The Hanshin Tigers of Japanese professional baseball have won the Nippon Series for the first time in 38 years. Akinobu Okada, a member of the 1985 championship team as a player, led the 65-year-old team to victory.
Hanshin defeated the Orix Buffaloes 7-1 in Game 7 of the best-of-seven Japan Series 2023 (JS-7) at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan, on May 5. It was the first Japan Series for teams from the Kansai region in 59 years, and Hanshin swept the defending champion Oryx in a best-of-seven series to take the series 4-3.
Hanshin, which went 85-53 (.616 winning percentage) in the regular season, won its first Central League title in 18 years since 2005, and its first Nippon Series title in 38 years since 1985. At the center of it all was Okada.
In an interview after the championship, Okada said, “The last time I won the Nippon Series, I was 27 years old. It’s been a long time coming. I’m happy that I was able to win the Japan Series as both a player and a manager.”
It took 38 years for the 27-year-old player to become the 65-year-old manager.
Okada was part of Hanshin’s 1985 championship as a player. At the time, he was the starting second baseman and batted .344 with 35 home runs and 101 RBIs in 127 games (157-for-459), leading the Hanshin center field lineup alongside Randy Barth, the greatest foreign hitter of all time. 보스토토 주소
After playing for Hanshin from 1980-1993 and the Orix Blue Wave from 1994-1995, Okada coached from 1996-2003 before taking over as Hanshin manager in 2004. He led the team to the 2005 league championship, but they were swept in four games by the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Japan Series. Chiba Lotte, coached by Lee Seung-yeop of the Doosan Bears at the time, swept the four-game series with a combined score of 33-4.
Okada, who stepped down as Hanshin manager in 2008, was the Orix manager from 2010-2012 before returning to the Hanshin organization after last season. Despite a 10-year hiatus, Okada is the oldest active manager in the game and has taken Hanshin to the top. He had the honor of becoming the first Hanshin player to reach the top of the Nippon Series as both player and manager.
According to Japanese media outlets such as Daily Sports, in a joint press conference after the win, Okada said, “When you talk about 38 years ago, most of the players weren’t even born yet. I was in my sixth or seventh year. I became player president at 27, and it was the first time in 21 years that we won the title. It was the first time I won the Japan Series, and I still can’t forget the feeling.” He recalled his victory as a player.
Okada continued, “It’s hard to believe that 38 years have passed since then. We started this year with the goal of winning the Central League, but we didn’t expect to do this. The Oryx are a really strong team, having won three straight Pacific League titles, but the players did a great job all year until the end. Everyone’s effort at the end paid off,” he said.
“The first person to call me to congratulate me was former coach Oshio Yoshida,” Okada said of becoming the first Hanshin player and manager to win a championship. He was very happy,” he said, referring to the 1985 U