Hanshin Tigers Clinch Japan Series after 38 Year Drought, Give Skipper a Jubilant Toss (Update 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hanshin Tigers manager Akinobu Okada is tossed by his players after the team won the Japan Series at Kyocera Dome Osaka on Sunday.

OSAKA — The Hanshin Tigers claimed their first Japan championship title in 38 years on Sunday, beating the Orix Buffaloes 7-1 in an all-Kansai match-up at Kyocera Dome Osaka and winning the Japan Series 4-3.

The Pacific League champion Buffaloes, who won the Japan Series last year, failed to pull out a consecutive victory.

After taking the Central League pennant for the first time in 18 years, the Tigers then won the league’s Climax Series playoffs for the Japan Series.

Two Kansai-based teams battled it out in Japanese pro baseball’s championship for the first time since 1964, when the Nankai Hawks (now the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) beat the Tigers.

“The victory came from players fulfilling their roles and doing their best,” manager Akinobu Okada, 65, said Sunday as he looked out at the stands of cheering fans in the Dome.

He had a big smile on his face when he was tossed into the air five times by his team.

“I’m very happy to have achieved the No.1 spot as a player and as a manager,” he said.

Okada has a tactical sense typical of a winning skipper, and patiently trained up the Tigers’ younger players. Back in 1985, when the team won its only other series title, Okada was one of its key players. Now he has brought them a second victory, this time as a mature coach.