Sunday, June 16, 2019

Card Of The Week June 16

Daisuke Shioya had a kind of interesting career.  He was a pitcher in high school but became an outfielder when he went to Asia University.  He dropped out of college and signed with the Johnstown Steal of the independent Frontier League in the US in 1998.  He both pitched and played outfield in a total of seven games with the Steal, hitting .000 and running up an ERA of 5.14.  He returned to Japan and eventually declared for the NPB draft in 2002.  He was 26 years old when he was drafted in the seventh round by the Orix BlueWave and apparently was already married and had a child.  I've always gotten a kick out of the fact that his baby appeared on his 2003 BBM Rookie Edition card with him (#89):


He made a couple appearances with the ichi-gun BlueWave in April of 2003 but despite pitching reasonable well (no runs, no hits and only one walk in two innings over three appearances) Orix sent him back to the farm team where he remained for the rest of his career (which ended after the 2005 season).  If I'm reading the translation of his Japanese Wikipedia page correctly he switched to being an outfielder and then back to being a pitcher after his appearances with the top team.

Happy Father's Day to Shioya and all the other fathers out there.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Shikoku Island League All Stars 3

For the third time in five years an all star team from the Shikoku Island League is going to be playing in the CanAm League.  Starting tomorrow night and continuing for the next three weeks this team will play 19 games in the league that will count in the league's standings.

The roster for the team is not available on the CanAm League's website yet but there's a pdf available from the Shikoku Island League's website for the roster - although there's been one change - Kagawa pitcher Akifumi Matayoshi stepped down due to injury and was replaced by a pitcher from Ehime named Yudai Hayashi (I think).

As I did with the 2015 and 2016 versions of this team, I took a look at the roster to see which players and coaches had NPB cards.  The answer is not many.

2000 BBM Preview #P125
The only player on the roster with NPB experience is Ehime Mandarin Pirate pitcher Itsuki Shoda.  Shoda is the only player on the roster to appear on the previous CanAm league squads.  Shoda was the first round pick of the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the fall 1999 draft and was the Pacific League Rookie Of The Year in 2003.  He was traded to the Tigers following the 2006 season for Takehito Kanazawa and was released by Hashin after two seasons.  He spent the next two seasons in Taiwan with the Sinon Bulls before making an attempt to join the Red Sox in the spring of 2011.  After being released by Boston he joined Niigata Albirex of the Baseball Challenge League.  He spent the next two seasons with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, then started the 2014 season back in Taiwan with the Lamigo Monkeys but he was released after two months.  He then joined Ehime where he's been ever since.  TradingCardDB.com has a list of NPB and CPBL cards for him - this may not be a complete list.

2005 BBM Fighters #F38
Teppai Komai is the hitting coach (I think) for the team.  He was a sixth round pick of the Fighters in the 2000 draft.  He spent his entire career (2001-08) with the Fighters, almost entirely with their farm team.  He had one at bat in one game at the ichi-gun level in 2003.  He was the bullpen coach for the Fighters for three years after he retired and became a coach with the Tokushima Indigo Socks starting in 2016.  Besides a card in the 2001 BBM flagship set all of his cards are from BBM's Fighters team sets.

2002 BBM Fighters #031
Team manager Testsu Yofu has had an interesting career.  After graduating from Asia University, Yofu spent several years playing for Nissan Motor in Japan's corporate leagues.  He made the move to professional baseball in 2001 at age 27 when he joined the Brother Elephants in Taiwan.  He won a Gold Glove that season and was named MVP of the Taiwan Series.  He decided to try his luck in NPB after that and was a seventh round pick of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the fall 2001 draft.  He spent all of 2002 on the Hawks farm team and was released at the end of the season.  He signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox and split each of the next two seasons between their AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte teams.  The highlight of these two seasons was the no-hitter he pitched for Charlotte against Durham in 2004.  Things fell apart for him in 2005 though when he was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance and subsequently released by the White Sox.  He signed on with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League but never got into a game.  He returned to the Brother Elephants for the 2006 season and retired afterward.  He returned to Taiwan and the Brother Elephants (now called the Chinatrust Elephants) to coach for the 2015-16 seasons and was the manager of the Tokushima Indigo Socks in 2017.  I'm not positive but I think the league hired him to manage the All Star team as opposed to having one of the managers of the league's teams manage them.  Yofu only has two NPB cards that I know of (2002 BBM 1st Version #239 and BBM Hawks #031) but he had a number of cards during his time in the White Sox organization (including any number of Bowman parallels in 2005) and a couple CPBL cards in 2016.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Ready To Come Home

I have spent 16 full days in Japan on this trip.

I attended 16 baseball games in 13 different ballparks.  10 NPB games, 3 NPB ni-gun games, 2 Tokyo Big 6 collegiate games and a Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL) game.

I went to 25 different baseball card shops across ten different cities.

I rode the Shinkansen, JR region rail, subways, streetcars, light rail, buses, courtesy shuttles and monorails.  Plus one car ride.

I stayed in eight different hotels in five different cities.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's been quite a trip.  I'll have a lot to write about - I expect that I'll be doing posts about this trip throughout the entire summer.

To whet your appetite, here's a photo of pretty much everything I've acquired since I arrived on May 24th (which includes cards I got from Ryan and Dan):


I don't know the exact total number of cards but I have two 500 card boxes and two 400 card boxes pretty much full so roughly 1800 cards.  I completed my 1997 BBM set, got the 1998 and 2000 sets down to needing just one card each, got the 1994 set down to just two cards and completed my run of Rookie Edition sets.  I picked up three sets that came out while I was here and got a bunch of team issued and food related cards.

My flight home is tomorrow evening.  I'll try to start getting my head around posts later this week.  Of course there are other things going on as well - the Shikoku Island All Stars have arrived in the US for their couple weeks of play in the Can-Am League and there's several sets that have been announced while I've been here so I'll be back to the usual business as well.

Card Of The Week June 9

Today is my last full day in Japan as I'm catching a flight home late tomorrow afternoon.  I spent today at the Fighters' farm team facility in Kamagaya watching Nippon-Ham and DeNA's ni-gun squads play.  Here's a card (#18) showing the Fighters' farm team mascot Cubby from the 2011 BBM Future Icon set that was supposed to be sold or given away at Kamagaya in March of that year but might not have been due to the earthquake:


I'll be doing a lot of posts about the trip in the next few weeks - there's a lot to talk about.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Card Of The Week June 2

I'm in Fukuoka today, watching the Hawks take on the Eagles in the Fukuoka Dome (yeah, I know it has a corporate name - I'm not using it until I get a check).  Here's a card of the Dome (#FD85) from the 1998 BBM Hawks set:




Sunday, May 26, 2019

Card Of The Week May 26

Posting is going to be light over the next couple weeks as I am visiting Japan!  I attended my first ever NPB game today in Sendai between the Eagles and the Buffaloes.  I thought I'd share a card celebrating the Eagles first ever post season appearance back in 2009.  They had finished second that year (their highest finish ever to that date) and swept the Hawks in two games in the Climax Series First Stage.  Masahiro Tanaka pitched a complete game and Takeshi Yamasaki hit a three run home run which lead the Eagles to a 4-1 victory in the decisive Game Two.  The Eagles would go on to lose to the Fighters four games to one in the Final Stage however.

This 2010 Calbee card (#CS-3) shows Tanaka celebrating at the end of Game Two:


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New Items

I wanted to do a quick post on a couple recently announced sets...

- Calbee's Series Two set will be released on or around July 1st (it seems like it's usually available a few days before the official release date). The base set will contain 88 cards - 72 player cards (6 per team), a 12 card "Opening Pitcher" subset featuring the Opening Day starter for each team and the ubiquitous four checklist cards.  The set also features the standard 24 cards premium subset/insert set called "Star".  There's also a 12 card box set available via "Lucky Card" redemption called "Hits Leader" which features one of the top batters for each team (not sure if they are the actual 2018 team hit leader or not).  The checklist is available on-line here.

- BBM has announced two more of their annual "comprehensive" team sets - these two are for the Buffaloes and the Fighters.  The Buffaloes set has a base set of 81 cards which breaks down to 69 player cards (including the manager), a mascot card, two "Supernova" cards, three "Winning Formula" cards, three "Just Do It" cards and three "Orimen" cards.  The set also has 30 insert cards split amongst five sets - "Buffaloes Spirit" (nine cards), "Messiah" (three cards), "Revolution" (three cards), "Stay Gold" (three cards) and "Phantom" (12 cards).  The Fighters set also has a base set of 81 cards - 71 player cards (including the manager) plus three subsets - "King Is Coming" (three cards), "Quick Boost" (three cards) and "Early Impact" (four cards).  There are a whopping 51 different insert cards split between five sets - "North Pole" (nine cards), "Shock The World" (six cards), "Jewelry Ice" (three cards), "Esperanza" (15 cards) and "Phantom" (18 cards).  I think that the "Esperanza" cards and the "Phantom" cards for both sets are serially number to something like 25.  Both sets include autographed cards and the Fighters set has jersey cards available.  BBM says that both sets will be out in late June.  Card Fanatic's schedule has the Buffaloes' release date as June 19 and the Fighters' release date as June 27.

- I'm not completely sure that they are the card company involved here but it appears that Hits, the manufacturer of "mini colored paper" team sets, is releasing two actual trading card sets that are called "Used Ball Card" sets - one for the Baystars and one for the Swallows.  It looks like each set has a base set of 81 cards but only 15 players for each team are included in the sets.  There's a variety of inserts and special cards available that include printed signatures and (as you would expect from the name) game used balls.  The Baystars set also appears to have real autographs available as well (although boxes of the two sets are the same price - 5450 yen - which I wouldn't expect if one set had real autographs and the other didn't).  The Baystars set will be out on July 12th while the Swallows set will be out August 3rd.