Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 BBM No-Hitters

BBM's been unusually light on historical sets this year.  It's been kind of normal for them to do a couple Anniversary sets or a Lions Classic set or something, but there's really been nothing since the annual "Historic Collection" set last November ("The Strongest Generation") until this set appeared in September.

The BBM No-Hitters set chronicles the no-hitters that have been thrown throughout professional baseball history in Japan.  It's a pack based set featuring 99 cards (the standard size of most of BBM's Anniversary sets) and contains three subsets - 81 cards for the actual no-hitters, six combination cards and 12 team cards.

Each of the no-hitter cards commemorates a particular no-hitter.  The front of the card has a picture of the pitcher - in most cases BBM's attempted to use a picture from the no-hitter itself but for a number of the early ones that's not the case - and lists the date and location of the game and who it was against.  The back of the card appears to have a partial box score of the game and some sort of write-up.  Over three quarters of the photos are in black and white - even some of the games from the 1980's feature black and white photos.

There are eight regular season no-hitters that are not included in the set (nine if you count Yuki Nishi's one late in the 2012 season - a little unfair since it happened after the set was released).  Three of those no-hitters were thrown by a combination of pitchers.  Ryan G commented that combined no-hitters don't count as no-hitters in Japan, so that explains their exclusion.  One of the others was Tsutomu Tanaka, who threw a perfect game against Nankai for the Lions on May 12, 1966.  This game was also left out of the 1994 BBM Perfect Pitching set - a note in the set explained that BBM was unable to contact him to get his permission to be in the set.  Tanaka was also implicated in the "Black Mist" scandal in the early 1970's so that may explain his absence as well (although Yutaka Enatsu shows up in sets all the time and he was implicated as well, so maybe not).  The other four are Yoshimi Moritaka (perfect game for Kokutetsu against Chunichi on June 20, 1961), Melvin Bunch (for Chunichi against Yokohama on April 7, 2000), Narcisco Elvira (for Kintetsu against Seibu on June 20, 2000) and Rick Guttormson (for Yakult against Rakuten on May 5, 2006).  (And yes, those are the only no-hitters ever thrown on June 20 and they're both not in the set :-)).  And in case you're interested, there's a (mostly) complete list of Japanese no-hitters here.

Anyway, on to some sample cards:





Back of #39 (Hanshin's Gene Bacque vs Yomiuri 6/28/1965)
As you can see, Masaichi Kaneda is in the set - he almost never shows up in OB sets  Since he threw two no-hitters in his career, he has two no-hitter cards.  Eiji Sawamura and Yoshiro Sotokoba each threw three, so they each have three cards in the subset.  There's also a couple odd Hall Of Famers who were known more for their bats than their pitching - Michio Nishizawa and Shosei Go.

The "Combination" subset features two pitchers on each card who apparently have some sort of connection with their no-hitters.  For example, Sawamura and Sotokoba share a card since they are the only two players with three no-hitters each.  I can hazard guesses on some of the others - Yoshinori Satoh and Masahiro Yamamoto are the two oldest pitchers to throw a no-hitter; Shinji Sasaoka and Kenta Maeda were both Carp; and Teruzo Nakao and Toshiya Sugiuchi were both Giants.  But I have no idea why Shigeru Sugishita and Masaichi Kaneda share a card.

I love the stories behind the "Combination" card I'm showing as an example.  The card features Yutaka Enatsu and Tsuneo Horiuchi.  They're both depicted wearing batting helmets.  There's a reason for that.  Horiuchi hit three home runs in his no-hitter.  Enatsu has a simply amazing game - he capped off eleven no-hit innings by hitting a walk-off solo home run.  Truly a DIY effort!


The twelve team cards celebrate all the no-hitters by team.  The front of the card shows a scene from one of the no-hitters (if possible - the Hawks have only had one no-hitter and it was in 1943, so the picture is simply one of pitcher Akira Bessho) and the backs have the complete list of the team's no-hitters (including the five that weren't featured in the cards).  Here's the Baystars card, showing Gentaro Shimada of the then Taiyo Whales walking off the field on August 11, 1960:

As always, Jambalaya has all the cards up here.

And if the missing no-hitters are bothering you, you can always dig up some other BBM cards that commemorate them.  I find ones for all of them except Tsutomo Tanaka's:

1994 BBM Perfect Pitching #P7

2001 BBM #522

2001 BBM #523

2006 BBM 2nd Version #795

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