Hanshin Tigers

The Hanshin Tigers are a Nippon Professional Baseball team based in Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, and are in the Central League. Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., the subsidiary of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Inc., owns the Hansin Tigers directly.

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The Hanshin Tigers, one of the oldest professional clubs in Japan, were founded in 1935 with the team being formed in 1936. The team was first called the Ōsaka Tigers. In 1940, amid anti-foreign sentiment, the Tigers changed the name to Hanshin and in 1947 changed the name back to Ōsaka Tigers. The current team name was assumed in 1961.
The Tigers won four titles before the establishment of the two league system in 1950. Since the league was split into the Central League and the Pacifi League, the Tigers have won the Central League pennant five times (1962, 1964, 1985, 2003, 2005) and the Japan Series once (1985).

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Koshien Stadium
The home field of the Tigers, Hanshin Koshien Stadium, is one of three major natural grass baseball stadiums in Japan. The others are the Hiroshima Municipal Ballpark (Hiroshima Toyo Carp), and Skymark Stadium in Kobe (part-time home of the newly-merged Orix Buffaloes). Of the three, only Skymark (Kobe) has grass on the infield as well as in the outfield.
Koshien Stadium is by far the oldest ballpark in Japan; built in 1924, the stadium was once visited by American baseball legend Babe Ruth on a tour of Major League stars in 1934. There is a monument commemorating this visit at the front gates of the park.
Koshien is revered as a "sacred" ballpark, and players traditionally bow before entering and before leaving its hallowed field. The losing team in any high school baseball game played at the ballpark is allowed to scoop up handfuls of Koshien infield dirt, stuffing holy clay clods into tiny plastic bags.

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The Colonal Sanders Curse
As with many other underachieving baseball teams, a curse is believed to lurk over the Tigers. After their 1985 Japan Series win, fans celebrated by having people who looked like Tigers players jump into the Dotonbori Canal. According to legend, because none of the fans resembled first baseman Randy Bass, fans grabbed a life-sized statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken mascot Colonel Sanders and threw it into the river (like Bass, the Colonel had a beard and was not Japanese). The statue was never recovered. Thus, the Tigers are said to be doomed never to win the season again until the Colonel is rescued from the river.
In 2003, when the Tigers returned to the Japan Series after 18 years with one of the worst records in the Central League, many KFC outlets in Kōbe and Ōsaka moved their Colonel Sanders statues inside until the series was over to protect them from Tigers fans.
Tiger fans are known as perhaps the most fanatical and dedicated fans in all of Japanese professional baseball. They often outnumber the home team fans at Tiger "away" games. Tiger fans also have a reputation for rough behavior and a willingness to brawl with other fans or with each other, although long fights are rare. They have been known to attack the Tiger's team bus after losses.
A famous Tiger fan tradition is the release, by the fans, of hundreds of air-filled balloons immediately following the 7th inning stretch and the singing of the Tiger's fight song. This tradition is carried-out at all home and away games, except at games against the Yomiuri Giants in the Tokyo Dome due to the Giants' notoriously heavy-handed rules for behavior by visiting fans.

Rokko Oroshi
"The Fight Song of the Hanshin Tigers as known as "Rokko Oroshi" (The Wind of Mount Rokko), is a popular song in the Kansai area. It can even be found on karaoke boxes.

Rokko Oroshi
Rokkō oroshi ni sassō to
Sōten kakeru nichirin no
Seishun no haki uruwashiku
Kagayaku wagana zo Hanshin Tigers
Ō-ō-ō-ō Hanshin Tigers
Tōshi hatsuratsu tatsu ya ima
Nekketsu sude ni teki o tsuku
Jūō no iki takaraka ni
Muteki no warera zo Hanshin Tigers
Ō-ō-ō-ō Hanshin Tigers

The Wind of Mount Rokko
(An official English version, not a direct translation)
Dashing swiftly through the wind blowin' from Rokko
Like the big sun soaring in the clear blue sky
Mighty spirit of the youth shows the victor's grace
The name that shines in glory "Hanshin Tigers"
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Hanshin Tigers
Hooray, Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!
Powerful hits and skillful pitch achieved a thousand times
Trained with every discipline here at Koshien
Crowned with constant victory glorious, matchless feat
Always proud, invincible "Hanshin Tigers"
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Hanshin Tigers
Hooray, Hooray, Hooray, Hooray!

Video of Rokko Oroshi - plus balloon release

Other Links

Official Website

Jeff Williams in the Australian Born Pitcher of the Hanshin Tigers - after he was instrumental in the Australian Teams Silver medal effort at the Athens Olympics in 2004 (beating Japan), many Tigers fans felt he should either be fired, or that he should have thrown the matches out of deference for the Tigers and the J-League.