVP 1986 Manager of Orix BlueWave for a short time in 2003.
Hatsuhiko Tsuji 2B Batting Title 1993, Golden Glove 1986, 1988-1994 Played for Yakult Swallows in 1996, retired after '96 season.
Tsutomu Ito C Golden Glove 1985-1988, 1990-1992, 1994-1995 1997-1998 Retired in 2003, Lions manager from 2004-2007.
Hisanobu Watanabe P Winning Percentage Title 1986, 1988, 1990, ERA Title 1986, Strikeout Title 1986, Golden Glove 1990, No-hitter 1996 Played for Yakult Swallows in 1998, retired from NPB after '98 season. Current manager of Lions.
Osamu Higashio P Wins Champion 1975,1983, ERA Title 1983, Strikeout Title 1975, MVP 1983,1987, Golden Glove 1983-1987 Member of Lions through 4 different team owners (Nishitetsu, Taiheyo Club, Crown Lighter, Seibu).
Taigen Kaku P MVP1991, Golden Grove 1991-1992, No-hitter 1985 Retired in 1996. Taiwan national team manager 2007.
Kimiyasu Kudo P ERA Title 1985,1987,1993,1999, Winning Percentage Title1987,1991,1993,2000, Strikeout Title 1996,1999, Golden Glove 1994-1995,2000, MVP 1999, longest NPB career as player (28 years) Belonged to Daiei Hawks from 1994, Yomiuri Giants from 2000, Yokohama BayStars from 2007. Only active player in "Golden Age" in 2009.

Saitama Seibu Lions (2008-)[]

In order to reinforce relationship with their hometown, the Lions added their region (prefecture) name "Saitama" to their team name. They won the Pacific League Champion as well as the Japan Series in the same year. They changed their team logo, as well as uniform in the following season. They gave up their traditional light-blue colour scheme, but used a dark blue which similar to the Nishitetsu Lions' design.

Season-by-season records[]

Year Team Name Place
1950 Nishitetsu Clippers 5th
1951 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd
1952 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd
1953 Nishitetsu Lions 4th
1954 Nishitetsu Lions 1st
1955 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd
1956 Nishitetsu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1957 Nishitetsu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1958 Nishitetsu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1959 Nishitetsu Lions 4th
1960 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd
1961 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd
1962 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd
1963 Nishitetsu Lions 1st
1964 Nishitetsu Lions 5th
1965 Nishitetsu Lions 3rd
1966 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd
1967 Nishitetsu Lions 2nd
1968 Nishitetsu Lions 5th
1969 Nishitetsu Lions 5th
1970 Nishitetsu Lions 6th
1971 Nishitetsu Lions 6th
1972 Nishitetsu Lions 6th
1973 Taiheiyo Club Lions 4th
1974 Taiheiyo Club Lions 4th
1975 Taiheiyo Club Lions 3rd
1976 Taiheiyo Club Lions 6th
1977 Crown Lighter Lions 6th
1978 Crown Lighter Lions 5th
1979 Seibu Lions 6th
1980 Seibu Lions 4th
1981 Seibu Lions 4th
1982 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1983 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1984 Seibu Lions 3rd
1985 Seibu Lions 1st
1986 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1987 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1988 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1989 Seibu Lions 3rd
1990 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1991 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1992 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
1993 Seibu Lions 1st
1994 Seibu Lions 1st
1995 Seibu Lions 3rd
1996 Seibu Lions 3rd
1997 Seibu Lions 1st
1998 Seibu Lions 1st
1999 Seibu Lions 2nd
2000 Seibu Lions 2nd
2001 Seibu Lions 3rd
2002 Seibu Lions 1st
2003 Seibu Lions 2nd
2004 Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)
2005 Seibu Lions 3rd
2006 Seibu Lions 2nd
2007 Seibu Lions 5th
2008 Saitama Seibu Lions 1st (Japan Series Winner)

External links[]


  1. Fans, the team, and the press consider the mascot as the adult version of Kimba, but Osamu Tezuka had once told that it is designed from Caesar, the father of Kimba.[citation needed]
  2. The Lions would adopt a new mascot in 2009 season.[citation needed]