Thursday, January 23, 2020

Another Mandarake Mail Day

I placed yet another vintage card order with the vintage toy store Mandarake a couple weeks ago and the package showed up yesterday.  I thought I'd do a quick post to show off what I got.

I always like getting a card that commemorates a specific event and I was happy that among the five cards I picked up, three of them were from famous events.  The first one shows Shigeo Nagashima approaching home plate after hitting his 444th and final home run on the day of his retirement game, October 14th, 1974 at Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo:

1974/75 Calbee #414
One year and one day later, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp defeated the Yomiuri Giants at Korakuen Stadium to clinch their first ever Central League pennant.  This card shows Koji Yamamoto celebrating after the win:

1975/76 Calbee #250
On June 13, 1987, Sachio Kinugasa of the Carp played in his 2131st consecutive game, eclipsing Lou Gehrig.  I have other cards that celebrate this event but this is the first one I have that was issued that season:

1987 Calbee #325
The other two cards didn't commemorate famous events - I just liked the look of them.  I'd been interested in finding this 1985 Hiromitsu Kadota card ever since I first saw it last year on Sean's blog:

1985 Calbee #129
The other card I got is this 1977 card of Tsutomu Wakamatsu and it's a bit of a puzzle:

1977 Calbee Pro Series #94
The puzzle has to do with figuring out which of the several 1977 Calbee sets this card goes with.  Here's the back of the card:


The card is #94 and the back of the card is consistent with the set that Engel lists as "JC5c: Pro Series".  But he lists card #94 as being Isao Shibata.  The checklist for the 1977 set that's in the 1973 Calbee Book also lists card #94 as Shibata (which isn't a huge surprise since I think this was Gary's source for the 1977-79 Calbee checklists).  What I don't know is if this is some sort of variation (wouldn't be the first time there are multiple cards with the same number in a Calbee set) or if the 1973 Calbee book's checklist was just wrong.  It's a bit suspicious to me that Shibata is also card #94 in a different 1977 Calbee set - the "JC 5f: Giants Series" - maybe there was some confusion about the sets somewhere along the line.

Once again the cards were incredible reasonable.  At 500 yen the Wakamatsu card was the most expensive, followed by the Nagashima card at 400 yen.  The two Carp players were 200 yen apiece and the Kadota was a steal at 100 yen!  So the total for the five cards was just 1400 yen and SAL shipping was 690 yen for a grand total of 2090 yen (which worked out to just around $20).  I placed the order on New Year's Day and the cards showed up yesterday so it took exactly three weeks to get to me.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Last Of The Zap - Sports Graphic Number Sets

Sports Graphic Number* is a magazine publisher in Japan that also published 10 baseball card sets between 2011 and 2017.  Their sets were rather unique as all but one of them featured just a single player (the other one featured two players) and unlike most of BBM's single player sets they weren't biographical.  Instead they simply featured cards showing current photos of the player.  Some of the cards were puzzle cards that would form a large picture when grouped together.

*Their website is labelled Sports Graphic Number Web, not to be confused with Number Wang

I'd never gotten any of these sets.  Not that I didn't like their looks or anything but I can't collect EVERYTHING so I have to draw the line somewhere.  But now I have some of them because the final thing in the box from Kenny was a bunch of cards from three of the sets.

Sports Graphic Number's final three sets were dedicated to Carp pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (ok, one of them was to Kuroda and fellow Carp Takahiro Arai).  I mentioned the other day that Kenny was a big fan of Kuroda so it should come as any surprise to discover that the cards he sent me were all from these three sets.

The first Kuroda set was released in early 2016.  The base set contained 45 cards and there were an additional 18 "special" (i.e. insert) cards.  Kenny sent me 15 of the base set cards, one of the "special" and two serially numbered "rare" cards.  Here's the front and back of card #26:



You can see that the back is part of a puzzle and it's kind of odd on its own.  But luckily Kenny sent me cards #37 to #45, the fronts of which form a complete puzzle:


And as an added bonus, some of the cards on the BACK of these nine cards form another puzzle:


Here's the "special" card and the front and back of one of the "rare" cards as well:




The second set he sent me cards from was the one with Kuroda and Takahiro Arai.  It was called something like "15 Hiroki Kuroda x 25 Takahiro Arai" and was released in the fall of 2016.  It was to commemorate Kuroda reaching his 200th career win between MLB and NPB and Arai getting his 2000th hit, both events happening during the 2016 season.  The base set contained 72 cards and there were an additional 27 "special" cards (9 with Kuroda, 9 with Arai and 9 with both of them).  Kenny gave me eight base set cards (all of which featured Kuroda) and three of the "special" cards (all of which had both players).  None of the base cards I got form a puzzle.  This card (#33) shows Arai congratulating Kuroda on his 200th win:


And here's one of the "special" cards:


Sports Graphic Number's final Kuroda set (and so far final set altogether) was issued in early 2017 and commemorates his retirement.  It's called something like "Tears, Flower, Path" and had a base set of 72 cards plus 18 "special" cards.  Kenny not only gave me the entire base set but he also included all 18 of the "special" cards.  Here's the front and back of card #1 in the set as an example:



As in the earlier sets, groups of cards in this set form puzzles.  There are two nine card puzzles.  The first of these is formed by the backs of cards #28 to #36:


The second is formed by the fronts of cards #55 to #63:


There were two types of "special" cards - 9 white cards with gold overlays and 9 reddish cards with a metallic finish.  The backs of the cards showed the same image as the front but it's the original, untouched image.  Here's a couple examples:





Not really sure what else to say about these cards.  I don't think I need to run out and complete the two incomplete sets or get any of Sports Graphic Number's earlier sets but they are pretty neat.

Almost forgot - there was one additional card Kenny sent me.  At first glance I thought this was a card of Kenny's favorite player, Luis Torrens, from a Staten Island Yankees team set.


But when I looked at the back, I realized I'd been Zippy Zapped!


Thanks again for all the cards, Kenny!  Since you're trying to cut down on the number of cards in your collection I'll have to figure out a way to pay you back without burying you in cards.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Zippy Zapped Box Sets

Continuing my posts of stuff I got last week from Kenny of "Torren' Up Cards"...

Kenny included four BBM box sets in the package.  The earliest one of them was the "Icons - Ace" set from 2015.  This was the third installment in BBM's annual "Icons" sets and the theme (which you can probably guess) is "ace" pitchers. 

The set has 36 cards which as usual are split up evenly so that there are three cards for each of the 12 NPB teams.  What's kind of odd about the set is that there's three different card designs in use in the set.  Each team has one card using each design.  All the pitchers using one of the designs appear (very loosely) to be "veteran" pitchers while all the pitchers for another design appear (again very loosely) to be "in their prime" pitchers while all the pitchers with the final design appear to be "prospects" (including seven rookies).  As I said, these categorizations are very loose as there are 2012 draft picks who appear in all three categories (Takahiro Norimoto is a "veteran", Shohei Ohtani is "in his prime" and Tomoyuki Sugano and Shintaro Fujinami are "prospects").

Here's what the "veteran" cards look like:

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #13

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #10
Other pitchers in this category include Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hiroki Kuroda (both of whom had just returned to Japan from MLB in 2015) plus Masahiro Yamamoto, Chihiro Kaneko, Daisuke Miura and Toshiya Sugiuchi.

Here's a couple of the "in their prime" pitchers:

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #26

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #08
Some of the others in this category are Ayumu Ishikawa, Randy Messenger, Yudao Ohno, Takayuki Kishi and Yuki Matsui.

Here's a couple of the "prospects" (both are rookies in this case):

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #18

2015 BBM Icons - Ace #06
Other "prospects" include Daichi Ohsera, Kohei Arihara and Yasuaki Yamasaki.

You can see all the cards over at Jambalaya.


Chronologically the next set is the 2015 Homecoming set.  This was a box set dedicated to Kuroda's 2015 season.  I'm not going to say much about the set here since I wrote about it when I got a copy of this set from Ryan a few years back but I will point out that once again you can see all the cards at Jambalaya.


Next up is the 2016 Dragons Dash set.  This is one of BBM's "Autographed Edition" team box sets.  Originally this set contained the full 27 card base set plus one autographed card.  Kenny blogged about the set when he got it a couple years back - he had an unopened set and had pulled an autographed card of Tetsuya Tani out of it.  He kept the autographed card (can't complain about that) and just passed the base set along to me.  Oddly enough the base set does not include a card of Tani!  It does feature most of the Dragons stars at the time including the since retired Masahiro Araki, Hitoki Iwase, Takuya Asao and Mashiko Morino as well as Yudai Ohno, Ryosuke Hirata, Dayan Viciedo, Shuhei Takahashi and Yohei Ohshima.  Here's a couple sample cards:

2016 BBM Dragons Dash #25

2016 BBM Dragons Dash #16

2016 BBM Dragons Dash #11
It's a nice looking set with full bleed photos with a Dragon overlay and a blue facsimile signature.  As always you can see all the cards here.


The final box set Kenny sent me was the Brilliant Dragons set that just came out a couple months ago.  Like the Dragons Dash set, this set had a 27 card base set.  Unopened sets also contained an insert card and an autographed card but this time Kenny didn't get an unopened set.  He didn't send me the complete base set this time - he kept three of the cards - Akira Neo, Raidel Martinez and Joely Rodriguez.  He included a note apologizing to me for keeping the three cards - I was going to write something about not accepting his apology and finding it completely unreasonable of him keeping three cards for himself out of the 500+ plus cards he had sent me for free but sarcasm doesn't always come across well in print so I'll just say that obviously his apology was totally unnecessary.  The 24 remaining cards include Ohno, Hirata, Viciedo, Takahashi and Ohshima as well as Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yota Kyoda, Daisuke Yamai, Hiroshi Suzuki, Enny Romero and Zoilo Almonte.  Here's some example cards:

2019 BBM Brilliant Dragons #15

2019 BBM Brilliant Dragons #03

2019 BBM Brilliant Dragons #02
And once again all the cards (including the three Kenny kept) can be seen at Jambalaya.

Thanks again for the cards, Kenny!  I'll have one more post featuring cards he sent me.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Card Of The Week January 19


This is another card I picked up off of Ebay recently (actually from the same seller I got the Fujiya Caramel Premium card of Andy Miyamoto).  It shows a group of players from the Nishitetsu Lions.  Again I couldn't find it in Engel so I had to do a little detective work to see what I could figure out about it.

The first thing I noticed was something I'm not sure I've ever seen on a Japanese card before.  Usually when a card has the player's surname on it in kanji it goes either top-to-bottom or left-to-right.  But the kanji on this card goes from right-to-left!  For example, the player second from the left on the top row is Futoshi Nakanishi who's kanji for his surname is "中西".  (And there's no one on the roster named Nishinaka.)  The kanji for the team name at the top of the card (the two characters that are not in parentheses) also go right-to-left.

From left-to-right on the top row the players are Akira Ohgi, Nakanishi, Akinobu Kono and Yasumitsu Toyoda and on the bottom row they are Jiyunji Nakatani and Sunao Imakurusu.  Imakurusu made it easier to narrow down the time frame of the card as he only played for the Lions in 1955 and 1956.

The card is blank backed and is about 3 by 1 3/4 inches.  The set it looks the most like is something called  "JBR 29: 1956 Tobacco Menko Sized".  This set shows the transition between bromides and the "tobacco menko" cards that dominated the Japanese card market in the late 1950's and early 1960's.  Engel's comment about this set is that "These cards have the appearance of B&W menko on the fronts, but they are blank backed and have no menko numbers or paper/scissors/rock symbol, so they must be classified as bromides".  It possible that this card is not from this set but it's definitely a transitional form between bromides and menko.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I Got Zippy Zapped! Big Time!

A while back I got a DM from Kenny - aka Zippy Zappy - of the "Torren' Up Cards" blog asking for my address because he had what he described as "a little package ready to go" to me.  He had previously asked me if I was interested in the portion of the 2019 BBM "Brilliant Dragons" set so that's what I figured he was sending me.  When I asked him what I could send him in return he said "You can take a bunch of other cards off my hands so I can finally free up space."  I told him if they were NPB cards then sure, I'd take them.

I thought he was kidding until this past Monday when a large box (ok, officially it was a "medium flat rate priority mail box") showed up at my house.  Inside was a 400 count box full of baseball cards plus several BBM box sets (and scorecards from the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Mets).  All in all there was about 500 cards in all - 300-ish assorted cards (mostly post 2001 BBM but there was some other stuff in there), the four BBM box sets (2015 Icons-Ace, 2016 Dragons Dash, 2016 Homecoming and 2019 Brilliant Dragons) and over 100 of the Sports Graphic Number cards.

I have a lot of cards, especially a lot of recent cards, so I was a little concerned that I might have most of these cards already.  What was kind of amazing was that over half of the cards - almost 300 of them actually - were new cards (or at least new to me)!  I don't know if this was by design or just dumb luck but I was pretty happy to have the new stuff.  I've been a bit overwhelmed trying to get my head around it all though.

I think I'm going to end up doing three or four posts on what he sent me.  This post is going to be about the 300-ish assorted cards.  Well, not all of the 300 cards.  I'm going to concentrate on the 60 or so cards from this group that I didn't already have (which hopefully doesn't sound ungrateful).  You're going to notice one repeating theme in this batch of cards - Kenny collects or collected cards of Hiroki Kuroda, the former Carp pitcher (and because Kenny's a Yankee fan I should admit that Kuroda is a former Yankee pitcher as well) so there are a LOT of Kuroda cards in this batch.

This is going to be pretty image heavy.  I didn't want to show all 60+ cards but they're from a diverse enough group of sets that I still needed show 40 or so cards.

There were a bunch of Kuroda cards from the BBM's high end sets.  Most of these are from Touch The Game which is was BBM called their high end sets from 2002 to 2011.  The first card is a very odd insert as it's got a cork covering:

2002 BBM Touch The Game #G4

2003 BBM Touch The Game #13

2004 BBM Touch The Game #121

2005 BBM Touch The Game #122

2006 BBM Touch The Game #133

2007 BBM Touch The Game #121

2015 BBM Genesis #075
Kuroda spent 2008 to 2014 playing MLB which accounts for the gap in high end cards.

There were a number of Kuroda cards from BBM Carp team sets between 2004 and 2007.  This includes a couple cards from a 2007 box set called "Carp Koibumi" as well as the annual "comprehensive" team sets.  I'll just show a couple of these.

2007 BBM Carp Koibumi #29

2004 BBM Carp #C71

2006 BBM Carp #C074
There were also cards from other BBM team sets for the Giants, Hawks and Dragons.  Again I'm just showing a subset of these:

2008 BBM Giants #G038

2010 BBM Giants #G061

2008 BBM Hawks #H51

2014 BBM Dragons #D43

There were a couple cards from various versions of BBM's "Historic Collection" sets.  The first one is a base card but the other two are serially numbered insert cards:

2004 BBM Golden Arms #097

2010 BBM Memory Makers #P14

2013 BBM Great Numbers #GN03
There were a couple Kuroda cards from random BBM sets:

2016 BBM Masterpiece #064

2016 BBM Fusion #GR19
There were a couple cards that were given away with issues of "Weekly Baseball":




The last two of those "Weekly Baseball" cards are promos.  There were a bunch of other BBM promo cards in the box:

2006 BBM 1st Version Promo

2010 BBM 1st Version "Special Promotion Card"

2013 BBM 2nd Version "Book Store Special Card"

2015 BBM 2nd Version Promo 
2015 BBM Genesis "Book Store Special Card"


2015 BBM Fighters "Limited Edition"

2018 BBM 1st Version "Book Store Special Card"

2018 BBM 2nd Version "Book Store Special Card"
There were two "two sided" promos.  The first one was for the 2009 BBM 2nd Version set and has Hiroyuki Nakajima on one side and Hayato Sakamoto on the other:



The other is for the 2009 BBM Touch The Game set and has Hisashi Iwakuma on one side and Norichika Aoki on the other:



As I mentioned, not all the cards were from BBM.  There was an unopened Calbee pack from 1984.  I couldn't resist opening it - it contained a card of Hikaru Takano:

1984 Calbee #294
There was also a 2012 Calbee Star Card of Atsunori Inaba, showing him celebrating getting his 2000th career hit:

2012 Calbee #S-52
There were a couple Epoch cards as well.  There were three cards from the 2016 Baystars Season Achievements set - here's the Takayuki Kajitani card:

2016 Epoch Baystars Season Achievements #17
There was a card from the 2016 Kabaya Central League Gum set (that was made by Epoch):

2016 Kabaya Central League Gum #21
There were also two promo cards from Epoch sets:

2017 Epoch OB Club Opening Day Starting Lineup Promo

2019 Epoch NPB Promo
Only need 421 now for the 2019 Epoch NPB set!

There were a couple cards from a 2011 Konami set called "Baseball Allstar's" (and yes, it has an apostrophe in the name).  Here's one of them:

2011 Konami Baseball Allstar's #062
There were only two cards from earlier than 2001.  One of these was the 1984 Calbee Takano card I already showed.  The other was a Hideki Matsui home run card from 1997:


I was amused to discover that the back of this card has a little Godzilla on it:


I saved the best cards for last.  There was a red facsimile signature parallel card of Hirokazu Ibata from the 2015 BM 1st2nd Version set:


These cards are serially numbered.  Check out the number on the back of the card:


All the numbers are unique but getting number 1 is pretty cool.

Kenny included a couple of memorabilia cards from Touch The Game sets.  Here's a "Cut Off Piece Ball" card for Takeshi Yamasaki from the 2009 set:

2009 BBM Touch The Game #B13
This 2008 Norichika Aoiki card is kind of unique.  It has a small bag of soil from Jingu Stadium.  The bag bulges out a little so my scan is kind of blurry:

2008 BBM Touch The Game #MS9
There was an authentic autographed card from the 2014 BBM Classic set for Kazuhiko Ushijima:


Lastly there was a Tetsuto Yamada jersey card from the 2015 BBM Swallows 3 Sluggers set:

2015 BBM Swallows 3 Sluggers #M02
Thanks Kenny!  These are great.  I'll write about some of the other cards in other posts in the next few days.  I promise they won't be as long as this post!