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The Chiba Lotte Marines (千葉ロッテマリーンズ, Chiba Rotte Marīnzu) are a professional baseball team in Japan's Pacific League based in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, in the Kantō region, and owned by Lotte Holdings Co., Ltd. The Marines were a founding member of the Pacific League in 1950 as the Mainichi Orions when the Japanese Baseball League reorganized into Nippon Professional Baseball. Since 1992, the Marines' home ballpark has been ZOZO Marine Stadium, located in the Mihama Ward of Chiba, seating 30,118 people.
The "Marines" name originates from the name of the stadium they play in, which is officially named Chiba Marine Stadium, because the stadium is located right on the water.
Through 2022, the franchise's all-time record is 4733-4701-394 (.501).
The Marines franchise began in 1950 as the Mainichi Orions, an inaugural member of the Pacific League. The Orions were named after the constellation of the same name. The Marines won the inaugural Japan Series in 1950.
In 1958, the team was merged with the Daiei Unions and renamed the Daimai Orions. In 1964 they became the Tokyo Orions, and the Lotte Orions in 1969. The franchise was slow to replicate its initial success: the Orions made the Japan Series in 1960 and 1970, only to lose both years.
The team played in central Tokyo until 1972. From 1973 to 1977 the Lotte Orions played in the northern Japanese city of Sendai. In 1974, they beat the Chunichi Dragons, becoming the first Pacific League team to win the Series in ten years, as the Yomiuri Giants had claimed the prior nine titles behind the Oh–Nagashima attack. After beating the Dragons, their owners, Lotte Holdings, decided to hold their victory parade in Tokyo, which shocked fans in Sendai. This eventually caused their attendance there to crash, from sold out games in 1973, to only about 2000-3000 for their last few years in Sendai.
In 1977, the Orions signed Major League Baseball player Leron Lee, who ended up playing for the team for eleven seasons, compiling a .320 career batting average and slugging 283 home runs with 912 career RBI. From his retirement to early 2018 (when surpassed by Norichika Aoki), Lee held the Japanese record for career batting average (players with more than 4,000 at bats). In 1978, Lee invited younger brother Leon Lee to play in Japan, and the brothers formed a feared cleanup for the Orions for five seasons — in 1980, Leron had 33 home runs, 90 RBI, and a batting average of .358; while Leon slugged 41 home runs and drove in 116 runs, with a batting average of .340.
In 1978 the team returned to the Tokyo area, settling in Kawasaki's Kawasaki Stadium, at one time home to the Taiyo Whales (today's Yokohama DeNA Baystars).
In 1992, the team moved to Chiba City's Chiba Marine Stadium on the eastern shore of Tokyo Bay and were renamed the Chiba Lotte Marines. They were named the Marines (although they held a fan vote, and Dolphins won, and Pirates was a popular choice, Dolphins was out, even though the Nagoya Dolphins were long dead, the letter "D" in broadcasts was already taken by the Dragons, while "M" was available, and the Chiba Pirates name was used by a team in a baseball manga, and since the team in that manga is terrible, executives thought it would look bad on the real team) because they stated that "Marines" meant "heroes of the sea". Originally, the club used pink, blue, and white on their logo, which included a pirate ship, with a seagull below it, and a wave pattern to reflect the ocean currents off Chiba's coast. In 1995, this was changed to the logo's current design, while dropping pink and blue in favor of red, black and white (with red being dropped in 2019). The current logo's design features a baseball in the background with a seagull soaring, with the club's name around the circle.
The team failed to reach the Japan Series again until 2005. The Marines started the 2005 season in first place behind American manager Bobby Valentine, but fell behind the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks as the year progressed. Under the playoff format of the time, the preliminary five-game playoff round, prior to the Japan Series, saw the teams with the best first and second half records face off. The Marines defeated the Hawks three games to two in the Pacific League championship, winning the rubber match despite entering the eighth inning trailing, 2–1.
The Marines thus qualified for the Japan Series, the first time they had reached the tournament since 1974, a 31-year drought. In a one-sided series, the Marines swept the Hanshin Tigers in four games, scoring ten runs in each of the first three games. The apparent ease with which the Marines defeated the Tigers added fuel to the ongoing debate concerning the need for a playoff system in the Central League, which was finally added in 2007 (see Climax Series). The Marines went on to defeat South Korea's Samsung Lions in the final round of the Konami Cup Championships.
In 2010, the Marines clinched third place on the last day of the season to earn a berth into the Climax Series. They went on to become the first third place team to ever win the Climax Series, and faced off with the Chunichi Dragons in the 2010 Japan Series. The Marines defeated the Dragons in seven games, composed of four wins, two losses, and one tie, winning their second Japan Series in under ten years.
In 2013, the Marines clinched third place to clinch a berth in the Climax Series and faced the Saitama Seibu Lions in the first stage. They defeated the Lions in 3 games to move onto the final stage. They would lose to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 5 games, who would go on and defeat the Yomiuri Giants in 7 games to win their first (and still only) Japan Series title.
They would make it back in the playoffs in 2015. They defeated the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in 3 games in the first round, then got swept by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, who received a one game advantage for having the best record in the Pacific League.
The following season, they returned to the playoffs. They would make a much earlier exit, as they were swept by the Hawks in 2 games in the first stage.
It would not be until 2020 when they returned to the playoffs. The Hawks, with a 1 game advantage, would sweep them again in the first stage.
They bounced back the following year by defeating the Eagles in 2 games in the first stage, including a tie in the second game which allowed them to advance as they had the better record at 67-57-19, while the Eagles had a 66-62-15 record. They got swept by the Orix Buffaloes in the final stage in 3 games, however a tie in the third game and Orix having the better record at 70-55-18, allowed the Buffaloes to advance.
On April 10, 2022, Rōki Sasaki threw a perfect game, NPB's first in 28 years and the 16th in NPB history. Sasaki tied an existing NPB record by striking out 19 batters, and setting a new record by striking out 13 consecutive batters.
This article needs to be updated.(March 2021)