Central League

The Central League (セントラル・リーグ, Sentoraru Rīgu) or Ce League (セ・リーグ, Se Rīgu) is one of the two professional baseball leagues that constitute Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. The winner of the league championship plays against the winner of the Pacific League in the annual Japan Series. It currently consists of six teams from around the country. Unlike the Pacific League, designated hitters are not used during Central League home games.

Central League
FoundedDecember 15, 1949 (1949-12-15)
No. of teams6
Most recent
Tokyo Yakult Swallows (9)
Most titlesYomiuri Giants (38)


The Central League was founded in 1949 with eight teams: four holdovers from the previous Japanese Baseball League — the Chunichi Dragons, the Hanshin Tigers, the Yomiuri Giants, and the Shochiku Robins (formerly the Taiyō Robins) — and four new teams — the Hiroshima Carp, the Kokutetsu Swallows, the Nishi Nippon Pirates, and the Taiyō Whales.

The Nishi Nippon Pirates existed for one season — they placed sixth in 1950, and the following season merged with the also Fukuoka-based Nishitetsu Clippers (a member of the Pacific League) to form the Nishitetsu Lions, who joined the Pacific League. This brought the number of Central League teams down to an ungainly arrangement of seven.

Ryuji Suzuki became president of the Central League in 1952.[1]

In 1952, it was decided that any team ending the season with a winning percentage below .300 would be disbanded or merged with other teams. The Shochiku Robins fell into this category, and were merged with the Taiyō Whales to become the Taiyō Shochiku Robins in January 1953. This enabled the Central League to shrink to an even number of six teams.

Ryuji Suzuki retired as CL president in 1984 after 33 years at the post.[1]

In 2007, a new Climax Series was introduced. This playoff series was inspired by the stepladder playoff used in the Pacific League for the top three teams of the league to determine which one progressed to the Japan Series. Under the previous system, there was no post-season playoff and the winner of the pennant automatically qualified for the Japan Series.

Current teams

Team Japanese Name Founded Place Stadium Sponsor
Chunichi Dragons 中日ドラゴンズ
Chūnichi Doragonzu
January 15, 1936 Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Vantelin Dome Nagoya Chunichi Shimbun
Hanshin Tigers 阪神タイガース
Hanshin Taigāsu
December 10, 1935 Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Hanshin Koshien Stadium Hankyu Hanshin Holdings
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 広島東洋カープ
Hiroshima Tōyō Kāpu
December 5, 1949 Minami-ku, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Mazda Stadium Matsuda family [66.7%]
Mazda [33.3%]
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 東京ヤクルトスワローズ
Tōkyō Yakuruto Suwarōzu
January 12, 1950 Shinjuku, Tokyo Meiji Jingu Stadium Yakult Honsha
Yokohama DeNA BayStars 横浜DeNAベイスターズ
Yokohama DeNA Beisutāzu
December 15, 1949 Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa Yokohama Stadium DeNA
Yomiuri Giants 読売ジャイアンツ
Yomiuri Jaiantsu
December 26, 1934 Bunkyo, Tokyo Tokyo Dome Yomiuri Shimbun

Central League pennant winners

Climax Series winners

  • 2021 Tokyo Yakult Swallows
  • 2020 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2019 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2018 Hiroshima Toyo Carp
  • 2017 Yokohama DeNA BayStars
  • 2016 Hiroshima Toyo Carp
  • 2015 Tokyo Yakult Swallows
  • 2014 Hanshin Tigers
  • 2013 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2012 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2011 Chunichi Dragons
  • 2010 Chunichi Dragons
  • 2009 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2008 Yomiuri Giants
  • 2007 Chunichi Dragons

Central League statistics

Team First Second Third
Yomiuri Giants371213
Chunichi Dragons92314
Hiroshima Toyo Carp9610
Tokyo Yakult Swallows956
Hanshin Tigers51916
Yokohama DeNA BayStars2611
Shochiku Robins100
Nishi Nippon Pirates000

Most Valuable Pitcher

See: Best Nine Award#Other notes

Best Nine Awards

See also


  1. "SUZUKI, Ryuji," Archived 2020-07-27 at the Wayback Machine The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (Japan). Accessed March 27, 2015.
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