Now for the second part of our series on current NPB team uniforms. Today we will look at the current uniforms for each of the teams in the Pacific League.
The Pacific League also has six teams, but has always been the less popular of the two leagues. Here is a picture of the team’s uniforms in 1994. This was from an ad campaign called Sexy Pacific League.
And now here are the six teams in alphabetical order.
Chiba Lotte Marines: The Marines are situated on the east side of Tokyo Bay in the city of Chiba. The Marines have been known as the Lotte Orions until 1991 when the team moved from Kawasaki on the west side of Tokyo Bay to Chiba, and the team changed it name to the Marines and added pink to their color scheme.
After Bobby Valentine’s hiring in 1995, they went to a conventional white base with black pinstripes, which has been the team’s staple for their home uniform for the last 15 years. In addition, the patch on the left sleeve is the other logo for the Marines. Here is a shot of the home uniform from the back. What is surprising about the Marines’ home uniform is the big patch on the right sleeve. Yes that patch says “05 ASIA CHAMPION.” The Marines were is first team to win the Asia Series in 2005, which pits the champions of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China in a round robin tournament and then a final of the top two teams. But that was four years ago, it is time to move on.
This year is also the 40th anniversary of Lotte, candy and gum company from South Korea, purchasing the Marines. Here is a picture of the patch and where it will be placed on their three uniforms. The different colors of the seagulls represent the different colors of the uniforms of the team since Lotte had the team. Here is a picture of their three uniforms from the front, and the back. The home cap is all black with a silver M.
Chiba’s alternate home uniform has red and black raglan sleeves. The red and black are broken by a white and black jagged line on each sleeve, Charlie Brown like line. The red Y-neck goes all the way down the uniform to the beltline and has black outline stripes. Plus the uniform has black buttons. The lettering is in black with a red number that is outlined in silver with a red 3D shadow. Chiba’s alternate cap has a similar pattern as seen on the sleeves and it is used with their road uniform.
Chiba’s road uniform has a quick vertical gradation from black to white and similar raglan sleeves to the alternate uniform. The second logo has been copied in grey on the right chest and expanded in size. On the back the lettering is in white with black numbers outlined in silver with a red 3D shadow.
OK. This goes from great to very bad to AWFUL. The home uniform is nothing short of awesome, very Rockie-like. Crisp and sharp, the pinstripes and black cap look great together. The alternate home uni, with it’s “Charlie Brown” sleeves and red neck yoke (which extends through the button plackets) is just not appealing — it’s fine to be different, it’s another to be jarringly-so, and for little apparent reason (although there is some precedent to the “crown” piping on the sleeves). The road uni is just AWFUL. It’d be HORRIBLE as an alternate, but this just doesn’t belong on a diamond, especially for about half of your games. And the pink? I don’t care if it’s a nod to your team’s historical past … it’s just not good.
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks:: The Hawks, to Jeremy, have the most boring uniform in Japanese baseball. It has a white base with black lettering with two yellow sleeve stripes with a double yellow stripe down the pantleg.
Their road uniform is similarly boring to Jeremy, with a black base with white lettering and stripes and white pants.
The Hawks just announced that Softbank mobile would sponsor the team and have added a patch with a dog on their left sleeve, based on their campaign with “the Whites” (here are the home and road unis.) Both uniforms use a black hat with a yellow bill and yellow lettering.
To Jeremy, the sleeve stripes are too thick and would be fine if they were smaller, but these are just bland uniforms. Now if you put Tsuyoshi Shinjo in one, that’s entertainment. Yes, Shinjo had a gold glove and an iron on picture of himself. “I love me, some me.”
I’d disagree with Jeremy’s assessment of these uniforms being “boring,” but that doesn’t mean they’re good either. I LOVE a pure, white uniform, but with all the shit going on here, this is neither pure nor white, but boring it aint. Busy maybe. And who knew motorcycles and automobiles played for the team? I’m also not a fan of the sleeve and pant stripes being of varying widths. Obviously, the sponsor has something to do with the uni design, and while I understand it, I don’t like it. Definitely also not a big believer in the black roadie.
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters: The Fighters are located in Sapporo and only moved from Tokyo in 2004. Here is the last home uniform from their time in Tokyo. It was a similar design to that of the Minnesota Twins. Here is an example of their last road uniform before going to Sapporo.
The home uniform is white with white pants and has a black raglan sleeve that extends to the collar only on the left sleeve. The raglan area is highlighted with a gold stripe and has a teal blue line at the sleeve edge. Also the team entire team logo has a patch on the left sleeve. FIGHTERS is written with an arched teal lettering with gold outlines and black shadows. On the right sleeve is Nippon-Ham in black with gold outlines, the sponsor of the team. On the back lettering and numbers are in black with gold outlines.
The road uniform is essentially the same except that it is in grey with grey pants with Hokkaido in white with black outlines on the right sleeve and Nippon Ham in arched white lettering in white with gold outlines and black shadows. (Here is the back of the uniform.)
The Fighters also have an alternate uniform that is all black with white or grey pants. The teams’ F logo is placed over the heart. Numbers are in white on the back only. Jeremy has only seen this in warmups. Home and road cap is in black with the secondary logo.
The Fighters have had some special edition uniforms for the We Love Hokkaido Series in the summer. Here is the 2008 edition uniform and cap. And finally, the 2007 edition uniform. Shinjo even had a special uniform that he wore before the 2nd game of the 2005 Japanese All-Star game.
The Fighters uniforms to Jeremy are very sharp.
Although I am not a fan of asymmetrical uniform sleeve design, these aren’t too bad. The teal and gold are aesthetically pleasing, and not overdone as colors. Bonus points for having a gray away uniform too. You know I am not a fan of alternate uniforms, but, despite the pullover and sheeny-look, this one is definitely better than most.
Orix Buffaloes: The Buffaloes are based in Kobe and Osaka and was created from a merger of the Orix Blue Wave and Kintetsu Buffaloes in 2004. Ichiro Suzuki played for the Blue Wave, while Hideo Nomo played for the Buffaloes. The merger of the two teams was odd because the team had two home uniforms Kobe 2005 (white), 2006 Kobe, and Osaka 2005. The team still plays games in Kobe, but has moved their offices to Osaka and now only use the Osaka uniform as their only set.
Additionally, the Kintetsu Buffaloes are probably the only team in the world who changed logos on a mascot. “What do you mean?” you say. They changed uniform and shoe companies at one time and the mascot changed with them. Here are the Buffaloes in Mizuno and then in Asics. That is logo creep.
But getting back to the uniforms, the Buffaloes home uniform has a white base with dark blue raglan sleeves all the way to the collar. Each sleeve has a single red sleeve stripe. Orix has its company logo on the right sleeve. The white Y-neck is outlined in dark blue. The team logo is outlined in yellow and numbers on the front of the uniform are dark blue. On the back the lettering is in dark blue on a radial arch, while the numbers are dark blue with a yellow outline.
ORIX is spelled out in white on the chest with dark blue buttons and white numbers. The Buffaloes script is on the right sleeve. On the back the lettering and numbers are in white. The batting helmet for Orix has always had three red stripes, (1989), the 1990s, from the brim to the halfway point on the left side of the helmet.
Their home and road cap has a dark blue base with the logo outlined in yellow. But look carefully at this cap — the front half of the hat has red dividing lines for the panels, but the back does not. Jeremy has never seen that before.
Jeremy thinks Orix looks good but he’d prefer to have the yellow back on their road uniform.
I liked a previous version of the home uniforms (possibly influenced by the “gag” jersey I bought, and which I’m wearing in the by-line). Look at this stunningly simple design. Too bad they wear this new uniform now. They also wear this raglan sleeved number, which is garnished with this cap — so what’s with the red? I know they have that red stripe on the sleeve, but it doesn’t seem to go with the other colors on the uni. Although possibly a nod to the past. (And they obviously have a lot of uniform history in the past — of both the Blue Wave and Buffalo variety). However, Jeremy informs me the red is actually part of Orix’s parent company’s color scheme, in addition to Kintetsu, (but Kintetsu does not sponsor the team anymore).
Saitama Seibu Lions: The Lions are located in the Northwestern Tokyo suburb of Tokorozawa. The Lions have been very successful since their move in 1978 to Tokorozawa and were known for their baby blue road uniforms. But this year the Lions have ditched the baby blue altogether and have gone in a new direction, back to the past.
The new design has a new font for the logo, a darker blue called “Legends Blue” and a brand new design. The old logo looked like this.
The home uniform is minimalistic, almost Detroit Tigers like. But it does have the new paw logo patch on the left sleeve, Saitama Seibu in red on the right sleeve, 13 white stars on the inside of the back of the neck for the number of Championships that the Lions have won overall. The back of uniform has dark blue lettering and numbers.
The road uniform is a grey base with a dark blue outline around the Y-neck. Also has a single dark blue sleeve stripe on each sleeve. The Lions script is in dark blue and dark blue numbers. The paw logo, Saitama Seibu and 13 stars are all the same as the home uniform.
Jeremy has only known the Lions in baby blue, and he does like to the look of these uniforms, but he hates the font for the script.
This is, by far, my favorite of all the uniforms. But, if you had asked me to judge them by their previous uniform incarnations and Nikified designs, I would have absolutely hated them. Just goes to show you that Nike, when pressed, can make something gorgeous. I’m sure there will be some backlash in Japan, as this is a radical departure from this. You won’t hear any complaints from me.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles: The Gold Eagles are based in Sendai in the Northeast (Tohoku) part of the country. They play their home games at the Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, so there could be crying in baseball. The Eagles are the youngest team in the Pacific League as they started in 2005 and were created because of the merger of Orix and Kintetsu, which would have created an odd numbered league of five. Rakuten bought an expansion franchise license to make the Pacific League have six teams. The owner of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani attended Hitotsubashi University and Harvard University, whose school colors are crimson, and that is the name of Rakuten’s holding company, Crimson Group. Therefore crimson is one of the team’s primary colors.
The Eagles’ home uniform has a white base with crimson lines. The team script is written in crimson with yellow shadows and has crimson numbers outlined in yellow underneath the script. Each player’s name and number are crimson with yellow outlines. This number font is similar to what the BayStars used to use.
The road uniforms are basically a flipping of the colors, a crimson base with white stripes. Rakuten replaces Eagles and is in white with yellow shadows, which make it a bit difficult to read. The player names and numbers are in white without the yellow outlines. These are paired with white pants.
The third uniform, which is only used for Interleague games, has more crimson than the regular model. There are white pit stains, yellow stripes, crimson panels, crimson numbers and player name’s in crimson block letters with yellow outlines. The team’s E logo has been converted to crimson instead of the traditional white, and is outlined in yellow. RAKUTEN is in small letters underneath the E. And the IRIS patch has been moved to the right part of the chest.
Rakuten wears a crimson cap at home and on the road with a white E with yellow outlines.
According to Jeremy, the Eagles have an old school look, even with the road colored tops. Jeremy would like to see a grey road uniform with the crimson, as he thinks it would look nice.
This uniform doesn’t do much for me either way. The colors are gorgeous, but I am not really enjoying the (seemingly unnecessary) thin piping all about the place. As a design element, I don’t really like it, and it doesn’t appear to have any functionality. The cap color and design are pretty cool though. And I do like the numeral font, which appears to be “copperplate gothic” or something similar. I wish they had a gray away uniform, but what are you gonna do?
Here are also a couple of photos of the Pacific League from the early 80s. This was with the Exciting League Pa (Pacific) campaign: Exciting League Pa photo uniform, Shinji Mizushima. Mizushima is a huge baseball fan and manga artist who has done numerous stories on baseball. He is wearing a uniform with sections of each of the team’s uniform colors. And here is an Exciting League Pa poster. There are no other examples of this that I can find.
Phil’s Final Thoughts: If anyone is still interested, the “grafic” I used for the header is the “famous” Atom Boy. But I’ll let Jeremy explain it a bit more:
The picture that you have is from the Yakult Atoms in the 1960s. They used AstroBoy on the left sleeve, because Sankei is part of the Fuji Sankei Broadcasting group and AstroBoy was on their networks. Sankei sold the team to Yakult then became the Yakult Atoms before returning to the Swallows. Technically in Japan AstroBoy is called Atom Boy, but semantics.
I wanted to express my deep and sincere thanks to Jeremy Brahm for all his work on this piece (or, actually, two days worth of pieces). There is a tremendous amount of information on Japanese uniforms I am certain he left “on the cutting room floor” so to speak, and this was really just scratching the surface. His patience and willingness to help, not just with this, but also with the “April Fool’s Day” bit, as well as pinching in for me with the volleyball article a couple weeks ago, was greatly appreciated. Hopefully you guys (and gals) enjoyed the bits on the rising sun unis as much as I did. Thanks again, Jeremy!
If you didn’t already read it, you need to check out Paul’s latest ESPN column in which he gives the rundown of all the new uniforms and changes for the 2009 season. It’s my favorite column of the year. But then again, there is baseball … and then there is every other sport. Tomorrow I will continue one of my own personal traditions involving Opening Day, and that is watching The Natural. Any of you guys have an Opening Day traditions (like going to a game, playing hooky from work/school, popping in a dvd, or, if you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan,
counting the days to the Steelers open training camp dreaming that this is your year)? Let’s hear ’em.
Enjoy your Sunday. Enjoy opening night. Hell, just enjoy!