Size: 412 cards (numbered 441-852)
Cards Per Team: 32 (team card, manager + 30 players)
Team Card Theme: Game Winning Celebrations
Number Of Leader Cards: N/A
Subsets: Legend Players (12), Hot Prospects (12), Ceremonial First Pitch (4)
Inserts: Newcomer, Opening Day Pitchers, Opening Day Cleanup Hitters, Team Captain, 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). Also a combo card with all four players
Parallels: 108 cards have gold facsimile autographs serially numbered to 100, Autographed Versions of Legend Players (numbered to 50). 60 cards have a kira version (Light packs only). Light packs also have kira versions of Opening Day Pitchers, Opening Day Cleanup Hitters and Team Captain inserts.
Notable Rookies: Omar Linares?
There were a couple interesting departures from the norm in the subsets for this set. The "Legend Players" subset was similar to the "Retirement Players" subset from the 1st Version, except that this subset featured the managers and coaches that had left their teams (voluntarily or not) following the 2003 season (or in one case, during the 2003 season itself). Actually I will revise that slightly to say that I think coaches are included - if they aren't then I don't know why several people are included in the subset. The guys in the subset that I know are managers who lost their jobs in 2003 are Tatsunori Hara, Hiromichi Ishige, and Hisashi Yamada. The other players included in the subset are Kazuhiko Endoh, Hirohisa Matsunuma, Koichi Ogata, Masaki Saitoh, Kyosuke Sasaki, Toshio Shinozuka, Koichi Tabuchi, Mitsuo Tatsukawa and Sadaaki Yoshimura. Oddly enough, Senichi Hoshino, who stepped down as Tigers manager after the 2003 season for health reasons is not in the subset. Everyone in the subset is shown from their playing days - for example Hisashi Yamada is shown as a pitcher for the Hankyu Braves rather than as manager of the Chunichi Dragons.
This set was the first to feature the now standard "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset. There were only four cards in the subset and three of them were former players - Tetsuharu Kawakami, Jim Paciorek and Akira Ohgi. The other card featured rugby player Daisuke Ohhata. I think Paciorek is the only Westerner to ever appear on one of the first pitch subsets.
Instead of the "New Wave" subset included in the 2002 and 2003 2nd Version sets, this one included a "Hot Prospects" subset. The twelve cards (one from each team) included Kenta Abe, Shogo Akada, Masanori Hayashi, Homare Inamine, Katsutoshi Ishidoh, Tatsuo Katoh, Tsuyoshi Kawagishi, Kenta Kurihara, Shinichi Nagasaki, Takehiko Oshimoto, Takeshi Toritani and Seiichi Uchikawa.
I'm kind of surprised to see that I don't appear to have any of the gold signature parallel cards as I opened two or three boxes of this set back when it came out. I may have put them aside somewhere and forgotten where that somewhere is. I did pick up a promo card for Makoto Imaoka somewhere along the line:
|#646 and Promo card|
As usual, BBM issued "Light Packs" for the set - packs containing four cards instead of eight. Also as usual, these packs contained "kira" parallels of 60 of the player cards as well as "kira" versions of the two Opening Game insert sets and the Team Captain insert set as well as an MVP insert set that was unique to the "Light Packs". And as usual for the post-2003 sets, I have none of these to show as an example.
BBM issued the Opening Game insert cards in two separate 12 card insert sets instead of a single 24 card insert set like they had done in the 2002 and 2003 2nd Version sets. The cards for the pitchers were gold and their numbers had an "OP" prefix while the cards for the clean up hitters were silver and their numbers had an "OB" prefix.
The 12 card "Newcomer" insert set featured a player that was new to each team in 2004 (so 12 cards in the set). The players featured include new foreign players (Greg Larocca, Mike Kinkade and Seung Yuop Lee), traded/free agent players (Jose Fernandez, Tetsuro Kawajiri, Arihito Muramatsu, Domingo Guzman and Hiroki Kokubo), players returning from MLB (Kazuhiro Sasaki and Tsuyoshi Shinjyo) and a couple rookies (Takahiro Mahara and Ryo Kawashima). The cards were gold and there was a silver version of each card that was serially numbered to 100 (I don't have any to show as examples).
The last insert set was a 12 card "Team Captain" set. I don't know if each of the players featured were the official "Team Captain" of their team or if BBM just picked someone from each team.
The set was the first to feature some sort of game action on the team checklists. For the most part, they all look like some sort of celebration to me - either handshaking on the mound or a group of players celebrating around home plate. The one exception is the Swallows checklist that shows Alex Ramirez wearing what might be some sort of clown outfit.
As usual, it's difficult to tell if someone's rookie card is actually in this set (as opposed to the 1st Version set). I do know that the only BBM "flagship" set card of Cuban great Omar Linares (who spent three years in Japan with Chunichi) is in this set.
As I've said before, there was a stretch from the 2003 2nd Version set though to this one that I thought were the ugliest sets BBM had ever done. The green (for Central League teams) and yellow (for Pacific League) teams bands that fade in at the top and bottom of the pictures really detract from the photo - and the white border on the top of the card and the black border on the bottom of the card don't help much either. Luckily for my tastes, the BBM would get back to better card designs starting in 2005.
|Back of #597 (Masahiko Kaneda)|