Chapter 8 ORIX Hits a Home Run

Tominaga, the unofficial company historian now turned baseball commentator, explained the impact of ORIX purchasing the Osaka baseball club. “Buying the Hankyu Braves put OLC in the public spotlight in a way than even its largest business ventures had never done. That’s when Miyauchi capitalized on the moment by changing the company’s name. Orient Leasing no longer accurately described a financial services group with a growing global network. The company decided on a new name, a combination of Original, signifying its emphasis on creativity, and an X symbolizing flexibility, diversity, and infinite potential. ORIX was short, it was modern, and it sounded right for a company poised to confidently charge into a new millennium.

“So the Hankyu Braves became the ORIX Braves, but only briefly. A couple of years after the purchase, ORIX changed the team’s name again, to the ORIX Blue Wave, and they continued to be a strong force in Japanese professional baseball. Although the Braves had been blessed with outstanding players for decades, the Blue Wave produced a young hitter who became more famous than the whole Hankyu team had ever been. A gangly kid just out of high school with the ordinary name of Ichiro Suzuki1 joined the team in 1992 at the age of 18. He had a weird batting style that won him no points with the team’s manager, and so he was sent down to the ORIX farm system, where he did reasonably well. A new manager took over the Blue Wave two ...

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