The Yakult Swallows was originally established as the Kokutetsu Swallows, sponsored by Kokutetsu
(Japan National Railroad...now JR), and joined the Central League in 1950, when Japan Pro Baseball
started two league system. The first Japan Series, a contest between the champions of the two leagues,
was held that year.
The first twenty years of the Swallows seemed like a series of nightmares, while the ownership was sold
to Sankei Newspaper in 1965. Then the worst nightmare became real in 1970 when they set a record
for the most consecutive losses by losing 16 games from August 4 to 25. The club managed to win only
33 games out of 130 during the whole season, finishing 45 and a half games behind the league winner
the Yomiuri Giants.
In 1977, four years after the club was sold to a health drink company,Yakult, the Swallows climbed to
the second place for the first time under the manager Tatsuro Hirooka. The following year, winning
a fierce battle with the Giants, the Swallows finally earned the pennant. The team defeated the Hankyu
Braves in seven games to take the Japan Series Championship right after that.
In 1990, After another dark ages in the 80's, the Swallows named Katsuya Nomura as their nineteenth
manager in the history, and had the prime time. From 1992, when they won their first Central League title
in 14 years, through 1997, when they won their fourthJapan Series, the Swallows tied the Seibu Lions to
win more Japan Championships than any other team.
After Nomura left for the Hanshin Tigers, the Swallows had a hard time again. They finished in fourth place
three years in a row, with exactly the same 66-69 record. But in 2001, his third season as a skipper,
Tsutomu Wakamatsu led the team to another league championship despite the low expectations. The team
swamped the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes to win the fall classic for the first time in four years.