The Fukuoka Daiei Hawks are a Japanese professional baseball team based in the city of Fukuoka in northern Kyushu. Established in 1938 by the Nankai railway corporation, the Hawks played in Osaka until relocating to Fukuoka following the 1988 purchase of the team by Japanese department store giant Daiei. The Hawks were once a Pacific League powerhouse back in the 50s and 60s but then suffered through a long period of mediocrity before enjoying a recent resurgence under current manager and legendary Japanese home run king Sadaharu Oh. The Hawks colors are black, white, and orange, and the team mascot is named "Harry Hawk." The team makes its present home in the Fukuoka Dome, a retractable-roof stadium modeled after Toronto's Skydome.

History

Established in 1938 by the Nankai railway corporation, the team struggled in its early years tallying only one season with a winning record through 1945. The low point was 1940, when the team recorded the worst record in franchise history, at 28-71. In the early years, the team was known simply as "Nankai" and then experimented with the names "Kinki Nihon" (1944) and "Kinki Great Ring" (1946) before settling on "Nankai Hawks" in 1947.

A change in the team's fortunes came in 1946, when third baseman Kazuto Tsuruoka was promoted to a position as player manager. That season, Tsuruoka batted .314, led the league in RBI, and managed Nankai to its first league title. Although Tsuruoka's playing days would come to an end in 1952, he would go on to manage the team for 28 seasons, during which the Hawks perennially contended for the championship and amazingly, finished only a single season with a losing record. In the final tally, Tsuruoka's stint as manager included two league titles before the advent of the two-league system in 1950, nine Pacific League pennants after 1950, and two Japan Series championships.

In the 1950s the Hawks dominated the newly formed Pacific League. Much like the Brooklyn Dodgers were doing at the same time across the pond, the Hawks won the Pacific League pennant four out of five seasons from 1951 to 1955, only to lose the Japan Series each time to Japan's answer to the New York Yankees - Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants. At last in 1959, the Hawks broke through, sweeping the hated Giants in the Series, four games to none, for the team's first championship. After fighting back to the Series in 1961 and losing to the Giants again, the team scored a second championship in 1964, this time over their regional rival Hanshin Tigers.

Although the never had a true superstar, winning more on the strength of all-around team play, individual Hawks players had their share of bright moments in the 50s and 60s. Isami Okamoto and Kohei Sugiyama won batting titles in 1953 and 1959, respectively, and Tadashi Sugiura was dominant before blowing out his arm, winning an amazing 116 games between 1958 and 1961 as well as the 1959 ERA crown. Perhaps the biggest star of all, however, was catcher Katsuya Nomura, who showed his promise by pacing the league in home runs in 1957 and then won the home run crown every year from 1961 to 1968, as well as six RBI titles and the 1965 triple crown.

But the team began to drift a bit after Tsuruoka retired before the start of the 1968 season. Without their leader that year, the Hawks finished in last place for the first time since 1944. For the 1969 season, Nomura was tabbed to take over as player manager. His stint at the helm was erratic to say the least, as the Hawks finished at least in every position except last from 1969 to 1977. Nomura did lead the team to one pennant in 1973, but lost out in the Japan Series to you-know-who - that's right, the Yomiuri Giants.

Nomura was released in 1977, and the Hawks hit rock bottom. For a full two decades, from 1978 through 1997, the Hawks finished in the bottom half of the standings every single year, including several last place finishes. This dark period in the teams history was known as the "Curse of Nomura" because of a theory that firing the best player in team history had somehow drawn the ire of the gods.

In 1988, Nankai sold the Hawks to department store chain Daiei, which promptly moved the team from Kansai to Fukuoka. At first the team played in old Heiwadai Stadium before moving into the spanking new Fukuoka Dome in 1993 and rapidly building a rabid fanbase despite continued mediocrity.

Finally, in 1995, the team hired Sadaharu Oh as manager. Nothing noticeably changed, as the Hawks finished in last place in each of the next three seasons, but Oh brought a unique presence to the team, and meanwhile, new revenue streams were allowing the team to make some cautious but sound free-agent acquisitions.

Suddenly, in 1999, the team surged to first place, winning the Pacific League and stomping the Chunichi Dragons in five games to win its first Japan Series title since 1964. Since then the Hawks have continued to contend each year, and won a fourth Japan Series in a dramatic seven-game showdown with the Hanshin Tigers in 2003. Although Oh continues to provide a steady hand on the tiller, the teams future is nevertheless somewhat clouded by the ongoing financial woes of parent company Daiei.

And now, the part of this node you've really been waiting for...the stirring Daiei Hawks themesong!


玄界灘の潮風に
鍛えし翼たくましく
疾風 のごとく さっそうと
栄光めざし はばたけよ
ソレ!
いざゆけ 無敵の若鷹軍団
いざゆけ 炎の若鷹軍団
我等の 我等のダイエーホークス

ペナント競うグランドに
闘魂燃えて敵を打つ
一投一打火をはきて
白球熱き嵐呼ぶ
ソレ!
いざゆけ 無敵の若鷹軍団
いざゆけ 炎の若鷹軍団
我等の 我等のダイエーホークス

勝ちどきあげろ!
勝ちどきあげろ!

力の限り戦わば
勝利はつねに此処にあり
輝く空に感激の
チャンピオンフラッグ ひるがえれ
ソレ!
いざゆけ 無敵の若鷹軍団
いざゆけ 炎の若鷹軍団
我等の 我等のダイエーホークス


Ken kai nada no shio kaze ni
kitaeshi tsubasa takumashiku
hayate no gotoku sassouto
eiko mezashi habatakeyo
Sore!
Izayuke muteki no wakatakagundan
Izayuke hono-o no wakatakagundan
Warera no, warera no Daiei Ho-o-kusu

Penanto kisou gurando ni
toukon moete teki o utsu
ittou ichida hi o hakite
hakkyu atsuki arashi yobu
Sore!
Izayuke muteki no wakatakagundan
Izayuke hono-o no wakatakagundan
Warera no, warera no Daiei Ho-o-kusu

Kachidoki agero!
Kachidoki agero!

Chikara no kagiri tatakawaba
shouri wa tsune ni koko ni ari
kagayaku sora ni kangeki no
champion furagu hirugaere
Sore!
Izayuke muteki no wakatakagundan
Izayuke hono-o no wakatakagundan
Warera no, warera no Daiei Ho-o-kusu



In the salty wind of the broad unfathomable sea,
mighty wings are forged,
which, like a squall, fearlessly
striving for glory, soar!
Let’s go, you invincible corps of young hawks!
Let’s go, you fiery corps of young hawks!
Our, yes our Daiei Hawks!

In the grand pennant race,
fighting spirit aflame, striking the enemy,
each pitch, each hit a streak of fire,
the ball calls forth a passionate storm!
Let’s go, you invincible corps of young hawks!
Let’s go, you fiery corps of young hawks!
Our, yes our Daiei Hawks!

Give a victory shout!
Give a victory shout!

If we fight to the limits of strength
victory will always reside here,
and in the shining sky, the deeply emotional
championship banner will flutter.
Let’s go, you invincible corps of young hawks!
Let’s go, you fiery corps of young hawks!
Our, yes our Daiei Hawks!


Original translation by yours truly. Please /msg me with corrections or comments!

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