League Champion : SEIBU LIONS

ERASatoru Komiyama (Marines) 2.49
Most games wonFumiya Nishiguchi (Lions)
Hideo Koike (Buffaloes)
Most savesMotoyuki Akahori (Buffaloes) 33 SP
Most strike outsFumiya Nishiguchi (Lions) 192
Highest averageIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .345
Most base hitsIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) 185
HomerunNigel Wilson (Fighters) 37
RBIHiroki Kokubo (Daiei) 114
Most on baseKen Suzuki (Lions) .431
Stolen baseKazuo Matsui (Lions) 62


At last, on Oct.3, the Seibu Lions clinched the league pennant. They did it with a dramatic win in the 10th inning. Ken Suzuki blasted a "sayonara" homer, to take the team to a 2 to 1 win over the Hawks. It's been 3 years since the last time the Lions become the league champion and the first time for Osamu Higashio as a manager of the team.

The Fighters have reported to their ace pitcher Yukihiro Nishizaki on Oct.3 that he is not considered a member of the team roster. They have also taken similar actions with other veteran players. Members of the team comments that since manager Toshihara Ueda returned to the team toward the end of last season, after settling private matters, the Fighters have not become the orderly team is used to be.

You may not believe it, but Ichiro of the Blue Wave batted a game winning run for the first time ever. It happened on Oct. 7. He finished the game 2 to 1 over the Marines. For the Marines, the loss meant they had no way of getting out of the last spot in the league anymore.

The Hawks' Hiroki Kokubo blasted a homer each on Oct. 8 and 9 putting him within reach of the homerun title as well as the RBI.

All teams of the league completed 135 games on Oct. 12. The league's attendance record this season reached 10,012,500.

1. Seibu Lions
2. Orix Blue Wave
3. Kintetsu Buffaloes
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Blue Wave stopped their losing streak at 3 on Sept. 3, by defeating the Fighters to a whooping 13 to 7. The Lions meanwhile were lucky. They were losing 4 to 2 to the Hawks, but the game was rained out in the middle of the 5th inning.

Something is wrong with Ichiro of the Blue Wave. He hasn't had a base hit for 3 games since Sept. 3. Why make a fuss of it?! He has never hit so bad for 2 years and 4 months.

The Buffaloes continue to do well from mid August. From Sept. 3, they have won 4 straight games. That includes 3 wins from the Fighters. Perhaps, the Fighters poor performance has to do with the fact that Hiromitsu Ochiai has been out from a finger injury for 9 games.

Ichiro's first hit in his 15th at-bat did not help his team win on Sept.9. The Orix lost to the Marines 1 to 5. On the otherhand, the Lions continue to stretch their lead by defeating the Buffaloes in the 10th inning.

The Marines lost to the Blue Wave 0 to 9 on Sept. 11, but their player Makoto Kosaka of the Marines was in the spotlight. He broke the rookie record for the number of bases stolen with his 46th. He is actually the league leader in that area, and one of the top candidates to win the rookie of the year award as well. Another lower ranking team, the Fighters have at least one man who is doing superb. It's Nigel Wilson who belted his 36th homerun on the same day. The job did not lead to a win for this team either. The Fighters lost 3 to 4 to the Hawks.

The Lions have won 2 games to 1 against the Blue Wave in the series they played from Sept. 13.

The Fukuoka Dome, for the first time, cancelled a ball game. The Hawks vs Lions game was scheduled on Sept. 16, but the powerful Typhoon no.19 causing chaos in the area brought about the decision.

The Lions magic number 12 shone bright without even playing a game on Sept.18. That's because the Blue Wave lost 2 to 9 to the Fighters. But it suddenly disppeared as a result of their loss against the Marines 3 to 4 on Sept. 19. The magic number 9 for the Lions reappeared by pure luck on Sept.21. The Lions lost to the Marines 1-2 while the Blue Wave was defeated by the Buffaloes 2 to 7,

The Buffaloes proved to be the team in best shape. They overwhemled the Lions in a 8 to 0 game on Sept 23. The Lions' magic number again vanished into thin air. Phil Clark is contributing greatly to the Buffaloes recent victories. His batting average reached .345, just .006 behind Ichiro of the Blue Wave. The Buffaloes are only 2 games behind the Blue Wave with their 6th straight victory. Meanwhile, the Hawks are in a slump. They've dropped to 5th place this day, losing to the Blue Wave.

The Buffaloes' winning streak was stopped on Sept. 24 by the Lions. The Lions, with this victory regained the magic number at 7. The Lions, Fumiya Nishiguchi hurled the entire game, and earned a league leading 14th win. They won the game the following day, but were defeated by the Fighters in a close match on Sept.28. Nigel Wilson slammed a league leading 37th homerun. Still, the Blue Wave's defeat to the Marines have reduced the Lions' magic number to 4.

The attendance record for the Pacific League was broken on Sept.28. It reached 9.67 million. The highest so far was the total count in 1995 which was 9.64 million. The new Osaka Dome, a franchise of the Buffaloes has contributed to the growth.

The Lions are struggling. On Sept.30, they played badly on the field 3 times, and were defeated by the runner up team 3 to 8. Blue Wave pitcher Nobuyuki Hoshino marked a league tying 14th win. The month closed with the Lions' magic number still at 3.

1. Seibu Lions
2. Orix Blue Wave
3. Kintetsu Buffaloes
4. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
5. Nippon Ham Fighters
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

Tuffy Rhode of the Kintetsu Buffaloes has been hitting extremely well. On Aug. 1, he grand slammed in the 8th to take the lead from the Blue Wave, 8 to 7. However, the Blue Wave caught up and the game was played 12 innings, ending a draw. The Buffaloes, up to this day had been winning 3 straight games.

Blue Wave pitcher, Yoshinori Satoh tied with Tadashi Wakabayashi's pitching record for pitchers over 42 years of age which was formerly marked in 1942. That is, he won his 4th game this season on Aug. 3. He hurled 6 innings and the Blue Wave defeated the Buffaloes 3 to 1. Meanwhile, the Lions have stopped their losing streak at 4 this day by beating the Marines 5 to 2.

The Blue Wave lost a game for first time since the All Star break on Aug. 8.

The Hawks are having a very bad month. Although they ended their losing streak at 7 by defeating the Buffaloes by a mere 2 to 1 on Aug. 8, they had started another losing streak from Aug. 10 which lasted 7 straight games again.

The Lions lost all 3 games to the leader, Blue Wave from Aug. 15 to 17.

The Buffaloes reversed a game they were way behind on Aug. 24. The Marines already batted in 10 runs in 2 inning. Little by little though, the Buffaloes added in runs, and tied the game in the 9th inning. In the 12th inning, the Buffaloes Phil Clark singled a game winning run, giving his team a 11 to 10 victory.

The Lions indeed have recovered. They have won their 8th straight game on Aug. 27 by defeating the Fighters 11 to 4, and surpassed the Blue Wave to take the lead in the league. The Lions have stretched their winning streak to 9 the following day..

The Lions and the Blue Wave were matched up for a 3 game series from Aug. 29. The Lions lost the first one, but played sensational games thereafter. They won the 2nd game in which they were behind by 2 runs, by batting in 3 RBIs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Then the following day, the Lions defeated the Blue Wave in a competitive game of 9 to 7.

1. Seibu Lions
2. Orix Blue Wave
3. Kintetsu Buffaloes
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Blue Wave has been defeated in 2 games by the Lion between July 1 and 3. The game on the 3rd was especially exciting. The Blue Wave batted in a run in the 10th inning for a lead, the Lions Tsutomu Itoh homered to bring that game once again to a tie. Then in the 11th, with runners on 1st and 2nd, Lions' Ken Suzuki ended the game by driving the ball to the center.

The Hawks are keeping up with the top teams by winning both the games on June 1 and 2 over the Fighters.

The Fighters won dramatically over the Lions on July 5, 8 to 7. Yukio Tanaka slammed a game winning homerun in the bottom of the 10th inning. The game should have been an easy one for the Fighters initially though. It was leading 5 to 0 until the 6th inning.

43 year-old Hiromitsu Ochiai of the Fighters has surprised everybody by stealing base on June 9. He ran from 2nd to 3rd base, as the runner on 1st, Jerry Brooks, stole to 2nd. Although that action didn't directly lead to an RBI, the Fighters defeated the leaders 8 to 2.

Skipper of the Lions, Osamu Higashio made quite a scene in the locker room after the game on July 10. His player, Hiroshi Narahara was ejected from the game after grabbing the umpire at his chest that day. Higashio tried to talk to the umpire about the judgement, but was totally ignored. Then following the end of the game, Higashi went up to the umpire and kicked him twice. Higashi has been declared on July 11 that he be suspended from 3 games and pay a fine of 100,000 yen. The skipper himself mentioned that he was very sorry that he's lost his temper.
Michiyo's Note: Japan's baseball world has been trying to show more respect towards the umpires, following the incidents which have led American umpire Mike DiMuro to leave the country. So it's too bad that this had happened.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have won 3 straight matches against the top team, played from July 11 to 13. They defeated the Blue Wave on the 11th with Tadahito Iguchi's magnificent game winning homer in the 12th inning. Then, the next day, the Hawks' Kouichiro Yoshinaga homered 3 times at bat to end the game 12 to 3. He's become the leader in the homerun standing in the league and added another the following day for a 4 to 0 victory. There are only 2 games between the Blue Wave and the Hawks as of July 14.

The Lions have also accummulated wins while their skipper's been serving his penalty. The team welcomed Osamu Higashio back with yet another victory. They've won 5 straight games. On July 16, they've taken over the top spot from the Blue Wave. The Blue Wave, on the other hand had succumbed to 6 straight defeats as of July 17.

Ichiro grand slammed and blasted a 2 run homer as well, giving the Blue Wave a 14 to 4 victory over the Fighters. Meanwhile, the Lions former ace pitcher Hisanobu Watanabe could not hurl beyond the 2nd inning and the team lost to the Buffaloes 5 to 3. So the Blue Wave replaced the Lions for the first place on July 20.

The Hawks achieved their 3rd straight win against the Buffaloes immediately after the All Star break. The game on July 28 which ended an outrageous 18 to 10, was also a special one, because their skipper Sadaharu Oh, marked his 500th victory as a manager. The Blue Wave has had all its games against the Marines rained out. The Blue Wave resumed the All-Star break by defeating the Lions 7 to 1.

1. Orix Blue Wave
2. Seibu Lions
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Hawks turned around a game which they were behind by 4 points on June 1. Hiroki Kokubo gave the team the victory over the Lions by batting a game winning hit in the 9th inning. The Blue Wave is winning 4 games in a row as of June 3 while the Buffaloes have succumbed to their 3 straight loss by losing 7 - 4 to the Lions.

The Blue Wave won dramatically on June 6 against the Hawks to mark their 6th consecutive winning game. Yasuo Fujii slugged a game ending double. It's the Blue Wave's 3rd "sayonara" game this season. The Hawks, on the other hand, recorded their 8th "sayonara" loss. There's only 2 games between the Blue Wave and the Lions. By the way, Lions' Domingo Martinez or Maru-chan was declared the MVP of the league for May along with the Fighters' pitcher Kip Gross.

The Blue Wave replaced the Lions for the top spot on June 8 with no games between them. On that day Ichiro had 4 base hits, and the Blue Wave defeated the Hawks 6 to 3. On the other hand, the Lions lost to the Marines 5 to 6 in the 10th inning.

The Blue Wave's winning streak reached 10 on June 11. They finally lost the next day, that's 3 to 9 to the Fighters. Now, superstar Ichiro has broken a Pacific League record on June 13. He has not struck out a consecutive 181 times at bat, or ever since April 19. The Japan record is held by a former Tiger, Taira Fujita who did not strike out 208 straight times at bat. The Blue Wave was able to overwhelm the Marines in this commemorative game 6 to 1.

All members of the Fighters who played in the game on June 17 against the Hawks succumbed to a strike out. To be precise, 3 pitchers of the Hawks' struck out 16 people during 12 innings. This is a record! The result of the game, by the way, was a 5 to 4 for the Hawks.

A former Cleveland Indian, Nigel Wilson wacked 4 homers for the Fighters in the game against the Buffaloes on June 21. He has tied the consecutive homer at-bat record with the great Sadaharu Oh. It was a powerful 7 to 5 victory for the Fighters. Althought, Wilson could not break Mr. Oh's record by blasting another at his first at-bat the following day, his team achieved a miraculous win. They were behind the Buffaloes 1 to 5 by the end of the 7th inning. The Fighters scored 3 runs in the 8th and 7 points in the 9th, reversing the game to a 11 to 5.

A Japanese record was broken by Ichiro of the Blue Wave on June 24. The feat was achieved the first time he was at bat that day against the Fighters. Ichiro hit a liner to second for his 208 consecutive at bat without strikeouts. He surpassed the record held by Taira Fujita, formerly a member of the Tigers. His team won the game 7 to 2. However, the following day, Ichiro's no strike out record came to an abrupt end at 216. The Fighters relief pitcher Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi struck him out in the 7th inning. The Fighters won this game 6 to 4.

The Hawks are doing fabulously well. On June 25, the team has celebrated its 5 straight game victory with Hiroki Kokubo's 20th homerun this season. They finally lost to the Blue Wave on June 27 and their winning streak ended at 6. The Blue Wave - Hawks game on June 29, by the way, drew a full crowd of 33,000 at the Kobe Green Stadium. The turnout may have had something to do with the fact that, the killer of a schoolboy, Jun Hase was caught the day before. The incident occurred not to far from the stadium. The boy's head was left deliberately in front of a school entrance by its killer, a junior high school student, and the neighbors, fearing if anything may happen to them, refrained from strolling around.

Fighters' Kip Gross quit pitching after the 5th inning on June 29, for a reason that is unheard of in Japanese baseball. He was desperate to be by his wife who went into labor that day. Hiromitsu Ochiai helped the team win by batting in 5 runs. Gross was given a league leading 8th win of the season and his team won 7 to 1 over the Marines.

Here's the final standing in the end of June.

1. Orix Blue Wave
2. Seibu Lions
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

Even the manager, Akihito Kondo couldn't believe his team, the Marines have become the sole leader in the league on May 1. The team doesn't have the best pitching or batting average in the league. It can only be luck.

At last, Japan's Atlanta Olympic team slugger and rookie Tadahito Iguchi made his first official game appearance with the Hawks on May 4. He couldn't start the season in the Japanese Big League having had to recover from a sprained right ankle. Iguchi proved immediately that he isn't just any rookie. He had his first base hit at his first time to bat. His 3rd turn came in the 4th inning with 1 out and bases loaded. Iguchi grand slammed the ball! No Japanese has ever achieved a grand slam in his very first game. The Hawks defeated the Buffaloes 8 to 1. The fans in Fukuoka were certainly overjoyed!

The Lions, relief pitcher who played in Taiwan last season, Rob Wishnevski, marked his 4th save on May 4. His teammate, Domingo Martinez is exploding. He blasted a 3 run homer on May 4 to take the team to victory over the Marines 6 to 3. He had 2 homers on May 5 helping the Lions overwhelm the Marines 9 to 3 for their 5th straight win.

Hiroki Kokubo belted in his 11th homerun this season on May 6--taking the lead in the league's homerun standing. The 3 run homer game his team, the Daiei Hawks a 3 to 0 victory over the Lions. The Hawks took over the 1st spot in the league.

The Lions played Japan's greatest one-sided game ever on May 8. All players on the team wacked a hit--a total of 29. This is an all-time Japanese record. In addition, the Lions scored 21 points from the Hawks. The Hawks didn't make any. The Lions again became the league leader.

The Buffaloes are becoming the lone loser in the league. They have lost their 6th game in a row on May 10, and extended their losing streak to the Blue Wave alone to 8. Hideo Koike rescued the Buffaloes from further damage pitching the entire game on May 11, losing only 2 RBIs which was in the 1st inning. The game ended 6 to 2.

The Lions continue to do well. They have won 5 games in a row as of May 18. The perfect 7 to 0 victory over the Marines includes a complete game victory by Tetsuya Shiozaki, and 3 consecutive homers by Ken Suzuki. So it was a great birthday present for manager Osamu Higashio. Though the Buffaloes are still the bottom most team in the league as of May 18, their pitcher Hideo Koike was not scored at all, and completed 9 innings. The team defeated the Fighters 8 to 0.

2 homeruns launched by Hiroki Kokubo were wonderful birthday presents for his manager Sadaharu Oh. He turned 57 on May 20. Kokubo continues to lead in the Pacific League's homerun standing with number 14. He contributed greatly to the Hawks' 8 to 5 victory over the top ranking Lions. The Hawks have won their 3rd straight game that day.

The Lions and the Hawks played a seesaw game on May 22. The Lions put an end to it in the 11th inning when a runner came home to a sacrificed fly by Makoto Sasaki. It ended 6 to 5. The Hawks were the ones to bring the game to a dramatic end the following day against the Buffaloes in the 12th inning. Chihiro Hamana singled for the Hawks' 1st "sayonara" victory of 9 to 8 this season.

The new foreign players have given the Lions the victory on May 25 over the Fighters. Domingo Martinez from the Dominican Republic who is known as "Maru-chan", stole base in the 2nd inning and blasted a game winning 2 run homer in the 8th. He leads the league in RBIs. Rob Wishnevski picked up his first win. The game was a 12 to 6 for the Lions.

The Hawks have decided to take star rookie, Tadahito Iguchi, out of their A team on May 16. He has had an hitting average of only .161 since his remarkable debut on May 4.

The Hawks poor play has given the Fighters their 4th "sayonara" victory from them on May 27. Fighters'Yukio Tanaka tripled in the 9th inning with a runner on 1st base. However, because the Hawks have relayed the ball poorly that Tanaka came home too. The Fighters ended the game 2 to 1.

Hiromitsu Ochiai marked his 1000th hit in the Pacific League as a Fighter on May 28. This was in the 8th inning against the Hawks at the Tokyo Dome. Ochiai has had a total 1275 hits in the Central League playing for the Dragons and the Giants. He is only the 2nd to have achieved 1000 hits in both leagues. The first was the late Katsuo Ohsugi. Ochiai commented that he was thrilled for having reached the number in front of world's homerun king Sadaharu Oh. The Fighters celebrated the record by triumphing over the Hawks 14 to 3.

Superstar Ichiro of the Blue Wave is in full swing. He has pushed his batting average up to .374 in the game against the Buffaloes on May 31. His team won 7 to 2.

1. Seibu Lions
2. Orix Blue Wave
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Chiba Lotte Marines
6. Kintetsu Buffaloes

The Pacific League season started one day after the Central League. Marines' ace pitcher Satoru Komiyama shut out the Fighters at the Tokyo Dome. The next day, the Marines won again. It's the first time in 15 years that the Marines were able to win the first 2 games of the season. Meanwhile, star of the opposing team Hiromitsu Ochiai struck out 3 times on Apr. 6. The Hawks defeated the Lions in the opener at the Seibu Stadiums, 4 to 3. Their 2nd game was rained out. Games between the Blue Wave and the Buffaloes were cancelled 2 days in a row because of the rain. The 96 champion team, Blue Wave, played its first game of the season on Apr.8 at the Seibu Stadiums. It was a dramatic game. The BlueWave led 4 to 1 until the top of the 9th inning. But the Lions drove in 4 runs for their first victory this season, bringing the game to a 5 to 4. The Buffaloes started their first game at the new Osaka Dome, opened ceremoniously by the flowery male lead vocalist of the pop group Sharan Q. They won it 4 to 2 against the Marines.

The Hawks have had a great start winning 4 games in a row. However, the Blue Wave put an end to their winning streak on Apr.11. With bases loaded at 1 to 1 in the 10th inning, the batter up was walked. So the Blue Wave won 2 to 1. The Fighters are in the pits. They have not won even 1 game this season. They've lost 6 games in a row for the first time in 43 years. Their main player Hiromitsu Ochiai has not been hitting well. The Fighters clinched their first victory of the season at last, on Apr. 12 when their American pitcher Kip Gross shut out the leading team, the Buffaloes. Another great pitching that day was by Japan's oldest pitcher 42 year old Yoshinori Satoh. He pitched 6 1/3 innings losing only 2 base hits. It's the first time since Apr. 5 in 1996 that Satoh has won a game. The Marines on Apr.13 was able to put a stop to their losing streak at 4 at their home stadium in Chiba by defeating the Lions 6 to 5.

The Hawks was on top of the league for the first time in 2 years by defeating the Buffaloes 4 to 1 on Apr.15. However, the Buffaloes reversed the standing on Apr. 16. On that same day, Hiromitsu Ochiai achieved his first RBI of the season for the Fighters. The Lions took first place on Apr. 19. However, the Buffaloes retured to the top post again by defeating them the next day. Kiminobu Kudo of the Hawks already marked his 3rd win of the season. That's against the Marines.

The game on Apr.22 between the Fighters and Hawks was a dramatic one. In the 7th inning, Hawks' slugger, Hiroki Kokubo grand slammed. This game the Hawks a 6 to 3 lead over the Fighters. In the bottom of the 9th inning, a non regular player Seigo Fujimoto, to everyone's surprised blasted a game ending 2 run homer. "Sayonara" games continued for the Fighters thereafter. That's on Apr. 23 and even on Apr. 24!

The Fighter have recovered incredibly from the lose they've accummulated. They have a winning streak of 7 as of Apr. 27. On the other hand, the Lions have marked a disappointing 4th consecutive loss that day.

All in all, the top and the bottom teams are only 1 game apart as of Apr. 30.

1. Chiba Lotte Marines
1. Orix Blue Wave
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
3. Kintetsu Buffaloes
5. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Seibu Lions