Thursday, November 26, 2015

2015 BBM 25th Anniversary Set

BBM released a set commemorating their 25th Anniversary at the end of October.  This set has 189 cards in its base set - 180 player cards and 9 "Great Records & Highlights" cards.

This is one of the few BBM sets that do not have the player cards split evenly between all 12 teams.  I don't think the players are split evenly between active and OB players either although I didn't actually count to see.  The set contains pretty much everyone who was a major NPB player since 1991.  The OB players include players whose career began before 1991 but who still played the majority of their career during the BBM era - Norihiro Komada, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Atsuya Furuta, Masumi Kuwata, Koji Akiyama, Tsutomu Itoh, Yukio Tanaka, Kazuhiro Sasaki, etc.  There are also (obviously) OB players who played their entire career since 1991 - Hideki Matsui, Tsuyoshi Shinjyo, Norihiro Nakamura, Kazuhisa Ishii, Hiroki Kokubo, etc.  The active players include pretty much all the big stars like Shohei Ohtani, Tetsuto Yamada, Yuki Yanagita, Shogo Akiyama, Shitaro Fujinami, Takeya Nakamura and Kenta Maeda.  There are a number of OB and active Westerners included like Tuffy Rhodes, Alex Ramirez, Wladimir Balentien and Matt Murton.  There are also several former NPB players who played in MLB in 2015 - Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish (well, he was on the DL for an MLB team all season), Norichika Aoki, Munenori Kawasaki and Koji Uehara.

So who's not in the set?  You could nit-pick the inclusion of a number of players who aren't in the set but I think the big ones that are missing are Hideo Nomo, Ichiro Suzuki, Hiromitsu Ochiai and Kazuhiro Kiyohara.  Honestly Kiyohara is the only surprise here.  Nomo hasn't appeared on a BBM card since 1994 (his 2000 20th Century Best 9 cards didn't show his picture).  Ichiro has only appeared in three BBM sets since he left for the US and the most recent of those was 2009.  Ochiai has not appeared in any baseball cards since he was fired as Dragons manager in 2011.  But Kiyohara shows up in BBM's historic sets pretty regularly.

The cards themselves are fairly attractive, although I have my usual complaints about the photo selection - mostly batters batting and pitchers pitching.  Some of the older photos are a bit grainy which is a complaint I had with the All Star Memories sets of the past couple years.  But on the whole it's a nice looking set.






The backs of the cards feature a reproduction of the player's first BBM card, similar to what BBM did for their 20th Anniversary set back in 2010.  I didn't do a full study but it looks like there's at least one card represented from each flagship set from 1991 to 2001 and each 1st Version set from 2002 to 2015 (Yasuaki Yamasaki).

Back of #163
The nine "Great Records & Highlights" cards are apparently a continuation of the subset with the same name from the 2010 20th Anniversary set.  They use the same design and they only commemorate events that have occurred since that set came out.  The nine events in the subset are the Marines winning the Nippon Series in 2010 (only third place team to survive the Climax Series and win the Nippon Series), Takeya Nakamura out-homering a team in 2011 (I think), Alex Ramirez 2000th hit in 2013, Hideki Matsui and Shigeo Nagashima getting the People's Honor Award in 2013, Wladimir Balentien hitting his 56th home run to break Sadaharo Oh's record in 2013, Masahiro Tanaka going 24-0 in 2013 (hmm, a lot of 2013 here), Shohei Ohtani having double digits in wins and home runs in 2014, Motonobu Tanishige appearing in his NPB record 3018th game in 2015 and Masahiro Yamamoto becoming the oldest player to record a win in 2015.

The set has four six card insert sets associated with it.  I normally don't get these but I decided to splurge this time.  The four sets are "Old Time Stars" (retired players), "Stars Shining Overseas" (Japanese players playing in MLB), "Rising Stars" (young NPB players) and "Legendary Stars" (veteran NPB players - two of whom have retired since the set went to press).  The design of each set is very similar to the others - mostly just a change in the background and banner colors.




Now that Jambalaya is back on line you can see all the cards here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tatsuhiko Kinjoh

As we continue to wind down the list of players who retired at the end of the 2015 season, we reach Tatsuhiko Kinjoh of the Giants.  Kinjoh was drafted as a pitcher by the Yokohama Baystars in the fifth round of the 1998 draft from Sumitomo Metals of the industrial leagues.  The Baystars immediately converted him to an infielder however.  He played in a handful of games with the ichi-gun team in late 1999 but an injury to Tatsuya Shindoh in 2000 pushed him into the starting third baseman role.  He lead the Central League in batting (becoming the first "true" rookie to ever do so) and was named Rookie Of The Year.  He was moved to the outfield in 2001 due to his defensive shortcomings in the infield (he made 12 errors in 2000) and remained in the outfield the rest of his career.  He slumped significantly in the next two seasons, finishing below the Mendoza line with a .170 average in 2002.  He recovered in 2003, however, hitting over .300 again and making an All Star team for the first time.  He made the All Star team again in 2005 (wining a game MVP award) and 2006.  He also won Golden Glove awards in 2005 and 2007.  He was a bench player for the Japanese National Team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  As he was drafted by the Baystars just after they made their last appearance in the Nippon Series, it goes without saying that he never played in one.

He left the Baystars for the Giants as a free agent (I think) following the 2014 season.  He spent much of the 2015 season with the farm team, only getting into 36 games (and hitting .233) with the top team.  He will be the Giants san-gun hitting coach next year.

1999 BBM #295

2008 BBM Yokohama 30th Anniversary #97

2001 BBM #28

2004 BBM Baystars #YB59

2006 BBM All Stars #A64

2007 Konami Baseball Heroes Black Edition #B07B237

2011 BBM 2nd Version #667

2013 Calbee #188

2014 Front Runner Baystars Rookies & Young Stars #02

2015 BBM 1st Version #184
One interesting thing about Kinjoh is that his father Akiyo pitched in Kintetsu's organization for a couple years in the late 1960's.  He appeared in one game with the top team in 1968 - but as an outfielder.  He did not get a plate appearance in the game.  It kind of reminds me of Moonlight Graham from "Field Of Dreams".

Card Of The Week November 22

The inaugural Premier 12 wrapped up yesterday with Korea defeating the US in the gold medal game.  Many would say, however, that the championship game was really last Thursday when Korea rallied from a 3-0 deficit to score four runs in the top of the ninth to upset previously undefeated Japan.  Yesterday's games seem just an afterthought with Japan demolishing Mexico 11-1 in the bronze medal game and Korea downing the US 8-0 in the gold medal game.

The tournament awards were announced after the final game and Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim was named MVP.  Unsurprisingly, Kim was also named to the tournament's  "All World Team" which is the second time he's made such a team in an international tournament - he also made the team for the 2009 WBC.

It's been a good fall for Kim as the team he plays for in his day job, the Doosan Bears, were KBO champions.  Here's a couple Korean cards of him:

2010 KBO "Game set" #AD-003

2014 Super Star Baseball Season One #SBC01-016

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Some 1990's Era Packaging

I wanted to do a quick note about an Ebay auction I won recently.  This auction included most of a box of 1992 BBM Series One (16 out of the original 20 packs) along with seven unopened packs of 1990 Lotte cards.

1992 was the only year that BBM ever split their flagship set up into multiple Series.  The 498 card set was split into two 249 card Series.  The box I picked up was for Series One (I already had a box for Series Two).  I already have the complete 1992 set so I'm not going to do a box break for this box but just so you know, each pack has 10 cards in it.  I opened one pack just to see what kind of promo material was in it.

Box top


Promo included in pack
The 1990 Lotte cards had one card per pack.  The packs also included two sticks of gum.  I will not be attempting to chew any pieces of 25 year old gum (although for what's worth, the gum still bends).

Lotte wrapper

I'll be updating my post on the 1992 set with the additional packaging images.  If anyone is interested in buying 15 unopened 1992 BBM Series One packs (plus the contents of the one I opened) dirt cheap, let me know.

Kazuyuki Hoashi

Another player who retired at the end of 2015 was pitcher Kazuyuki Hoashi of the Hawks.  He was originally drafted by the Lions in the third round of the 2000 draft from Mitsubishi Motors of the industrial leagues.  He was a member of the Lions starting rotation between 2003 and 2011.  His best season was probably 2008 when he went 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA.  He left the Lions for Fukuoka as a free agent after the 2011 season.  He missed most of 2012 due to a shoulder injury.  He pitched fairly regularly for the Hawks in 2013 and 2014 but spent most of 2015 with the farm team.  He made the All Star team in 2005 and 2008 and pitched in Nippon Series for the Lions in 2004 and 2008.  I don't think he appeared with the Hawks in either the 2014 or 2015 Series.

2001 BBM #424

2004 BBM Nippon Series #13

2005 BBM All Stars #A17

2006 BBM 2nd Version #557

2011 BBM 2nd Version #480

2011 BBM Lions Classic #54

2012 Calbee #076

2014 Hawks Players Card

2015 BBM Hawks #H23

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Keiichi Hirano

Orix Buffaloes second baseman Keiichi Hirano retired at the end of the season.  Hirano was drafted by the then Orix Blue Wave in the "free agent acquisition frame" of the 2001 NPB draft out of Tokai University.  He became the regular second baseman for Orix in 2004 and made the All Star team for the first time in 2005 before a major injury caused by a collision with a fence chasing a foul ball caused him to miss most of the 2006 season.  After not performing particularly well in 2007, Orix traded him (along with Kenta Abe) to the Hanshin Tigers for Makoto Yoshino and Osamu Hamanaka.  He quickly recovered with the Tigers, winning the Comeback Player award in 2008.  He made the All Star team three times (2010-12), the Best 9 team twice (2010-11) and won Golden Glove awards twice (2010-11).  He left the Tigers as a free agent following the 2012 season and returned to Orix.  He's missed time in two of the past three seasons due to a calf injury.  Now that he's retired, he'll be returning to the Tigers to be a coach with their ni-gun team.

2002 BBM 1st Version #288

2003 Calbee #J-12

2004 Calbee #188

2005 BBM 1st Version #191

2006 BBM 1st Version #128

2008 BBM 1st Version #096

2012 BBM 1st Version #371

2012 Calbee #AS-17

2013 Front Runner Buffaloes Season Summary #21

2015 BBM 1st Version #041
Hirano was known for his head first slides, which BBM featured on several of his cards:

2008 BBM 2nd Version #578

2011 BBM 1st Version #204

2012 BBM 1st Version #258