Category Archives: Japanese Baseball Cards

Another 2006 WBC set – Upper Deck Ovation Nation

I discovered recently that I had missed a set when I did my round up of the 2006 World Baseball Classic sets a few years back.  There was also a 15 card insert set for the Upper Deck Ovation set called "Ovation Nation".  There are only two members of the Japanese team included in the set - Daisuke Matsuzaka and Nobuhiko Matsunaka - although there are four other players who ended up playing in NPB - Seung-Yeop Lee of Korea (Marines/Giants/Buffaloes 2004-2011), Andruw Jones of The Netherlands (Eagles 2013-14), Daniel Cabrera of the Dominican Republic (Dragons 2013-14) and Frederich Cepeda (Giants 2014-).  You can see the entire checklist here.

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2015 Calbee Series Three

The checklist for Series Three of this year's Calbee set appeared in their website recently.  This set will be a bit smaller than the two previous sets this year.  This edition only has 72 player cards (6 per team) rather than the 84 that each of the other two sets had.  There is one subset/non-premium insert set called "Exciting Scene" which is a continuation of the Series One subset of the same name.    It will 12 cards (one card per team).  There are also the ubiquitous four checklists cards which bring the total number of cards in the base set to 88 (down from 103 in Series One and 100 in Series Two).  There is also the standard 24 card (2 per team) "Star" insert set and a 12 card mail in premium box set called something like "total hit card" which looks like it features the active player on each team with the most career hits (although not necessarily with the team he is now on).  The earlier sets also had possible "lucky" cards that could be obtained through a redemption card but there's no information about anything like that for this Series - at least not yet.  There's no release date mentioned on the website but historically the third Series has been released around September 20th each year so I'd expect to see it around then.

2015 Genesis

In honor of BBM actually having a timely update to their website, I thought I'd do a quick post on newly listed set - the annual high end set called Genesis.  The base set is 120 cards - 108 player cards (9 per team) and 12 team checklists.  The player cards all have some myriad of possible parallels that are not detailed on BBM's website.  But honestly, no one cares about the base set for Genesis.  There are three 12 card insert sets - ELITE OF NINE, SPLENDID BLUE and GREAT WAVE - I think each card in the inserts is serially numbered to 50.  Then there's all the "special" cards - autographed cards, autographed baseball cards, patch cards, super patch cards, bat end cards and various permutations of these.  The new thing appears to be some sort of "booklet" card - I'm guessing they're a little better quality than the kind that Topps did as inserts in 1970.  Interestingly there's no Cross Plasma cards in this set - this will be the first time that 1st and 2nd Version had a cross set subset without the high end set having it as well.  BBM says that the set will be out in mid-September - Jambalaya has a release date of September 18.

Card Of The Week August 16

You have probably heard that Mike Hessman of the Toledo Mud Hens broke Buzz Arlett's record for most home runs in the minor leagues a few weeks ago (and if you haven't, here's a great piece by Joe Posnanski about it).  Hessman would have broken the record sooner but he spent 2011 in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes.  He got into 48 games at the ichi-gun level, hitting .192 with six home runs.  He fared only a little better with the Buffaloe's ni-gun team, hitting .243 with 8 home runs in 36 games.

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2014 Bandai Owners League Masters Box Break

I don't pay a lot of attention to the collectible card game sets that Konami and Bandai publish in Japan.  There's really no good reason for that other than the fact that there aren't many of those cards available in the places that I normally am looking for cards and the fact that BBM and Calbee keep me pretty busy with their issues (as well as Epoch and Front Runner).  So when Jay Shelton contacted me a little while back and offered to send me box break photos and stats for a 2014 Owners League set from Bandai, I jumped at the opportunity to learn something about the cards.

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RIP Sadaaki Nishimura

Former Nishitetsu Lions pitcher Sadaaki Nishimura has passed away from liver cancer at 80 years of age.  His pitched for the Lions from 1953 to 1962.  He had a three year stretch between 1954 and 1956 where he went 62-18 but never approached that kind of dominance afterwards with the exception of the perfect game he threw in 1958 (the fifth one in NPB history).  He worked as a baseball commentator after retiring as a player.

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Card Of The Week August 9

I'm not going out on a limb here in stating that two-way player Shohei Ohtani of the Fighters is having a much better season on the mound this year than at the plate.  He's currently 11-2 with a 2.28 ERA, 133 strikeouts and only 31 walks in 106 2/3 innings pitched this season.  He leads the PL in wins and ERA (tied with Brandon Dickson of Orix) and is second in strikeouts to Takehiro Norimoto of the Eagles.  On the other hand, he's hitting only .196 with 4 home runs at the bat.  He's actually got twice as many strikeouts batting (38) than he has hits (19) - which is actually almost the same ratio as what he's done as a pitcher - opposing batters have 63 hits and 133 strikeouts.

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Takeya Nakamura

I submitted a question to the Japan Baseball Weekly podcast a few weeks back regarding who was most likely to be the next player to reach 500 home runs in NPB.  I was pleased that John Gibson and Jim Allen pretty much agreed with me that Takeya Nakamura of the Lions was the most likely candidate, although John felt that Okawari-kun's health issues would likely keep him from reaching that milestone.  (Several other candidates were discussed - Tetsuto Yamada of the Swallows, Sho Nakata of the Fighters and Tomoya Mori of the Lions - but there were concerns that each of them might spend some number of years in MLB.)

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Card Of The Week July 19

Hanshin's Shintaro Fujinami threw three perfect innings against the Pacific League in Friday's All Star game.   Fujinami came into the game in the fourth inning in relief of Tomoyuki Sugano with the CL down 4-2 but left with them up 7-2 (they held on to win 8-4).  Fujinami won both the game and the MVP, becoming the youngest player to ever win the game award.

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RIP Kazumi Takahashi

V9-era Giants pitcher Kazumi Takahashi passed away this past week.  His two best seasons were 1969 and 1973 were he won 22 and 23 games respectively.  He also took home  the Sawamura Award and the Best Pitcher Award (which actually are two separate things) and made the Central League Best 9 team both of those years as well.  He was famously traded to the Nippon Ham Fighters after the 1975 season in the deal that brought Isao Harimoto to the Giants.  He retired as a player after the 1983 season and coached for both the Giants (on three separate occasions) and the Fighters after his playing career ended.

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Card Of The Week July 5

The NPB All Star rosters were released this past week and one of the selections by Central League (and Yomiuri Giants) manager Tatsunori Hara sparked a little bit of controversy.  Hara left the current Central League home run and RBI leader - Kazuhiro Hatakeyama - off the roster and included pinch running specialist Takahiro Suzuki of the Giants instead.  Hara's explanation for leaving Hatakeyama off the roster is apparently that since he "has" to include Shinnosuke Abe as catcher (he was elected on the player's ballot) but he doesn't want Abe to actually catch (Abe was supposed to move to first full time this year but he's actually played twice as many games at catcher than first base so far) so he's effectively ended up with three first basemen on the roster - Abe, Takahiro Arai of the Carp (the fan's ballot winner) and Jose Lopez of the Baystars (the player's ballot winner).  Including Hatakeyama would have given him four first basemen and he wanted a little more roster flexibility than that.  Which makes sense (it's similar to the numbers games that kept Rafael Palmiero off the AL All Star team in the mid-1990's - it was hard to break through the Mark McGwire-Frank Thomas-Mo Vaughn-Jim Thome-Tino Martinez blockade at first) except for it not explaining why he would pick Takahiro Suzuki.  At this point in his career, Suzuki is basically only a pinch runner.  He's gotten into 30 games this season but only had 11 plate appearances.  He's never really been a regular (he's only had 10 BBM flagship cards in the past 15 years) and there are more deserving outfielders not on the roster - Yuhei Ohshima of the Dragons or even Kosuke Fukudome of the Tigers to name two.

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Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes Team Issued Cards

The last installment (for now) on team issued cards is for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  Jason has a lot of information on these due to his Tuffy Rhodes collection so I don't have a whole lot to add to the lists he's put up.  I also don't have a whole lot of cards.  I only have six cards total representing five different sets.  So here goes:

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Card Of The Week June 7

The big news last week was that Horishi Moriwaki stepped down as manager of the Orix Buffaloes.  Orix has been one of the biggest disappointments this season, sitting in last place in the PL with a 19-34-1 record after being being pretty much unanimously expected to finish in the top half of the standings.  Moriwaki is being replaced by head coach Junichi Fukura on an interim basis - there's already a rumor out that So Taguchi could be offered the full time job.

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2010 SCM Retro Rookies

When I was researching the cards distributed with Sports Card Magazine I found a lot of "original" cards that I thought were pretty cool (when I say "original", I mean cards that were not simply promo versions of other BBM issues).  One group of cards that I was very interested in were a set of five cards that came with issue #81 that was published in May 2010 - this group featured cards of players who were rookies that year in the style of the 1991 BBM set.  I assume that this was part of BBM's celebration of their 20th Anniversary (the cards have the logo on the back but pretty much all the 2010 cards did).  Ryan found the cards for me and included them in the package he sent me a few weeks back.  Here are the cards:

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1983 NST Album

A company called NST produced four sets of baseball cards between 1975 and 1983.  Well, I say "baseball cards" but technically what they really were were stickers or stamps that were meant to be pasted into albums.  While I had a number of the cards from the first sets, I didn't have any from the last one, nor did I have any of the albums.  Until a little over a month ago.

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Card Of The Week May 31

Takeya Nakamura had a pretty good time against the Tigers this weekend out in Tokorozawa.  In the third inning of yesterday's game, he hit a two run home run to put the Lions up 4-1.  He followed that up the next inning by hitting a grand slam to make it 8-1.  The Lions won by a final of 9-2.  Today with the Lions trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, he launched a three run home run to put Seibu in the lead for good.  They won 9-4 today.  Nakamura drove in nine runs over the two games, half of all the runs the Lions scored.  His three homers bring his total for the season to 15, three behind Sho Nakata of the Fighters for the Pacific League lead.

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2015 BBM Tigers 80th Anniversary Set

BBM's latest team anniversary set is for the Hanshin Tigers.  If this sounds familiar to you, it's because this is the third such set for the Tigers (not including the Tigers Legend set).  The first was in 2005 for their 70th Anniversary and the second was in 2010 for their 75th.  You can do the math yourself and figure out that the new set is for the Tigers' 80th Anniversary.

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