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Minor League History

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Minor League History
I am aware of the two "minor" leagues. What I have not been able to do is find a history of the teams in the these leagues. I am looking to find the names of these teams and the dates they played and the relationship of the changes in the teams. I can find a seaon here and there, but nothing that provides a list of them. Any ideas where I could look while having no skill in the language of the land?

In the Kokumin League; what does the Space/Large House High mean? Where they at all related to the fall team known as Kumatani?

I have looked through the postings and have not seen this asked nor referenced prior, but I do appologize if I missed it somewhere. Thank you.
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Something Lions | Posted: Mar 13, 2007 2:25 PM | SL Fan ]

Japanese baseball's minor leagues act more like the reserve leagues for European football leagues rather than the more independent minor leagues of North American pro sports. That's why there's a general lack of written history, because each club treats it's minor league team as an addition to their big league team.
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Jbroks86 | Posted: Mar 14, 2007 1:47 PM | SFT Fan ]

The Kokumin League was a third league in Japan that operated from 1947 to 1948, before closing down due to pressure from NPB.
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Guest: Patriot | Posted: Mar 15, 2007 12:07 PM ]

So then, it doesn't sound like I will be able to put together a list of teams and the dates for the leagues. Would someone be able to tell me when each league started up so I can at least have a time frame of the league play?
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Guest: Michael Eng | Posted: Mar 16, 2007 9:17 PM ]

The history of farm teams dates back to December 1948, when the first ni-gun was founded as the Kinsei Little Stars (金星リトルスターズ) by the Kinsei Stars. This likely was due to the sale of the Stars to the owner of the National Baseball League's (国民野球連盟, Kokumin League) Otsuka Athletics, Konosuke Otsuka and transfer of players (eight would play for the Stars). Later in the year, the Kyuei Chick Flyers (急映チックフライヤーズ) were founded by the Kyuei Flyers. In 1949 Yomiuri, Hankyu, and Nankai formed their own teams.

Following the 1949 league reorganization, and expansion of pro yakyu to fifteen clubs there was a need for more roster space. This was accomplished by an increase in farm teams. Hanshin founded a ni-gun in Feburary, 1950 and in November a ni-gun championship tournament was held featring clubs representing Hankyu, Hanshin, Kokutetsu, Nankai, Sanyo, Shochiku, Taiyo, Tokyu, Yomiuri. The Sanyo Crowns, an independent owned by the electronics company, had been founded in September of that year. Nankai won in the finals over Hanshin. During this period (1951-1952), games were often preliminary games that took place before the first-team games.

The first farm league to form was the Kansai Farm League (関西ファームリーグ) on April 15, 1952. At the time it consisted of seven teams. The members were the ni-gun of Hankyu, Hanshin, Nagoya, Nankai, Nishinetsu, Shochiku, and Sanyo. Nagoya and Nishinetsu founded their teams earlier in the year, and Sanyo would fold following the season in October. The league played with six teams in 1953 with the Shochiku team leaving the league after its merger with the Taiyo Whales and Kintetsu replacing the team.

On January 17, 1954, a new league was founded - with an approprite name of the New Japan League (新日本リーグ) - by the Central League. The league featured only the farm teams of that league:

Farm Team City, Prefecture Name
Chunichi Diamonds Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 中日ダイヤモンズ
Hiroshima Greens Kure, Hiroshima 広島グリーンズ
Kokutetsu Fresh Swallows Ōmiya, Saitama 国鉄フレッシュスワローズ
Osaka Jaguars Kobe, Hyogo 大阪ジャガーズ
Taiyo-Shochiku Junior Robins Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi 洋松ジュニアロビンス
Yomiuri Junior Giants Kawasaki & Yokohama, Kanagawa 読売ジュニアジャイアンツ

The league played two halves with the winners of each half (Yomiuri-first, Hanshin-second) playing in a best-of-three series - won by Hanshin 2 games to one. The league also played an abbreviated season in 1955 with 10 to 15 games. The Kansai Farm League continued to play in 1954 with four teams (Hankyu, Kintetsu, Nankai, and Nishinetsu).

In early 1955, the decision was made to realign the farm clubs into leagues based on geographic - in part due to the high travel expenses. The Eastern League (イースタンリーグ) was formed on Feburary 23, out of the New Japan League with seven teams; Daiei Junior Stars (大映ジュニアスターズ), Kokutetsu Fresh Swallows, Manichi Little Orions (毎日グリッターオリオンズ), Taiyo Junior Whales, Tombo Unions ni-gun (トンボユニオンズ二軍), Toei Chick Flyers, and Yomiuri Junior Giants. Both Mainichi and Tombo had farm teams for the first time; Daiei had formerly been Kinsei and Taiyo bought out Shochiku on December 11, 1954. A week later the Western League (ウエスタンリーグ) was formed from the Kansai league with seven teams; Chunichi Dragons ni-gun (中日ドラゴンズ二軍), Hankyu Braves ni-gun (阪急ブレーブス二軍), Hanshin Jaguars, Hiroshima Greens, Kintetsu Pearls ni-gun (近鉄パールズ二軍), Nankai Hawks ni-gun (南海ホークス二軍), and Nishitetsu Lions ni-gun (西鉄ライオンズ二軍).

The Hiroshima team became the Hiroshima Carp Greeners (広島カープグリナーズ) on January 31, 1956 and became the Hiroshima Carp ni-gun (広島カープ二軍) in 1958. The Jaguars became the Hanshin Tigers ni-gun (阪神タイガース二軍) in 1957. For the next forty years ni-gun teams would share the name of their first team. The Eastern League did not play from 1956 to 1960. It was revived as a five team league with Kokutetsu, Mainichi, Taiyo, Toei, and Yomiuri.

In 1979, following the relocation of the Crown Lighter Lions from Fukuoka to Saitama (and becoming the Seibu Lions) the team's farm team also moved from the Western League to the Eastern League. After the 2004 reorganization, and the replacement of the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes franchise by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the Western League lost a team as the Golden Eagles placed their team in Yamagata. Currently, the Eastern League has seven teams and the Western league five.

In 2000, both the Yokohama BayStars and the Orix BlueWave sold the naming rights to their farm teams, with the teams becoming the Shonan SeaRex (湘南シーレックス) and Surpass Kobe (サーパス神戸) respectively. Late in 2004, the Seibu Lions sold the sponsorship rights of their ni-gun team to Invoice - an electronics company - for three years (as well as the naming rights to their stadium). After Invoice and Seibu canceled the contract after the 2006 season, Goodwill - a professional & management services company - bought the naming rights. Surpass Kobe became Surpass (サーパス) in 2006.

The first farm all-star game took place in 1963. A three game series was played in 1964, before returning to a single game format in the following year. No game was played in 1966. The series switched to a CL vs. PL format in 2005. A championship game between the league champions has been played since 1987. Inter-league play between the leagues began in 2005, in part to balance the schedule due to the 7-5 alignment.

Re: Standings, etc.
This page standings for the Eastern League for (1961-1964, 1972, 1984, 1989, 1995-2005 (2006 is available at the NPB site) plus yearly champions, while this page has yearly placings for the Western League from 1955-2005 (again 2006 is available at the NPB site). This site (via used to have yearly Western League standings available but the links are dead. To find books, or magazines that may contain yearly standings, you could try asking the staff at the Hall of Fame using this form (they will respond to English, it will just take a bit more time).

Re: Space/Large House High
"Space/Large House High" is likely a translation for 宇高レッドソックス - the Udaka Red Sox. The team was owned by Udaka Sangyo - a manufacturing company - during the spring season of the NBL. The team was sold to Kumagai Gumi - a construction firm - in September 1947 and became the Kumagai Red Sox (熊谷レッドソックス, くまがい-).

Hope this helps.
Michael Eng
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Mar 17, 2007 8:43 AM | NIP Fan ]

I don't know whether or not this helped the original poster, but I found it fascinating to read. Thank you!
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Brimsek | Posted: Mar 17, 2007 9:44 PM | HNHF Fan ]

I agree! What a terrific post. Thanks Michael!
Re: Minor League History
[ Author: Guest: Patriot | Posted: Mar 4, 2008 11:34 AM ]

Thank you so much for the information. I have used all that I can from this as well as going with places that it has lead me. I now believe that I have all the teams, dates, and records for both leagues as well as some great stories.

Thank you so much.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

It is my sincere hope that once you learn a bit about what we're about here that you will join the community of contributors.

Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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