Posts in category: Japanese Baseball Cards
Chips And Cheerleaders

A couple newly announced sets to talk about:- The checklist for this seasons’s Series Two from Calbee went up on their website in the last week or so.  Like Series One, the new set has 72 player cards (six per team) and a 12 card subset featu…

Card Of The Week May 29

The Hawks crushed the Buffaloes last Tuesday by a score of 22-6.  The sole bright spot for Orix was Tony Blanco, who went three for four with two home runs and five RBIs:(H/T YakyuDB for the video)These were his second and third home runs for the …

The Lions Of San Jose

In the winter of 1982-83, Harry Steve, the general manager of Class A California League team in San Jose, had a problem.  The Expos, his team’s major league affiliate in 1982, had ended their affiliation and the team would be without a Player Deve…

Card Of The Week May 22

The Fighters beat the Hawks last Tuesday 7-2.  It was Rick Van Den Hurk’s first loss at the top level in Japan since his debut with the Hawks last season.  He had won his 14th straight decision a week earlier to pass Taigen Kaku of the Lions …

BBM’s Website Is Back!

After being down for the better part of a month, BBM’s website is back on line.  They’ve moved their list of new sets to a new page.  They’ve added info for a couple of the sets I mentioned last monththe Tatsunari Hara box set and the Carp and Baystars team sets – but not for the Lions team set and the Ohtani/Fujinami box set.  The Lions set is scheduled to be released this coming Friday so BBM better get moving.

BBM did add information for two more of the team sets – the Buffaloes and the Fighters.  Both sets have base sets of 81 cards featuring around 70 cards for the players and manager and several subsets.  Both sets have four insert sets – the Fighters have 27 cards over the four sets while the Buffaloes have 18.  Both sets have the usual collection of autograph cards available.  I’m amused that the Fighters set has an 11 card subset featuring the players in street clothes – I guess BBM felt threatened by the AI set that came out recently.  Both sets will be out in mid-June.

Epoch has also recently announced a couple new products.  The latest of the team based “Stars & Rookies” sets is for the Buffaloes and will be released on June 25.  It’s pretty much the same idea as the Lions and Baystars sets Epoch has released earlier this season – each box (that retails for 12,960 yen or roughly $118) contains two mini-boxes containing 6 cards each – one or two will be autographed cards and the others will all be base set cards.  I think it breaks down to 9 base set cards and three autograph cards per box.  There are apparently some “hot boxes” that will contain four autograph cards.  There are 27 cards in the base set and a boatload of possible autograph cards.

The other Epoch set is their latest ultra high end set done in conjunction with the OB Club (aka the Japan Baseball Promotion Association).  The theme of this one appears to be “League Leaders”.  Once again, it’s a very expensive box (16,200 yen or around $147) for a one pack box containing two base set cards, one insert/parallel card and two autograph cards.  There are 27 players featured in the set – each player has a base set card, two different insert/parallel cards, two different autograph cards and a autographed booklet card available.  The set will be out on July 9.

There’s something on Jambalaya’s upcoming release schedule that is intriguingly called “Kabaya Central League Baseball gum”.  I finally did some Googling of the Hiragana text for it (カバヤ セントラルリーグベースボールガム) and discovered that this is a Epoch set being packaged with banana flavored gum from Kabaya.  There’s 36 cards in the set (six for each of the six Central League teams).  The set is being sold in boxes of 20 1 card packs.  The boxes have an MSRP of 2160 yen (about $19.60).  I’m including this link to Amazon Japan’s listing of the set so that you can see all the cards – the boxes are not eligible to be shipped outside of Japan though.

Fumiya Nishiguchi And The 1995 Sioux City Explorers

A couple months back I did a post on Lions pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi on the occasion of his retirement.  I mentioned that I had learned while researching the post that the Lions had sent Nishiguchi to the Sioux City Explorers of the Northern Leagu…

RIP Mikio Kudoh

Former Nippon-Ham Fighters pitcher Mikio Kudoh has passed away from liver failure at age 55.  Kudoh was drafted out of high school by the Fighters in second round of the fall 1978 draft.  He debuted with the ichi-gun team in 1979, going 0-1 w…

Card Of The Week May 15

The Marines and Eagles played two crazy games the last two days in Chiba.  Yesterday, the Marines beat the Eagles 13-12 in 10 innings, winning on a walk off single by Tadahito Iguchi.  Today was another extra inning victory for Lotte, coming …

Card Of The Week May 8

Busy weekend so I’m a day late on this…Jonny Gomes asked for and received his release last week from the Eagles.  He apparently had a family matter to deal with and hopefully everything will work out well for him.  His exit, however, brings…

Takahiro Arai

I’m late getting around to this but Takahiro Arai of the Carp got his 2000th hit last week.  Arai was born and raised in Hiroshima but went to college at Komazawa University in Tokyo.  He was drafted by his hometown team the Carp in the sixth…

Card Of The Week May 1

In addition to Trey Hillman’s talents as a manager, he apparently had also trained as a gymnast.  This was expressed in Japan by occasionally doing backflips, as shown here:2004 BBM Fighters #F99I’m curious when this photo was taken.  Hillman…

2016 KBO "Baseball’s Best Players" Set

As I mentioned the other day, I picked up a box of one of the latest Korean baseball card sets recently.  This is the second of the “Baseball’s Best Players” sets and it’s very similar to the previous one.Each box contains 20 eight card packs. &nb…

1st Version Fighters Arizona Photos

I mentioned in my post about the new 1st Version set that typically BBM will use photos from last season for the cards (unless the team changes uniforms over the winter) when they can.  They have to get photos in training camp, however, for a…

2016 BBM 1st Version set

2016 BBM 1st Version Set SummarySize: 372 cards numbered 1-336, CF01-CF36Cards Per Team:  28 (team card, manager + 26 players)Team Card Theme:  Spring TrainingNumber Of Leader Cards:  N/AChecklists:  NoneSub…

RIP Koji Yamamoto

Former Giant and Orion Koji Yamamoto passed away from liver cancer a few days ago.  Yamamoto attended Hosei University and was drafted by Yomiuri in the fifth round of the fall 1975 draft from Honda Suzuka of the industrial leagues.  He and K…

Lots Of New Stuff

BBM’s website is apparently a mess.  They had been doing updates of their new set listings about once a month.  In March they did their regular update which disappeared a few days later.  Now the site is apparently down completely. &nbsp…

Card Of The Week April 24

One of the regular player cards in the latest Calbee set was of Yomiuri Giants “outfielder” Takahiro Suzuki.  I say “outfielder” as he’s really pretty much just a pinch runner nowadays.  The inclusion of Suzuki in the set is significant as it…

More Memories Of Uniforms – Lions Edition

I thought I’d knock out another one of these while I wait for my 1st Version set to get delivered…Following the 1949 season, the eight team Japanese Baseball League transformed into Nippon Professional Baseball with 15 teams split between the Central…

Card Of The Week April 17

It was a rough days for closers today in NPB.  Yasuaki Yamasaki of the Baystars gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to the Swallows, handing them a 5-4 victory.  Over in Nagoya, Koji Fukutani of the Dragons blew a save in the ninth …

Card Of The Week April 10

In honor of Kenta Maeda homering in his Dodger debut last week, here’s a card of Maeda batting with the Carp:2010 BBM 2nd Version #794

More Memories Of Uniform – Orix Edition

I really did plan to get back to doing these posts faster but it’s already been two months since the last one…The team that is now the Orix Buffaloes began life in 1936 as Hankyu and played their home games at Hankyu Nishinomiya Stadium in Nishinomiy…

Card Of The Week April 3

One of the interesting aspects of Pacific League TV is that they have some coverage of farm team games.  While it looks like in the past they’ve carried Fighters ni-gun games from Kamagaya, all I’ve seen so far this year had either been Lions game…

2016 Calbee Series One

The first “flagship” set of the year was released by Calbee a few weeks back and my copy of the set arrived today in the mail courtesy of Yahoo! Japan Auctions by way of JAUCE.  At 94 cards in the base set, this year’s Series One is the smallest C…

RIP Kiyohiro Miura

I haven’t seen any coverage of this in English but NPB Reddit mentioned the other day that former Nankai Hawks pitcher Kiyohiro Miura has passed away at age 77.  I looked up his Japanese wikipedia page and it confirmed that he had succumbed to pne…

Card Of The Week March 27

Opening Day for NPB was last Friday and the most exciting game was out in Tokorozawa between the Buffaloes and the Lions.  Orix had a 3-0 lead going into the seventh inning behind the string pitching of Chihiro Kaneko when the Lions rallied. &nbsp…

Signing Up For Pacific League TV

I am frequently asked how I watch Japanese baseball games here in the States.  I used to use until Google shut it down a few years back.  I then switched to, a Korean site, but I’ve never been very comfortable with it.  I’ve always said that I would be willing to pay for something like MLB.TV for NPB but there isn’t one.  There is Pacific League TV but I was never sure about whether or not I could sign up for it without a Japanese address, bank account or credit card and whether or not I could view it from outside of Japan.  And rather stupidly on my part, I never attempted to find out for myself.

It turns out that the answer to those questions is “yes, it is possible to sign up for PLTV from outside of Japan with a non-Japanese credit card” and “yes, it is possible to view the games on PLTV from outside of Japan”.  And it also turned out that it’s ridiculously simple to sign up.

The easiest way to sign up is to use a browser that automatically translates Japanese to English (I use Chrome) and go to the PLTV website.  There’s a red button at the top of the page with text that says “利用登録” which translates to “On registration” (at least on Chrome anyway).  NOTE – all the screen shots I’m going to show don’t have the automatic translation – just to show how easy it is even without the translation.

Once you click on that, you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to select what kind of membership you want.  Your options are the “unlimited viewing package” (at either 950 or 1450 yen per month plus tax*), interleague only (flat rate of 1450 plus tax but it’s only available from May 31 to June 19) or a single day’s games (600 yen).  I signed up for the “unlimited viewing package” and was taken to the registration page.

*You can get the 950 yen rate if you’re a member of one of the Pacific League team’s official fan clubs

I will point out that PLTV is currently doing a promotion where you can watch for free from now until the end of March so this page currently looks different than the screen shot I’m showing here.

Some of the elements on the registration page have English on them, even if you don’t have them automatically translated.  The page is long enough that I had to split it up into three screen shots.  I’ll go over each of them in order.

The red boxes labeled “必須” indicate required fields.  The first two fields (“お名前” or “Your name”) are your last and first names.  The next two fields (“フリガナ” or “Yomi”) (which are not required) are apparently used if the kanji version of your name has an alternate reading in hiragana.  Since I suspect that most people reading this don’t use kanji for their names, just leave these blank.  The next field (“性別”) is for your gender (obviously) and followed by your birthdate (生年月日) – the fields are for year, month and day.  The next field (“お住まいの都道府県”) is where you have to lie a little bit – it’s for which Japanese prefecture you live in.  I didn’t see an “outside of Japan” option so I said “Tokyo”.  The next two fields (“メールアドレス” and “メールアドレス再入力”) are for your email address – the second one is to confirm that you typed it into the first one correctly.

The next two fields (“パスワード” and “パスワード再入力”) are for your password – again the second field is to confirm what you typed in the first one.  The next field (“お好きな球団”) asks for your favorite team – all 12 NPB teams are listed, not just the Pacific League ones.  The next two fields (which are not required) are how you would specify if you belonged to PL team’s fan club.  The first field (“球団有料ファンクラブ”) is where you select whether or not you’re a member.  If you select “Member”, the second field (“対象球団/会員番号”) will ask for which team and what your membership number is.   The last field (“決済方法”) is where you select your payment type – currently you can only pick credit card (“クレジットカード決済”) but when I signed up a few weeks ago you could also pick some sort of e-payment plan offered by Yahoo! or Rakuten.

Once you’re filled in all the required fields, click on the red button towards the bottom of the page labeled “利用規約に同意の上、ご入力情報の確認へ進む (Confirm)”.

At this point, PLTV will send a confirmation email to the email address you entered above (assuming that they validated everything you entered in the form).  That email will contain a link that you’ll follow to confirm that you gave them a valid email.  At this point you’ll be asked to enter your credit card information.

The first field is for the number on your credit card.  The next two fields are for the expiration date – month first, then year.  The last field is a captcha code to confirm you aren’t a robot.  Once done, hit the big red button and PLTV will charge your credit card.  With the 116 yen tax, the total was 1566 yen which worked out to around $14.

I hope this makes sense and is helpful.  It was very simple to do and I’m regretting not having done it previously.

Guest Post – Graded NPB Rookie Cards

I was having an on-line conversation with reader David Saba regarding a couple things (including the alleged 1993 Hilo Stars Ichiro cards) and we got into a discussion about graded cards.  David collects “Gem Mint” graded Japanese rookie cards of Japanese MLB players.  I don’t know a whole lot about graded cards – I’ve never been that interested in them – so David offered to write a “guest post” about what he collects and how he got into it:

NPB Card Guy was nice enough to let me share my collection with his readers, so here goes.

I collect NPB Rookie Cards of guys who have made the jump to MLB. Whenever possible, I try to acquire Gem Mint graded copies of each player on my wish list.

I’ve been an avid baseball card collector since I was a kid in the late-80s and my interest in Japanese baseball initiated along with thousands of other Americans – I got caught up in Nomomania.

When Hideo Nomo burst onto the scene in 1995, it blew my mind in so many different ways. His electric stuff, the windup, the foreign language, I was hooked. How could someone from a far away land just appear in MLB and dominate hitters? I needed to know more about this professional league across the world and if there were other talented players like Nomo in Japan.

Gradually, NPB players made the move to MLB over the years and I followed their careers. When I found out these players had NPB cards, that was it, I just had to get my hands on those cards. Ebay was essential, but I’ve also acquired cards through private sales from other NPB card collectors. I’ve always collected MLB Rookie Cards, specifically MVP and CY Young Award winners. As I got older and could afford higher priced cards, I began to purchase graded Gem Mint copies for my collection. I decided to replicate this for my new NPB collection.

I like to set rules. When I decided to collect NPB Rookies of players who made the jump to MLB, I wanted my collection to only include accomplished MLB players, not just guys who made a brief appearance. For a player to appear on my wish list, they needed to meet one of the following requirements:

*Position players with at least 400 games played in MLB
*Pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched in MLB

With those parameters in place, my NPB Rookie Card wish list includes these 27 cards:

Ichiro Suzuki, 1993 BBM #239
Hideo Nomo, 1990 Takara Kintetsu Buffaloes #11 
Hiroki Kuroda, 1997 BBM #496 
Hideki Matsui, 1993 BBM #423 
Hisashi Iwakuma, 2000 BBM #388
Yu Darvish, 2005 BBM #116 
Koji Uehara, 1999 BBM #329 
Tomokazu Ohka, 1994 BBM #494
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, 1991 BBM #348
Takashi Saito, 1992 BBM #471
Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1999 BBM #413
Norichika Aoki, 2004 BBM #308
Masato Yoshii, 1988 Takara Kintetsu Buffaloes #36
Hideki Okajima, 1994 BBM #483
Akinori Otsuka, 1997 BBM #462
Masahiro Tanaka, 2007 BBM #211
Tadahito Iguchi, 1997 BBM #477 
Kenji Johjima, 1995 BBM #558
Kazuo Matsui, 1994 BBM #506
Akinori Iwamura, 1997 BBM #502 
Kosuke Fukudome, 1999 BBM #310
Kazuhiro Sasaki, 1991 BBM #196
Hideki Irabu, 1988 Takara Lotte Orions #18
So Taguchi, 1992 BBM #448
Kenshin Kawakami, 1998 BBM #385
Hisanori Takahashi, 2000 BBM #426
Kazuhisa Ishii, 1992 BBM #464

A few notes on this list. Junichi Tazawa and Dave Roberts were born in Japan, but never played in NPB, so they are not included. Mac Suzuki only played in NPB after his MLB career, he’s not really an NPB import, so I didn’t include him either.

There are many, many different interpretations collectors have for what constitutes a Rookie Card. My definition is simply the first time a player appears on a licensed card [EDITOR’S NOTE: David clarified that he’s looking for the first “flagship” set appearance as the first cards of Aoki, Darvish and Tanaka are from BBM’s Rookie Edition sets). For my NPB Rookie Card collection, I always look for BBM cards unless a player’s first card was not from BBM.

The guys in bold I have acquired – you can check out those cards in the images accompanying this post. If you have one of the rookies that I don’t have in Mint condition, let me know if you are interested in selling it to me in the comments section and maybe we can work out a deal.

The hardest part about acquiring cards for my collection has been the scarcity of Gem Mint graded examples. NPB card collecting is a niche hobby to begin with and few people submit their cards for grading. Some of the players on my list have very few examples graded BGS 9.5 or PSA 10. Kenji Johjima has just one graded Gem Mint rookie card. Others, like Akinori Otsuka, Masato Yoshii, Hisanori Takahashi and Hideki Irabu, have no Gem Mint  graded copies. To compile my collection, I will have to purchase ungraded copies that I think are Gem Mint and submit them for grading myself. I’ve recently acquired ungraded copies of Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Kuroda and Tadahito Iguchi NPB Rookies and will be submitting them to Beckett. In my experience, all three cards should receive Gem Mint grades. Fingers crossed.

In the past two years, as my collection has grown, I’ve become hooked on NPB baseball. Last May, I visited Japan for the first time and attended games at Seibu Dome, Meji Jingu Stadium and Fukuoka Dome. I had an absolute blast. Between singing (poorly) for home team players, the traditional 7th inning stretch balloon release and robots and cheerleaders on the field, NPB baseball offers an experience unlike anything we have in the states. I’m sure that as my love for NPB grows, my collection will grow with it.

How do you collect Japanese baseball cards and why? I’d love to read about your collection in the comments section. Thanks again to NPB Card guy for the platform and for providing invaluable insight on the hobby.

David sent me scans of his cards.  Here’s the graded ones:

And here’s the cards he has that still need to be graded:

I’ll attest to the difficulties he has in finding cards that meet his standards for grading.  I have a couple of the cards that he’s looking for (1994 Kazuo Matsui and Tomo Ohka and the 2000 Hisashi Iwakuma) but based on the scans that I sent him, none of the cards would end up being graded “Gem Mint”.

I want to thank David for writing the post.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a guest post from anyone.  If anyone else wants to write an essay on a relevant topic, let me know.

Card Of The Week March 20

There’s a couple World Baseball Classic qualifiers going on this weekend and I was watching last Friday afternoon’s game between France and Spain when I heard a familiar name announced.  Former Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagle Rhiner Cruz pitched …

Big Bunch Of BBM

BBM did their monthly update of their website yesterday and announced details of eight sets that will be released over the next month or so.- The big announcement was for this year’s 1st Version set which looks a lot like last year’s 1st Version set. &…

Card Of The Week March 13

Last week’s edition of the Japan Baseball Weekly podcast featured an interview with former Nippon Ham Fighters player (and current scout) Matt Winters.  Winters spent five seasons with the Fighters from 1990 to 1994 when they still called Tokyo ho…

New Upcoming Non-BBM Sets

BBM has not updated their website in over a month – there’s something like eight sets from them in the pipeline right now (including this year’s 1st Version) but I will continue to wait to post anything about them until they put it on their website (yo…

Card Of The Week March 6

Samurai Japan completed their two game sweep over the Taiwanese national team this weekend by beating them 9-3 today in Osaka.  The game was fairly close entering the top of the ninth inning with Japan up 3-1 but they then rallied for six runs to …

1975 Calbee "Star History" cards

Calbee released their largest set ever (1472 cards) between late 1975 and late 1976.  Ryan has done an excellent job of identifying some 26 separate series that the cards were released in although it is believed that the actual number is more like…