|Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (? ?saka Kintetsu Bafar?zu)|
|Ballpark||Kyocera Dome Osaka|
|Nickname(s)||Kintetsu (), Buffaloes (), Mougyu () means violent buffalo, Ushi (?,?) means cow.|
|League championships||1979, 1980, 1989, 2001|
|Japan Series championships||None|
|Former name(s)||Kintetsu Pearls (1949-1958)|
Kintetsu Buffalo (1959-1961)
Kintetsu Buffaloes (1962-1998)
Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (1999-2004)
|Colors||Red, Navy Blue, White|
The Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (? ?saka Kintetsu Bafar?zu) were a Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) team based in Osaka, Japan, which was in the Pacific League. In 2005 the team was merged with the Orix BlueWave to become the team now known as the Orix Buffaloes. The team played in Fujiidera Stadium, and later in Osaka Dome.
Although the team won four Pacific League championships, they lost all four Japan Series in which they played. The team's batting lineup was known as Itemae Dasen ().
The team was founded in 1949 and began play in 1950 in the newly organized NPB. Owned by Kinki Nippon Railway Co. (later known as Kintetsu Railway), the franchise was known as the Kintetsu Pearls from 1950-1958, Kintetsu Buffalo from 1959-1961, the Kintetsu Buffaloes from 1962-1998, and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes from 1999-2004.
The Kintetsu Buffalo were among the first Japanese teams to sign American players. They signed former major league pitcher Glenn Mickens and catcher Ron Bottler for the 1959 season. Mickens had played for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953 and Bottler had been a career minor league catcher in the United States. Mickens played for five years in Japan, compiling a record of 45-53 with a 2.54 ERA. Bottler played for the Buffalo for three seasons, gradually converting from catcher to starting pitcher, where he had more success.
It took 30 years for the franchise to win its first Pacific League title, in 1979, but it lost the Japan Series to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp 4-games-to-3. The Buffaloes made it back to the Japan Series in 1980, but again lost to Hiroshima by the same margin.
The franchise's most notable player was pitcher Keishi Suzuki, who played for the Buffaloes from 1966 to 1985, compiling a won-loss record of 317-238, a 3.11 ERA, and 3,061 strikeouts. He was elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.
American outfielder Ralph Bryant starred for the Buffaloes from 1988-1995, in the process becoming one of the best left-handed power hitters in Japanese baseball history. Bryant had his best season in 1989, where his 49 home runs led the Buffaloes to their third Pacific League championship. He won the season MVP award that year, and also tied Sadaharu Oh's career record for hitting three home runs in a game five times. Bryant also struck out countless times, and holds the top four spots on the single-season strikeout records in Nippon Professional Baseball.
Pitcher Hideo Nomo starred for the Buffaloes from 1990-1994 before he exercised a loophole in his contract and "retired," allowing him to sign with MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers. The subsequent wave of players moving to Major League Baseball has become a fixture of Japanese professional baseball.
Tuffy Rhodes played for the Buffaoes for eight seasons from 1996-2003, hitting 288 home runs over that span. In the 2001 season, he hit his 55th homer to tie Sadaharu Oh's Japanese League single season home run record, set in 1964. For the rest of the season, opposing pitchers intentionally walked Rhodes to prevent him from breaking Oh's record.
In 2004 the team was sold to the Orix Group, the owner of the Orix BlueWave baseball team. The new owner then announced that the financially challenged Buffaloes and BlueWave would be merged into one team, called the Orix Buffaloes, before the start of the 2004-2005 NPB season.
The proposed merger of the teams led to the biggest crisis in the traditional two-league structure in NPB and finally caused the first baseball player strike in Japan. The dispute officially ended after the two groups reached consensus on September 23, 2004. As part of the agreement, the Rakuten Golden Eagles were newly created (at a reduced "entry fee") to keep the former six-team league structure. Other agreements included the leagues adopting interleague play to help the Pacific League gain exposure by playing the more popular Central league teams. All these changes took place before the 2005 season.