Size: 440 cards
Cards Per Team: 32 (team card, manager + 30 players)
Team Card Theme: Spring Training
Number Of Leader Cards: 37
Subsets: Up Coming Milestone! (7), 2003 Retirement Player (12)
Inserts: 2003 Asian Championship, Best 9, Golden Gloves, MVP (Light Packs only)
Memorabilia Cards: Jersey cards for the 2003 League MVPs - Kenji Johjima and Kei Igawa, as well as Kazumi Saitoh (Sawamura Award) and Makoto Imaoka (CL Batting Leader). Three different Combo Jersey cards - Johjima & Igawa, Saitoh & Igawa and Johjima & Imaoka
Parallels: 120 cards have black facsimile autographs, 60 cards have a kira version (Light packs only). Kira version of leader cards (Light Packs only). Autographed Versions of 2003 Retirement Players (numbered to 50). Parallel version of "Up Coming Milestones!" cards (numbered to 200).
Notable Rookies: Yoshihisa Naruse, Takashi Toritani, Yoshio Itoi, Norichika Aoki, Tetsuya Utsumi, G. G. Satoh
2004 was the first year that BBM dropped the number of cards a pack of their "flagship" sets to eight - it had been 10 from 1991 until the 2003 1st Version set and nine for the 2003 2nd Version set. It would remain at eight until 2012 when it would drop to six.
For the second year, BBM did boxes of "Light Packs" which only had four cards per pack. These packs were the only ones to contain the "kira" parallels of the player cards (5 per team) and the leader cards. They also were the only packs to contain the MVP inserts. Unlike 2003, I didn't get a "Light Pack" box but the regular packs included promos for them so I feel comfortable saying that they would not have any of the other inserts or parallels in them. The jersey cards would not be available in these packs as well and they only had the player and Leader cards in them. (Actually it is unclear to me if the "Light Packs" contain the regular, non-kira versions of the Leader cards.
|Light Pack Promo|
The 2003 Asian Championship insert set featured the 22 cards for the players and manager (Shigeo Nagashima) of the Japanese entry into the 2003 Asian Championship Series, which was the Asian qualifier for the 2004 Olympics. Japan won the Series handily. The insert set is notable in that one of the players in the insert set (Naoyuki Ohmura) did not appear in the box set for the team that BBM put out in the winter of 2003-04. There is also a parallel version of these cards that are numbered to 100.
There was also a parallel version for the Best 9 cards that were available via some sort of lottery. The cards were identical to the normal version except that they did not have the foil on the sides of the front of the card.
As far as I know, there's no parallels for the Golden Glove insert set (which means Engel doesn't list any).
As a kind of unique change of pace, instead of having a subset of cards commemorating milestones reached in 2003, BBM included a subset of cards for milestones players were expecting to reach in 2004. The seven predicted events were Akira Etoh's 350th home run, Kazuhiro Kiyahara's 2000th hit, Kimiyasu Kudoh's 200th win, Eiji Mizuguchi's 250th sacrifice, Norihiro Nakamura's 300th home run, Koichi Ohshima's 250th sacrifice and Yukio Tanaka's 2000th hit. Due to injuries, Etoh and Tanaka were the only ones out of the group to not reach the specified number in 2004 although they both would eventually reach that value.
2004 was the third year that BBM had included a subset for players who had retired the previous year in either the 1st or 2nd Version set (or both) so it had pretty much become an expected subset by now. This year's featured retirees were Takehiro Hashimoto, Katsumi Hirosawa, Arhito Igarashi, Tomohito Itoh, Tsutomu Itoh, Takashi Mutoh, Hitoshi Nakane, Kazutaka Nishiyama, Motoi Ohkoshi, Naoya Shimada, Tatsuya Shindoh and Masakazu Watanabe.
This is not one of my favorite sets. In fact, this set is the middle set of what I found to be several really ugly designs used by BBM starting with the 2003 2nd Version set and continuing to the 2004 2nd Version set. The design of each of these three sets obscures the background of the photo on the card with blotches of color. I've always felt that one of the strengths of BBM's cards was the great photograph they used and these sets seemed to go out of their way to clutter up that photography.
|Back Of #140 (Michihiro Ogasawara)|