Friday, June 24, 2016

Nagashima Released

Jay Shelton sent me a link to a YouTube video showing how to liberate a baseball card from a PSA grading slab lat night and I decided to try out their technique on my 1973 Shigeo Nagashima card.  It was pretty straightforward - all I really needed to do was cut the corner off the top section then use a flat head screwdriver to pop the front and back of the case apart.  Once I found something that could cut through the top part it took about 30 seconds (like the video says) to do it.

Here's some photos of the liberation process:

Thanks for the link Jay!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Recently Announced New Stuff

Just doing a quick post to get caught up on what's been announced lately in the way of new releases{

- BBM has announced two more of this year's pack based team sets.  The Swallows set might be out as soon as I post this - it's supposed to hit the stores on June 24.   The Hawks set will be out in mid-July.  Both sets will have 81 cards in their base sets - like all the other team sets there's 70-ish cards for the manager and players on the team and 10-ish cards in a couple subsets.  Both sets have 18 insert cards and the usual assortment of autograph cards.

- The fourth edition of BBM's Classic set is due out in early July (Jambalaya has it on the 8th).  Classic is essentially BBM's version of Topps' Heritage and Archives sets.  Like the previous editions, there are 108 cards in the base set.  72 of these are for current players (6 per team) and will use the design of the 1994 BBM set.  The other 36 cards are for OB players (3 per team) and will use the design of the 2002 BBM All Time Heroes set.  Two of the three insert sets use older designs as well - there's a 24 card "All Around Players" set that reprises a design from the 1995 BBM set and a 12 card "3D Magic" set that looks like the 1996 "Magic Motion" insert set - the cards use a "SportsFlic"-like lenticular design.  The other insert set features 12 reprints of BBM rookie cards of active players.  There will be memorabilia cards (using a design from the 2003 Fighters team set) and autograph cards - including "buy back" cards that BBM bought on the card market and had players autograph.

- The second of BBM's annual sets dedicated to the cheerleaders and dance teams for various teams - Dancing Heroine Mai  - will be released in late July (Jambalaya says it will be the 22nd).   This is a pack based set featuring at least 87 cards in the base set - there will probably be more but it looks like the cards for the Buffaloes and Baystars cheerleaders are not set yet.  Each of the base set cards has a "holo" parallel and there are autograph cards and "cheki" cards available.

- Epoch has announced yet another high priced set.  This one is called "Pacific League" and features active players from the six Pacific League teams (naturally).  The base set has 54 cards (nine per team) but as you'd expect from one of these crazy Epoch sets, there's a myriad of possible parallel cards as well as various autograph and memorabilia cards available.  The set is being sold in boxes of six cards with a MSRP of 16,200 yen (roughly $155).  The six cards include three base set cards, one parallel card, one shadowbox card and one "special" insert card (which I assume is either an autograph or a memorabilia card).  The set will be out in mid-July.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Card Of The Week June 19

To say Seiya Suzuki of the Carp had a good weekend would be an understatement.

On Friday night, the Carp and the Orix Buffaloes had a 4-4 tie going into the bottom of the 12th inning.  Yoshitaka Isomura led off the inning with a double and Suzuki then homered to left field off of Motoki Higa to win the game 6-4.

On Saturday afternoon, Orix was up 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth with closer Yoshihiro Hirano on the mound.  With one out and two on, Suzuki again delivered a home run to left, winning the game 4-3.  He was the 10th player in NPB history to hit sayanora home runs in consecutive games and the first since Aarom Baldiris did it for Orix in 2012.

In this afternoon's game, the Carp and Orix were tied at four going into the eighth inning when Suzuki again homered to left - this time off of Sachiya Yamasaki.  While not a sayanora home run, it did prove to be the game winner as the Carp held on to win 5-4.

Here's Suzuki's card from the 2014 Front Runner Trading Cards Carp Rookies & Young Stars set (#14):

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Recent Ebay Win

I don't very often crow about an Ebay win right after I've picked something up but I have to share this one.  Rather than tell you about it, I'll just show you:

Yup, that's 1973 Calbee card #1 of Shigeo Nagashima, probably the most iconic Calbee card ever.  I have a couple of reprints of it (one from SCM and one from Calbee), I never thought I'd ever get one.  It was a little more expensive than I'm usually willing to spend ($49 with shipping) but, hey, how often do you see one of these?  (Dean, the American that I ran into in Mink Ikebukuro a few years back, was in the store to talk to the guy working at it about this card.  IIRC the store was selling it for 20,000 yen or roughly $200.)

Here's what the back looks like:

I'm not big on graded cards so I haven't decided if I'm going to leave it slabbed or take a page from Sean and see if the Baseball Card Liberation Front can help me out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Shikoku Island League All Stars vs Sussex County Miners

Last Saturday night I made the trek up to northern New Jersey to watch the Shikoku Island All Stars take on the Sussex County Miners of the Can-Am League.  Like my trip to Little Falls last year, I was again accompanied by my good friend Chuck.

The Miners play at Skyland Stadium in Augusta, New Jersey (formerly home of the New Jersey Cardinals of the New Yourk-Penn League) which is in a surprisingly rural area of the state just north of Lake Hopatcong.  It was a pretty leisurely drive for us from Chuck's house and we bought our tickets for the game at the box office just as the gates were opening up about an hour before game time.  I had brought a couple baseball cards with me to get autographed by pticher Junki Kishimoto and coaches Hironori Suguro and Hidenori Itoh.  After checking out the merchandise table (and discovering that as expected that the 2XL sized t-shirt was a Japanese 2XL and wasn't going to fit me), I headed over to the All Star team's side of the field to see what I could do about the autographs.

To make a long story short, I did end up getting all three autographs.  I caught Suguro in the dugout.  I was really embarrassed that I initially thought he was Itoh - I think the scorecard had the uniform numbers for the two of them reversed but since Suguro is about 20 years older than Itoh, I really should have realized who he was.  I apologized profusely while he signed the card.

1994 BBM #212
I located Itoh out in the bullpen - he was pretty amused to see a card of himself here.  He spoke a little English and asked me what number he should use on the card - his current number (either 82 or 83) or the one he had as a player (#52).  I told him whatever he wanted to do was fine with me - he put #52 on it.  He handed me the card back and shook my hand as best we could through the cyclone fence behind the bullpen.

2007 BBM 2nd Version #725
I asked Itoh if he knew where Kishimoto was and he said that he didn't really expect to see him out in the bullpen until about the fifth inning.  I walked back to our seats and went off to get some food for dinner.  I had just started in on my cheeseburger when I realized that Kishimoto was standing over by the dugout.  I put my food down and headed back over.  There was a guy standing on the dugout steps doing a live video stream for Periscope and when he saw that I was trying to get Kishimoto's attention, he went and got him for me.  Like Itoh, Kishimoto seemed amused that I had a card of him.

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #074

And I discovered later that I had made the Periscope video.  If you go to about the four minute mark on the video in this tweet, you'll see me calling out to him and handing him the card to sign before the video jumps to something else. 

The game itself was pretty exciting.  Itsuki Shoda, the 2002 Pacific League Rookie Of The Year with the Nippon-Ham Fighters started for Shikoku Island.  The All Stars took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third but the Miners tied it up with single runs in the third and fifth innings.

Things got very interesting in the top of the eighth.  With one out and two on, the All Stars executed a double steal (on the third strike to batter Takahiro Hayashi) and Yuta Ohshiro was called safe at third on a very close play.  Miners third baseman Nick Giarraputo was very adamant in his disagreement with the umpire's call however and play was delayed a bit while first pitcher Stone Speer and then manager Bobby Jones interceded on his behalf.  The next batter was Zach Colby, one of the two Americans on the Shikoku Island team.  On the second pitch after the double steal, Colby hit a grounder to shortstop Ryan Dent who made an off balance throw that appeared to pull first baseman Chris Jacobs off the bag.  The first base umpire called Colby out however and then things went a bit out of control.  Colby started arguing with the umpire and manager Terushi Nakajima quickly came out to continue the argument.  In the meantime for some reason most of the All Stars left the dugout and came on to the field as well.  I'm not completely sure what happened but someone actually sprinted on to the field like they were going after the umpire and had to be restrained by his teammates.  One player - Barrett Phillips, the other American on the team - was ejected during the fracas.  I'm really not sure what to make of what happened and I've been unable to find anything on-line about it - it didn't make the game's write up and I haven't seen anything else about it.  You can watch the replay of the game and see what you think - the whole thing starts around the 2 hour, 20 minute mark.

The game remained tied until the top of the 11th when Shikoku Island took advantage of the international extra innings rule that has team start each inning after the 10th with a runner on second and scored two runs.  The Miners rallied for two of their own in the bottom of the 11th however.  The All Stars had their runner picked off in the top of the twelfth inning and the Miners scored the winning run on a bases loaded single by catcher Elvin Soto in the bottom of the inning.

The box score of the game is here.

Here's some pictures from the game:

Posing for a pre-game photo

I think this is Jiro Kato

Coach Hidenori Itoh and catcher Hiroki Tsuruta out in the bullpen

All Stars starting lineup

Lineup exchange

Lined up for the National Anthems

Itsuki Shoda

Miners mascot Herbie - Fear the Beard


The All Stars disagree with the call at first in the eighth

More of their disagreement

Junki Kishimoto

The Miners walk off

The Miners celebrate

Final Score

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Card Of The Week June 12

Nowadays the photos on Calbee cards mostly show action shots but that's not always been the case.  They used a lot of posed shots in their first couple years.  Most of those posed photos were taken on the field but there were a few that appear to have been taken in a studio.

Here's a card showing Koichi Tabuchi (standing) and Yutaka Enatsu of the Hanshin Tigers:

1973 Calbee #51

Friday, June 10, 2016

Shikoku Island League All Stars 2 - Electric Bugaloo

For the second year in a row the independent Shikoku Island League has sent an all star team to North America to take on teams from the independent Can-Am League.  They kicked off the games last night (June 9) with a 7-1 drubbing of the Sussex County Miners in Augusta, New Jersey.

I thought I'd once again take a look at the roster of the team and see who has NPB baseball cards in case anyone's interested in going out to the ballpark and getting any cards autographed.

Like last year, there actually aren't many players who have NPB cards.  Eight of the players on the team were on last year's team but the only one who has any baseball cards is pitcher Itsuki Shoda from the Ehime Mandarin Pirates.  Terushi Nakajima returns as manager also and he had a large number of NPB cards that I listed last year.  (I'm actually a little disappointed that Kochi Fighting Dogs manager Norihiro Komada is not managing the team as I would love to get an autograph from him.)

It appears that the only other player with any NPB baseball cards is pitcher Junki Kishimoto of the Kagawa Olive Guyners.  Kishimoto was the first pick in the fall 2013 ikusei draft by the Dragons and spent 2014-15 with the team.  He had cards in the 2014 BBM Rookie Edition (#074) and Dragons (#D70) sets.

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #074

The two coaches for the team both have NPB experience.  Pitching coach Hidenori Itoh from Kagawa had been drafted by Yakult in the 1st round of the fall 2006 ikusei draft.  He was moved to the 70 man roster the following spring and was on the Opening Day roster that year.  He spent most of that season at ni-gun however and was released following the 2008 season.  He did however have baseball cards in the 2007 BBM 2nd Version set (#725  in the 1st Version Update subset) the 2007 BBM Rookie Edition Premium set (#RP27) and the 2008 BBM Swallows set (#S24).

2007 BBM 2nd Version #725
Hitting coach Hironori Suguro from the Kochi Fighting Dogs spent 12 seasons in NPB.  He was drafted by the Giants in the fifth round of the fall 1986 draft and debuted with the ichi-gun team in 1988 after spending the entire 1987 season with the farm team.  He was traded to the Orix Blue Wave for Terumitsu Kumano following the 1991 season.  He played in both the 1995 and 1996 Nippon Series for the team before being sold to Kintetsu in time for the 1997 season.  He retired from the Buffaloes following the 1999 season and has coached for the (Kintetsu) Buffaloes, Hawks and Giants as well as a couple independent league teams in the years since then.

The SportsCardForum,com Inventory Manager lists 25 cards for Suguro including three Calbee cards from 1989, Takara team set cards from 1991 to 1998, and BBM flagship set cards from 1992 to 1999.  He also appeared in the 1993 Tomy ID set, the 1995 and 1996 BBM Nippon Series sets and the 1996 BBM Diamond Heroes set.

1997 BBM #355
There's a couple other players of note on the roster.  There are two Westerners - Barrett Phillips and Zach Colby, both from the Kochi Fighting Dogs.  Phillips pitched briefly in the Pirates organization in 2010 and has been in Indy ball ever since.  Colby has had almost no professional experience - he played for Joliet in the Frontier League in 2013.  Yusuke Matsuzaka was drafted in the first round of the ikusei draft last fall by the Giants but did not sign.

All the Shikoku Island League All Star team games (as well as all the games from the Can-Am League) can be seen for free at the