Baseball Challenge League

Route Inn BC League
Sport Baseball
Founded 2006
Inaugural season 2007
President Murayama Tetsuji
No. of teams 8
Country Japan
Most recent
Niigata Albirex Baseball Club
Most titles Ishikawa Million Stars (4)
Official website

The Route Inn BCL, formerly known as the Baseball Challenge League (ベースボール・チャレンジ・リーグ Bēsubōru Charenji Rīgu), is an independent semi-professional baseball league in Japan. The league's abbreviated designation is "BC League (BCリーグ)."

League structure

The Baseball Challenge League has two divisions, Future—East and Advance—West, with four teams in each division. Not every team has a home stadium; instead, the team travels around its home prefecture, playing in different stadiums, each one called "home” for that game.[1]

The 72-game season runs from April–October, split into two half-terms, with the division champion from each half-term meeting in a playoff at the end of the year to determine which two teams compete for the league championship. Each team carries 27 players.[2]

Typically, players earn 150,000 yen (c. U.S. $2,000) per month, with another 50,000 yen in potential bonuses.[3] The league imposes a 7.2 million yen (c. U.S. $60,600) salary limit for team managers.[4]


The BC League began play in 2007 as the Hokushinestu Baseball Challenge League. It originally consisted of four teams based in the Hokuriku region: the Ishikawa Million Stars, the Niigata Albirex Baseball Club, the Shinano Grandserows, and the Toyama Thunderbirds. In 2008 the league added two teams, Gunma Diamond Pegasus and the Fukui Miracle Elephants, and split into two divisions, Jōshin'etsu (Gunma, Shinano, and Niigata) and Hokuriku (Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama).

Ishikawa Million Stars Infielder Kensuke Uchimura led the league in steals in 2007, which led to him being drafted by Nippon Professional Baseball's Rakuten Golden Eagles. In 2008, he became the first player to reach NPB after playing in the BC League.

In February 2014, the league agreed to a naming rights deal with Route Inn Group, becoming the Route Inn BC League.[5]

That same month, it was announced that a new team, the Musashi Heat Bears, based out of Saitama Prefecture, would join the league in time for the 2015 season.[5] In July 2014, it was announced that a second new team, the Fukushima Hopes, would also join the league for the 2015 season.[6]

Late in the summer of 2014, along with the Shikoku Island League Plus, the Route Inn BCL formed the Japan Independent Baseball League Organization.[7]

With the addition of two new teams, in 2015 the league realigned and renamed its divisions, replacing the previous divisions Jōshin'etsu and Hokuriku with Future—East and Advance—West.


Division Team Founded State League champion Division champion Half term champion Team color Stadium
Future—East Fukushima Hopes 2014 Fukushima Prefecture 0 0 1 Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium
Gunma Diamond Pegasus 2008 Gunma Prefecture 3 5 9 Takasaki City Jonan Baseball Stadium
Musashi Heat Bears 2014 Saitama Prefecture 0 0 0 Kumagai Park Stadium
Niigata Albirex Baseball Club 2007 Niigata Prefecture 2 4 8 Niigata Prefectural (Hard Off Eco) Baseball Stadium
Advance—West Fukui Miracle Elephants 2008 Fukui Prefecture 0 2 2 Fukui Phoenix Stadium
Ishikawa Million Stars 2007 Ishikawa Prefecture 4 6 9 Kanazawa Municipal Baseball Stadium
Shinano Grandserows 2007 Nagano Prefecture 0 0 0 Nagano Olympic Stadium
Toyama Thunderbirds 2007 Toyama Prefecture 1 1 2 Takaoka Western General Park Baseball Stadium

Franchise locations

Yearly standings

Gold is the League Champion, and Silver is The Division Champion.

Joshin'etsu DivisionHokuriku Division
2008First halfNiigataGunmaShinano2008First halfToyamaIshikawaFukui
Second halfGunmaNiigataShinanoSecond halfToyamaIshikawaFukui
2009First halfGunmaNiigataShinano2009First halfIshikawaToyamaFukui
Second halfGunmaNiigataShinanoSecond halfIshikawaToyamaFukui
2010First halfGunmaShinanoNiigata2010First halfIshikawaFukuiToyama
Second halfGunmaNiigataShinanoSecond halfFukuiIshikawaToyama
2011First halfGunmaShinanoNiigata2011First halfIshikawaToyamaFukui
Second halfNiigataShinanoGunmaSecond halfFukuiIshikawaToyama
2012First halfNiigataShinanoGunma2012First halfIshikawaFukuiToyama
Second halfNiigataShinanoGunmaSecond halfFukuiToyamaIshikawa
2013First halfNiigataGunmaShinano2013First halfIshikawaToyamaFukui
Second halfNiigataShinanoGunmaSecond halfFukuiToyamaIshikawa
2014 First half Gunma Niigata Shinano 2014 First half Toyama Fukui Ishikawa
Second half Niigata Gunma Shinano Second half Ishikawa Toyama Fukui


  1. Ryo. "Independent Leagues in Japan," NPB Tracker: Baseball in Japan & Around the World (May 26, 2009).
  2. "Professional Baseball Tryout," San Diego Sports Authority (2012). Archived on the Western Baseball Association website. Accessed April 7, 2015.
  3. Patrick. "Japan’s Independent Leagues 2014," NPB Tracker (09 February 2014).
  4. Jun Hongo, "Julio Franco, 56 Years Old, Joins a Japan Team as Player-Manager," Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2015.
  5. 1 2 Gen. "BC League agrees to naming rights deal with Route Inn Group," (Feb. 25, 2014).
  6. Gen. "New BC League team from Fukushima will be named the Fukushima Hopes," (July 18, 2014).
  7. Gen. "Island League, BC League to establish Japan Independent Baseball League Organization," (Aug.30, 2014 ).

External links

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