Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Q Card

BBM was not the only card manufacturer to debut in 1991.  A company called Q Card put out a set of 120 plastic cards with rounded corners (10 cards per team).  The cards were issued two to a pack, with a little window in the front of the pack to show you the team logo of the top card:

At 2 1/8 inches by 3 3/8 inches, the cards themselves were a little smaller than standard sized cards.  They are unnumbered (except for the uniform number), but there's this odd little seven digit number in the upper left corner of the card fronts - it reminds me of the serial numbers on menko cards that never really made any sense either.  Here's a couple example cards:

The card backs featured the statistical record of the player plus a small white rectangle that resembles the signature strip on the back of a credit card - I guess the intent was to have some place that a player could autograph the card.  Here's a sample back of Kenji Miyamoto of the Swallows:

Fighters Collection has a page devoted to the Fighters cards from the set.

I think these cards are pretty rare - I don't see them up on eBay very often.  In addition to the 120 card set, Q Card also issued a 62 card set for the 1991 All Star teams - exactly the same size as the BBM set and featuring the manager and coaches as well as the players.  These are the only two sets the company ever produced.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Card Of The Week May 27

Heard a great piece of trivia from Jim Allen on the Japan Baseball Weekly podcast a couple of weeks ago - who are the only two Japanese players with over 2000 hits and at least one pitching victory?  One is Tetsuharu Kawakami, who went 11-9 as an occasional pitcher for the Giants from 1938 to 1941.  The other is actually still active - Takuro Ishii of the Carp.  Ishii was signed by the Yokohama Taiyo Whales as a pitcher in 1988 and went 1-4 in 28 appearances with them from 1989 to 1991.  He switched to hitting fulltime in 1992 and the rest is history.

He is actually the only player in the Meikyukai with this distinction as Kawakami is ineligible for membership due to his being born before the Showa Era began in 1926.

Ishii's real first name is Tadanori and it's what he went by when he was pitching.  As far as I know, there are only two cards that depict him as Tadanori - the 1990 Takara Whales set and this card from the 2006 BBM Draft Story set (#122):

I have to credit Deanna with much of the backstory for this - she pointed out this card several years ago.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2012 Calbee Series One

I have been noticing lately that I don't have a lot of post-2003 Calbee and I've resolved to do something about that.  I traded with Deanna for some 2010 cards last year and I also bought an unopened box of chips.  A couple of months ago, I picked up a several lots of 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 cards off of kuboTen.  So I figured it would be a good idea to pick up the complete set for this year if I could get it, starting (obviously) with Series One.

Series One contains 112 cards - 73 "regular" player cards, 22 Title Holder cards, 13 "Memorial" cards and four checklist cards.  (There are also 24 "Star" cards which are considered premium insert cards and were not included in the set I got).

The 73 "regular" player cards are really 72 "regular" player cards plus a card of Swallows manager Junji Ogawa which I will discuss more in a minute.  The 72 player cards break down to 6 players per team.  It's hard to complain about player selection in the set since there will be two later Series that will include other players (I actually considered waiting until all three Series were out before reviewing the set).  So it's silly to complain that Matt Murton (for example) isn't in this set when he'll probably be in one of the other Series.  I did find it interesting the difference between the way the two teams that significantly changed their uniforms (the Dragons and Baystars) were treated in the set.  For the Dragons, all the cards show the player's in last year's uniform except the card of Takeshi Yamasaki, who was an Eagle last year.  For the Baystars, however, everyone is shown in the new uniform.  I suspect this is because the Baystars changed ownership and name as well as uniform.

The photography is, as always, outstanding.  Here's a couple examples:




Calbee is celebrating their 40th Anniversary this year with a "Memorial" card subset.  This subset features reproductions of cards through out their history.  Unlike 2002, when they did something similar to celebrate their 30th Anniversary, they've blown up and recropped the image if the original card being reproduced was smaller in size than the current cards.  For Series One, the cards being reproduced are for Shigeo Nagashima, Sadaharu Oh and all the current team managers EXCEPT Junji Ogawa of the Swallows.  I don't know why Ogawa was not included in the Memorial subset - I guess it's possible that there was never a Calbee card for him as a player.  His "regular" player card actually shows a picture of him from his playing days.  Here's the Nagashima card from the Memorial subset (#M-01) - this is a reproduction of card #1 from the 1973 set - the first card from the first Calbee set ever:

The "Title Holder" subset is essentially Calbee's version of BBM's "Leader" subset.  Instead of issuing a card per statistical category like BBM does, Calbee issues a card per player who leads in at least one category.  For example, in this year's BBM 1st Version set, Seiichi Uchikawa has two Leader cards - one for the PL MVP award and one for the PL batting crown.  He only has one card in the Calbee subset (#T-01):

In case you're wondering, the only guys who have cards in BBM's Leader subset who are not in Calbee's Title Holder subset are Koji Akiyama (Shoriki Award) and Takahiro Shiomi (Rookie Special Award).  BBM's Leader subset card for DJ Houlton shows him as member of the Hawks (his 2011 team) while Calbee's Title Holder subset card has him as a Giant (his 2012 team).

The four checklist cards for Series One show scenes from either the 2011 post season or late in the 2011 season - the Hawks celebrating their Nippon Series championship, the Dragons celebrating winning the Central League and the Swallows celebrating advancing in the playoffs and something (not sure what) with the Fighters and Atsunori Inaba from mid-September.  Here's the Dragons' celebration card (card #C-2):

You can see all the cards here (along with the "Star" cards here).

UPDATE - did a little research on YakyuBaka - the Fighters game from the checklist was last September 13 against Lotte.  Inaba hit two home runs in the game, leading Nippon Ham to a 4-0 victory.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Card Of The Week May 20

1973 Calbee card (#38) of Shozo Doi and Yokinobu Kuroe

Monday, May 14, 2012

2012 Calbee Series Two

Calbee put information on their website today regarding this year's Series Two set.  There will be 72 "regular" player cards (6 per team) that are numbered 74-145 (continuing the numbering from Series One).  There will also be three subsets - Opening Pitchers (OP) featuring the Opening Day pitcher for each team; Memorial Cards (M) featuring reprints of classic Calbee cards as part of their celebration of their 40th Anniversary (numbered 14-25 in continuation of the Series One subset); and the Checklist cards (C) which are also a continuation of the Series One subset (numbered 5-8).  There's also an insert set of 24 Star cards (S), two players per team.  (Once again, this is a continuation of the Series One insert set.)  The cards will be out around June 11.

In other news, while there's no new sets listed on BBM's website, AmiAmi is showing listings for this year's team sets for the Tigers, Baystars and Lions, a box set for Hiroyuki Nakajima and the 2012 Dancing Heroine (Cheerleader) set.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Card Of The Week May 13

Friday night's 3-2 victory by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles over Orix was the 1000th win in Senichi Hoshino's managerial career.  He's the 12th manager in Japan to make it to 1000 wins and the first former pitcher.  He's been managing off and on since 1987 - two stints with the Dragons (87-91 and 96-01), one with the Tigers (02-03) and his current gig with the Eagles since last year - not to mention his time spent managing the 2008 Olympic team.  Here's his 1991 BBM card (#44) from his first tenure with Chunichi:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shinya Miyamoto

Running late on this, but last week Shinya Miyamoto of the Swallows got career hit number 2000.  Miyamoto and Atsunori Inaba, the other player to reach 2000 hits this season (so far but Hiroki Kokobu of the Hawks is getting close as well), both started their careers with the Swallows in 1995 (Miyamoto was the Yakult's second round pick in the 1995 draft; Inaba was the third round pick).  They are only the second pair of rookie teammates to go on to get 2000 hits in their careers - the first set being Yutaka Fukumoto and Hideji Kato, who both debuted with the 1969 Hankyu Braves.  Not only are they the first set of rookie teammates to get their 2000th hit in the same season, but they actually got it in the same number of games - 1976.

Like Inaba, Miyamoto's rookie card is in the 1995 BBM set (#553, one before Inaba's) and as was the case for Inaba, I don't have the card.  He did appear in the 1995 BBM Nippon Series set (#S17):

Here's a selection of Miyamoto cards from the last 15 years or so:

1997 BBM #192
1999 Future Bee #008
2002 BBM 1st Version #408
2003 BBM Japan National Team #17
2005 BBM Swallows #S63

2007 BBM All Stars #A59

2012 Calbee #046
So who was the first round pick in the 1995 draft for the Swallows?  A pitcher named Tetsuya Kitagawa, who was drafted out of the industrial leagues (Nissan Motors), appeared in 36 games with Yakult between 1995 and 1998 and then returned to the industrial leagues.

RIP Noburu Inoue

Former Dragon and Hawk infielder Noburo Inoue passed away last week.  Inoue played for Chunichi from 1953 to 1961, for the Hawks from 1962 to 1966 and returned to the Dragons for a final season in 1967.  I'm sure Inoue has a number of menko and bromide cards from the 1950's and 60's, but all I have of him are his cards from the two BBM Dragons Anniversary sets - the 2006 70th Anniversary set (#22) and the 2011 75th Anniversary set (#16):

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Card Of The Week May 6

Masahiro Yamamoto got the win in the Dragon's 1-0 victory over the Baystars last Monday.  This was win #212 for his career, passing Hall Of Famer Shigeru Sugishita for most in Dragon's history.  Here's his 2009 Calbee card (#080):