OK, way late this time. Been a crazy week.
In 2010, BBM will be celebrating their 20th year of producing baseball cards. I'm planning on doing a series of posts during the winter on the history of BBM cards. I probably won't get going on it until after Christmas, but I thought I could start with this card, card #1 from the first BBM set in 1991:
In 1973, when Calbee put out their first set, card #1 was of Shigeo Nagashima, the most popular player in Japan ever. For some reason, for the first card of their inaugural set, BBM chose a reasonably obscure pitcher for Lotte named Yasuji Ibe, who went 10-12 in 168 games (161 of which were in relief) in a 10 year career from 1983 to 1992. This is, in fact, half of the cards BBM ever printed featuring Ibe (the other being from the 1992 set). I would be very curious to know why BBM choose such an unlikely player to lead their first set.
As a point of comparison, here's the list of the players who were the first cards in the initial set of the major US card companies: Bob Elliott (1948 Bowman), Andy Pafko (1952 Topps), Ozzie Smith (1981 Donruss), Pete Rose (1981 Fleer), Don Mattingly (1988 Score), and Ken Griffey Jr (1989 Upper Deck). So that's a Hall Of Famer, a guy who will be a Hall Of Famer, a guy who would have been a Hall Of Famer if he hadn't broken the most fundamental rule of the game, the most popular player of the 1980's and a couple of guys who were very good players but perhaps not as well remembered as others from their era (Elliott was the 1947 NL MVP, and Pafko had been a four time All Star with the Cubs in the late 1940's).