Time Machine: Taking a look at ‘The Sportsworld of the Hanshin Tigers’
This story originally appeared in the Japanese newspaper Yukan Fuji in 2019.
TOKYO — The Hanshin Tigers of Osaka are one of the most watched and talked about professional baseball teams in Japan. Formed in 1935, just months after their arch-rival Tokyo Yomiuri Giants were created, the Tigers have historically been second in popularity to the Tokyo team, this despite the fact that the Giants have won 36 Central League pennants and 22 Japan Series titles while the Tigers have only five pennants with two Japan Series crowns — 1985 and 2023. In some seasons the Tigers have even passed the mighty Kyojin in attendance, topping the 3 million mark.
The Tigers are based in Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. They are owned by the Hanshin Electric Railway Company, a subsidiary of Hankyu Railroad, which took over its longtime Kansai rival in 2006.
The Hanshin fan base has been dubbed ‘Torakichi’ or “Crazy Tiger Fans”’ for their intense attachment to their team, highlighted by the colorful antics of cheering groups in the right field stands of the Hanshin park. Tigers fans have on occasion stormed the field, causing the Hanshin front office, at one point, to erect a barbed wire fence around the edge of the outfield, to keep them out.