Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blue, Gold And Fade To Black

The company that's been issuing cards for the KBO for the past three years (SMG/Duael/Ntreev) has issued card sets in the off season each year - the Blue Edition was issued in 2014-15, the Gold Edition was issued in 2015-16 and the Black Edition was issued in 2016-17.  The boxes for these sets were pretty much guaranteed to contain multiple memorabilia and/or autograph cards and so sold for a higher amount (~$38) than the boxes for the other sets (which were ~16).  Because of the higher price (not ridiculously high but just more than I wanted to invest in KBO cards) I never bought any boxes for the sets.  But thanks to trading with and buying cards from the three amigos of Korean Baseball cards - Dan, George and Justin - I was able to get the base sets for all three sets.  I had never done any posts on these cards so I thought I would do so now.

The base set for the Blue Edition has 80 cards in it.  There are 27 "Gold Normal" cards and 53 "Normal" cards.  The "Gold Normal" cards are very odd - there are three cards per team (remember that the KT Wiz did not start play until 2015 so in 2014 there were only nine teams in the KBO) and each card features a re-cropped photo of a player featured in one of the earlier sets from 2014 (Season One, Season Two or Season Three).  For example, here's the card of Seung-Youp Lee from Season Two next to his "Gold Normal" card:

#SBC02-004 & #SBCBE-146-GN
A couple of the players featured had short-printed "All Star" cards in the Season One set so their "Gold Normal" card shows a significantly re-cropped photo like this one for Joo-Chan Kim:

#SBC01-101 & SBCBE-167-GN
It's a bit hard to tell from the scans but the "Gold Normal" cards use the same design as the Season Two and Three cards except that there are gold lines around the edges.

The 53 "Normal" cards are split up between 27 player cards (3 per team) and a logo, mascot and group shot for each team (except there's no mascot card for the Sk Wyverns).  Each player in the "Normal" cards had a short printed "All Star" card in the Season One set (which means that there's a couple players like Kim who have cards in both the "Gold Normal" and "Normal" cards.  The card design is the same as the Season Two and Three cards.  Here's a couple examples:

#SBCBE-175-N (Byung-Kyu Lee)

#SBCBE-192-N (Tae-Hyon Chong)

#SBCBE-194-N (Jung-Bae Park)
Here's examples for the team logo, mascot and team photo cards:

#SBCBE-208-N

#SBCBE-214-N

#SBCBE-218-N
The backs of the player cards in both subsets matches the backs of the cards in the earlier three sets:


The full checklist for the set is up at TradingCardDB.

I have to say that the base sets for the Gold and Black Editions aren't anywhere near as interesting as the one for the Blue Edition.  Both sets had a 50 card base set that was entirely made up of "Normal" cards (five per team).  All the cards are player cards - no team cards of any sort.  There doesn't seem to be any pattern to the player selection for the cards although I could be missing something obvious.  The design used is different than any of the other sets issued in either year.  Here's some sample cards from the Gold Edition set:

#SBCGE-089-N

#SBCGE-094-N

#SBC-069-N

#SBCGE-105-N

Back of #SBCGE-113-N
And here's some examples from the Black Edition:

#SBCBK-076-N (Si-Heon Son)

#SBCBK-102-N (Jong-Yoon Park)

#SBCBK-073-N (Dae-Woo Kim)

#SBCBK-087-N (Jae-Sang Park)

Back of #SBCBK-083-N
TradingCardDB has the full checklists for both the Gold and Black Editions.

The Black Edition apparently will be the last KBO set done by SMG/Ntreev, etc.  According to George they lost their license to do the cards and another company has supposedly stepped in.  No set has been released this year yet however.

I want to thank Dan, George and Justin for providing me with all of these cards.  I especially want to thank Justin - he's back in the States now and was kind enough to invite me to join him at a Frederick Keys game with his father and girlfriend back in April.  I had a great afternoon hanging out at the ballpark with the three of them and talking baseball and Justin gave me my Black Edition set there.

A Bowman Shohei Ohtani Card?

I got a comment this morning on my post about the 2017 Bowman WBC cards from a reader named "Drec" who said that his son had pulled "the Shohei Ohtani purple mega refractor" from a pack of Bowman cards.  My first thought was that he must have been mistaken and meant Sugano or Yamada.  But I started doing a little research and some Ebay searches and discovered that yes, there is a 2017 Bowman card for Shohei Ohtani (or "Shohei Otani" as he appears on the cards).  Here's a somewhat blurry scan of the front and back of the card that I swiped off of Ebay:


The card does not appear in Topps' on-line checklist for the Bowman set.  It apparently is only available in the Bowman Mega Packs which features cards from a checklist roughly the same as the Bowman Chrome Prospects checklist except that card #31 (Chance Adams) has been replaced with Ohtani.  From what I see on Ebay there's a number of different parallels of the card available as well.

It rankles me a bit that there's a WBC card of Ohtani since he didn't actually play in the WBC but I'm probably in the minority on that issue.

So thank you Drec for making me aware of this card and my apologies for doubting you at first!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Card Of The Week May 21

The Kintetsu Buffaloes were not one of the more successful NPB franchises over their 55 season lifespan (from 1950 to 2004).  They didn't finish higher than fourth until their 20th season (1969) and had finished last 14 times before that.  But they had a stretch in the mid to late 1970's where they were quite good for a few years.  They won the Pacific League pennant for the first time ever in 1979 and met the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Nippon Series.

The two teams split the first six games of the Series with the home team winning every game (the Buffaloes were playing their home games in the Series in Osaka Stadium because they were embroiled in a legal spat with their neighbors about adding lights to Fujidera Stadium, their home ballpark, that wouldn't get resolved until 1984).  In Game Seven, the Carp carried a 4 to 3 lead into the bottom of the ninth (the first bottom of the ninth to be played in the Series) with their ace reliever Yutaka Enatsu on the mound.  But things got difficult quickly.

Koichi Hada lead off the inning with a single up the middle.  Hada was replaced by pinch runner Shiro Fujise.  During the next batter Chris Arnold's at bat Fujise broke for second.  The throw from Carp catcher Shiro Mizunuma was short and bounced past shortstop Yoshihiko Takahashi into center field.  Fujise went to third on the error.  Enatsu then walked Arnold and Buffaloes manager Yukio Nishimoto replaced him with pinch runner Tokuichi Fukiishi who promptly stole second without a throw during the next at bat (for Mitsuyasu Hirano).  Hirano (who had homered earlier in the game) was then issued an intentional walk, loading the bases with nobody out.

The pitcher's spot in the lineup was due up next and Nishimoto sent pinch hitter Kyosuke Sasaki up to bat for pitcher Tetsuju Yamaguchi.  Sasaki hit a shot down the third baseline that was just foul as it crossed the base - a fair ball would probably have won the Series for the Buffaloes.  Instead Sasaki ended up striking out.  So now it was one out with the bases still loaded.

Next up was leadoff hitter Shigeru Ishiwata.  The Buffaloes attempt a suicide squeeze but Carp manager Takeshi Koba had anticipated this and called for a pitchout.  Enatsu's pitch comes in high and outside and Ishiwata misses it.  Fujise is hung up between third and home and Mizunuma runs him down and tags him out for the second out.  Ishiwata then strikes out and the Carp win Series, their first ever championship.

You can watch all of this in the following video - the fateful ninth inning starts at the 1:53 mark:



The Buffaloes would ultimately never win a Nippon Series.  They would lose again to the Carp in seven games in 1980, lose in seven to the Giants in 1989 (after being up 3-0) and lose in five to the Swallows in 2001.  1979 was the seventh time that Nishimoto had managed a team into the Series without winning it - his eighth and final time would be in 1980.

Calbee issued a 23 card series in late 1979 celebrating that Nippon Series.  The fateful suicide squeeze attempt was immortalized on one of the cards:



Here's another picture showing the play from the book "Nostalgic Stadiums Of Kansai":


Monday, May 15, 2017

RIP SCM

I'm getting around to this kind of late but it looks like BBM has decided to stop publishing Sports Card Magazine.  Issue #121 which came out at the end of January was apparently the last issue.

A reader (LEWIS JOHN) had commented back at the end of March that #121 had contained a notice that it was the last issue.  I hadn't noticed the notice but since I don't read Japanese it was easy for me to miss.  I went looking through the issue and I found something that looked like it could be it on page 32:


I ended up contacting Deanna Rubin and asking her for the gist of what the text said (and to confirm that it really was something about the end of the magazine).  She said that it said "basically they are thanking all the people who were awaiting the next issue and apologizing for the trouble it will cause, but apparently they will be continuing online on Sportsclick".

This is a disappointing development to say the least.  Sportsclick is BBM's website (which still shows SCM #121) and while it will contain information for BBM's upcoming card releases, it does not have checklists for the sets or the JSCA price guide.  Or promo baseball cards for that matter.  I'm kind of hoping that BBM does continue publishing the magazine or something similar according to a different schedule (something other than bi-weekly).

I had also asked Ryan about the fate of SCM and he had confirmed at a card store (Mint Kanda I think) that they were finished publishing the magazine.

So that's it in a nutshell - no more Sports Card Magazine, at least for now.  Thanks to Deanna, Ryan and LEWIS JOHN for all the information they provided.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Card Of The Week May 14

For the second time this season the Tokyo Yakult Swallows today won a game on a walk off grand slam.  The first time was back on April 2nd when Atsushi Ugumori beat the Baystars in the bottom of the tenth.  This time it was Takahiro Araki beating the Dragons in the bottom of the ninth.  Here's a highlight video of the game - Araki's at bat starts at about the 0:50 mark:



Araki was the third round pick of the Swallows in the 2009 draft out of Kinki University.  He debuted with the ichi-gun team in 2010 but has spent much of his career with the farm team.  Here's a card of him from the "Recommended Hope" subset from the 2011 BBM 1st Version set (#404):


Saturday, May 13, 2017

2005 Calbee Title Holder Special Box Set


I picked up an odd little set off of Ebay a couple weeks ago.  It's a box set containing the "Title Holder" cards from the 2005 Calbee Series One set.  I'm not completely sure on this but I'm assuming that this was a set available as a mail-in redemption when receiving a "Lucky" card in a pack.

There were 21 "Title Holder" cards in the set.  As usual, they celebrate the players who either lead the league in a statistical category in 2004 or won one of the major awards (MVP, Rookie Of The Year, Sawamura).  Unlike the BBM "Leader" cards there was only one card for each player, even if the player won more than one award or lead in more than one category.

According to Engel, there were three different versions of each "Title Holder" card.  There was the "normal" version which had kind of a shiny lattice work background, a "kira" version which had a "sparkling" background and a "gold signature kira" version which had the "sparkling" background as well as a gold facsimile signature.  The cards in the box set are all the "gold signature kira" version which I'm assuming is the only way those parallels were available.

Here's the "normal" and "gold signature kira" versions of Ryo Kawashima's card:


The backs of the cards were identical:


I grabbed an image from the Calbee Collector's website to show the other version as well.  This photo shows the normal version a lot better than my scan above does:


As you might expect, there's a pretty good selection of players in the set.  There are eight guys who would go on to play in MLB - Ryota Igarashi, Kei Igawa, Hisashi Iwakuma, Kenshin Kawakami, Munenori Kawasaki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yoshinori Tateyama and Koji Uehara plus a bunch of big names like Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Tomoaki Kanemoto and Tuffy Rhodes.

#T-01

T-11

#T-08
The cards themselves look much better than they do in the scans.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2013 Giants Players Card

I picked up an interesting item in a lot of cards I got on Ebay recently.  It's a Giants team issued card from 2013 that features Tetsuya Matsumoto on one side and Ryota Wakiya on the other, making it essentially a two sided card.  Each side is similar in design to the fronts of the other 2013 Giants Players Cards I have, except that the biographical info for each player is also on their side of the card.