Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Giants Team Issued Sets

Dan Skrezyna is a big fan of Lee Seung-yeop, the former slugger for the Samsung Lions in Korea and the Marines, Giants and Buffaloes in Japan.  Dan has accumulated a substantial PC for Lee and I was an unexpected beneficiary of a side effect of his collection a couple months ago.  Dan had picked up a couple Yomiuri Giants team issued sets just for the Lee cards.  He wasn't interested in the rest of the cards (with a couple exceptions) so he dropped them in the mail to me.  Which is a bigger deal than normal since Dan lives in Korea and I live in Maryland!

Dan gets his cards graded so he's made sure that the checklists for these sets are available on TradingCardDB.com so that PSA can look them up.  As a result these are some of the best cataloged team issued cards around.  I have no idea how these cards were originally distributed - whether they were some sort of SGA or if you got them as a member of the Giants fan club.

The first set is from 2007.  This set has 54 cards and Dan sent me 51 of them.  My set is missing Lee, Koji Uehara and Tatsunori Hara.  One interesting thing about this set is that it includes the four ikusei players that the Giants had at the time.  One of those players - Tetsuya Yamaguchi - had previously played in the Diamondbacks organization and would later get moved to the 70-man roster and win the Central League Rookie Of The Year award in 2008.  I was a little disappointed that the set didn't include Hayato Sakamoto since 2007 was his rookie season.  Here's a couple example cards:





The second set is from 2010 and is entitled "Giants Pride".  This was originally a 27 card set and again my set was short three cards - Lee, Shinnosuke Abe and Alex Ramirez.  Each card has a studio shot of the player.  BBM's Giants team sets frequently had a similarly themed subset before 2015.  Here's a couple sample cards:





One interesting aspect of these cards is the photo on the back.  Every card except one shows a close up of the player's hand or hands.  Most of the pitchers are shown gripping a baseball although a couple simply have their hand in their glove.  The batter's hands are shown gripping bats.  The back of Hara's card shows a clenched fist.  The one exception is pinch running specialist Takahiro Suzuki.  The back of his card shows one of his feet:


So a big thank you to Dan for his generosity.  These were a great addition to my collection of team issued cards.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Bum-Ho Lee

I'm going to start trying to catch up on posts I postponed doing as I was doing posts on the cards I got on my trip to Japan (even though I still have a lot of other posts to do about the trip).  One of these postponed posts was for the retirement of KBO star (and brief Fukuoka Softbank Hawk) Bum-Ho Lee.

Lee was a second round pick of the Hanwha Eagles in the 1999 draft out of Daegu High School and made his debut with the team playing shortsop in April of 2000.  His breakout season was 2004 when he hit .308 with 23 home runs and 74 RBIs.  Hanwha moved him to third base in 2005 and he responded by winning Golden Glove awards the next two seasons.  He was named to the Korean National Team for the World Baseball Classic in both 2006 and 2009.

He left Hanwha as a free agent following the 2009 season and signed a two-year contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.  He didn't have a very good season in NPB, hitting just .226 with 4 home runs in 48 games although he did hit .277 with 10 home runs in 45 games with the ni-gun Hawks.  I'm not sure but I think it was a mutual decision between him and Softbank to let him out of his contract after just the one season and he returned to the KBO for the 2011 season, spurning his old team to sign with the Kia Tigers.

Injuries slowed him down his first two seasons in Gwangju but he led the team with 24 home runs in 2013 and was named team captain for the 2014 season.  His best overall season came in 2016 when he hit .310 with 33 home runs and 108 RBIs.  The highlight of his career, however, was in the 2017 Korean Series when he hit a grand slam in the fifth and deciding game of the Series to help the Tigers to a 7-6 victory (and a 4 games to 1 Series win).  It was his only KBO Championship - he had played in the 2006 KBO Series when Hanwha lost to the Samsung Lions in six games (including one tie).

He announced his retirement in mid-June and played in his last game on July 13th.  He finished his career with 329 home runs which I think is fifth highest in KBO history (although Jeong Choi of SK currently has 328).  He also holds the record for most home runs in the playoffs with 7 and most career Grand Slams (with 17 I think).

His first card is from the "Rookie" insert set of the 2000 Teleca set.  That and his card in the 2005 Hanwha team issued set are the only known cards of him with the Eagles.  He has two cards with the Korean WBC team in the 2009 Konami WBC Heroes set - his regular card and a card for him making the All Tournament Team.  I only know of three Japanese cards for him, all from 2010 - a card in Bandai's Owners League 02 set and BBM's 1st Version and Hawks team sets.  He has another card depicting him with the Hawks in the 2010 KBO Game set.  He's appeared pretty consistently in the KBO sets that have come out since 2014.  Here's the list of his cards from TradingCardDB.com.

Here's a selection of his cards:

2009 Konami WBC Baseball Heroes #W09R130

2010 BBM 1st Version #306

2014 Ntreev Duael Super Star Season 3 #SBC03-017-SS

2015 Ntreev Duael Super Star Season 1 #SBC1501-134-N

2016 SMG Ntreev Baseball's Best Players Forever Ace #PA03-KI004

2017 SCC #SCC-01-KA19/N

2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 Black #SCCR-02B/016 

2019 SCC #SCCR1-19/096

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Card Shops In Japan: Mint Ikebukuro

Please check my "Card Shops in Japan" page before planning a trip to this store to verify that it's still where it was when I visited.

After Ryan and I visited Coletre we next headed to Mint Ikebukuro which is located just about five blocks to the south along the same street.

Somehow I had forgotten to take a picture of the outside of the store when we got there so I'm sharing a photo I took the first time I went there back in 2013:


There are actually two separate Mint stores at this location.  The first floor store shown above sells mostly soccer and idol cards.  I've looked around here a little but never really seen anything I was interested in.


There's a doorway into the building itself to the left of the first floor store that leads to a staircase and elevator.  If you go up to the second floor you'll find the other Mint store which has a wide variety of baseball cards.

This is one of my favorite baseball card stores in Japan.  They carry a lot of singles from sets going back to the 1990's so it's a great place to do set building.  The singles for each set are more or less in order by card number which makes it very easy to find cards.  They also carry a selection of older menkos and Calbees.

When I was there with Ryan I picked up a number of singles for the 1998 BBM set and the 2003-06 BBM Rookie Edition sets.  I also bought some Epoch Rookies & Stars singles from 2018 and 2019 along with several 2018 Epoch One cards and a 1977 Calbee card with Shigeo Nagashima and Masaichi Kaneda.  I spent a total of 7340 yen.  I came back a couple weeks later and bought some 1996, 1997 and 2000 BBM singles for another 2760 yen.  I paid cash both times but the store does take credit cards.

The store is very well organized and it's pretty easy to find things.  It has been remodeled since my first visit in 2013 and it seems a bit roomier now.




The black shelving unit in the center of the room holds the singles for the Japanese baseball card sets.  The other white shelving unit holds boxes and packs (on the side facing the cash register) and complete sets.  The boxes in the shelf to the right of the Ichiro jersey hold MLB cards (I think).  The display case on the wall to the left of the jersey holds hits - autographs, memorabilia cards and rare parallels.

There's a glass cabinet on the wall on the right of the cash register that contains the vintage cards.  You can see the menkos and bromides in this photo and I'm pretty sure this was where the old Calbees and the Epoch One cards were as well.


I want to mention that there's also a gaming card store on the second floor of this building just across the hall from the Mint store.  I thought this was once another Mint store but I'm not sure that's true.

Here's a map showing the first floor store.  If you're coming directly from Ikebukuro Station you'll want to leave the station via the East Exit and head down Green-Odori, following the signs to the Sunshine 60 building.  The directions will tell you to make a left turn and head towards the elevated expressway in the distance.  When you see the ABC Mart building on your right, turn right and walk down about half a block - you'll see the store on your left.




"2015" Vittum Foreign Attack Set

Dan Skrezyna has just published his latest "Foreign Attack" set under the "Vittum" label.  These sets feature all the foreign players in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) for a particular season - Dan has been filling in the gaps since the official KBO cards do not include the foreign players. 

The newest set is for the 2015 season and contains 42 cards - 41 player cards plus a checklist.  I personally think this is the best looking set Dan's done so far but I've very partial to borderless, full bleed photos on the front of cards.  Here's the front and back of Luis Jimenez's card as an example:

#15

Back of #15
Dan had 20 sets made up and each card of each set has the same handwritten number on the back.

Here's some other examples cards:

#18

#22

#23

#25

#27

#35
Dan has put the entire set checklist online at TradingCardDB.com.  I think he still has a couple sets available so if you're interested, contact him either through his blog or on Twitter.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

NPB Down Under Part 2

I did a post a few months back featuring a bunch of cards of NPB players in Australian Baseball League uniforms.  In that post I had mentioned a handful of other cards of NPB players* that I knew about but didn't have (including one that Steve Smith told me about that I had missed).  I have since picked up these other cards so I thought I'd share them.

*I should probably point out that when I say "NPB Player" what I really mean is "Japanese NPB Player".  There are ABL cards of former NPB players like Mitch Dening and Chris Oxspring but I'm not as interested in them.

I previously showed eight cards from the two 2012 Brisbane Bandits team issued sets that featured the five players loaned to the Bandits during the 2011-12 season from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks - Kenta Imamiya, Taisei Makihara, Keiji Nakahara, Ayatsugu Yamashita and Yohei Yanagawa.  Imamiya, Yamashita and Yanagawa each had an All Star card in the second set to go along with the individual player cards.  There were two additional cards in the second set featuring the players.  First is a card showing the members of the Bandits who were named to the All Star Game in December of 2011:

2012 Brisbane Bandits Team Set II #054
From left to right is Justin Eramus, Alex Maestri, Yanagawa, Imamiya, Paul Gonzalez (Bandits GM), Yamashita and Josh Roberts.

The other card is for Yamashita and is labeled "Non-Stop Action!".  It shows a play at the plate between Yamashita and Travis Scott of the Canberra Cavalry in the game on November 6, 2001.  Here's the front and back of the card:

2012 Brisbane Bandits Team Set II #057

2012 Brisbane Bandits Team Set II #057
Speaking of the Canberra Cavalry, the 2011-12 edition of the team featured five players on loan from the Hanshin Tigers - Takumi Akiyama, Fumiya Araki, Yuhei Kai, Daiki Kiyohara and Masashi Nohara.  Akiyama was included in the Cavalry's 2012 team set from Select.  Here's that card and a recent card of him with the Tigers:

2012 Select #26

2017 Epoch Tigers #14
The Saitama Seibu Lions and Melbourne Aces have had a long partnership that's seen a number of Lions players (including a couple big names in Yusei Kikuchi and Tomoya Mori) spend time in Victoria.  Since I'm a Lions fan I was hoping for some crossover but as far as I've been able to tell (with help from Steve) there's only been one Lions player who's appeared on an ABL card - Toshihiro Iwao was included in the 2013-14 set from Dingo.  Here's his card along with a card of him from the Lions:

2013-14 Dingo #060

2017 BBM Lions #L19
Steve passed on an interesting piece of trivia - "Dingo" cards is owned by former MLB star (and one time Chunichi Dragon) Dave Nilsson along with his brother Gary and (Steve thinks) Paul Gonzalez, the Bandits GM mentioned above.

Kenshi Sugiya of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters spent a couple weeks with the Brisbane Bandits during the 2017-18 ABL season.  He was included in a team issued set put out by the Bandits in 2018.  He actually has two cards in the set - a base set card and a premium card.  I only got the base set card which I'm showing here along with an NPB card of his from later in 2018:

2018 Brisbane Bandits Team Set

2018 BBM Fighters #F44
I wanted to show one more card.  I mentioned that I've only really been interested in finding cards of Japanese players in the ABL.  There was one exception to this.  Former KBO, NPB and MLB pitcher Koo Dae-Sung was a fixture with the Sydney BlueSox for a number of years - first as an active player for five seasons from 2010-11 to 2014-15 and then as their pitching coach for a couple seasons - before taking over as manager of the Geelong Korea team this past season.  The 2012 BlueSox set from Select is apparently the only set to include a card of Koo with Sydney.  Here's that card along with both a KBO and an NPB card of him:

2012 Select #66

1999 Teleca #151

2001 BBM Late Series #603
I want to mention that I picked up all of these ABL cards as well as the ones in my previous post from Shane who sells on Ebay under the name Top-Flite-79.  Shane carries a lot of ABL cards and cards of Australian MLB players so check him out if you're looking for cards from Down Under.

Card Of The Week August 11

I picked up this 2000 BBM card of Hideki Matsui while I was in Japan (not sure which store but I think it was Mint Ponyland).  This is one of the cards that was included with Sports Card Magazine #24 which was published in November of 2000:

SCM #11
I picked this card up because Matsui is imitating the iconic pose on Shigeo Nagashima's 1973 Calbee card, the first card in Calbee's first set.  I've got a couple other cards where the player is imitating this pose - I was kind of surprised to realize that this photo wasn't the same as the one on the other Matsui card I have.

One note - with this post I am finally finished writing about the cards I picked up on the trip.  I still have other posts to do about the trip but none that deal specifically with cards.  I think I've done almost 30 posts on the cards I either bought or got from Ryan and Dan in the two months since I returned home.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Baystars Team Issued Cards

The final team that I picked up team issued cards for was the Baystars.  Ryan had given me one card and I picked up the rest at Mint Akihabara and Mint Yokohama. 

I got cards from three different sets put out in 2013.  It's kind of odd - Ryan had done a post a few years ago about there being four different Baystars fan club sets that season.  One of the cards I have doesn't belong in any of those sets so there must have been at least five sets that year.

The first card is from what Ryan referred to as the "first version".  It doesn't come across well in the scans but this card has a shimmering star finish to it.  Here's the front and back of it:



I actually saw a display of these cards on my first trip to Japan in 2013 when I went to Yokohama Stadium for an open-sen game between the Baystars and Dragons:


The second card isn't from any of the sets Ryan mentioned.  The back of the card has an ad for the Baystars's Opening Series against the Giants that year on April 2nd through 4th.  Here's the front and back of it:



The remaining three cards I have from 2013 are from what Ryan referred to as the "second version".  These also have a shimmering star finish.




Here's what one of the backs looks like:


I got two cards from 2014.  They look like they are from the same set.  They too have the shimmering star finish.



Here's what one of the backs looks like:


The two 2015 cards I got look like they may be from the same set, at least from the front (which do not have the shimmering stars):



However the backs are a little different.  The Yamaguchi card has his stats for 2014 while the Minei has a slogan and a signature:



I assume "ORE FOR ALL" should have been "ONE FOR ALL" unless it was some sort of mining thing...

I got five 2016 cards that I think are all from the same set.  Ryan gave me the Shibata card.






Here's the back of the Shibata card:


The other player slogans are "Strength Of Spirit" (Iizuka), "Iasm Tkhriskw" (Ishikawa), "The More You Wish, The Closer To Your Dream" (Yamaguchi) and "No Regrests !!" (Yamazaki).  I have no idea what Ishikawa's means.

I got three 2017 cards.  I suspect that these are from two different sets but the backs all look the same:




Here's the back of the Ayabe card:


The other slogans are "All Faith No Fear And Play Hard" (Ciriaco) and "Out On My Own" (Kubo).

I got two 2018 cards:



Here's the back of the Hamaguchi card:


The slogan on Aranami's card is "Cherish Each Day".

Finally I got two 2019 cards.  I think these are my favorites as both the front and the back show the player towering over the Yokohama skyline:



Imanaga's card's back looks like this:


Barrios's slogan is "You Start It.  You Finish It!!" which is kind of an odd slogan for a relief pitcher to have.