Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Interleague Home Runs By Pitchers

NPB on Reddit (@NPB_Reddit) sent out a really interesting tweet this morning - in the 14 years since interleague play began seven Pacific League pitchers have hit home runs during the interleague games while no Central League pitchers have homered.  He included the list of the pitchers and I thought I'd do a post showing a card of each of them.  I had intended to show a flagship card of each player from the same year as when they homered but the latest one - Kenta Uehara who did it yesterday - doesn't have a card in a flagship set this year - at least not so far.

May 11, 2005 Jeremy Powell (OB) vs YG

2005 BBM 2nd Version #624

May 21, 2005 Tsutomu Iwamoto (NH) vs YG

2005 BBM 1st Version #89

Jun 9, 2006 Daisuke Matsuzaka (SL) vs HT

2006 BBM 2nd Version #555

May 28, 2008 Rick Guttormson (SH) vs YB

2008 BBM 1st Version #299

May 29, 2008 Kenji Otonari (SH) vs YB

2008 BBM 2nd Version #658

Jun 15, 2011 Alfredo Figaro (OB) vs YB

2011 BBM 2nd Version #532

Jun 18, 2018 Kenta Uehara (NH) vs HC

2017 BBM Fighters #F10

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Card Of The Week June 17

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles manager Masataka Nashida announced a couple days ago that he's stepping down due to the team's poor performance this season.  The team announced that head coach Yosuke Hiraishi would become interim manager for the remainder of the season.

Hiraishi was the Eagles' seventh round pick in the fall 2004 draft, their first one ever.  Prior to being drafted he had attended PL Gakuen High School and Doshisha University before playing for Toyota in the corporate leagues.  He spent seven years in the Eagles organization, getting into only 122 games with the ichi-gun team before retiring after the 2011 season.  He's been a coach for the team ever since.

Here's Hiraishi's rookie card from the 2005 BBM 1st Version set (#246):

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lots Of New Releases

There's a bunch of sets that have been announced recently so let's get to it...

- The final three of BBM's annual "comprehensive" team sets have been announced.  The Hawks set will be out in late June (Jambalaya says June 30th) while the Eagles and Dragons sets will be released in mid-July.  Each set has a base set of 81 cards which has been the standard size for BBM's team sets for the last few years.  The Hawks base set contains 69 cards for the players (and manager), three "Highlight Reel" cards (which includes a card for Seiichi Uchikawa's 2000th hit) and nine "Hawks History" cards that appear to be a continuation of the subset with the same name in BBM's Hawks 80th Anniversary set from a few months ago - I'm guessing they cover the team's history since 1968.  The Hawks set also has 30 insert cards split between four sets - Steel Curtain (6 cards), The Hunt (3 cards), Undisputed (9 cards) and Phantom (12 cards) - and the usual bevy of possible autograph cards.  The Eagles base set has 70 cards for the manager and players, three "Record Breaker" cards, three "Fans' Favorite" and five "main player(?)" cards.  There are also 27 insert cards split between six sets although only one of them (the 9 card "Phantom" set) is named on their web page.  The set also has various autograph cards available.  The Dragons base set also has 70 cards for the manager and players plus a three subsets:  "Winners Never Quit" (3 cards), "Cosmic Attack" (5 cards) and "Lights On" (3 cards).  There are four insert sets - "Up Next" (6 cards), "Tough Enough" (3 cards), "Raise High" (9 cards) and "Phantom" (12 cards) and many autograph cards.

- BBM is releasing a "Premium" box set for the Fighters called "Ambitious".  This is the second Premium box set BBM has done this year - the first was for the Carp and called "Invincible".  Like that set this one contains 29 cards - the complete 27 card base set plus 1 serially numbered "UNLIMITED" insert card and 1 autographed card (odd that a limited edition insert card would be called "UNLIMITED").  The set will be released in early July.  And thanks to the title of the set I have this song running through my head:

- The first of BBM's two annual cheerleader/dance squad sets has been announced.  "Dancing Heroine - Hana" will be out in early July.  It's a pack base set featuring a 99 card base set that has members of the squads from nine different teams - the Hawks (Honeys), the Lions (bluelegends), the Eagles (Tohoku Golden Angels), Fighters Girl (Fighters), M * Splash !! (Marines), Tigers Girls (Tigers), Venus (Giants), Chia Dragons 2018 (Dragons) and Passion (Swallows).  There are no members included from the Baystars (Diana) or Buffaloes (Bs Girls) but it looks like that's been the case for the last couple years (and the Carp don't have cheerleaders).  There are nine insert cards (I'd guess one member per team) and various cheki and autograph inserts.

- BBM's annual second flagship set - "2nd Version"- will be released in mid-August.  This edition pretty much looks the same as the last few editions.  There's 216 "regular" player cards (18 per team), 36 "1st Version Update" cards (3 per team), 36 "Cross Universe" cards (3 per team) that complete the subset started in 1st Version and 12 checklist cards (which I'd be willing to bet feature each team's mascot but I'd be happy to be wrong).  There are also the usual unspecified number of "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards featuring various Japanese celebrities - I'd expect somewhere around 12 or 13 of them.  The player cards have the usual various different facsimile autograph parallel versions plus 12 cards have photo variants called "secret" versions.  I think there are also parallel versions of the First Pitch cards and "Cross Universe" cards.  There's two 12 card insert sets - one is unspecified and the other is the ubiquitous "Phantom" set - and assorted autograph and memorabilia cards.

- Speaking of second flagship sets, Calbee's Series Two will officially be arriving in stores on July 2nd although Jambalaya says it'll be out on June 27th.  There will be 88 cards in the base set - 72 player cards (six per team), 12 manager cards and four checklist cards.  There will also be the usual 24 "Star" insert cards (two per team) and a 12 card "Team Highest Win" special box set available as a redemption for "lucky" cards.  The checklist for the set is available on-line as usual.  Series Two coming out at roughly the usual time is a hopeful sign that last year's potato famine issues are a thing of the past and Calbee will do their standard three Series this year.

- Epoch has announced a new ultra high end set in conjunction with the OB Club entitled "Career Achievement".  Each box has an MSRP of 16,200 yen (~$146) and contains two packs of three cards each - not sure of how many autographs that includes.  The base set has 40 cards but the main attraction of this set is the large variety of autograph cards available in it - there are six different types including autographed baseballs.  I think there are also parallel versions of the autograph cards but I'm not positive.  The set will be released on July 7th.

- Hits is releasing another single player "Mini Color Paper" set - this time it's for Yokohama DeNA Baystars outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh in honor of his 150th home run.  The set will contain a total of 16 "cards" for him - 8 "normal" and 8 "gilded print signed" and will be out sometime in July.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Card Of The Week June 10

In my post about Bobby Rose I mentioned that he had 153 RBIs in 1999 and that was the second best total for a season in NPB history.  Do you know who had the most RBIs in a season in NPB history?  It's not any of the obvious candidates like Sadaharu Oh, Katsuya Nomura, Hiromitsu Ochiai, Koji Yamamoto or Hiromitsu Kadota.  It's Makoto Kozuru who had  161 RBIs with the Shochiku Robins in 1950. 

1950 is an important year in Japanese baseball history as it was the first year of Nippon Professional Baseball.  The eight team Japanese Baseball League reorganized themselves following the 1949 season into a 15 team organization spread across two leagues - the Central and Pacific Leagues.  Kozuru had a near Triple Crown season that year as he also had 51 home runs to lead the league (the single season record until Katsuya Nomura hit 52 in 1963*) and his .355 batting average was just six points behind Fumio Fujimura's league leading .362. 

*Nomura would only hold the single season record for one year as Sadaharu Oh hit 55 in 1964.  Oh's record stood until Wladimir Balentien hit 60 in 2013 although it was tied by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.

The Robins themselves had an amazing season that year, finishing with a record of 98-35-4 and winning the Central League pennant by nine games over the Chunichi Dragons and an astounding 59 game above the last place Hiroshima Carp (who went 41-96-1 in their inaugural season).  The Robins however were defeated by the Mainichi Orions in the first Nippon Series that year.  The team was unable to continue this success in the following seasons, dropping to last place in 1952 and merging with the Taiyo Whales in 1953.

Here's a menko card of Kozuru from 1950:

This card is from a set that Engel refers to as JCM 117 - the "Animal Back" menko set.  This is so named as the back of each card shows an animal.  This particular card is not in Engel's checklist for the set.  Here's the back of this card which shows a lizard (tokage):

Bobby Rose

Last season Justin mentioned to me that former Yokohama Baystars star Bobby Rose was the batting coach for the Down East Wood Ducks of the Carolina League.  As I've mentioned before I'm not a big autograph guy but occasionally I'll take advantage of an opportunity to get an autograph and with the Blue Rocks of Wilmington, Delaware not far from my home (and a place I used to go all the time) I figured it would be easy to get Rose's autograph.  Unfortunately the only time "Down East" (who play in Kinston, NC) was in Wilmington last season was the last week of August which was when I was having back surgery.  So I couldn't do it last season.  This season Rose is the batting coach for the Delmarva Shorebirds of the South Atlantic League who play in Salisbury, Maryland about two hours from my house.

So two weeks ago my wife and I headed down to Salisbury, stopped off at a great brew pub on the way and caught a game between the Shorebirds (an Orioles affliate) and the Lakewood Blue Claws (a Phillies affiliate).  We got there early and I planted myself by the tunnel where the Shorebirds players and coaches entered the field.  I didn't have to wait too long - he was the first member of the coaching staff to come out.  He was very patient and gracious as I dealt first with a sharpie that had dried up (had to borrow one from another fan) and then when I fumbled with my phone trying to take a picture.  But I got a great autograph on a card from one of my favorite sets so it's all good:

Here's the picture I got of him:

I thought I'd do a brief post on Rose since I got the autograph.  Rose joined the Baystars in 1993 after eight years in the Angels organization.  He got into 73 MLB games with the Angels between 1989-1992.  He immediately became a star for the Baystars, hitting .325 and leading the Central League in RBIs with 94.  He ended up spending eight years with the Baystars, hitting over .300 every season except 1994 and helping the team to a Nippon Series championship in 1998.  His best season was 1999 when he hit .369 with 37 home runs and 153 RBIs (2nd best season total in NPB history).  Over his eight year career he was named to the All Star team four times (1995, 1997, 1999, 2000), elected to the Best 9 team six times (1993, 1995, 1997-2000) and won a Golden Glove in 1998.  He was MVP of the second All Star game in 1999.  He lead the league in batting in 1999, RBIs in 1994 and 1999, OBP in 1997 and hits in 1999 and 2000.

His relationship with the Baystars soured after the 2000 season though as he and the team could not agree on a salary.  As an odd side effect of this, he ended up not having cards in the Leader subset and Best Nine insert set for the 2001 BBM set.  It is not unusual for a player to have cards in these subsets despite not having a card in the rest of the set.  To use the 2001 BBM set as an example, Ichiro has two Leader subset cards and cards in both the Best 9 and Golden Glove insert sets despite not appearing in the rest of the set as he was in his first season in Seattle that year.  I don't know why he didn't have cards - if it was his decision or BBM's.  I would have loved to have asked him about it at Delmarva but it didn't seem like an appropriate setting.

Rose attempted a comeback with the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2003 but he ended up retiring in the middle of spring training.  There are no cards of him with the Marines that I'm aware of.

Here's some cards of him from during his time in Japan:

1993 Tomy #408

1994 Takara Baystars #23

1996 BBM #346

1998 BBM Nippon Series #S19

1999 Calbee #221 (Gold Signature Parallel)

2000 Upper Deck Ovation #73
Despite whatever happened in 2000 he's made peace at least with BBM enough to be included in a handful of OB sets.  He's in the 2008 Yokohama 30th Anniversary set, the 2010 BBM 20th Anniversary set, the 2012 Baystars 20th Anniversary set, the 2013 Legendary Foreigners and Deep Impact gaijin sets and the 2014 All Star Game Memories 90's set.  Here's the 2014 All Star Game Memories 90's set card:

2014 BBM All Star Game Memories 90's #80
I was wondering if anyone with Delmarva was really aware of Rose's Japanese career but then I took a look at the cover of their scorecard and realized that they did:

Inside the scorecard there was an article on him:

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Shukan Baseball Cards

A couple of years ago (about a year after I got serious about learning about Sports Card Magazine and the baseball cards distributed with issues of it) I started looking into the baseball cards that were periodically distributed with Shukan (Weekly) Baseball magazine.  I kind of lost interest however as pretty much everything that's been issued since 2010 appears to just be straight promo cards for BBM's issue - these cards are identical to the equivalent BBM issues except for maybe the color on the card and text on the front saying "Weekly Baseball Promotion".  But I've come across some cards lately that are making me reassess this a little bit.  And of course when I say I've come across some cards lately what I really mean is that I asked Ryan to pick up the cards for me off Yahoo! Japan Auctions.

Baseball Magazine Sha, the magazine publisher that's the parent company of BBM, started publishing Shukan Baseball in 1958.  I don't know for sure when they started including baseball cards in issues but the earliest one I've seen on Yahoo! Japan Auctions was from 2002.  Not every issue has baseball cards and I haven't quite figured out how often they do.  During the 2000's issues that had baseball cards could have anywhere from 2 to 5 cards.  Like the SCM cards, some of the cards were the standard promo cards for BBM sets but a lot of them were completely original cards.  I found a couple cards from this period that I was interested in and were up for auction fairly cheap and asked Ryan to pick them up for me. 

The first two of these are from 2005 and celebrate the alternate uniforms worn by a couple teams during the inter-league games that year (the first year of inter-league play).  There were actually three cards included in the issue but I don't know who the other card is of.

The other card I had Ryan pick up for me was this 2006 "Super Rookie" card of Yoshihisa Hirano:

The numbering scheme used by these cards is confusing.  Let me show you the back of Ogasawara's card as an example:

There's a "4" that I think identifies the issue the cards came out of and then a "2/3".  The "3" I think means that there were three cards in the issue and the "2" means this is the second of the three - the Imaoka card has "1/3".  Now that part seems pretty obvious but the issue number is confusing.  Shukan Baseball is published roughly every week (hence the "weekly" part of the name).  Inter-league in 2005 was in June so these cards must have come out in June or July.  There certainly would have been more than four issues by that time that year.  I suspect that the issue that these cards came out with was the fourth issue that year to have cards.

The turning point for Shukan Baseball's cards not being interesting anymore (at least to me) appears to be around August of 2010.  They issued 12 cards over three issues (cover dates of August 2nd, 9th and 16th) that celebrated their 3000th issue (not sure which of the three that actually was).  Now if you had asked me two weeks ago I would have told you that EVERY Shukan Baseball card since then was just a promo card.  But that turns out not to be quite true. 

Last fall I came across an auction on YJA that was a lot of Shukan Baseball cards from 2010-13.  My curiosity was piqued by it as it showed an alternate version of Hiroyuki Nakajima's 2010 2nd Version card - the card had a different photo than the regular card.  I really couldn't see what the rest of the lot had but it was pretty cheap so again I asked Ryan to pick it up.  It was actually one of the things I was most interested in seeing in the package I got from him two weeks ago (not that there was anything in the box I wasn't interested in). 

The lot had 26 cards in it.  Eight of these cards were from 2010 and were issued after the 3000th issue.  All eight of these cards (which includes the Nakajima card) are alternate versions of cards from BBM sets.  The Nakajima card was one of two that came with issue #36 with a cover date of September 6th - that's issue 36 for the year rather than the 36th issue that year with baseball cards in it.  The other card was an alternate version of Hayato Sakamoto's 2nd Version card.  Here's both of these cards with their original version - in each case the original is on the left (and obviously is NOT marked as "Weekly Baseball Promotion"):

The card numbering scheme changed for these cards.  These two cards are numbered 812 (Sakamoto) and 813 (Nakajima) - it's a continuation of the numbering from the 2nd Version set.

Issue #42 in 2010 had a cover date of October 4th - I have no idea how there were six issues between September 6th and October 4th.  This issue had alternate versions of two cards from the "Cross Stream" subset of the Touch The Game set that year.  I don't have the original version of the cards so I'll just show the Shukan Baseball versions:

Once again the cards were numbered as a continuation of the original set - Chono is #CS181 and Okada is #CS182.  You can see the original Chono and Okada cards at Jambalaya.

The October 25th issue (#47) had alternate versions of two cards from the BBM 20th Anniversary set.  Once again the cards are numbered as a continuation of the original set:

The last issue in 2010 to have baseball cards was #53 with a cover date of November 29th.  The cards were alternate versions of cards from that year's edition of the "Historic Collection" sets - "Hometown Heroes".  The set has a "cover" date of 2011 but was published in November of 2010.  Again the cards were numbered as a continuation of the set.

As far as I can tell, all the Shukan Baseball cards since the beginning of 2011 have been boring (in my opinion) promo cards.  And any issue that contained cards only contained two.  The remaining 18 cards from the lot Ryan got for me off YJA are traditional promo cards.  The sets represented are the 2011 Dragons 75th Anniversary set (2011 Issue #1 with a cover date of January 3rd, 2011), the 2011 Tigers and Giants team sets (not sure which issue), 2011 Tohto 80th Memorial (2011 Issue #47, October 17th), 2012 Strongest Generation (2011 Issue #55, November 28th), 2012 Rookie Edition (2012 Issue #10, February 22nd), 2012 2nd Version (2012 Issue #37, August 13th), 2012 Genesis (2012 Issue #44, September 17th), 2012 Rookie Edition Premium (2012 Issue #51, October 22nd) and 2013 Great Numbers (2012 Issue #57, November 26th).  I thought about scanning these cards in but I'm not convinced there's a compelling need to show them off.

I had started a list of these cards a few years back (which is where I got some of the data above about publication dates) but I kind of lost interest.  I may have to start researching them again.  Even if the recent cards aren't all that interesting I think some of the cards from the 00's might be worth learning about.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

2018 BBM Icons - Fanfare

This year's edition of BBM's annual Icons box set is called "Fanfare".  Its theme appears to be players who were considered a big deal when they were drafted.  All the players in the set were taken in the first round of the draft.

The base set has 36 cards which as almost always are split evenly among the 12 teams so there's three cards per team.  There's a number of big stars in the set - Sho Nakata, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh and Tomoyuki Sugano - along with a bunch of other significant names like Yasuaki Yamasaki, Yuki Matsui, Kosuke Fukudome, Tomoya Mori, Yusei Kikuchi, Yusuke Nomura, Shintaro Fujinami, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hisayoshi Chono.  There's also five 2018 rookies - Kotaro Kiyomiya, Shosei Nakamura, Hisanori Yasuda, Daiki Tajima, and Munetaka Murakami.  There's a couple guys that I was surprised to not see in the set - Tetsuto Yamada and Hayato Sakamoto being the big ones.  The fact that Yuki Saitoh is not in the set just proves that it's now 2018 rather than 2012 because he was drafted with a great deal of fanfare back in 2010.  And obviously the fact that the set only includes first rounders prevents a bunch of guys like Yuki Yanagita, Shogo Akiyama and Seiya Suzuki from being in the set.

Here's some sample cards:




It's not a bad little set.  I got it mainly to get more cards of Kiyomiya and Nakamura.  And it has the first card of Matsuzaka with the Dragons.

As always the box set came with a "special" card that could include an autograph card and as always I got (well Ryan got for me) an opened box that only had the base set in it.  Ryan did a post about the set that explains all the possible "special" cards.  Jambalaya has all the cards up on their site too.