Category Archives: Japanese Baseball Cards

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:

1999:

2000:

2001 – Jason doesn’t list this set:

2002 – not sure if Jason lists this set or not.  This could be the “Fan Appreciation Day” set he has a litsing for.  I have two cards from this set.  The other one is Iori Sekiguchi (#40):

2002 – Jason lists this set as “2002 Set 2″:

More Memories Of Uniform – Hawks Edition

I’ve put off working on this project for a few months, using the excuse that I was waiting for a couple sets from Ryan.  Now that I’ve gotten everything, it’s time to dive back in…

Quick history of the Hawks – they were found in 1938 and known simply as Nankai.  They briefly changed their name during the war to Kinki Nippon and then were known as Kinki Great Ring just after the war before changing their name to the Nankai Hawks, the name they were known by for the next 40 plus years.  Following the 1988 season, Nankai sold the team to Daiei, who moved it from Osaka to Fukuoka, changing the name of the team to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.  Daiei sold the team to Softbank following the 2004 season.  Softbank renamed the team to the name it is currently known by – the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

As always, I am using The History Of Uniform and Professional Baseball Uniforms Encyclopedia 1936-2013 as my primary sources.  Neither source differentiates between home and away uniforms until 1951.

1938-40 – 3 different

2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #01

1940-43 – 2 different

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #126

1946-47 – 4 different

1946-47 JBR 23 (Kazuto Tsuruoka)

1947-49 – 2 different

2012 BBM No-Hitters #17
2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #069

1948-49

1949-50 – 3 different

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #016
~1950 Uncatalogued Bromide Kazuo Kageyama

1951-55 Home

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #050

1951-55 Away

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #076

1956-58 Home

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #01

1956-58 Away

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #097

1958 Home

1959-68 Home

1967 Kabaya-Leaf #314 (Masao Morishita)

1959-68 Away

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #261

1969 Home

1969 Away

1970-71 Home

1970-71 Away

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #19

1972-76 Home

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #085

1972-76 Away

2014 BBM Hawks Achievement #02 (Michio Satoh)

1974-76 Home

2014 BBM Hawks Achievement #28 (Hiromitsu Kadota)

1974-76 Away

1975-76 Calbee #885 (Mitsuru Fujiwara)

1976-77 Home

1974-76 Calbee #901 (Yutaka Enatsu)

1977 Home

2010 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation 1977 #38

1977 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #086

1978-83 Home

1984 Calbee #57 (Chiaki Sadaoka)

1978-83 Away

1980 Calbee Big #43 (Nobuyuki Kagawa)

1980 Alternate (black number)

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #04

1980 Alternate (red number)

1981 Calbee #83 (Mitsuru Fujiwara)

1984-88 Home

1987 Calbee #104 (Hiromitsu Kadota) n

1984-88 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #088

1989-92 Home

1991 BBM #383

1989-90 Away

1989 Lotte #46 (Willie Upshaw)

1991-92 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #089

1993-98 Home

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #090

1993-98 Away

1993 BBM #81

1999-2004 Home

2002 BBM 1st Version #238

1999-2004 Away

2001 BBM #393

2005 Home

2005 BBM 1st Version #68

2005 Away

2005 BBM 2nd Version #722

2006-present Home

2007 BBM 2nd Version #538

2006-present Away

2007 BBM 1st Version #102

2006 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #01

2007 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #03

2008 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #06

2008 Turn Back The Clock

2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #97

2008 Turn Back The Clock

2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #92

2009 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #10

2010 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #13

2011 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #20

2012 Alternate

2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #22

2013 Alternate

2013 Turn Back The Clock

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #91

2014 Alternate

2014 Calbee #190

2014 Turn Back The Clock

2014 BBM Young Hawks – Futures And Legends #08

2014 Turn Back The Clock

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #096

Notes:

The only difference between the 1993-98 uniforms and the 1999-2004 uniforms are the red bills on the caps.  Similarly, the biggest difference between the 2005 uniforms and the later ones is the yellow bill on the cap.

There were two different versions of the 1980 alternate uniform – one with a black numeral on the front and one with a red number.  I didn’t use the Nobuyuki Kagawa card from the Memories Of Uniform set to illustrate this uniform because it was impossible to see which version of the uniform it was.

I think I was able to locate cards for 51 of 64 uniforms.  Not too bad for a team going back to 1938!

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.

Like most current NPB managers (9 of 12 by my count), Fukura is a former player for the team he’s managing.  He was drafted by the Hankyu Braves in the sixth round of the fall 1984 draft and debuted with the team the following season.  His best season was 1988 (Hankyu’s last season as owners of the franchise) when he hit .320 and made the All Star team for the only time as well as the Best 9 team (which he also did in 1994).  He remained with the team after their sale to Orix for the 1989 season and their move to Kobe for the 1991 season, retiring at the end of the 1997 season.  He coached for Orix for a couple seasons after retiring and later coached for the Fighters before returning to Orix when Moriwaki took over as manager in 2013.  Here’s his 1988 Takara Braves card:

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:

This obviously is a kind of precursor to the 2013 BBM Classic set which also re-used the 1991 design.  The biggest difference between these cards and the Classic cards is that these cards are the same smaller than normal size (2 3/8 by 3 5/16 inches) while the Classic cards are the standard size (2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches).  The backs of these are a little more true to the 1991 cards as well.  Here’s the back of Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh and the front and back of Shigetoshi Hasegawa’s 1991 BBM card for comparison:

There’s other cool SCM inserts that I hope to find (or I hope Ryan finds for me) but these were probably top on the list so thanks Ryan!

Lions Team Issued Sets

This is going to be a bit of a long post as I have a bunch of different Lions sets.

1989 “Laminated”

The first cards I have I believe were sold around 1989.  These are laminated photo cards.  Jay Shelton has mentioned to me (and sent me a scan) of some kind of similar Giants cards from roughly the same time frame so this might be a common type of team collectible from that era:

I have seven of these – Koji Akiyama, Kazuhiro Kiyohara (2 different), Kimiyasu Kudoh, Hisanobu Watanabe (3 different).  The cards are a little bigger than normal.

1990 Postcards

This is a set of 22 postcards featuring 23 players from the 1990 Lions:

The cards are unnumbered other than uniform number.  The players are Koji Akiyama (#1), Haruki Yoshitake (#2), Kazuhiro Kiyohara (#3), Seiji Tomashino (#4), Hatsuhiko Tsuji (#5), Norio Tanabe (#6), Hiromichi Ishige (#7), Tadakatsu Hanyuda (#10), Takehiro Ishii (#11), Hirohisa Matsunuma (#15), Taigen Kaku (#18), Tomio Watanabe (#21), Ken Hirano (#24), Yoshitaka Katori (#26), Tsutomu Itoh (#27), Ty Van Burkleo (#29), Ryoji Moriyama (#31), Orestes Destrade (#39), Hisanobu Watanabe (#41), Kazuhito Nishimoto (#42), and Kimiyasu Kudoh (#47) plus a postcard featuring both Tetsuya Shiozaki (#16) and Tetsu Suzuki (#34).

1999 “Hit! Foot! Get!”

I don’t know if this card was part of an actual set or just some sort of promotional card for the Lions.  It appears to be related somehow to the opening of the Seibu Dome (the ballpark opened in 1979 but didn’t have a roof on it until 1999).

2001 Fan Club Cards

As Jason points out, a lot of the Lions cards between 2001 and 2007 (if not more) have multiple designs per set so it’s difficult to figure out which sets a card comes from unless you can see the back of it.  For the 2001 set, I have the same four cards that Jason lists – Kazuo Matsui (#7), Ken Suzuki (#8), Taisei Takagi (#10) and Tsutomu Itoh (#27):

2004 Original Player Cards

While this set still has multiple designs, it looks like at least some of the cards use the same design.  Jason actually has six cards listed for this set but I only have three of them.

2006 Original Player Card

This set is ridiculous.  I have 34 of these cards and it looks like every one of them have a different design!

The 34 cards I have are: Koki Fujiwara (#63), Mitsutaka Gotoh (#41), Taketoshi Gotoh (#6), Hidekazu Hoshi (#61), Tomoki Hoshino (#26), Masahide Kaizuka (#39), Takahiro Matsukawa (#48), Hironori Matsunaga (#24), Kenta Matsusaka (#58), Akira Miyakoshi (#66), Kazuaki Miyazaki (#43), Keisuke Mizuta (#45), Junji Nishikawa (#38), Kohsuke Noda (#22), Kohji Ohnuna (#15), Atsushi Okamoto (#28), Goh Ono (#67), Tomoaki Satoh (#10), Hiroyuki Shibata (#2), Takumi Shiigi (#55), Eiji Shotsy (#25), Haruki Sugiyama (#62), Kohji Tahara (#68), Hiroyuki Takagi (#4), Fumikazu Takanami (#0), Hisashi Takayama (#44), Yasuhiro Tanaka (#57), Masahiro Tazaki (#35), Yuya Tazawa (#50), Tatsuyuki Uemoto (#49), Minoru Yamagishi (#36), Ayumu Yamamoto (#59), Satoshi Yamazaki (#17) and Taichi Yoshimi (#31).

2008 Fan Club

Jason has a bunch of information on this set.  All the cards appear to have the same design but a different border color.  Jason says there are at least five different border colors – grey, white, green, blue and red and that apparently the blue border cards were “replacement cards” when the initial batch of a player’s cards ran out.  I will amend that statement by saying there are actually two different shades of blue for border color – I suspect that the darker blue bordered cards are the “replacement” cards as the one I have of Takayuki Kishi doesn’t have a number on the back.

Jason has a lot of these listed but I have a couple that he doesn’t have the numbers for – Hisashi Takayama (#26), Takatoshi Gotoh (#29) and Yutaro Ohsaki (#31).  Note that the cards have actual numbers on the back and aren’t simply numbered by uniform number.

2009 Fan Club(?)

Not much to say about these.  Jason lists five of these cards which cover the four I have:

2011 Fan Club(?)

Again, I don’t have much to say about this set.  Jason lists about 30 cards or so from this set, including the four I have.

2013 Fanclub

I have representatives from possibly two separate sets from 2013.  Jason has a listing of 15 cards from the first of these, but oddly enough he doesn’t have any of the five cards I have – Takumi Kuriyama (#1), Tatsuya Ohishi (#15), Yusei Kikuchi (#17), Shogo Akiyama (#55) and Takeya Nakamura (#60).

I have four cards from the other set which Jason doesn’t have a listing for –  Takumi Kuriyama (#1), Yusei Kikuchi (#17), Hideto Asamusa (#32) and Shogo Akiyama (#55):

2014 Fanclub

I’ve got representatives from three separate Fanclub sets from 2014.  The front design of each set are all similar but I don’t think these are parallel issues.  I have three cards from the first set (which Jason does not have listed) – Takumi Kuriyama (#1), Takayuki Kishi (#11) and Hideto Asamura (#32):

I have nine cards from a gold bordered set (the same nine cards that Jason has listed):

And I have 11 cards from a silver bordered set (and again it’s the same group of cards that Jason has listed):

It probably doesn’t mean anything, but I noticed that there’s no overlap in players in the (possibly) small sample size of 2014 cards I have.  It’s possible that the Lions essentially issued these in series with a third of the team in each set.  But that’s purely speculation on my part.

2015 Fanclub

Finally I have eight cards from a set released this season – Takumi Kuriyama (#1), Ryota Wakiya (#7), Naoto Watanabe (#8), Yutaro Osaki (#9), Fumiya Nishiguchi (#13), Ryoma Nogami (#20), Ken Togame (#21) and Hideto Asamura (#32):

I found a tiny bit of information on this set on the Lions fan club’s website, basically that the cards are given away to fan club members at home games.

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.

I picked up a partial 1983 set that was pasted into the album.  I haven’t actually counted it up, but I’d estimate I’ve got about half of the 288 cards.  The album itself is too large to fit in my scanner, so I took a couple pictures:

Front Cover

Back Cover

pp 24-25

The album has 32 pages total.  Despite the album being too big for my scanner, I did some scans to show some of the pages in more detail.

The first bunch of pages has groups of cards for the same players – for example there’s eight cards of Tatsunori Hara (cards #19-26), followed by eight cards of Suguru Egawa, five cards of Shoji Sadaoka, etc.  These cards not only show them in uniform, but some show them in street clothes or their high school or college team.

Suguru Egawa (p 5)

Kiyoshi Nakahata (bottom of p. 8)

There’s a page for the two foreign players (Reggie Smith and Hector Cruz) as well.  I think that’s one of the Lee brothers with Smith on card #81.

Smith & Cruz (p. 10)

There’s a page dedicated to the manager and coaching staff – I have the cards for both the manager Motoshi Fujita and head coach Sadaharu Oh but sadly I did not get the card for obscure Hall Of Famer Shigeru Makino (card #198).

Manger & Coaches (top of p. 22)

There’s a page for OB Giants – I got the cards for Masaichi Kaneda, Shigeru Takada, Shozo Doi, Roy White, Masahiko Mori and John Sipin but not the ones for Tetsuharu Kawakami, Tatsuro Hirooka, Isao Harimoto or Yukinobu Kuroe.

OB Giants (p. 16)

There’s another page with 10 cards for Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh.

ON (p.17)

There’s a two page spread (pp. 18-19) dedicated to spring training.  It looks to me like some of these pictures might have been taken in the US – there’s a lot of English on the billboards.  The Giants did spring training in Vero Beach in 1981 so these might be pictures from that.  Google didn’t have any information on any other times the Giants came to the US but I can’t rule out that these might be from Hawaii, Arizona or even Australia.

Spring Training (p. 18)

Spring Training (p. 19)

There was another two page spread (pp. 20-21) that Engel’s guide labels as “Players Relaxed”.  The first page shows a lot of candids of the players in street clothes while the second page looks like promotions at the ballpark.  Here’s the bottom of each page:

Players Relaxed (bottom of p. 20)

Players Relaxed (bottom of p. 21)

There’s a page at the end of the album that I think is some sort of redemption page.  It looks like if you got 40 of these little Giants stickers, you could send the page in for some sort of gift.  Sadly, the previous owner only got 38 of them.

Redemption Page (p 32)

Tired Of Waiting For BBM…

Between Niki and the latest issue of SCM, I think I can figure out enough about BBM’s upcoming releases for the next month or so to go ahead and do a post about them instead of waiting for BBM to put information up on their website.  So here goes:

– The Tigers team set is the only set I’m going to mention that actually is up on BBM’s website.  The base set will have 81 cards – 69 cards for the manager and players, five “Reliable Pitching Staff” cards and seven “Dynamite Row 2015″ cards.  There are four insert sets – “Burning Bright” (9 cards), “New Age Builders” (5 cards), “Rescue From Overseas” (4 cards) and “Shintaro Fujinami Special” (6 cards).  There’s the usual large number of autograph cards available, including ones with two player signatures and some “1 of 1″ versions.  The set will be out June 12th.

– The Marines team set also has 81 cards in its base set.  This breaks down to 71 player cards (including the manager), three three card subsets (“Ageless Wonder”, “Real Steal” and “Foreign Impact”) and a checklist card.  There are three insert sets – “Fast Lane” (6 cards), “Spring Fever” (3 cards) and “Prime Time” (9 cards) and a similar group of autograph cards that the Tigers set featured, including multiple players and “1 of 1″ versions.  The set’s release date is June 24th.

– Continuing the trend, the Baystars set also has 81 cards in its base set.  68 of those are player (and manager) cards and the rest are split among 3 subsets plus a checklist card.  I’m not entirely sure what the subsets are, however.  There’s a three card subset featuring Yasutomo Kubo, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh and Takayuki Kajitani – each card features one of the trio in the foreground with the other two in the background.  There’s a six card subset that I think is called “Pitching For Win” – half the cards feature sequential photos of Yasuaki Yamasaki.  I don’t know if the entire subset is for him.  The last subset is three cards but I don’t know what it is.  There are two nine card insert sets (“Blue Flash” and “Blue Diamond”) and the same sort of assortment of autograph cards that the other two sets have (including the dual autograph cards and the “1 of 1″ cards).  The set will be released on May 25th, the day after the Marines set.

– This year’s edition of BBM’s Classic set will be released on June 17th.  The base set features 108 cards – 72 current players and 36 OB players.  The 72 current player cards are in the style of the 1993 BBM set (as expected since last year’s was in the 1992 style).  The 36 OB players are in a style very similar to the OB cards in last year’s set – same design but different color.  There are three insert sets – a 24 card “All Stars” set that uses the same design as the 2002 Touch The Game set’s insert set of the same name.  The other two sets are based on the “Above Average” and “Pitch Perfect” inserts from the 1999 Diamond Heroes set – both sets contain 12 cards.  There’s a Tetsuto Yamada game used bat card based on the 2000 Ichiro bat card and a large number of autographed “buy back” cards.

– The first of the two annual team cheerleader cards is due out on June 26th.  Dancing Heroine – Hana has 99 cards in its base set and a number of autograph cards.  There do not appear to be any insert cards.

– I mentioned the other day that SCM 111 had a checklist for the Second Series from Calbee this year.  I assume that the set will be out in mid to late June but I haven’t seen a release date.  The set will be released on June 22.  Like Series One, there will be 84 regular player cards (7 per team).  There will be a 12 card subset featuring the managers of each team and four checklist cards, making there an even 100 in the base set.  There’s also the standard 24 card “Star” insert set.  There are also two premium items that can only be obtained through redemption cards known as “Lucky” cards – a 12 card box set called “Wins Leaders” (featuring a starting pitcher for each team) and a “magic motion”-style card of Chihiro Kaneko.  The checklist is available on line at Calbee’s website.

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.

I’ve been meaning to get to a post on the Lions team-issued sets soon so I thought I’d tease it by sharing a 2013 Lions Fan Club card of Nakamura this week:

I want to mention here just how cool the Pacific League TV VOD search is.  You can select a particular player to search for.  The rosters for the teams are all available by pulldown and if you’re using an automatic translator in your browser, you’ll see the translated names in the pulldowns.  It’s not perfect but it makes it a lot easier to find videos on their site.  Now if they’d just make it possible to easily subscribe from outside of Japan….

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.

At 81 cards, this edition of the Tigers Anniversary set is smaller than the previous iterations (which were 99 cards).  There are 66 cards for OB players and 15 cards for the 2015 Tigers.  Unlike the previous versions of the set, there are no other subsets in the sets – no team history cards, no team record holders – just cards of current and former Tigers.  As always, the OB players include both retired players and former Tigers still active in both NPB (Takahiro Arai, Kei Igawa) and MLB (Kyuji Fujikawa – active as of the publish date of the set).  The retired players include pretty much everyone you’d expect, especially guys who were in the other two sets like Masayuki Kakefu, Fumio Fujimura, Tadashi Wakabayashi, Akinobu Okada, Minoru Murayama, Masaaki Koyama, Akinobu Mayumi, Koichi Tabuchi, Randy Bass and Tom O’Malley.  There’s a handful of guys who make their Tigers Anniversary debut in this set – Gene Bacque and Katsumi Fujimoto – as well as a bunch of recent retirees who were in earlier sets as current Tigers – Tomaki Kanemoto and Shinjiro Hiyama.  The biggest name that’s missing is probabaly Yutaka Enatsu, who was in both the earlier sets but for some reason not this one.

#05

#11

#18

#49

#81

If you’re sensing a little lack of enthusiasm on my part for this set, you’re right.  I’m not very impressed with this set.  On it’s own it’s not a bad set but it’s just pretty much made redundant by the previous two sets.  I hope BBM does not view the Tigers’ 85th Anniversary as being noteworthy but we’ll see in 2020.

I’m curious to see what BBM does in the next couple years as teams that they’ve previously done Anniversary sets for hit round number anniversaries again.  The Giants 80th Anniversary set last fall was very nice – partially because the Giants’ previous Anniversary set was ten years earlier.  The Dragons’ 80th Anniversary is next year and the Hawks’ is in 2018.  Both of those teams had a 70th and 75th – does there really need to be an 80th?  I do have hopes for a Fighters 70th Anniversary set this year because that’s a team whose history has barely been covered by BBM’s OB sets (only the 10 Years In Hokkaido set from 2013).

You can see what you think of the set yourself by checking out the cards over at Jambalaya.

Sports Card Magazine #111

Sports Card Magazine #111 was published yesterday in Japan and somehow a copy made its way to my door by early afternoon today.  Like most issues, this one is a bit of a hit or miss on its usefulness to non-Japanese speakers but I still enjoyed it.

The cover story this issue is for BBM’s 25th Anniversary.  There’s a three page article that appears to go year by year through BBM’s history – I don’t know what the text says but each year is illustrated by a significant card, not all of which are baseball.  Here’s the list:

1991: Hideo Nomo flagship card
1992: Hiromitsu Ochiai hologram insert
1993: Ichiro Suzuki rookie card
1994: Hiroki Kokubo rookie card
1995: Pro wrestling card (can’t read name)
1996: Tomonori Maeda Diamond Heroes Run Producers insert
1997: Hideki Matsui Diamond Heroes Jersey insert
1998: Sumo wrestling card (can’t read name)
1999: Tsuyoshi Shinjyo Diamond Heroes Game Used Bat insert
2000: Sadaharu Oh 20th Century Best 9 card
2001: Shigeo Nagashima All Time Heroes card
2002: Michihiro Ogasawara & Kosuke Fukudome Touch The Game Combo Game Used Bat insert
2003: Tsuyoshi Nishioka Rookie Edition Signature Parallel card
2004: Hisashi Iwakuma Buffaloes Jersey insert
2005: Norichika Aoki Touch The Game Game Used Bat insert
2006: Yasuhiro Ichiba, Daisuke Matsuzaka & Satoru Kanemura Touch The Game Buttons insert
2007: Masahiro Tanaka Rookie Edition Premium card
2008: Yuki Saitoh Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version card
2009: Miwa Asao (Beach Volleyball) Real Venus card
2010: Yu Darvish 1st Version Cross Stream card
2011: Riho Sugiura Dancing Heroine card
2012: Hayato Sakamoto Genesis Elite Of Nine insert
2013: Kenta Maeda Classic Jersey insert
2014: Katsuya Nomura Hawks Achievement Autograph insert
2015: Kazuhiro Kiyohara Masters Of Insert Autograph insert

The article also showed the 1991 cards of the three players included in that set that are still active.  Can you guess who they are?  I’ll give the answer at the end of the post.

There are full page color ads for the just released or soon to be released team sets for the Carp, Dragons, Fighters, Tigers, Marines and Baystars.  There’s a two page ad for this year’s Classic set and single page ads for the latest J-League (Soccer), Chic (Sumo) and Dancing Heroine Hana sets.  The checklists for each of these sets appear in the “New Card List” in the “newsprint” section of the magazine.

Their list of “Best Cards” for the issue is:

Best Card Of This Month:  2015 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani autograph card
Best Item Of This Month:  2015 BBM 1st Version

Hot Card Lists
Rookies:
1. 2015 BBM 1st Version Kazuma Okamoto (#186)
2. 2015 BBM 1st Version Takayoshi Noma (#237)
3. 2015 BBM 1st Version Hayato Takagi (#188)
4. 2015 BBM 1st Version Daiki Osama (#075)
5. 2015 BBM 1st Version Shun Lin Haru (#111)
6. 2015 BBM 1st Version Kona Takahashi (#131)
7. 2013 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani (#183)
8. 2015 BBM 1st Version Tomohiro Anaraku (#156)
9. 2015 BBM 1st Version Yasuaki Yamasaki (#291)
10. 1993 BBM Ichiro Suzuki (#239)

Autograph & Memorabilia:
1. 2015 Epoch Tigers Nippon Champions 1985 Randy Bass, Masayuki Kakefu & Akinobu Okada autograph card
2. 2015 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani autograph card
3. 2015 BBM Horizon Sho Nakata & Shohei Ohtani autograph card
4. 2015 BBM Horizon Shohei Ohtani autograph card
5. 2015 BBM Icons – Aces Daisuke Matsuzaka autograph card
6. 2015 BBM 1st Version Daisuke Matsuzaka & Hirko Kuroda Combo Jersey card
7. 2015 BBM 1st Version Daisuke Matsuzaka autograph card
8. 2015 BBM Icons – Aces Kona Takahashi autograph card
9. 2014-15 Japan National Team Keisuke Honda autograph card
10. 2015 BBM Icons – Aces Tomohiro Anaraku autograph card

In the newsprint section of the magazine, there’s some sort of 25 question quiz dealing with BBM cards (one question per year).  I think it’s a contest as I don’t see the quiz answers in the issue anywhere.  The quiz shows what the unopened box for each flagship or 1st Version set looks like.  There’s also an article that looks like it’s four people doing breaks of 2015 1st Version boxes and showing off their top cards and an article on the BITS card shop in Nagoya (that Ryan has visited).  The section also contained the Calbee Series Two checklist (that just went on Calbee’s web site in the last couple days) – this does not appear in the “New Card List” section but rather in the “New Release Information” section that mostly seems to have information on US cards.  The checklist and price guide section is dedicated to soccer cards.
I noticed a couple interesting items in the “Street News” section – apparently BBM has produced fan club sets for the Hawks and the Buffaloes.  There are checklists for both sets – the Hawks set has 86 cards while the Buffaloes set only has 40 (that appears to be split into two 20 card groups).  The articles referenced a website for each set but I was only able to find information on the Buffaloes set.   (The Hawks link was just for their on-line shop.)
I was very disappointed in the insert cards in this issue.  As has been usual for the last year and a half, there were 12 cards included – 10 were for the Dancing Heroine – Hana (cheerleader) set and the other two were promo cards from the Chic Sumo set.  I’m pretty sure that the cheerleader cards are bonus cards to the set and not promos – they don’t look like the ones in the set’s ad in the magazine and they don’t have non-SCM card numbers:

The Sumo cards are definitely promo cards as they appear to differ only in color from cards shown in the ad for the set:
The three players who appeared in the 1991 BBM set who are still active are Motonobu Tanishige, Masahiro Yamamoto and Satoshi Nakajima.  Don’t beat yourself up if you missed Nakajima – he’s only had 10 at bats at the ichi-gun level total since 2007.  He hasn’t had a BBM flagship card since 2008.  He spends most of his time with the Fighter’s ni-gun team.  He is the last Hankyu Brave still active.

2015 BBM 1st Version Set

2015 BBM 1st Version Set Summary

Size: 372 cards numbered 1-324, CP01-CP36
Cards Per Team:  28 (team card, manager + 26 players)
Team Card Theme:  Mascots
Number Of Leader Cards:  N/A
Checklists:  None
Subsets:  Cross Plasma (36)
Inserts:  Allrounders(12), Lightning(12)
Memorabilia Cards:  Jersey cards for Hiroki Kuroda and Daisuke Matsuzaka (as well as a combination card with both of them).  Each individual jersey card is serially numbered to 200 plus some sort of parallel version numbered to 10.  The dual jersey cards are numbered to 10 with a parallel that’s numbered to 3.  There are 29 autographed cards with print runs that vary between 10 and 30.
Parallels:  108 of the regular player cards have parallel versions – I think there are five different versions but I don’t know what they are or what they are numbered to.  There is also a parallel to a number of the rookie cards (looks like 13 in the SCM checklist).  There’s also parallel versions of the insert cards.  The Cross Plasma cards have two parallels – one that’s serially numbered to 100 and the other that’s a “1 of 1″.
Notable Rookies: Hayato Takagi, Yusuaki Yamasaki, Tomohiro Anraku, Kohei Arihara

I’m trying to decide what’s the more significant thing about the 2015 edition of BBM’s annual 1st Version set – is it that there are no subsets (besides the ubiquitous cross set subset called Cross Plasma this year) or the fact that this is the smallest 1st Version set ever?  Obviously the former fact is a major factor in the latter fact.

But ok, let’s start with the set size.  As 372 cards, this is the smallest 1st Version set ever.  In fact, it’s smaller than any of the pre-2002 “flagship” sets as well.  It’s almost 200 cards smaller than the 1st Version set from 10 years ago.  The almost complete lack of subsets accounts for the drop in size – last year there were 72 cards in six 12 card subsets.  This year there’s just the one 36 card subset – the Cross Plasma set.

As usual, the thing that saves the set is that the cards are very good looking.  BBM has done their usual great job in combining great photos in an attractive, minimalist design.  Here’s some examples:

#305

#086

#043

#069

#152

#214

Back of #23 (Ryosuke Kikuchi)

There was one kind of odd thing about the set.  Typically the photos for any particular team are a mix between pictures taken last season and pictures taken in training camp this season.  The training camp pictures are for rookies, new foreign players and players who have changed teams in the off season.  When teams change uniforms in the off season, there’s frequently a mismatch of photos – those from the previous season in the old uniform and those from the current season in the new uniform.  For one of the few times I can remember, BBM chose to have all the photos for the Giants and Lions taken at training camp this year due to both teams having changed uniforms.  The most recent time I can remember something similar was when the Baystars were bought by DeNA during the 2011-12 off season – all the Baystars cards in the 2012 1st Version set had the new uniforms (although the Dragons had new uniforms that year as well but still had the hodge podge of old and new uniforms on their cards).  I find that the training camp photos have a little more variety than the photos from last season – although BBM still managed to use the standard shot for Kazuhisa Makita:

#116

#185

Curiously, it looks like the Baystars photos were all taken at training camp as well (with the exception of Yulieski Gurriel who ended up not making it to Japan this year) although I don’t think they changed uniforms this year:

#290

One gripe I have about the size of the set is that some notable players end up being left out.  You’d think 27 cards per team would allow BBM to feature most of the regulars but keep in mind that those 27 cards include the manager as well as all the non-ikusei rookies for the team, which could be as few as four (Giants) or as many as nine (Buffaloes, Fighters, Dragons).  Which means some teams only have 17 cards for their regular, established players.  So for example, the following players who are among the leaders on the All Star ballot don’t have cards:  Edison Barrios (Hawks), Kensuke Kondo (Fighters), Tatsuhiro Tamura (Marines), Mitsutaka Gotoh (Eagles), Ryoma Matsuda (Tigers), Katsuhiro Nagakawa (Carp), Hirokazu Ibata (Giants), Kenjiro Tanaka (Baystars), Tony Barnette (Swallows), Nobumasa Fukuda (Dragons), Anderson Hernandez (Dragons), Taiki Sekine (Baystars) and Wily Mo Pena (Eagles) (although I will grant you that Pena was a late signing player).  I really wish BBM would go back to 36 cards per team to make sure the set includes more of the everyday players and significant pitchers.

Another thing I wish BBM would do is pick a subject for the team checklists other than the team’s mascot.  This is the sixth time in the past seven years that the mascots have been on the 1st Version checklists.  Enough!

#334

The cross set subset has become a staple of BBM’s flagship sets the past six seasons.  There was “Cross Stream” in 2010 that was in the 1st and 2nd Version sets as well as Touch The Game and the team sets.  In 2011, there was “Cross Blast” that was just in the team sets.  2012 and 2013 had “Cross Blaze” and “Cross Wind” respectively that were just in the 1st and 2nd Version and Genesis sets.  Last year there was a 36 card “Cosmic Cross” set that was only available as inserts in Sports Card Magazine.  This year the subset is called “Cross Plasma” and I don’t know for sure which sets will contain the cards.  The subsets are numbered separately from the sets they are distributed with and in past years have been skip numbered so that you could kinda-sorta get an idea of how the set would be laid out.  For example, in 2013, the first “Cross Wind” cards in the 1st Version set were numbered CW001 to CW003, followed by CW010 to CW012, etc.  This implied that CW004-CW006 would be in 2nd Version and CW007-CW009 would be in Genesis.  This year, however, the Cross Plasma cards are not skip numbered – they are numbered CP01-CP36.  And CP37-CP48 were included in SCM #110.  Since the numbers are only two digits, I wonder if this means that BBM is going to have less than 100 cards total in the subset.  Perhaps the set will only be continued in 2nd Version (the early ads for that set just came out this week and there are 36 “Cross Plasma” cards in it as well).

Anyway, the “Cross Plasma” cards look pretty much like all the “Cross” cards have – a photo of the player super-imposed on some sort of odd background on the front and the original photo on the back:

#CP03

Back of #CP03

The set I bought included one of the insert sets – the 12 card “Allrounders” set.  This set features a position player for each team with a foil finish:

#AR07

As usaul, all the cards (including inserts, some of the parallels and some of the promo cards) can be seen over at Jambalaya.

Achievers

The last of the recent box sets I got from Ryan a week or so ago were the Achievement sets for the Hawks, Buffaloes and Whales.  The Achievement sets a new series of box sets from BBM that have a retro feel to them.  The sets have a matte finish rather than a glossy finish and the backs of the cards have a look that evokes old (pre-1992) Topps cards.  BBM issued sets for the Hankyu Braves and Nankai Hawks last October and the Kintetsu Buffaloes and Taiyo Whales in December.

I don’t have a whole lot to add about these sets that I didn’t already say about the Braves set so I’ll keep this kind of short.  I do like these sets quite a bit – the photos are nice (even if some of them are black and white) and it’s an interesting change of pace from BBM.

The Hawks set is only 29 cards while the other two are 30 cards.  The Hawks and Buffaloes sets feature primarily players from the 1970’s and 80’s which purely from a player selection standpoint make both sets a bit redundant as this era for both teams been featured in a number of OB team sets over the past several years.  Both sets feature the guys you’d expect (Katsuya Nomura, Hiromitsu Kadota, Yoshinori Hirose, Nobuyuki Kagawa for the Hawks, Keishi Suzuki, Masataka Nashida, Koji Ohta, Charlie Manuel, Ralph Bryant for the Buffaloes).  Here’s some sample cards from the two sets:

2014 BBM Hawks Achievement #16 (Katsuya Nomura)

2014 BBM Hawks Achievement #23 (Shinsaku Katahira)

2015 BBM Buffaloes Achievement #20 (Yasanuga Makishi)

2015 BBM Buffaloes Achievement #25 (Charlie Manuel)

The Whales set on the other hand features players from the 1950’s through the 1970’s as it focuses on the team’s time in Kawasaki before they moved a little further south to Yokohama in 1978.  This is an era previously untouched by BBM in any of their OB team sets for the Whales/Baystars franchise.  As a result, there’s a number of players included in this set that I don’t think have previously had BBM cards – Shigeyuki Takahashi, Katsuji Sakai and Isao Itoh are a couple of the names in this group.  There’s a large number of players who are a bit more familiar as well – Akio Saitoh, Masaji Hiramatsu, Akihito and Kazuhiko Kondoh, Makoto Matsubara, Shinichi Etoh, Daisuke Yamashita, Tomio Tashiro and John Sipin.  This is the kind of OB team set I’d like to see BBM do more of.

2015 BBM Whales Achievement #04 (Shigekuni Mashiba)

2015 BBM Whales Achievement #13 (Isao Itoh)

2015 BBM Whales Achievement #30 (Kazuhiko Kondoh)

To see all the cards in the sets, check out Jambalaya’s pages for the Hawks, Buffaloes and Whales sets.  Ryan has posts up on all the sets as well (Hawks, Buffaloes and Whales).

Card Of The Week May 24

Last week Ichiro Suzuki of the Miami Marlins got his 2,874th hit of him MLB career, passing Babe Ruth for 38th place for batters since 1900 (and 42nd for all time).  Ichiro now has 4,154 between NPB and MLB (including his hit in today’s game) which is pretty damned impressive even if it isn’t a record.

Here’s Ichiro’s card from the 1999 TV Sports set:

This was a 16 card set that appeared as an uncut sheet in an issue (or issues) of the magazine TV Sports.  Besides Ichrio, the set included Hideki Matsui, Kazuo Matsui, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Tomonori Maeda, Tsuyoshi Shinjyo, Atsuya Furuta, Tomohiro Kuroki, Kenshin Kawakami, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Atsushi Kataoka, Akinori Ohtsuka, Takanori Suzuki and Yoshinobu Takahashi.  Half the guys in the set ended up spending time in the US and a quarter of them are still active this year in either MLB or NPB (Ichiro, Kazuo Matsui, Kenshin Kawakami and Yoshinobu Takahashi).  So far there are only two Hall Of Famers (Sasaki and Furuta) but that will change.

Just Released and Upcoming New Stuff

Well, once again I’ve put off doing a new releases post while waiting for BBM to add information about their upcoming sets onto their website and once again, I’ve ended up delaying so long that one of the sets that they actually did list on the site has been released.  Here’s a quick run-down of what’s coming soon from BBM and Epoch:

– The latest two team sets from BBM are for the Fighters and the Dragons.  The Fighters set was actually released yesterday and the Dragons set will be out on Tuesday.  Both sets will have 81 cards in their base sets, 18 insert cards (two nine card sets – Sky Is The Limit and Game Changer – for the Fighters, no details for the Dragons) and the usual assortment of autograph cards.

– BBM hasn’t updated their new release website in almost a month, but Niki has information up about the team sets for the Marines, Baystars, Tigers and Lions as well as this year’s editions of Dancing Heroine – Hana and Classic.

– Niki also has information up about Epoch’s next two sets.  The first is a set celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Carp’s “Red Helmet” era – the Carp switched to the red caps similar to the ones they wear today starting in 1975.  It’s a bit odd that Epoch is releasing this set since they just did one on this era for the Carp last year and BBM covered similar ground in the Carp Legends set last winter.  This set will be a box set containing 64 cards – 61 in the base set plus three “special” cards – a “shadowbox” card, a parallel card and some sort of autograph or memorabilia card.  The big difference between this set and the one released last year is that this one will contain cards of active players, a first for Epoch’s box sets.  There will be 32 cards for “active players, coach, mascot” and 29 cards for OB players.  The set will be out in late June.

The other Epoch set is another collaboration with the Japan Baseball Promotion Association called “National Record Holders”.    If I’m reading the Google translations correctly, this looks like Epoch’s answer to BBM’s extremely high end “Masters Of Insert” set.  Each box will contain five serially numbered cards – two regular cards, one “shadowbox” card and two autographed cards.  There are 24 regular cards available, each of which has two possible “shadowbox” parallels (including a “1 of 1″ parallel).  The boxes will run 15,000 yen apiece (around $125) and will be released on July 11.

Some 2014 BBM Box Sets

BBM put out three team based box sets last summer that included both active and OB players for the featured team.  Ryan tracked these down for me and included them with the stuff he sent me last week (and I have neglected to publicly thank Ryan for finding all this stuff for me so let me fix that now – Thanks Ryan!).

The first of these was a set that only contained pitchers for the Carp.  This set was called “Pitchers Spirits Of Carp” and featured 27 cards in the base set – 18 OB pitchers and 9 pitchers from the 2014 roster.  The OB players included retired greats like Ryohei Hasegawa, Manabu Kitabeppu, Yutaka Ohno, Shinji Sasaoka, Yoshiro Sotokoba and the late Tsunemi Tsuda as well as Hiroki Kuroda and Kan Ohtake who were active with other teams in 2014.  The active players include Kenta Maeda, Yusuke Nomura, Bryan Bullington, Kam Mickolio and 2014 rookies Aren Kuri and Daichi Ohsera.  It’s kind of an odd little set but I like it.  For more information, check out Jambalaya’s gallery for the set and Ryan’s post on it.

#03

#21

The name of the next set reminds me of some of the Front Runner sets – “Young Hawks – Futures And Legends”.  This is a 36 cards set that features 27 “young” players for the 2014 Hawks and 9 “Legend” players from the 1970’s era Nankai Hawks.  The active players include guys who were major contributors to the Hawks Nippon Series Championship last year like Shota Takeda and Yuki Yanagita along with guys who pretty much spent the season in ni-gun.  The backs of the cards show the p;ayer’s 2014 ichi-gun stats up until May 18th.  One thing I like is that some of the players are shown wearing retro Nankai Hawks uniforms.  The nine “Legend” players include Katsuya Nomura, Yoshinori Hirose and Hiromitsu Kadota.  I don’t know if there’s a theme to why these OB players were selected to appear in this set.  Oddly enough there’s an OB player included in this set (Sanshiro Nishioka) who is making his first BBM appearance despite BBM having done two Hawks Anniversary sets in the past 10 years.  This is an attractive set but probably my least favorite of these three sets.  Once again, check out Jambalaya and This Card Is Cool for more information.

#08

#36

The final box set of this group was issued as a tie-in with the “Lions Classic” series of games that Seibu put on last season.  BBM has issued a couple sets like this in the past (like this one from 2009) and they typically show active players wearing this year’s retro uniform along with OB players from the era that the retro uniform is from.  The retro uniform from 2014 was the all blue uniforms that the Lions wore in the 1980’s.  This years set (which is named “Lions Classic – Impact Of Lionsblue”) contains 27 cards – nine cards showing members of the 2014 Lions and 18 cards showing 1980’s era Lions players.  The previous Lions Classic sets have shown the active players in action but this set actually uses posed shots for them instead.  The nine players selected for the set include Shogo Akiyama, Yusei Kikuchi, Kazuhisa Makita and Ginjiro Sumitani.  The OB players kind of surprisingly don’t include the obvious guys – there’s no Koji Akiyama, Tsutomu Itoh, Kimiyasu Kudoh or Kazuhiro Kiyohara.  The biggest names are Osamu Higashio, Hiromichi Ishige and Koichi Tabuchi.  My only real gripe with this set is that all the OB players except Higashio appeared in the Lions Legend set that came out last November so it’s kind of redundant.  As usual, check out Jambalaya and Ryan’s blog for more information.

#09

#22

Recent Epoch Sets

Continuing with the box sets I got from Ryan last week…

Epoch has issued two new OB box sets in the last six months, neither of which were done in conjunction with the Japan Baseball Promotion Association.  The first one of these was 46 card set that was issued last November called something like “Giants V9 Glorious Victory”.  The set was a tie-in with the Giants 80th Anniversary last season (the third and final set following the Front Runner Giants Stars & Legends set and the BBM Giants 80th Anniversary set) and commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the V9 Giants.  For those who don’t know (and even for those who do), “V9 Giants”is the name for the Giants team that won nine straight Nippon Series between 1965 and 1973.

The 46 cards each feature a different player from the Giants’ teams of that era.  I haven’t done a serious study, but I believe that it’s a fairly comprehensive list.  The set includes all the guys you’d expect – Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Isao Shibata, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Masahiko (Masaaki) Mori and Shozo Doi – plus a lot of guys who were very much bit players such as Isao Ohhashi, who got into around 220 games for Yomiuri between 1963 and 1968.  It’s probably safe to say that for guys like Ohhashi and Yusaku Akimoto this set may contain their first baseball card ever (the V9 era overlaps the “dead zone” in Japanese baseball card history between the end of the menko era in 1964 and the first Calbee issue in 1973).  This set also contains a card for Masaichi Kaneda, making it the only set of the three Giants 80th Anniversary sets to feature him.

While I like the set quite a bit, I think it could have been a little bit better.  It would have been nice to have had cards for the Giants’ manager during this time period (Tetsuharu Kawakami) as well as at least one of the team’s coaches – Hall Of Famer Shigeru Makino who has no modern cards.  A subset devoted to each Nippon Series would have been nice as well.  But these are minor quibbles.

Here’s some example cards:

#31

#10

#1

As always, Jambalaya has all the cards on line and Ryan did a post on this set a few months back.

The second recent Epoch set came out about a month or two ago.  The Hanshin Tigers are celebrating their 80th Anniversary this season and coincidentally are also celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their sole Nippon Series Championship in 1985.  While BBM is taking care of the former celebration (and I’m hoping to have a post up on that set later this week), Epoch is handing the latter celebration with a 45 card box set entitiled “Tigers Nippon Champions 1985″.  43 of the cards in the set feature the players, coaches and manager (Yoshio Yoshida) for the 1985 team.  Like the Giants V9 set, this includes both stars – Randy Bass, Akinobu Okada, Masayuki Kakefu and Akinobu Mayumi – as well as players who’s roles were much more minor – like Koichi Hattori who only appeared in 14 games during the 1985 season.  I’ve only found five players from the team who are not in the set – Rich Gale, Masashi Fujiwara, Hideaki Sato, Eiju Tsukiyama and Shinichi Yamauchi.  (All the missing players except Tsukiyama appeared in BBM’s 2013 Tigers Legend set that covered this period of time and ironically Yamauchi appeared in the V9 Giants set!)  The biggest name in the coaches for the team was Hall Of Fame pitcher Tetsuya Yoneda.

The other two cards in the set are a card dedicated to the 3-4-5 hitters in the Tigers lineup that season (Bass, Kakefu and Okada) and a card showing the Tigers’ celebration after winning the Series.

Here’s some example cards:

#39

#03

#44

One item of interest – Randy Bass is the first Westerner to appear in any of Epoch’s box sets since 2009.

Jambalaya has all the cards on line here.

And I think it would be appropriate to mention here that I’ve added a list of all of Epoch’s box sets to the Set Index.

Card Of The Week May 17

One of the box sets that Ryan found for me cheap in Japan recently was a little team set for the Orix Buffaloes that BBM put out in early 2012.  Called “Pedigree”, it has three subsets that each show Orix players (and manager Akinobu Okada) in a different uniform – the regular uniforms (both home and away) for Orix, Hankyu Brave retro uniforms and Kintetsu Buffalo retro uniforms.  I’m assuming all the photos are from the 2011 season.

Here’s the Okada cards:

#01

#02

#03

More 2014 Front Runner Sets

Christmas came early at my house this year – yesterday I received both a box full of goodies from Ryan and a box with my latest Yahoo! Japan Auction wins from kuboTEN.  So I’ll try to start blogging a little bit more than I have the last few weeks to try to cover a bunch of the new stuff.

I thought I’d start out with a couple of Front Runner Trading Cards sets from last year that Ryan picked up for me.  But before I do, I want to mention that I added a spreadsheet listing all the Front Runner box sets to the Set Index.

The first of the sets is the Giants Stars & Legends set.  This was the first set that Front Runner has done with the Giants – their previous sets had only been for the Carp, Lions, Buffaloes and Baystars.  This set was also a tie-in for the Giants 80th Anniversary last year.

The base set contains 30 cards (the largest Front Runner base set so far).  There are 12 cards for the “Stars” – the 2014 Giants players (and manager Tatsunori Hara) – and 18 cards for the “Legends” – retired Giants players.  The “Stars” include pretty much who you’d expect – Shinnosuke Abe, Hayato Sakamoto, Shuichi Murata, Tomoyuki Sugano, Hisayoshi Chono for example.  The “Legends” are players from the 60’s through the 90’s – guys like Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Isao Shibata, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Isao Harimoto, Suguru Egawa, Hiromi Makihara and Masumi Kuwata.  I’m not sure what Front Runner’s criteria for picking the retired players for this set was (other than could they still sign an autograph) so it’s hard to say if anyone should have been included but wasn’t.

The front of each card shows the picture of the player in front of a tinted background – blue for the current players and gold for the retired players.  The back of the card shows the photo with it’s original un-tinted background.  Most of the photos are in color but there’s a couple in black and white:

#14

Back of #14

#1

#2

#20

It’s not a bad little set.  Front Runner was able to attract enough “Legends” (including the two biggest ones in Oh and Nagashima) to make the set worthy of the name – I felt that their 2013 Carp Stars & Legends set that didn’t have either Koji Yamamoto or Sachio Kinugasa in it was really not worthy of the name.  My only real complaint with the set itself is that the player’s name is very difficult to read on some of the cards.

The big issue with this set though really has nothing to do with this set.  It’s that the BBM Giants 80th Anniversary set that came out a few months later has pretty much everything that this set has plus more.

Ryan did a post on this set when it came out and all the cards can be seen here.

The other Front Runner set I got yesterday was the Carp Season Summary set.  In 2013, Front Runner did three Season Summary sets (for the Carp, Buffaloes and Baystars) which were among my favorites of their sets.  The Carp one was the only Season Summary set for 2014 and while I still like it, it’s not as good as the 2013 versions.

The 2013 sets were an attempt to actual chronicle the season.  The backs of most of the player cards referenced the events of a particular game during the season.  Since a player could have have had more than one good game, some of the players had multiple cards in the sets (for example Kenta Maeda appeared four times in the Carp set).  This set only has one card for each of the 24 players included in the set and the backs of the cards don’t carry any details about any particular games.

The cards themselves are fairly attractive.  The set contains most of the big names for the Carp – Kenta Maeda, Shota Dohbayashi, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Masato Akamatsu, Bryan Bullington, Kila Ka’Aihue and Brad Eldred.  Here are some examples:

#08

Back of #08

#07

#22

The top borders were cut a bit tight by my scanner.

Ryan did a post about this set a few months back and Jambalaya has all the cards on-line.

Weekly Baseball

Baseball Magazine Sha, the publisher of BBM baseball cards, is primarily a magazine publisher (as you might expect from their name).  I believe that the company was founded in 1946 or 47 (there’s a 50th Anniversary card in the 1996 BBM set), some 45 years before they started publishing baseball cards.  In 1958 the company began publishing Shukan (Weekly) Baseball (there was a “40 Years of Shukan Baseball” subset in the 1998 BBM set).

Brief digression – despite the name, I’m not entirely sure how often the magazine comes out – each issue has a number that starts over each year (i.e. the first issue each year is issue #1) but it looks like the last issue in the year has a number like 71.  Looking at the back issues BBM lists for 2013,  there are 51 issues listed and they are skip numbered (there’s no #3 for instance).  I don’t know if there are issues that aren’t listed or if there’s some other numbering scheme they are using.

At some point in their history, BBM started inserting cards in occasional issues of Shukan Baseball.  I’m not entirely sure when it started but the earliest card I’ve found on Yahoo! Japan Auctions is from 2002.  I’ve started compiling a list of the cards that I’ll publish soon.  I’ve been using the usual sources (Yahoo! Japan Auctions, BBM’s website and Jambalaya) for research.

What I’ve figured out so far is that it looks like recently (since 2010 maybe) the cards have been pretty much straight promo versions of cards from BBM sets.  The more interesting cards are from 2010 and earlier.  There were 10 issues in each of 2013 and 2014 that included baseball cards – each time it was a pair of cards.

I picked up a recent issue (#13 with a cover date of April 6) that had a couple 1st Version promo cards in it (Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hiroki Kuroda) just to check it out.  I was hoping that the issue might contain a list of all the Shukan Baseball cards (like SCM has a list of all the cards they’ve issued) but it did not.  Here’s the front and back of the two cards:

I can’t say that these cards get me all that excited.  I’m generally not that interested in promo cards for the sake of promo cards so I probably won’t go out of my way to get the magazine again.  I am interested in some of the earlier (2010 and before) cards however.

BBM inserting cards into magazine does not appear to be limited to just Sports Card Magazine and Shukan Baseball.  BBM published a 12 issue series of mooks on Shigeo Nagashima, each one of which contained two exclusive Nagashima cards.  I had picked up a mook about the Hankyu Braves at Shosen Grande when I was in Japan two years ago that contained four promo cards for the 2011 Legend of the Bs set – each card featured a photo that was different than the one in the actual set.  And finally, I believe that the 2009 Legend Player set that appears to have been issued to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the two league sytem was actually distributed in magazines or mooks – it may have actually been Shukan Baseball but I haven’t figured it out yet.  It would explain why I never saw the set on BBM’s website and why it doesn’t appear in the list of BBM sets in the SCM.

I hope to get the list of cards published in the next week or so.

Card Of The Week May 10

I just finished reading Rob Fitts’ new book Mashi: The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer this past week.  Once again Rob has written an excellent book that is well worth reading.

I got curious again over what cards are out there for Murakami.  There still only appear to be four cards of him from his playing days – 1967 Kabaya-Leaf #302, 1979 TCMA #37 and #37 in both the 1981 and 1982 Takara Fighters sets (along with his 1965 Topps #282 rookie card).  I haven’t seen any evidence that he ever had a Calbee card.  The only one of these cards that I have is the TCMA one:

He’s had more than twice that many card in the past 25 years.  BBM did a “Murakami Memories” subset in 1993 (maybe for the 30th Anniversary of his NPB debut in 1963) that contained four cards – one for each team he played for (Nankai Hawks, San Francisco Giants, Hanshin Tigers and Nippon Ham Fighters):

1993 BBM #476

1993 BBM #477

1993 BBM #478

1993 BBM #479

He appeared in two 2005 BBM issues – the Fighters team set (#F94) and 2nd Version:

2005 BBM 2nd Version #817

More recently he’s appeared in a couple different OB sets, both from BBM and from Epoch:

2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #24

2009 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation 15th Anniversary #47

2013 BBM Hawks 75th Anniversary #15

He also appeared in the 2012 Epoch Geneology Of The Aces set (#22) which features what looks like the same photo as #476 from the 1993 BBM set.

Card Of The Week May 3

Last week Dragons player/manager Motonobu Tanishige became just the second player in NPB history to appear in 3000 games.  Tanishige joins another former player/manager, Katsuya Nomura, as the only players to reach this milestone.  Nomura’s record for most NPB games appeared in is 3017 and it’s generally expected that Tanishige will pass him this season.

It’s still possible, however, for Tanishige to experience a first in his career, even after 3000 games.  Yesterday, in his 3001st game, he was ejected for the first time ever after making contact with the home plate ump when arguing a close play at the plate:

For the record, I think the runner was out but I don’t think it was possible for the ump to see it from where he was standing.  And NPB has not yet implemented the same kind of replay system that MLB has.  (And Tanishige would have been ejected anyway for making contact with the umpire.)

It’s kind of ironic that he gets ejected from a game against Yokohama, his original team from 1989-2001.

Here’s a card of Tanishige from the “Grand Masters” subset of the 2011 BBM Dragons team set (#D86):

Giants Team Issued Sets

Just another quick overview of team issued sets, this time for the Yomiuri Giants.  Jason listed a number of Giants sets but there isn’t much overlap between what he has listed and what I have other than the 2013 “Players Card” set.

2002 “New Generation”

The backs of all the cards that I have from this set are identical and just contain schedule information.   The only numbers on the cards are the player’s uniform number.   I have Yusaku Iriki (#20), Junichi Kawahara (#15), Kimiyasu Kudoh (#47) and Kazutaka Nishiyama (#26).

2004 Team Set

I only have two cards from this set – Kimiyasu Kudoh (#47) and Takayuki Saitoh (#37).  Jason has five other cards listed from this set.

2013 Players Card

I’m pretty sure the data on the bottom right of the front and back is the date that the card was given away (or made available to buy maybe?).  I’ve got the same six cards that Jason lists – Shinnosuke Abe (#10), Hisayoshi Chono (#7), Hayato Sakamoto (#6), Hirokazu Sawamura (#15), Tomoyuki Sugano (#19) and Toshiya Sugiuchi (#18).  (As an aside, I frequently feel like some of the team issued cards I end up with are kind of the lower profile guys for the team.  Not so with this bunch.)

2013 OB Giants

Apparently at the same time that the Giants were giving away a set of the current team in 2013, they were also giving away a set of OB players.  I have 16 cards from this set – Shozo Doi, Isao Harimoto, Tatsuro Hirooka, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Kunio Johnouchi, Masaichi Kaneda, Yoshitaka Katori, Yukinobu Kurue, Masumi Kuwata, Hiromi Makihara, Masahiko Mori, Sadaharu Oh, Isao Shibata, Kazunori Sinozuka, Sadaaki Yoshimura and a two sided Hideki Matsui/Shigeo Nagashima card.  Most of the cards use black and white photos but some of the more recent players have color photos:

I’ve lumped the two sided Matsui/Nagashima card in with this set as the design is very similar but it’s possible that it should be considered a separate issue.  Both sides have a “kira” finish to them (that doesn’t really come across well in the scan) – I don’t know if all the Matsui/Nagashima cards have it or if it was just a few.

Full list of BBM sets

Ryan Laughton left a comment on a post a few weeks ago that kind of sent me down a rabbit hole that I’m just now coming out of.  Ryan said that he had stopped buying American cards in the mid 1990’s because there was such an explosion of sets that it was impossible to keep up and he felt that BBM had done a similar explosion around 1998 and 1999.  I got curious and decided to do a count of the number of sets that BBM had published each year (using SCM’s listings in SCM #110 as the “official” list) and see if Ryan was right.  Here are the counts:

Year Count
1991 3
1992 3
1993 3
1994 5
1995 6
1996 5
1997 8
1998 9
1999 11
2000 11
2001 12
2002 15
2003 19
2004 26
2005 27
2006 26
2007 33
2008 32
2009 34
2010 36
2011 38
2012 40
2013 48
2014 48
2015 16

Ryan’s right in that BBM did start to increase the number of sets they did each year in the late 1990’s but I think real explosion happened in the 2003-2004 time frame.

It’s pretty wild to look at the numbers.  BBM has done a total of 514 sets in 25 years (well, 24 plus four months so far this year).  The total number of sets they did their first 10 years (1991 to 2000) was only 64.  The total for their next 10 years (2001-2010) was 260.  Their total for just the four plus years since 2011 is 190!

After I did the counts, I decided that I needed to sit down and (finally) generate the complete list of BBM sets based on what was listed in SCM #110.  It took a couple weeks to do, but I’ve now added this list to the Set Index page.

The sets are listed in the same order that they appear in SCM – the odd change in how the sets are listed around 2012 is due to a change they made, not me.  There are a number of sets that they list in a particular year even though the year shown on the front of the card is different – for example the “Memories Of Uniform” set has “2015” on the front (so I consider it a 2015 set) but SCM includes it in the list of 2014 sets.  I’ve included Engel’s set notations where ever possible – since he hasn’t done a modern checklist since mid-2008, his number stop there.  Engel actually lists a number of sets that SCM does not – I’ll be adding them to the set index separately.  As far as I could tell, there was only one pre-2008 set that SCM listed that Engel did not which is pretty damned impressive if you ask me.

I’ve included links for any sets that I’ve written about – I think I’ve actually written posts on about 30% of the sets.

What I’d like to do is further expand the set index by including similar lists for the Epoch and Front Runner sets.  The Calbee sets are fairly self expanatory and any major earlier sets are already well covered by Engel.

Card Of The Week April 26

Kenny Ray of the Eagles did something no one else has ever done before this past week – he became the first pitcher in his 40’s to win his first four starts of the season.  The previous record of three was set by Lotte’s Choji Murata in 1990.

This is Ray’s second stint in Japan.  He had previously pitched for the Eagles in 2013, making five appearances (including three starts) down the stretch.  He also contributed five scoreless innings in the post season.

I was kind of surprised to discover there are almost no Japanese cards of Ray prior to this year.  It looks like he didn’t sign with the Eagles until mid way through the 2013 season (his first appearance with the ichi-gun team was in mid-July) so he didn’t make it into any of BBM’s sets that you might expect to find him in – 1st Version, 2nd Version or the Eagles team set.  He’s also not in the Eagles team issued card set.  I was kind of surprised to see that he did not appear in the “First Crown” box set that BBM issued to celebrate the Eagles’ first ever pennant.  And since the 2014 BBM Eagles 10th Anniversary set only had a “Best 9″ for the 2013 team, he didn’t make that set either.  According to the work that Jason’s done over at SportsCardForum, the only Japanese card of Ray from 2013 was from the fourth series of Owners League cards that year (#119).  He is in the new 2015 BBM 1st Version set (#140) as well as the BBM Eagles team set (#E18).

Had BBM continued to do Nippon Series sets, he would have had a card in the 2013 edition of that set.

I don’t have any of his Japanese cards yet (although I’ll have the 2015 1st Version card in a couple weeks) but while looking into his background, I did discover I have two minor league cards for him.  I used to spend a lot of time rooting for the Wilmington Blue Rocks and I found that I have a card of him from their 1995 team set (from Choice) as well as a card of him from a set the team did in 2000 celebrating former Blue Rocks who had made it to the majors:

1995 Choice Wilmington Blue Rocks #24

2000 Choice Blue Rocks In The Show #30

2013 BBM Masahiro Tanaka Invincibility Legend set

2013 was a pretty amazing year in NPB.  In the Central League you had Wladimir Balentien chasing (and eventually passing) Sadaharu Oh’s record for most home runs in a season (which was actually shared by Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera but they did it in the Pacific League) while in the Pacific League you had Masahiro Tanaka chasing an undefeated season – eventually ending the season at 24-0 while leading the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first ever pennant and Nippon Series championship.  It was a lot of fun for me to follow here on the East Coast of the US, waking up every morning to see what the two of them had done or (even better) getting to tune in via Justin.tv to watch them do it.

BBM published a box set in November of 2013 that celebrated Tanaka’s 24-0 season.   It was called something along the lines of “Unbeaten Legend” although according to Ryan, the kanji for the title could also be translated as “Invincibility Myth”.  I like the name “Invincibility Legend” myself so that’s what I’ve been going with.

The base set contains 27 cards.  24 of these cards commemorate each of Tanaka’s wins in 2013 (regular season only, not the Climax Series or Nippon Series).  The front of these cards shows a picture from the game in question while the back has the line score and other information about the game:

#01

Back of #01

Here’s some of the other cards for the victories:

#03

#11

#15

#18

#25

You’re probably asking yourself what the other three cards in the base set are for.  One of them is for Tanaka’s only save during the regular season that year – Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino brought him in to close the game in which the Eagles clinched the Pacific League pennant on September 26.

#23

Tanaka’s winning streak actually started with his last four wins in 2012 (for a total of 28) and one of the other cards in the set commemorates the first win of the streak against the Fighters on August 26, 2012 – the card is called “PROLOGUE to the Legend”.

The final card in the set is a shot of Tanaka with the idol group Momoiro Clover Z, of whom he apparently is a big fan.

#27

This was a difficult set to track down.  It had a print run of only 1500 sets and it seemed like everyone who got one was holding on to it.  Ryan has been scouring the card shops in Japan looking for an opened set but coming up empty.  I lucked into a set a few weeks ago on Yahoo! Japan Auctions.  Total cost including shipping and kuboTEN fees was around $30 which is much higher than I would normally pay for an opened box set but considering how rare these appear to be, I wasn’t too unhappy about it.

You can see all the base set cards over at Jambalaya.  Ryan’s post on the set goes into some detail about the premium cards that were also in the box with the base set.

New Japanese (and Korean) sets

Once again I’ve held off on posting about new sets coming out while waiting for BBM to get information about them up on their site and once again I’ve waited so long that some of the sets I’m waiting to mention are almost out.  So let’s get caught up a little…

– BBM’s Carp team set will be out in mid to late May.  It’s a pack based set that will have 81 cards in its base set – 70 player cards, 2 BIG COMEBACK cards and 9 SHINING ORDER cards.  There will be two nine card insert sets (“Heart & Soul” and “Contenders”) and the usual boatload of possible autograph cards.  (For the record, Niki has information on the Fighters, Dragons and Tigers team sets but BBM has not put up anything for them yet.)

– Front Runner Trading Cards latest offering is the third in their Heroes & Rookies series – this time it’s for the Baystars.  This is a box set containing 16 cards – a 15 card base set plus a possible autograph card.  As usual, there is a bewildering array of possible autograph cards that includes cards with two, three or four signatures on it.  The set is being released on April 29th (or thereabouts).

– Looks like Duael Entertainment is going to continue to publish “Super Star Baseball Cards” for the KBO this season.  They posted pictures of the 2015 Season One box to their Facebook page yesterday.  The set will be released on April 27.  There really aren’t any set details available (at least that I know about anyway) but just eyeballing the photos, I suspect that this set will be more similar to the Season Three and Blue Edition sets rather than the Season One and Two sets.  That would imply a more expensive ($50-ish) box with a smaller amount of base set cards and more short-print cards.  I would be very happy to be wrong about this however.

2015 Orix Players Card Set

I got another lot of team issued cards from Ebay in the mail today.  This batch is from the brand new 2015 Orix Players Card set – or at least that’s what I’m calling the set anyway.

Here’s the front and back of Ryoichi Adachi’s card:

The QR codes on the back of the card link to the Buffaloes website, their Facebook page and their Twitter page.

I did a little looking around on the Buffaloes website and I actually found some information about this set – it was a 75 card set containing all the players plus the mascots (and I assume the manager) that was sold in a binder for 3500 yen.  It looks like production was limited to only 250 sets and the team has sold out of them.

The fourteen cards I have are (using uniform numbers as there are no card numbers):
3 Ryoichi Adachi
6 Yuma Mune
12 Koudai Sano
18 Mamoru Kishida
23 Torai Fushimi
36 Ban Takagi
37 Kenya Wakatsuki
47 Tomoyuki Kaida
50 Yuya Oda
54 Yuki Tsutsumi
56 Kengo Takeda
60 Yuji Maeda
66 Kazunao Yamamoto
69 Kento Shibata

Apparently, the Buffaloes have issued a 70+ card set like this for each of at least the past five years – I found information on their site for the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 sets.  The 2013 set matches one of the other Orix sets that I have but the 2011 was does not.  Based on what Jason’s found as well as that 2011 set I have cards from, there are obviously other Orix sets other than the ones on their website.

I did find it interesting as I went through their “goods” related headlines in their new sections to see that they had announcements for Orix card sets from both BBM and Front Runner Trading Cards, including sets that aren’t exclusively Orix like BBM’s 1st and 2nd Version sets.  Unopened boxes for BBM’s sets can be found in the team’s online store.

Card Of The Week April 19

Masahiro Tanaka pitched an outstanding game for the Yankees yesterday, throwing 7 shutout innings against the Rays while only giving up two hits and striking out eight.  He also didn’t walk anyone.  As fan of Japanese baseball, I’m glad to see him doing well but as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, I wish he was doing it for someone else….

I thought I’d take this opportunity to follow up on something I said in my post on this year’s Rookie Edition set – for the past three years, BBM has included a “Then & Now” subset in the Rookie Edition set that pairs the top draft pick for each team with a veteran player.  For each of these three sets, the Eagles top draft pick (Yudai Mori, Yuki Matsui and Tomohiro Anraku) has been paired with Tanaka:

2013 BBM Rookie Edition #93

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #091

2015 BBM Rookie Edition #111

Hawks Team Issued Sets

Here are some cards from some Hawks sets I’ve picked up recently.  Jason has the list of all the cards I have (and their numbers if applicable) at his mongo Japanese team issued cards post.

2002 “Official Fan Club” card set:

2003 “Official Fan Club” set:

2007 “Club Hawks”:

The QR code appears to be a dead link.

2008 “Club Hawks”:

There appear to be at least two different versions of the 2014 “Hawks Players Card” sets.  One has action photos and the other has posed photos of the players pointing at the camera.  The backs are identical.  And by that I don’t mean they use the same design – I mean that the backs of all the cards in the two sets are exactly the same.

2014 “Hawks Players Card” action photo set:

2014 “Hawks Players Card” posed photo set:

One interesting Hawks set that Jason lists is the 2015 “Spring Camp” set.  17 of these cards were available on Ebay recently although they were a bit more expensive than I was willing to pay.  According to the seller, they were available only to fans visiting the Hawks spring training in Miyazaki and are fairly rare in Japan.

Card Of The Week April 12

For some reason runs were very hard to come by in Sendai this past week.  On Tuesday, the Hawks and Eagles played to a scoreless tie in 12 innings, the first tie of the season.  On Wednesday, the two teams went another 9 and a half scoreless innings until the Eagles finally pushed a run across in the bottom of the 10th.  The run was scored on a leadoff walk to Toshihoto Abe, a sacrifice bunt by Akihisa Makida, intentional walks to Kazuo Matsui and Kazuya Fujita and a sacrifice fly by Takero Okajima.  I imagine that Okajima looked something like this when he saw the run score:

2013 BBM Eagles #E96

2015 Calbee Series One

The first of three expected sets from Calbee this year was released a couple weeks back.  The base set contains 103 cards, split up between 84 “regular” player cards, 12 “Exciting Scene” cards, 3 “Legend” cards and four checklist cards.

The design of the front of the “regular” player cards for Calbee has been essentially unchanged since around 1997 it’s actually big news this year that there’s a bit of change this year.  Instead of the players name being in white text, this year it’s in black text with a white outline.  Other than that, this year’s cards pretty much look like every other Calbee set, including the great photography:

#065

#014

#033

#045

#004

The 84 “regular” player cards are split up evenly between the 12 NPB teams with each team having seven cards.  Many of the photos are from last year but Calbee did manage to include several players who changed teams over the winter, either returning from MLB (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kensuke Tanaka and Hiroyuki Nakajima) or changing NPB teams (Eiichi Koyano, Keiji Ohbiki and Yoshihisa Naruse) as well as a couple rookies (Tomohiro Anraku and Kohei Arihara).  Another notable player included is Alfredo Despaigne – this is his first Japanese card other than an SCM insert card last year.  (And there are players included in the set other than Yamazaki and Higa.)

The “Exciting Scene” subset (or non-premium insert set) commemorates 12 “exciting” events from last year, one for each team.  As usual I’m not entirely sure what the events are but the players in the subset include Shohei Ohtani, Masahiro Yamamoto, Shintaro Fujinami, Tetsuto Yamada, Rainel Rosario and Daisuke Miura:

#ES-11

The three card “Legend” subset is for three players who retired at the end of the 2014 season – Atsunori Inaba, Makoto Kaneko and Tomoya Satozaki.  Calbee had a similar subset in Series One last year.

#L-3

The four checklist cards feature team celebrations from either late last season or the post season – the Hawks winning the Nippon Series, the Giants clinching the Central League title in September, the Buffaloes winning Game 2 of Stage One of the Pacific League Climax Series (kind of odd since they didn’t win the First Stage, the Fighters did) and the Tigers beating the Giants in the Final Stage of the Central League Climax Series:

#C-4

All the cards can be seen at Jambalaya (including the Star inserts and some of the mail-in premium sets and cards).

Gurriel

I don’t have a whole lot to add to the discussions that have been going on regarding DeNA’s decision to void Yulieski Gurriel’s contract and place Lourdes Gurriel on the restricted list.  I think it’s a shame that the elder Gurriel will not be in the Baystars lineup this year and I can’t help feeling that the possibility of Gurriel being able to move to MLB in the near future is a factor in all of this somehow. But what do I know?

Actually what I do know is that despite the voiding of his contract, there will most likely be cards of Yulieski Gurriel in Japan this year.  The BBM 1st Version checklist that appears in SCM 110 lists two cards for him – his “regular” card (#286) and a Cross Plasma card (#CP32).  (The Cross Plasma card appears on the webpage for the set at BBM’s web site).  I suspect that it’s unlikely that BBM will remove the card from the set as it’s probably too late to do so – the set will be released in less than two weeks.

2015 BBM Softbank Hawks 10th Anniversary

BBM put out a set celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Softbank buying the Hawks from Daiei about a month and a half ago.  This set was a pack based set and featured 81 cards in its base set that were split between three groups – OB players, 2014 players and “Memories Of The Decade”.

There are 63 cards for OB Softbank Hawks players.  As usual this includes both retired players as well as former Hawks who are still active either in NPB (like Toshiya Sugiuchi) or MLB (Munenori Kawasaki, Tsuyoshi Wada).  The only two managers that the Softbank Hawks have had – Sadaharu Oh and Koji Akiyama – are included in this group.  The rest of the players include pretty much every one you’d expect – Kazumi Saitoh, Hiroki Kokubo, Nagisa Arakaki, Arihito Muramatsu, Julio Zuleta, Naoyuki Ohmura and Jose Ortiz for example.  There really isn’t anyone I could think of who is missing from the set.  I thought there were a few players who were included that were kind of odd picks – both Kenji Johjima and Tony Batista only played one season for Softbank (both in 2005) but at least both were significant contributors that one season.  There’s a couple other guys who I’m really wondering why they were included – Yudai Deguchi (6 ABs in 10 games in 2005), Tetsuya Matoyama (40 games in 2008) and Masanori Taguchi (10 ABs in 6 games in 2005).  I wonder if BBM was scrambling to get enough players to fill in 63 cards.  The photos on the cards are nice but fairly unremarkable:

#20

#45

#49

There are nine cards for the 2014 Hawks.  It’s not quite a Best 9 for the 2014 team – there are two pitchers (Kenji Ohtonari and Tadashi Settsu) but no catcher.  The other seven players are Yuya Hasegawa, Yuichi Honda, Kenta Imamiya, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Seiichi Uchikawa and Yuki Yanagita.

#70

The “Memories of The Decade” subset is also nine cards.  Instead of being numbered with the rest of the set, they are numbered M01 to M09.  The “memories” being commemorated are the official introduction of the Softbank Hawks in January 2005, the Interleague Championship in June 2008, Koji Akiyama taking over as manager from Sadaharu Oh in October of 2008, clinching 1st place in September 2010 (I think), the 2011 Nippon Series Championship, their walkoff win against Orix last October to clinch 1st place, their 2014 Nippon Series Championship, Kimiyasu Kudoh being named manager in November 2014 and Daisuke Matsuzaka being signed in December 2014.

#M09

I’m not going to lie – this is an odd little set.  First of all, it’s kind of strange that this set came out this year rather than last year since 2014 was Softbank’s 10th season (the Eagles started in 2005 as well and their 10th Anniversary set came out last year).  It’s also kind of odd that 44% of the most memorable moments for the Hawks happened between October and December of last year.  It’s also extremely odd that all the player cards show the players in their home white uniforms – no away jerseys, none of the colorful alternate jerseys, nothing but white tops.  I kind of get the feeling that the Hawks and/or BBM decided that they needed to get a card out of Matsuzaka in a Softbank uniform as quickly as possible and worked backward from there.  This set just seems kind of superfluous, especially considering that there was a 75th Anniversary set for the Hawks just a few years ago.

You can see all the cards at Jambalaya and Ryan has a post describing the set as well.

Card Of The Week April 5

The Giants beat the Tigers yesterday by a score of 9 to 5.  This was significant because it was the 1000th time that the Giants had beaten the Tigers in the two team’s history going all the way back to 1936.  If I’m reading the translation of this Nikkan Sports article correctly, it looks like the Giants’ first ever victory against the Tigers was Eiji Sawamura’s no-hitter against them on September 25, 1936.  This was also the first no-hitter in Japanese professional baseball history.

BBM commemorated this no-hitter (as well as almost all the others in Japan up until 2012) with a card in the 2012 No-Hitters set.  Since it was the first no-hitter, it’s the first card in the set:

H/T Yakyu Baka for the link to the Nikkan Sports article