Thursday, March 22, 2007
As the start of baseball season is approaching, I figured it was time to find out something about the Nippon Ham Fighters, a Japanese professional baseball team. Unlike many Americans, I was at least aware that the team is the Fighters, not Ham Fighters, although that could be cool. The team is owned by Nippon Meat Packers, Inc. and now plays in Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido, having moved from Tokyo for the 2004 season. Nippon Ham took over the team in 1973 and named the team "Fighters" after a public contest (they had been the "Flyers"). The current Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters (official website here) are managed by American Trey Hillman. Their mascot is a bear. Unfortunately, they never had a mascot or logo that had anything to do with pigs or pork, although one article I found on the team claimed that the old mascot "Flighty" was a bright pink pterodactyl, whose head resembled a giant leg of ham. Hmm. There's an interesting 2003 NYT article about the re-branding of the team here that charts the history of their new logo (above).