Friday, October 31, 2008

2009 NPB Draft

The 2009 NPB Draft was held yesterday. Deanna Rubin has published the list of players drafted both here and (with pictures) here.

Most of the players who were picked will have their first cards ever in the 2009 BBM Rookie Edition set, which should come out next February. For the first time ever, however, a couple of these guys already have cards. They appear in last spring's BBM Tokyo Big 6 set.

Here's a list of players from that set who were drafted:
Takeshi Hosoyamada, Waseda (Baystars #4)
Shinji Iwata, Meiji (Dragons #5)
Takeshi Komatsu, Hosei (Carp #3)
Keijiro Matsumoto, Waseda (Baystars #1)
Hiroki Uemoto, Waseda (Tigers #3)

Here's the cards of Matsumoto (#9) and Iwata (#11) from the set:

It is entirely possible that there are additional cards of these players in the Fall Version of the Tokyo Big 6 set. It is also possible that there are cards of these and other players in the collegiate National Team Set. I can't say for sure since I don't have either set yet (the National Team set was just released yesterday).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Overstock Sale

Just a quick note - Yakyu Shop has an overstock sale going on. No cards, but they've got a bunch of discounted jerseys and hats. The sale items are here. So for those of you in the States that would like some NPB wear, this might be your best bet on getting something cheap.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Card Of The Week October 26

Manager Marty Brown and the Carp have re-upped for another year. Brown made a splash in his first year as manager with the following incident:

Here's his 2007 card from the BBM 1st Version set (#361). I'm not sure anyone's going to buy the "who me?" look I think he's going for here:

Thanks to Japan Baseball Daily's video archive for the link to the video.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yokohama 30th Anniversary Set

My 2008 BBM Yokohama 30th Anniversary set arrived the other day. As I mentioned before, after the 1977 season the Taiyo Whales moved from Kawasaki to Yokohama. They changed their name first to the Yokohama Taiyo Whales, then in 1993 to the Yokohama BayStars. (They are the only team in Japan to not have their ownership reflected in their official name.) BBM released a 99 card set to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the team bing in Yokohama.

The first 63 cards of the set are all OB players and managers. As with the other Anniversary sets that BBM has put out, this includes not only retired players, but former Baystars still playing both in NPB (Motonobu Tanishige) and MLB (Takashi Saitoh). Significant players and managers include Kaoru Betto, Kazuhiko Endoh, Masaji Hiramatsu, Norihiro Komada, Leon Lee, Makoto Matsubara, Bobby Rose, and Kazuhiro Sasaki. I have to confess that I don't know enough about Yokohama to notice if anyone significant is missing, although I would have liked a Felix Millan card. Here's the cards of Leon Lee (#40) and Motonobu Tanishige (#33):

The next 18 cards feature the current manager (Akihiko Ohya) and current players. I was amused that Kimiyasu Kudoh was among these cards. Kudoh was in both the Lions 30th Anniversary set and the Hawks 70th Anniversary set earlier this year, as well as the 2004 Giants 70th Anniversary set. BBM has done six team Anniversary sets in the past four years and Kudoh has been in four of them. Here's his card (#70):

The next 9 cards feature the position players of the 1998 Nippon Series champion BayStars, along with a card celebrating the team's championship. Here's the Takuro Ishii card from this subset (#82):

The final 9 cards of the set are the "The Big Scene" subset. These cards commemorate significant events in the BayStars/Whales 30 seasons. This includes Masaji Hiramtsu's 200th win in 1983, the "Super Car Trio" of Takagi, Katoh and Yashiki in 1985, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh's Rookie Of The Year award in 2000 and Takuro Ishii's 2000th hit in 2006. Here's the card celebrating the first game in Yokohama (#91):

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed with this set. Maybe it's just my unfamiliarity with Yokohama, but I just wasn't real impressed with it. A lot of the pictures seem blurry and dark and it just kind of seems like a sloppy job by BBM, especially compared to the Lions and Hawks Anniversary sets.

BBM has now done Anniversary sets for six of the twelve teams in NPB - the Giants (70th in 2004), the Tigers (70th in 2005), the Dragons (70th in 2006) and the Lions, Hawks and BayStars this year. I'm curious if they plan sets for any of the other teams. The Marines and Swallows will celebrate the 40th Anniversaries of their ownership by Lotte and Yakult respectively next year. The Fighters will have their 35th Anniversary of their ownership by Nippon Ham next year also. Orix bought the Braves from Hankyu 20 years ago next year. And the Carp will celebrate their 60th Anniversary in 2010. I could see BBM doing sets for all of these, leaving only the Golden Eagles (who are going into only their fifth season next year) without an Anniversary set.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go Dragons!

Making me feel a little better about this, Tyrone Woods hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth today to lead the Dragons past the Tigers in the deciding game of Stage 1 of the Central League Climax Series. The Dragons will now face the Giants in Stage 2 to see who will represent the Central League in the Nippon Series.

As an aside, it looks like BBM will not be doing Climax Series sets this season. They had typically done something the past few seasons, either individual box sets for the teams involved or a box set for all teams involved. (Prior to the playoffs, they would do a box set for each of the pennant winners.) But I don't see anything on their website. That's not necessarily conclusive (they never listed last year's Nippon Series set), but it does make me wonder.

(The above is Tyrone Woods' card from last year's Dragons Climax Series set - #D20)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Card Of The Week October 19

Yokohama BayStars outfielder Takanori Suzuki announced last week that he was retiring. Here's his card from the 1998 BBM Nippon Series set (#S22). He hit .480 (12-25), scoring 9 runs with 3 doubles, 1 homer and 8 RBIs, good enough to be named the MVP of the Series. The BayStars won in 6.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Koji Akiyama

To the surprise of no one, the Hawks announced a couple of weeks ago that Koji Akiyama would be succeeding Sadaharu Oh as manager. I thought a little retrospective would be in order, especially since Akiyama was one of my favorite players.

He signed with the Lions in 1981 after not being drafted (although like Takuro Ishii, he appears in the 2007 BBM Draft Story set). He briefly played for them in 1981, then was farmed out for two years - 1982 in Japan and 1983 playing for San Jose in the California League. (San Jose was a coop and/or independent team for much of the 1980's and had a working agreement with Seibu.) He joined the Lions to stay in 1984 and hit over 40 home runs a season from 1985-87. Here's his 1984 Mizuno Menko card:

1989 Calbee #101:

He left the Lions for the Hawks as a free agent following the 1993 season. Curiously, he appears to have left his power in Saitama. He hit 328 home runs for the Lions from 1984-1993. He would hit only 109 in Fukuoka from 1994-2002. Here's his 1994 BBM card (#463):

1995 BBM #589:

He got his 2000th hit on August 18, 2000, commemorated here with a Memorial Records subset card from the 2001 BBM set (#524):

He retired at the end of the 2002 season. His 2003 BBM 1st Version 2002 Retirement Player subset card (#416) shows him being tossed in the air by his former team rather than his current team. I think Kazuhiro Kiyohara got similar treatment this season.

Akiyama played in 10 Nippon Series, 8 with the Lions and two for the Hawks. He is the only player to win Nippon Series MVP's with two different teams - 1991 with the Lions and 1999 with the Hawks. Here's his 1999 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S64):

Akiyama was known for occasionally doing back flips when he hit a game winning home run. BBM has immortalized this twice that I know of. This is his 1991 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S58):

This is his card from the 2008 BBM Lions 30th Anniversary set (#27):

I think that this last card shows the back flip he did during Game 8 of the 1986 Series against the Carp. I found this YouTube video of this home run and flip:

I found a couple other YouTube videos of interest. Both are from the 1999 Nippon Series. The first (which I couldn't embed) is of a home run he hit of Shigeki Noguchi in Game 1. The other is of a great catch he made during Game 3:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Items of Interest

A couple quick things:

- BBM has a couple new box sets coming out at the end of the month. The first is a 45 card Collegiate National team set. Looks like there are two cards each of 22 players plus a card from a set of serially numbered insert cards for the same 22 players. So you'll get two cards of 21 players and three cards of one player in the set. The second set is a 50 card Rookie Edition Premium set. There are 36 "regular" cards (I'd bet on three cards per team), 12 "subset" cards (1 per team?) and possibly two premium cards - photo, film, autograph or artifact.

- Deanna Rubin recently has had posts on finding the Mint Card Shop Umeda in Osaka and on her completing the 2008 Bikkuriman Pro Yakyu sticker set.

- The new Prestige Collectibles auction can be found here.

- If you're in Tokyo on November 9th, you can attend a book signing/reading with Rob Fitts and Wally Yonamine for Rob's biography of Wally. Details are here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Card Of The Week October 12

When I blogged about the Hawks 70th Anniversary set the other day, I mentioned that the set did not contain a card for Katsuya Nomura. Here's one from the 2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 set (#268):

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Card Of The Week October 5

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel played six years in Japan for the Swallows and Buffaloes. Here's his 1979 TCMA card (#44):

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sadaharu Oh Tribute Part 2

Following up my post from the other day, here's some cards of Oh as Hawks manager.

1995 BBM #514, his first year as Hawks manager:

1996 BBM #539:

2000 BBM #513:

2002 BBM Giants #G114, showing Oh and Shigeo Nagashima during the 2000 Nippon Series, the "ON Series":

2003 BBM 1st Version #249:

2003 BBM Nippon Series #60:

2005 BBM 1st Version #37:

2008 BBM 1st Version #289:

2006 Upper Deck/Fleer World Baseball Classic Moments #CM-18, showing Oh as Japan's WBC team manager:

NPB Tracker has a link to a Sanspo photo retrospective of Oh's years as Hawks manager.

BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary set

I picked up the new BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary set the other day. It's a very cool set.

A little history on the Hawks: According to Japan Baseball Daily and their Wikipedia article, the Hawks started paly in 1938 as simply Nankai, named for the company that owned them. Their name changed a couple of times in the next few years to Kinki Nihon and then Kinki Great Ring until it settled on the Nankai Hawks in 1947. The Hawks joined the Pacific League when the two league system started in 1950 and won 10 league championships and two Nippon Series in the next 25 years. They played their home games in Osaka Stadium.

Following the 1988 season, Nankai sold the team to Daiei, who moved them to Heiwadai Stadium in Fukuoka and changed their name to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. They moved into the Fukuoka Dome in 1993. They won an additional three Pacific League pennants and two Nippon Series championships before Daiei sold the team to Softbank after the 2004 season.

The set has 99 cards. There are six "History Of Hawks" cards, 66 cards of OB players (well, some current ex-Hawks are included), 18 cards of current Hawks players (including manager Sadaharu Oh) and nine cards of current Hawks players wearing turn-back-the-clock uniforms. Most of the players are wearing Nankai Hawks uniforms, but Toshiya Sugiuchi is shown in a Daiei uniform.

The OB players include most of the greats from Hawks history - Tadashi Sugiura, Hiromitsu Kadota, Kazuto Tsuruoka, Yutaka Enatsu, Joe Stanka, and Koji Akiyama as well as current MLB players Kenji Johjima and Tadahito Iguchi. Noticeably missing from the set, however, is Katsuya Nomura, who only hit something like 630 home runs for the Hawks between 1954 and 1977 as well as managing them from 1970 to 1977. The omission is really my only quibble with the set.

Here's some example cards. That's one of the "History Of Hawks" cards (#04 which I think is showing the final Nankai game in Osaka Stadium); the OB cards of Kazuo Horii (#09), Don Blasingame (#26), Hiroshi Fujimoto (#45), and Kimiyasu Kudoh (#67); the 2008 Hawks card of Tsuyoshi Wada (#77) and the "Turn Back The Clock" card of Hiroshi Shibahara (#99).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sadaharu Oh Tribute Part 1

Last week, Sadaharu Oh officially announced his retirement as manager of the Hawks. As he is now 68 years old and has been recovering from stomach cancer for two years, it is expected that this is the end of his baseball career. Not being much with words, I felt that a baseball card tribute would be in order. Today, I'm just doing cards showing him with the Giants. In the next few days, I'll post pictures of him as Hawks manager.

1960 JBR6 Bromide (upper left):

1992 BBM ON Special #481. Nagashima is on deck with Oh batting:

1998 BBM 40 Years Of Shukan Baseball (#559) showing cover of May 8, 1972 Issue:

1975/76 Calbee (#1241):

1976 Yamakatsu showing him passing Ruth:

1995 BBM Untouchable Records subset (#319) showing him passing Aaron:

1978 NST (#58):

1981 Calbee (#2) as Giants coach:

1987 Play Ball (#2) as Giants manager:

Well, not really....

I was listening to the Rays-White Sox game on my XM Radio on my way home today and I heard the Tampa Bay broadcasters mention that Akinori Iwamura had "a lot of post season experience in Japan". The Swallows only made the Nippon Series once with Iwamura on the roster - in 2001 when they beat the Buffaloes in 5 games. Aki had a good series - he hit .450 (9-for-20) with 5 RBI's, good enough to be named an "Outstanding Player" for the Series. But I'm not sure 5 games qualifies as "a lot".

Here's his "Outstanding Player" card from the 2001 BBM Nippon Series set (#S59):