Sunday, October 23, 2016

Calbee Card Albums

I've been wanting for a while to talk about Calbee card albums.  Calbee has offered card albums as redemption prizes ever since they first started publishing cards in 1973.  Based on posts from Ryan and Sean it looks like the albums had photos on them in the 1970's, moved to more generic graphics in the 1980's and nowadays just have the team logos on them.  I have a couple from the 1970's and one from the 1980's.

This first one is from 1974 and depicts scenes from Shigeo Nagashima's retirement ceremony.  The album features 12 3 pocket cellophane pages so it could hold 36 cards if you wanted to read the backs or 72 if you put the cards in back to back.  It is held together by two metal "eyelets" and lies flat.

Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

Back Cover
The next one is one that Ryan just sent me last month.  It's from 1976 and features Sadaharu Oh on the occasion of his 715th home run (which pushed him past Babe Ruth).  The interior covers contain a biogrpahy of Oh.  Like the Nagashima album, this one has 12 3 pocket cellophane sheets and lays flat.

Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

Back Cover
The last album I have that has photos on it is from 1979.  Calbee made some changes between 1975 and 1979.  The album is not as wide as the earlier ones and contains 12 2 card cellophane sheets (dropping the number of cards it can hold to 24 or 48 back to back).  It also has a spine so it doesn't lay flat like the others.  The front is kind of an odd photo - there's two Sadaharu Oh's standing next to each other.  One of them is finishing swing a bat and looks like he's about to clock the Tigers catcher.  Calbee like this photo enough that they apparently used it on a least four different albums in 1979 (with four different border colors - red, yellow, green and blue) and at least one album in 1980 (with a yellow border).  The inside covers have a sequence of pictures of Tigers pitcher Shigeru Kobayashi and the back cover features a photo of Masayuki Kakefu of the Tigers (with Mike Reinbach in the background) and Koji Yamamoto of the Carp.

Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

Back Cover
The 1988 album I have is roughly the same size as the 1979 album and also has a spine.  Instead of 12 2 pocket cellophane sheets, however, this album has four paper pages that unfold from the album.  Each page has 12 cellophane pockets on it so the album could take 48 cards total - but you wouldn't be able to read the backs of the cards without taking them out.  Sean has this album as well as the 1987 one which is nearly identical.  The only way I (and he) have labelled this one as being from 1988 is because the inside covers list all the Nippon Series winners up to 1987.  A previous owner of my album must have used it for his 1987 cards as someone has written "1987" on it in a couple places.

Front Cover

Inside Front Cover

Inside Back Cover

Back Cover
The 1973 Calbee book I picked up a few months back has photos of a number the 1970's albums in it:

pp 4-5

p. 7

pp. 8-9

pp. 10-11
The albums show up on Ebay every so often and usually aren't terribly expensive.  It is hard for me to decide to pick one up rather than get more Calbee cards however.

Card Of The Week October 23

The first two games of this year's Nippon Series have been played and so far it's been all Carp.  Hiroshima has won both games by identical scores of 5-1.  The Series will resume on Tuesday in Sapporo.

The TV coverage showed footage of previous Nippon Series with the Carp and the Fighters a couple of times during Game One's broadcast.  Since the last time the Fighters won the Series was only 10 years ago in 2006, I wondered how many players on the Fighter's Series roster were on the Series roster back then.  I'm pretty sure that the answer is only one - Kensuke Tanaka.  There are three other layers from that roster that are still with the team - Yuji Iiyama, Hisashi Takeda and Masaru Takeda - but all three played mostly with the ni-gun team this year and I'm reasonably sure that none of them is on the Series roster.  What I was surprised to discover was that Daikan Yoh was not on the 2006 Series roster - he didn't play in a Nippon Series until 2007.  I caught glimpses of an outfielder with red-dyed hair playing the outfield in some of the clips of the 2006 Series, but that must have been Tsuyoshi Shinjyo instead.

Here's Kensuke Tanaka's card from the 2006 BBM Nippon Series set (#S15):

That's three weeks in a row that I've used a card from one of BBM's Nippon Series sets as Card Of The Week - I think I'm in a rut...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

2016 BBM Team Sets

After last year's experiment with buying each of BBM's pack based team sets went so well, I decided to do it again this year.  Like last year, the only way I was able to do this was because Ryan doggedly tracked down every set for me and tirelessly found good deals.  So once again I want to thank Ryan for all he does for me and again hope that I haven't exhausted his patience.

Like last year, this year's BBM pack based team sets (as opposed to the various team box sets) had 81 cards in their base sets (except one which I'll explain in a minute).  Each set featured the team's manager as well as all the players on the team's 70 man roster at the time the set went to press (which was never 70 players).  Each set also had several subsets plus at least one card showing the team's mascots (the Marines had four!).  Several of the sets also had a separate checklist card.  (Some of the sets had the set checklist on the back of the mascot card).  Here's a breakdown of the cards in each set:

Team Player/Manager Cards Mascot Cards Checklist Subsets
Chiba Lotte Marines 64 4 1 2015 Highlight (1), 2015 Honor (2), Strong Six Pack (6), Sonic Boom (3)
Chunichi Dragons 69 1 0 2016 Highlights(6), Key Player(3), Respectable(3)
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 67 1 1 Triple Three (3), 2 (3), Road To Record (5), 2015 Champions (1)
Hanshin Tigers 68 1 0 The Brightest Hope(3), Empowerment(3), Franchise Player(3), Great Record (3)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 68 1 0 Take The Mound(3), Rising(3), Show Time(3), Honor Of Carp (3)
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 66 1 0 Brilliant Stars (11), Early Sensation (3)
Orix Buffaloes 68 1 0 Newcomer(3), Bs Starters (3), Bs Backbone (3), Bs Leaders (3)
Saitama Seibu Lions 70 1 1 New Impact (3), Record Breaker (3), Gold Standard '15 (3)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 68 1 0 Newcomer (6), Make A Headline (6)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 68 1 0 Combination (3), 2015 Leaders (3), Newcomer (6)
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 68 1 1 Award Winners (2), Puzzle (9)
Yomiuri Giants 65 1 0 Speed Star (3), New Face (5), Force To Recapture (6)

If you do the math, you'll notice that the Giants set only has 80 cards.  Card number 10 (Kyosuke Takagi) was not issued.  Takagi was released by Yomiuri on March 24th, after the set had gone to press but before it was released.

Like last year, there's a number of "significant" players who had cards in the team sets but not in BBM's flagship sets - Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tony Blanco, Hotaka Yamakawa, Kam Mickolio and Yuki Saitoh for example (and obviously "significant" may have different meanings for different persons)  Here's an example card from each of the twelve sets showing a player who did not appear in either the 1st or 2nd Version sets this year:

2016 BBM Marines #M50

2016 BBM Dragons #D35

2016 BBM Hawks #H07

2016 BBM Tigers #T67

2016 BBM Carp #C66

2016 BBM Fighters #F11

2016 BBM Buffaloes #Bs54

2016 BBM Lions #L51

2016 BBM Eagles #E20

2016 BBM Swallows #S32

2016 BBM Baystars #DB31

2016 BBM Giants #G61
The sets were released between March and July.  Normally the Giants set is the last one to be released but I think BBM wanted to get a card of Yoshinobu Takahashi as manager out as soon as possible so instead the set came out in March.  You can see that each set has a different design.  I really liked the Dragons set this year and not just because I'm a Dragons fan.  I felt it had the most attractive design.  The designs that I liked the least were the Hawks, the Eagles, the Swallows and the Giants, simply because I don't really care for card designs that crowd the photos.

If Ryan's willing to help me out again (translation - do all the work again) next year, I think I'll do this again.  I really like feeling like I've got cards of everyone and this is the best way to do that.

2016 Calbee Series Three

Going to start getting caught up on posts I wanted to to while in testing hell but seeing as I'll be on the road next week, I don't think I'm going to get very far...

Calbee Series Three was released about a month ago.  At 88 cards, it's the same size as Series Two which was the smallest Calbee Series in recent memory.  There's 72 player cards (six per team, numbered 145 to 216), 12 "Exciting Scene" subset cards and four checklist cards.

While the first two Series of the year didn't have any duplication of players in the "regular" cards, the "regular" cards from the third Series has around 30 players who appeared in the first two sets, including Shintaro Fujinami, Yoshio Itoi, Sho Nakata, Hayato Sakamoto, Daichi Suzuki, Kazuo Matsui and Yuki Matsui.  Other players in the set include Ernesto Mejia, Takehiro Norimoto, Dennis Sarfate, Hideaki Wakui, Takeya Nakamura and Seiya Suzuki.  As usual, the photography for the cards is very good.

#164 Yuji Onizaki

#162 Yoshifumi Okada

#153 Sho Nakata

#187 Hayato Sakamoto

#175 Yuki Matsui

#201 Ryosuke Kikuchi

#198 Shintaro Fujinami
The "Exciting Scene" subset features an "exciting scene" (obviously) for each of the 12 teams during the first part of the season.  This includes Rick Van Den Hurk setting the record for most consecutive wins at the beginning of an NPB career, Shohei Ohtani setting the record for fastest pitch at 163 kph (which he has since upped twice), Chihiro Kaneko getting his 100th career victory and Kosuke Fukudome and Takahiro Arai getting their 2000th hits.  Here's the card of Tetsuto Yamada which commemorates him hitting home runs against each of the other 11 NBP teams this year:

The four checklist cards (numbered C-9 to C-12 as a continuation of the checklist cards in the earlier two Series) show highlights from the early part of the season - Yoshihisa Hirano's 100th save, Kazuki Yoshimi getting his first win in 379 days, Louis Okoye's first hit and (I think) Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh's two home run game vs the Dragons on May 10th.  Here's the Hirano card:

As always you can see all the cards in the set (including the "Star" premium insert set and the "Lucky Card" box set) at Jambalaya.

Friday, October 21, 2016

2017 NPB Draft

The annual NPB draft was held yesterday - I guess that technically it should be referred to as the 2016 draft but since the BBM baseball card of everyone drafted will say they were drafted in 2017, I'm going to call it the 2017 draft.  Deanna live blogged the draft again and Gen of YakyuDB has a round by round list for both the regular and ikusei portions of the draft.

My part of this tradition the past eight years is to list the existing baseball cards of the draftees.  The list of cards has grown smaller over the past few years as BBM hasn't done a collegiate baseball card set since 2013.  This year there's only one draftee who appears in any of BBM's collegiate sets - Yuhei Takanashi who was drafted in the ninth round by Rakuten from JX-ENEOS of the industrial leagues.  Takanashi attended Waseda University from 2011 to 2014 (I assume he played for JX-ENEOS in 2015 and 2016) and appears in two of BBM's TOkyo Big Six sets:

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #27

2012 BBM Tokyo Big Six #08
For the second year in a row the only players from the Shikoku Island League that got drafted were ones that had played on the All Star team in the Can-Am League.  There were three players drafted - Yusuke Kinoshita of the Tokushima Indigo Socks (Dragons, ikusei round 1), Shungo Fukunaga also of Tokushima (Tigers, round 6) and Yusuke Matsuzawa of the Kagawa Olive Guyners (Giants, ikusei round 8).  Matsuzawa was drafted by the Giants in the first round of the ikusei draft last year but did not sign - he's kind of the reverse Hisayoshi Chono.  As far as I can tell from looking at the team websites, the only Shikoku Island League teams to do team sets last year were Ehime and Kochi so there aren't any cards of Kinoshita, Fukunaga or Matsuzawa, at last for 2016.

I don't know how many other former Tokyo Big Six players with baseball cards are out there in the industrial or independent leagues who could be drafted in the future so this may be my last draft post.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Card Of The Week October 16

The matchup for this year's Nippon Series is set with the Central League (and Climax Series) Champion Hiroshima Toyo Carp taking on the Pacific League (and Climax Series) Champion Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.  Not sure who's the favorite but I will point out that the Pacific League has dominated the Central League in the Nippon Series recently.  Since 2003, the Pacific League team has beaten the Central League team in 10 of the 13 Series played.  What should give Carp fans hope however is that the Fighters were the team to lose those three Series - to the Dragons in 2007 and the Giants in 2009 and 2012.

This will be the first Nippon Series that the Carp appear in without Hall Of Famer Koji Yamamoto in uniform.  Yamamoto played outfield for the Carp in their first five Series (1975, 1979, 1980, 1984 and 1986) and was their manager in their sixth (1991).

Here's a card of Yamamoto from the 1975/76 Calbee set (#274) showing him in action in the 1975 Series.  I'm pretty sure this is from Game Three of the Series played on October 28, 1975 and shows him rounding the bases after homering off of Takashi Yamaguchi of the Hankyu Braves in the sixth inning.  The Carp would lose that game and the Series but Yamamoto would win the "Fighting Spirit" award - basically the MVP of the losing team.

Here's a card of him managing the Carp in the 1991 Series.  They would lose that one as well, this time to the Seibu Lions:

1991 BBM Nippon Series #S29

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quick Post On New Stuff

I apologize for the lack of posts in the last week or so - I've been buried under testing at work lately and it's not going to get any better in the immediate future.  I'm going to take this opportunity to try to catch up on a couple new releases that I haven't gotten around to mentioning.

- BBM released the latest of their "Authentic Edition" team box sets today.  It's called "Fly On" and it's for the Hawks.  There's 28 cards in the box - 27 cards for the base set and 1 "special" card that is either a memorabilia or autograph card.  You can see the base set over at Jambalaya.

- Epoch will be releasing a "Season Summary" set for the Yokohama DeNA Baystars in late November.  I'm not sure but I think each box (with an MSRP of 11,200 JPY) contains 22 cards - 18 base set cards, 1 "Holographic" parallel card, 1 insert card and 2 "special" insert cards.  I think there are either 36 or 28 cards in the base set.  The "special" insert cards include a bewildering variety of autograph and memorabilia cards.

- The Swallows are issuing their third "Fan's Choice" card set in as many years.  While the previously ones have only featured three players, I think this one features six - Tetsuto Yamada, Tomotaka Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Satoh, Yasuhiro Ogawa, Shingo Kawabata and the mascot Tsubakuro.  The set will be sold in boxes of 20 six card packs.  The base set contains 54 cards (9 per player) plus 18 "special" cards (3 per player) and 12 "rare" cards - a "photo" and "mini colored paper" card for each player.  There are also various autograph and memorabilia cards available.  The set will be released around November 26.