Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Career Home Run Leaders #3 - Hiromitsu Kadota

Number 3 on the countdown is long time Hawk (both Nankai and Daiei) Hiromitsu Kadota with 567 career home runs. Kadota debuted in 1970 with the Nankai Hawks at age 22 following high school and a few years in the industrial leagues. I've shown this one before, but here's his 1973/74 Calbee card (#78) again:

1977 Yamakatsu:

1978 Yamakatsu:

He changed his uniform number from 27 to 44 in 1980 to honor his mother, who had just passed away at age 44. 1981 Calbee #26:

Later in the '80's he again changed his number, this time to 60. I don't know why. 1987 Calbee #104:

Following the 1988 season (a season in which he lead the Pacific League in home runs at the age of 40), the Hawks were sold to Daiei and moved from Osaka to Fukuoka. Kadota did not want to move and was traded to the Orix Braves so that he could remain in the Osaka area. 1990 Lotte #40:

After two years with Orix, he apparently decided he'd give Fukuoka a try after all and he was traded back to the (now Fukuoka Daiei) Hawks. He played the last two years of his career there, retiring after the 1992 season at age 44. 1991 BBM #312:

The card at the top of the post is 2002 BBM 2nd Version #826.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Card Of The Week April 26

I was looking through some old Calbee cards today (looking to see what I had in the way of Hiromitsu Kadota cards for the next Career Home Run Leader post) and I came across this card of Tsutomu Wakamatsu from 1979:

1979 Calbee was a little odd. Calbee produced over 400 cards that year in about 12 different sets. There was the "regular" set; sets for the "best" players (according to some sort of contest) for April, May, July, August and October; sets for the April-June "stars" for both the Central and Pacific leagues; a "Title holders" set; a set for the the Central League Champion Carp; a different set for the Nippon Series champion Carp and a set for the Nippon Series between the Carp and Buffaloes itself.

The Wakamatsu card is from the "May Best" series. It is card number 15, indicating that he came in 15th in the contest (Shigeru Kobayashi came in first).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Career Home Run Leaders #4 - Koji Yamamoto

Number four on the list of Career Home Run Leaders is long time Hiroshima Toyo Carp outfielder Koji Yamamoto with 536. Yamamoto played for the Carp from 1969 until 1986.

1976 Mitsuya Small Disk:

1977 Yamakatsu:

1980 Yamakatsu:

1986 Calbee #232:

Yamamoto finished his career by leading the Carp to the Nippon Series in 1986. His final home run was in Game 1 of the Series, which they ultimately lost to the Lions. Apparently, Yamamoto decided to retire after the season was over, so the Carp's retirement celebration for him wasn't until early in the 1987 season (2008 BBM Hiroshima Memorial #14):

After sitting out the 1987 season, Yamamoto returned to the Carp in 1988 as manager. He remained manager through the 1993 season, leading the Carp to the Nippon Series in 1991, losing to the Lions. (The Carp have only played in 5 Nippon Series with Yamamoto being involved in all as either player or manager.) He returned as manager of the Carp in 2001 and continued through 2005. (2001 Upper Deck #50):

In 2008, he was a coach for the Japanese Olympic team (2008 BBM Japanese National Team #JPN03):

(The card at the top of this post is 2002 BBM 2nd Version #827)

Monday, April 20, 2009

More about "Ando"

Deanna Rubin suggested in a comment to my last post that I scan the back of the "Ando" card and see if there's any more information to be found. So here it is:

Here's what I think this says: the kanji across the top identifies the team (Tokyo Orions). Starting from the left, the columns indicate that he bats and throws right, his weight and height (don't know the values), his school (Keio University?), his uniform number (23) and his position (infielder). The number on the bottom is the "menko number" and doesn't really mean anything. The text in the bat says "Who am I?" and the hand is the "paper" symbol for the "rock/paper/scissors" game. These last two items are games that kids could play with the menko cards. (I used information in John Gall and Gary Engel's book "Sayonara Home Run" to try to decode the back of the card.)

The two candidates I had before, Kazuhiro Ishiguro and Kazuyoshi Nishiyama, were both right handed. Ishiguro attended Keio while Nishiyama attended Kansai University. So right now it's looking like Ishiguro may be the guy, assuming I've deciphered everything correctly.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Card Of The Week April 19

One of the cool things about old menko cards is that they would sometimes come in blocks of 4, 8 or 16 cards, suitable for framing. Here's a 16 card block of 1964 Marukami "Bat On Right" menko:

Top Row(L to R): Kazuhiro Yamauchi, Takao Katsuragi, Masahiro Doi, Isao Harimoto
2nd Row: unknown, Takeshi Kato, Jim Marshall, Masuho Maeda
3rd Row: Katsuya Nomura, Kent Hadley, Akira Ishii, Joe Stanka
Last Row: Hachiro Yamamoto, Masaaki Koyama, Etsui Nakai, Toshiaki Tokuhisa

The Tokyo Orions player on the far left in the second row is identified in Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide" simply as "Ando". I've checked Japan Baseball Daily's Data Warehouse, however, and I can't find an "Ando" who played for the Orions in 1964 (or the early 60's for that matter). Curiously, the back of the card says his uniform number is "23", but his helmet says "8". So I don't know who this really is.

Update: Using the information available in the Data Warehouse, I've been able to figure out that #23 on the 1964 Tokyo Orions was Kazuhiro Ishiguro. I think Kazuyoshi Nishiyama wore #8 (he's listed as wearing both #8 and #9 in his three years with the Orions). But I'm also pretty sure that the kanji on the card says "Ando". So I'm very confused...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009 BBM Baystars set

This week, BBM's website announced the Baystars team set, the sixth of twelve expected pack based team sets this season. The set contains 99 regular cards (71 cards for the players and manager, 1 checklist, 6 cards of new Baystars players, 6 cards of active team leaders, 6 cards for the "back numbers" subset featuring current players and an OB player they share their number with, and a 9 card puzzle) as well as a 9 card "Shining Star" insert set and the usual memorabilia cards. The set will be released around the end of May.

RIP Mickey

Mickey, the ball delivery golden retriever for the Carp, has passed away at age 11.

2005 BBM 2nd Version #822

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Card Of The Week April 12

This was the closest thing to the Easter Bunny that I could find:

2005 BBM Giants #G070

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Career Home Run Leaders #5 - Kazuhiro Kiyohara

With Tomoaki Kanemoto and Tuffy Rhodes each having a pretty good start to their seasons, I need to get this series of posts wrapped up before they make it completely out of date. Rhodes tied Shigeo Nagashima for 12th on Wednesday with his 444th home run, then moved past him today. Kanemoto already has seven on the season, including three in one game, giving him a current total of 428, nine behind Koji Akiyama for 14th on the All Time List. (Update: Kanemoto actually has hit 3 home runs in a game twice already this season - the second time being two days after the first.)

Still at #5 on the list is the recently retired Kazuhiro Kiyohara with 525. I did a retrospective on him when he announced his retirement last August, plus a post on his 2009 BBM tribute set a few weeks ago. Not to mention a post on this. So I think I've covered him pretty well here. Here's one more card (#30) from the tribute set:

Prestige Collectibles Auction #35

Prestige Collectibles' latest auction is going on now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Career Home Run Leader #6 - Hiromitsu Ochiai

The original plan when I started this series of posts was to be done by the WBC final or at least by Opening Day. Well, here it is, Opening Day in the States and I still have six more posts left. Sometimes things don't go as planned.

Number six on the career home run list with 510 is Hiromitsu Ochiai. Ochiai is one of the more unique players in NBP history. After playing in the industrial leagues for a few years, he signed with Lotte in 1978 but didn't become a regular until 1981 when he was 28 years old. Between 1982 and 1986 he won the Triple Crown twice and the Pacific League MVP award three times. Here's his 1984 Takara Kids card:

1986 Calbee #205:

Following the 1986 season, the Orions hired Michio Arito as manager. Arito was a traditionalist when it came to training and didn't like Ochiai's refusal to conform to the rigorous training that was considered normal at the time. He decided it would be better for the Orions to trade Ochiai to the Dragons. They got four players for him. I haven't been able to figure out who they got for him, but it doesn't matter - they got the raw end of the deal.

He played for the Dragons from 1987 through 1993. Here's his 1989 Calbee card (#336):

1992 BBM #315:

He joined the Giants in 1994 and played for them through 1996. Here's his 1995 BBM card (#50):

1996 BBM All Stars #A6:

When the Giants signed Kazuhiro Kiyohara following the 1996 season, they releasd Ochiai. The Nippon Ham Fighters signed him (at the time, the Fighters shared the Tokyo Dome with the Giants, so he didn't have to move!) and he spent the next two seasons with them. Here's his 1997 Diamond Heroes Rivals card with Ichiro (#289):

1998 BBM #453 (his last "regular" BBM card):

He retired after the 1998 season. In 2004, the Dragons named him manager. He led the Dragons to the Nippon Series in 2004, 2006 and 2007. They won the Series in 2007 for the first time since 1954. Here's his card from the 2006 BBM Central League Champion set (#01):

2009 BBM Rookie Edition

The second major set for 2009 from BBM is the Rookie Edition set. This is basically a set for the guys taken in the draft last fall. There are 126 cards in the set, 95 of which are cards for drafted players. In previous years, these would be the first cards ever for these guys, but since BBM started doing some college sets, a handful of them already have cards. Here's a couple sample cards of Hiroto Ikuyama (#027) and Shota Ohno (#012):

The set also contains 24 cards of current players (a pitcher and position player from each team). Each card shows a photo of the player from his rookie year along with one from last season. Here's the Michihiro Ogasawara card (#109):

There's also two cards of the new NPB managers - Koji Akiyama of the Hawks and Akinobu Mayumi of the Tigers. Like the cards of the current players, the cards show photos of them as rookies along with photos of them in their new uniforms. Here's the Akiyama card (#120):

The final five cards of the set feature players who changed teams over the winter - Takuro Ishii, Norihiro Nakamura, Tomohiro Nioka, Toshihiro Noguchi and Takayuki Shimizu. Here's the Ishii card (#125). It's very odd to see him in something other than a BayStars uniform:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Card Of The Week April 5

In honor of Opening Day, a card from the 2002 Calbee "Opening Game" subset (#OP-3) featuring Koichi Ogata sliding home in a 2-1 Carp victory over the Baystars on Opening Day 2002 (March 30):

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New BBM stuff

BBM's website today had listings for three new sets: the team sets for the Tigers and Buffaloes and a box set for the Giants.

The Tigers set has 108 regular cards and will be out in early May. The regular cards break down as 78 cards of players, coaches and the manager, five cards of OB players who are team leaders (I think), six cards of rookies (I think), a checklist card, a nine card puzzle and nine cards of current players when they were rookies (I think). There's also the "Shining Star" and "Active Leader" insert subsets as well as the usual memorabilia and autograph cards.

The Buffaloes set will be released in late May. It will have 102 regular cards which are made up of 72 cards for players and the manager, a checklist card, a six card subset called "Before The Break", a three card "Wild Buffaloes" subset featuring foreign players, a five card subset for the four pitchers with more than 10 wins last season (I think - I haven't verified that there were four pitchers with 10 wins last season), a five card "large challenge" subset and a nine card "Successive Buffaloes" subset which I think is a sequence of cards showing a batter's swing or pitcher's motion. There's a "Shining Star" insert subset and autograph and memorabilia cards also.

The Giants box set is called EXPRESSION and it will be released at the end of April. It's a 34 card set featuring 16 cards of current Giants players, two "Playback 2008" cards, three cards for new Giants players (I think), six cards for Giants rookies (I think) and six card for guys who changed their numbers (I think).

As you can tell, I'm not sure what some of the subsets in the sets are. I'm making a best guess based on the Babel Fish translations.

BBM also updated their web page for the previously announced Fighters set to include card samples.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009 Topps World Baseball Classic Set

I had previously mentioned that Topps was publishing a 55 card boxed World Baseball Classic set. The set came out last Friday and it's a little better than I expected. There are actually seven Japanese players in the set - Shinnosuke Abe, Yu Darvish, Kosuke Fukudome, Akinori Iwamura, Kenji Johjima, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Ichiro. Maybe not the seven I would have picked, but not bad for a set that was put together before the tournament even started. If Topps does the same thing Upper Deck did and has some insert sets later this year showing action from the actual tournament, I'd expect to at least see cards of Hisashi Iwakuma and maybe Suichi Murata.

The Japanese team has the second most players in the set behind only the US which has eight. The player selection is kind of odd - would you believe that Miguel Cabrera is the only Venezuelan player in the set? And there are as many Italian players as Puerto Rican players (4)? And there's a card of one player who didn't play (Alex Rodriguez which is understandable)? I'd link to a checklist, but Topps still hasn't bothered to put one on their website.

Topps has, however, released a list of "Redemption" cards for the WBC which includes cards of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish. To get these, you need to get an insert card, then go to their website and redeem the card. I'll see what I can find on Ebay...