Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lions Nostalgic sets

This year, BBM has produced two retrospective sets for the Lions. The first was a box set that came out back in February. As I mentioned a while back, this set (the Lions Memorial) commemorates the years that the Lions played in Fukuoka (1950-1978).

The Lions actually started life in 1950 as the Nishitetsu Clippers. They merged with the Nishi-Nippon Pirates in 1951 to become the Nishitetsu Lions. Nishitetsu sold the team in 1972 to the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation who essentially sold the naming rights to the team to the Taiheiyo Club (making the team the Taiheiyo Club Lions). After the 1976 season, the naming rights were sold to Crown Lighter Gas, so the name became the Crown Lighter Lions.

The box set features 39 "regular" cards that break down as 27 cards for Lions players, a six card Kazuhisa Inao memorial subset and a six card "Men Of Miracle" subset commemorating the Lions' 1963 Pacific League Championship. I can't find any details on the 1963 season, but apparently the Lions beat out the Hawks by one game.

The 27 Lions players are shown in pictures of either the Nishitetsu or Crown Lighter Lions. I was a little disappointed in this as I find that the Taiheiyo Club uniforms are among the uglier ones in history. Of course, this may be why BBM left them out of the set.

If you buy the actual box set, you also get a shot at photo cards or autograph cards. I got my set from someone on Ebay, so not only did I not get the photo card or autograph card, I didn't even get the box. On the other hand, it cost me a lot less than a sealed box would have.

Here's some example cards from the set. From top to bottom that's the cards of Akira Ohgi (#12) and Satoru Yoshioka (#25), one of the Kazuhisa Inao Memorial Cards (#33) and the team picture of the 1963 Lions (#36):





The other Lions set BBM put out celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Seibu Lions.

Following the 1978 season, the Fukuoka Baseball Corporation sold the Lions to the Seibu group, who moved the team from Fukuoka to Tokorozawa and renamed them the Seibu Lions. (They also apparently swiped their logo from the Kimba, the White Lion anime series.) To say that Seibu has been successful in running the Lions would be a gross understatement. In the 29 seasons since they bought the team (1979-2007), the Lions have have finished in first place 13 times and won the Pacific League playoffs two additional times despite not finishing in first place so that they've played in 15 Japan Series. They've won nine of those Japan Series. And as I write this, they (with their new name the Saitama Seibu Lions) are currently in first place with only a few weeks left in the season.

The 30th Anniversary set is a pack based set with 99 regular cards plus a bunch of insert and memorabilia cards. The regular cards break down as a six card "History Of Seibu Lions" subset, 63 cards of OB players, 18 cards of current players and a nine card "Team Record" subset. I found the selection of the 63 OB players kind of interesting. There were the guys I expected to see like Koji Akiyama and Tsutomo Itoh along with still active players who were no longer with the Lions - Alex Cabrera, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, and Kimiyasu Kudoh for example - as well as guys playing in the States like Kazuo Matsui. (Although oddly enough no Daisuke Matsuzaka.) There were also cards for each manager of the Lions, although some of these (like Itoh) were really as players. There were a couple of cards that surprised me (like Koichi Tabuchi and Yasushi Tao) because I hadn't really thought of those guys as Lions. No Katsuya Nomura though.

There's a handful of guys (like Osamu Higashio and Masahiro Doi) who appear in both sets.

Here's some example cards. That's one of the "History Of Seibu Lions" subset cards (#02), Tsutomo Itoh's (#34) and Koichi Tabuchi's (#18) OB cards, G.G. Sato's card from the current Lions subset (#90) and Koji Akiyama's card from the "Team Record" subset (#94). (Oddly enough, Akiyama's card is for him having the second most RBI's for the Lions. The number one guy, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, has a card in the subset for having the most home runs, not RBI's.)






Note: I got most of the details of the Lions' history for this post from Wikipedia.

2 comments:

Prof. Noriaki Kakyouin said...

Now, I was wondering if Japanese Baseball cards come with stats on the backs of them like American cards do?

I just bought a game that uses Baseball card stats (http://www.abcgame.com/index.htm), and would like to play a Japanese team vs. my friend's Fleer and Topps teams... but you need the stats.

Will they come with them?

NPB Card Guy said...

Yes. What's on the back depends on which set obviously but in general the current BBM and Calbee issues have stats on the back.