Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Big News


I'm going to Japan for the first time ever in March to see Pool One of the Second Round of the World Baseball Classic.  I've been planning this trip for a couple of months, but it wasn't actually until today that all the pieces fell into place that are allowing me to do this.  I booked my airfare, my hotel room and my WBC tickets this afternoon, so I'm all set.  I think I'm equal parts excited and terrified to be doing this - I've never gone overseas before to a country where English wasn't the first language.

I've already gotten a lot of great advice from Ryan on many things, including what card shops to go to. Deanna Rubin and Ralph Pearce have also passed along useful tips as well.

Beyond the WBC games, I'm also planning on seeing a couple open-sen games - a Marines-Lions game up at Seibu Dome and a Dragons-Baystars game down in Yokohama.  Since the Lions and the Dragons are my two favorite teams, I don't think that could have worked out much better.

Posting will probably be pretty light for the next month as I'm going to attempt to do a crash course in Japanese to attempt to at least be able to ask where a bathroom is.  (Of course, I got four sets of cards in the mail today, so that'll distract me for a week or so...)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Boomer Wells

This week's installment of John Gibson's Japan Baseball Weekly podcast features an interview with Greg "Boomer" Wells, who played for a couple teams back in the Eighties and early Nineties.  I say "a couple teams" - it was really just two, but one of them changed their name twice while he was playing for them.  He signed with the Hankyu Braves in 1983 and was with the team when they were sold to Orix following the 1988 season.  The team was known as the Orix Braves in 1989 and 1990, then as the Orix Blue Wave in 1991, his last year with the team.  He spent the 1992 season playing for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks before calling it a career.  He shows up pretty regularly in the recent OB sets, but I thought I'd show a couple cards from his playing days, one in each team's uniform:

1988 Takara Braves #44

1990 Calbee #98

1991 BBM #359

1992 BBM #364
(In case you were wondering, Mike Laga was #44 for the Hawks in 1991 and 1992 which is why Boomer couldn't get it when he joined Fukuoka.)

Just for grins, I thought I'd also show this:

1982 Topps #203
Two of the three guys on this card went on to play in Japan - Barfield played one season with Yomiuri in 1993, the year after Wells ended his career.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Card Of The Week January 27

The big news out of Japan last week was the trade between the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and the Orix Buffaloes that sent star outfielder Yoshio Itoi and 2006 Pacific League Rookie Of The Year Tomoya Yago to the Buffaloes for Hiroshi Kisanuki, Keiji Obiki and Shogo Akada.  It has been speculated that the fact that earlier last week Itoi had requested that the Fighters post him probably factored into Nippon Ham's decision to trade him.

Itoi originally signed with the Fighters back in 2003 or 2004 out of Kinki University as a pitcher.  He converted to outfield in 2006 and became a regular (and a star) in 2009.  Here's his rookie card from the 2004 BBM 1st Version set (#150) when he was still a pitcher:




Saturday, January 26, 2013

Other Korean Cards

I've learned about some other Korean cards beyond the 1993 and 1994 Teleca cards that I got scans from Robert Shadlow.  Here's a quick list:

- Ralph Pearce sent me a scans of a sheet of 1983 "takji" cards - basically round menko (or pogs).  Here's the scans showing both the  front and the back of the sheet:



It's a good thing the cards are still in the sheets - some of the cards only show a player's legs, belt buckle or upper arm - they only make sense in the full sheet.

It looks like the cards are all of the Samsung Lions except for what I think is a card of Nankai Hawk player Yuji Kubodera.  Neither Ralph or I have any idea why Kubodera has a card on the sheet, unless he was maybe of Korean descent but born in Japan (like Masaichi Kaneda and Isao Haritmoto).

- Teleca did some phone cards in 1991.  Robert sent me scans of those as well:


A couple of these showed up on the sleeve for the Haitai Tigers Teleca cards in 1993.

- I picked up a couple of what appear to be Teleca cards from 1992 from eBay recently.  They have the same number icons on their fronts as the 1993 Teleca cards have on their backs.  I have no idea if they were sold in sleeves or not - the cards I got didn't have sleeves with them.  Here are scans of the fronts and the backs of them:

#3 Han Dae-hwa

Back of card #3

#4 Kim Sang-Hun

Back of card #4

#6 Kim Song-Han

Back of card #6

- In addition to their other 1994 cards, Teleca produced at least one phone cards that year.  Robert also scanned that one for me as well:


It looks like this is to commemorate the Twins winning the KBO that year.

- Finally, Robert also sent me scans for a group of six phone cards for the LG Twins that Teleca produced in 1997.  It looks like the cards came in two sleeves that held three cards each.  The sleeves were tucked into an envelope.  Here are some scans:

Outside of envelope

Open Envelope

Cards in sleeves

Cards out of sleeves
I have no idea who any of the players are.

My thanks to Robert and Ralph for providing me with the scans.

Friday, January 25, 2013

1994 Teleca Korean Cards Part 3 - LG Twins

The LG Twins cards that Teleca produced in 1994 were different from their other KBO cards from that year.  These cards were unnumbered (unless you count the uniform numbers) and had a front and back design that were used for no other team that year.  The backs were colorful, showing a full color team logo along with a yellow background on the player's statistics and a big light green square that I assume was meant for autographs.  The cards were sold the same way as the other cards that year - in sleeves that were meant to be sold one card at a time.

Here's the list of Twins cards, organized by uniform number along with links to their scans on Flickr.  As before, all these scans were done by Robert Shadlow.

NumberPlayerFrontBackSleeve
1Jeong Sam-heumscanscanscan
2Kim Dong-sooscanscanscan
3Kim Seon-jinscanscanscan
6Yu Ji-hyeonscanscanscan
7Kim Jae-hyeonscanscanscan
8Chou Hun-jaescanscanscan
9Han Dae-hwascanscanscan
12Kim Jeong-minscanscanscan
15Lee Jong-yeolscanscanscan
17Pak Jun-taescanscanscan
18Cha Dong-cheolscanscanscan
21Kang Bong-sooscanscanscan
24Kim Ki-bumscanscanscan
27Seo Hyo-in scanscanscan
31Cha Myeong-seokscanscanscan
33No Chan-yeopscanscanscan
35Kim Tae-wonscanscanscan
40Kim Yeong-jikscanscanscan
41Kim Yong-sooscanscanscan
42Jun Il-sooscanscanscan
47Lee Sang-Hoonscanscanscan
54Kim Tae-minscanscanscan
61Pak Cheol-hongscanscanscan
62Seo Yong-binscanscanscan
67Park Jong-hoscanscanscan
77Lee Kwang-hoanscanscanscan

There are two different sleeves that the cards came in.  The first was the simple logo design with a mostly blank back, similar to the ones that the other team's cards came in.  The other one showed what I think are three Teleca phone cards on the front and had the Twins' 1994 schedule on the back.

New Non-BBM sets

A couple of new sets have come to my attention that are either already out or will be out soon:

- Ryan of This Card Is Cool had a post up recently where he put up a card from Hiroshima Athlete Magazine's "Carp Starting Lineup" set.  It's a 28 card boxed set (27 "regular" cards plus one "special" card) featuring (obviously) the Carp.  I think this was released to celebrate the magazine's 10th Anniversary but I'm not sure - it looks like the set only has current players in it so it's not an "Anniversary" set in the manner that BBM has had anniversary sets.  There are apparently possible autographed cards with the set.

- Hiroshima Athlete Magazine will also be releasing another 28 card box set in April called something like "Carp Stars and Legends".  This set will feature both active and OB Carp players in it.  It looks like again that there will be 27 "regular" cards plus one "special" card.  I'm not positive but it may be the case that each set will contain an autograph card.

- In the same post that I mentioned before, Ryan pointed out that Sports Graphic Magazine will be releasing a set dedicated to Kenta Maeda of the Carp (we're just wallowing in Carp sets today).  The set may actually have been released this past week.  It's a box set containing 81 "regular" cards plus one (or more - not really sure) "special" cards which could include autograph or memorabilia cards.

- Ryan also mentioned in that same post that the Japan Baseball Promotion Association (formerly known as the All Japan Baseball Foundation) was releasing "The History Of Best Nine Part Two" boxed set in late February (the 23rd).  It's a 46 card box set (45 "regular" cards plus one autograph card) that follows up the "Part One" set they released in December.

- I found some information online about a Saitama Seibu Lions "Rookies And Young Stars" box set.  I'm not sure who is putting the set out, but it will contain 27 "regular" cards plus an autograph card.  The set will be out in March.

- Jamabalaya added scans this week for a set called something like "Sakura Meikyukai".  This is a 45 card set (I'm guessing it's probably a box set) featuring Meikyukai players.  From looking at the list of Meikyukai players on their website (which oddly doesn't appear to list Masaichi Kaneda who founded it), I think there's 60 current members (including Kaneda).  So there are 15 members who are not in the set.  I didn't do a thorough look through, but it appears that only five active players are included - Michihiro Ogasawara, Tomonori Maeda, Hitoki Iwase, Kazuo Matsui and Masahiro Yamamoto, which leaves out Ichiro, Atsunori Inaba and Shinya Miyamoto.  The recently retired Hideki Matsui, Takuro Ishii and Tomoaki Kanemoto are in the set, but Hiroki Kokubo is not.  Others that I noticed missing were Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Kazuhiro Sasaki and Hideo Nomo.   Choji Murata, who almost never shows up in an OB set, shows up in this one, but Masaichi Kaneda and Katsuya Nomura who also almost never show up in OB sets, are no shows in this one as well.   I assume that "Sakura" is the company releasing the cards but I could be wrong.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Got Noticed?

Just noticed something - my post about Hideki Matsui's cameo in a Godzilla movie went viral a couple weeks ago.  OK, "viral" is a bit overstating it, but apparently it got noticed by some slightly more serious blogs.  CBS Sport's Eye On Baseball picked up on it, posting an entry about the movie at 2:26 PM on January 3 (and they actually gave me credit with a link back to my post).  A little less than two hours later, Yahoo!'s Big League Stew published a post about the movie.  They credited the Eye On Baseball post with finding the cameo, although they actually quote my original post (but they didn't link to it!).  At some later point on January 3, there was a post on Bleacher Report talking about the cameo.   They credited the Yahoo! post as the source of the story.

So while I would have appreciated a little more credit for it, I'm happy to know that I made a contribution to our national dialogue on sports, even if it was for only a minute or so  (actually, probably just the 25 seconds that Matsui's cameo lasted).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Card Of The Week January 20

This 1981 Calbee card (#341) shows a play at the plate where Giants outfielder Tadashi Matsumoto is attempting to evade Whales catcher Hisaaki Fukushima and score.  I wonder if he was safe or out?

1994 Teleca Korean Cards Part 2 - Lions, Bears and Dolphins

Continuing the list of the 1994 Teleca Korean cards that Robert Shadlow scanned for me, here's the list the for the Samsung Lions, the OB Bears and the Pacific Dolphins.  (OK, actually this is the list for the cards Robert has between #37 - #71 - there are some gaps in the numbering and card #65 is actually a Lotte Giant.  It looks like it's celebrating Yoon Hak-kil's 100th win maybe.  The card is using the same photo as his regular card - #32).

NumberPlayerTeamFrontBackSleeve
37Ryu Jung-ilSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
38Tong Bong-cheolSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
39Kim Seong-raeSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
40Lee Man-sooSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
41Kang Gi-ungSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
42Lee Jong-duSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
43Jeong Yeong-gyuSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
44Kim Sang-yeopSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
45Yang Jun-hyeokSamsung Lionsscanscanscan
47Park Chul-sunOB Bearsscanscanscan
48Lim Hyeong-seokOB Bearsscanscanscan
49Kim Hyeong-seokOB Bearsscanscanscan
50Kim Tae-hyeongOB Bearsscanscanscan
51Kim Sang-jinOB Bearsscanscanscan
52Kwon Myeong-cheolOB Bearsscanscanscan
53Lee Myeong-sooOB Bearsscanscanscan
54Kim Sang-hoOB Bearsscanscanscan
55Chang Ho-yeonOB Bearsscanscanscan
56Kim Kyeong-WonOB Bearsscanscanscan
64Kim Gyeong-giPacific Dolphinsscanscanscan
65Yoon Hak-kilLotte Giantsscanscanscan
67Kim Dong-giPacific Dolphinsscanscanscan
69Yun Deok-gyuPacific Dolphinsscanscanscan
70Jeong Myeong-wonPacific Dolphinsscanscanscan
71Chung Min-taePacific Dolphinsscanscanscan

I have scans of empty sleeves for the Lions (one horizontal and one vertical), the Bears and the Dolphins.

I'm a little curious if the gap in card numbers between #56 and #64 is where the cards for the one unaccounted for team, the Ssangbangwool Raiders, are.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

1994 Teleca Korean Cards Part 1 - Tigers, Eagles and Giants

I want to continue to post about the Teleca cards that Robert Shadlow scanned for me a couple months back.  I covered the 1993 cards a little while back so I thought I'd start on the 1994 ones here.

Like the 1993 cards, the 1994 Teleca cards are phone card size and shaped and appear to have been sold one card at a time.  Each card was inserted into a sleeve that had the team's logo on it.  There appear to be two distinctive Teleca issues in 1994 - the LG Twins set and everybody else.  I'll post about the Twins set later.  I'll start talking about the "everybody else" cards here.

The numbering of the 1994 Teleca cards starts at 13 (apparently starting off where the 1993 set left off but that's complete conjecture) and goes to at least 71, meaning there's at least 59 cards in the set.  The set featured cards for six of the eight teams in the league - the Haitai Tigers, the Hanwha Eagles, the Lotte Giants, the OB Bears, the Pacific Dolphins and the Samsung Lions.  With the LG Twins being covered in the other 1994 Teleca issue, it appears that there are no cards of the eight team in the league, the Ssangbangwool Raiders.

I've started loading Robert's scans into Flickr and setting up sets by team.  So far I've got the Tigers, Eagles and Giants done so I'll list those cards here and do the rest in another post.

NumberPlayerTeamFrontBackSleeve
13Sun Dong-yeolHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
14Sun Dong-yeolHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
15Sun Dong-yeolHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
16Lee Jong-BeomHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
17Lee Jong-BeomHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
19Cho Gye-hyeonHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
20Cho Gye-hyeonHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
21Cho Gye-hyeonHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
22Lee Jeong-hunHanwha Eaglesscanscanscan
23Han Yong-deokHanwha Eaglesscanscanscan
24Chang Jong-hunHanwha Eaglesscanscanscan
25Song Jin-wooHanwha Eaglesscanscanscan
26Kong Pil-seongLotte Giantsscanscanscan
27Jeon Jun-hoLotte Giantsscanscanscan
28Kim Weong-gukLotte Giantsscanscanscan
29Kim Min-hoLotte Giantsscanscanscan
30Kim Seon-ilLotte Giantsscanscanscan
31Kim Yong-huiLotte Giantsscanscanscan
32Yoon Hak-kilLotte Giantsscanscanscan
33Pak Gye-wonLotte Giantsscanscanscan
34Hyeong-gwang JuLotte Giantsscanscanscan
35Pak Dong-hyiLotte Giantsscanscanscan

I also have scans for the empty sleeves for the Tigers, Eagles and Giants.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kensuke Tanaka of the San Francisco Giants

Last week former Hokkaido Nippon Han Fighter infielder Kensuke Tanaka signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants.  Tanaka was drafted by the Fighters in the second round of the 2000 draft and has played for them ever since.

His BBM rookie card was #367 in the 2000 set.  He did not have another card in a BBM "flagship" set again until 2003.  After appearing in 1st and 2nd Version in 2003 and 1st Version in 2004, he didn't appear in either 1st or 2nd Version in 2005 or 2006.  Starting in 2007, he's been a staple of both the 1st and 2nd Versions.  He appears in BBM Nippon Series sets for the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012 Series and the BBM All Star sets in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

His first Calbee card appears to be #226 in the 2006 set.  He also appeared in the 2000 Upper Deck Ovation set's "Rising Stars" serially number insert set (#19).

As always, this is just some of the highlights - check out the Inventory Manager over at SportsCardForum.com for a much more complete list.

Here are some cards:

2000 BBM #367

2003 BBM 1st Version #325

2006 Konami Baseball Heroes 2 Black Edition #B06B092

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S44

2010 Calbee #050

2012 BBM All Stars #A22
UPDATE - I was incorrect - he did not appear in the 2012 Nippon Series due to injury so he does not appear in the 2012 BBM Nippon Series set.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Card Of The Week January 13

Following the 1961 season, the Taiyo Whales (who had been the defending Nippon Series champions, having won it all in 1960) played an exhibition series against the Pacific Coast League's Hawaii Islanders.  A small set of three cards were issued by the Union Oil company, who had issued cards for various teams in the PCL off and on from 1958 to 1961.  The three cards were player cards for Akihito Kondo and Gentaro Shimada and a Whales team picture.  The player cards were 3 inches by 4 inches in size, which was the standard size for the other PCL cards issued by Union Oil that year.  At 3 3/4 inches by 5 inches, the team card was a little larger:


Friday, January 11, 2013

2013 Hall Of Fame Class

A year after electing two former Hiroshima Toyo Carp pitchers to the Hall Of Fame, the voters have again elected two former Carp pitchers to the Hall Of Fame - Yoshiro Sotokoba and Yutaka Ono.

Sotokoba pitched for the Carp for 15 seasons from 1965 to 1979.  He threw three no hitters (including one perfect game) in his career, which ties him with Eiji Sawamura for most in Japanese baseball history.  Sotokoba actually had a losing record for his career (131-138) due to having pitched his first nine years or so with some truly bad Carp teams.

2012 BBM No-Hitters #40 - Commemorating his first no-hitter

1975-76 Calbee #222

1976 Yanakatsu JY-1
Ono pitched 22 years for the Carp (1977-1998).  He alternated between starting and relieving throughout his career.  In recent years, he has been a pitching coach for the Japanese National Team at several international tournaments.

1984 Takara Carp #24

1989 Calbee #302

2008 BBM Japanese National Team #JPN04

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Legend Of Hideki Matsui

OK, one more Hideki Matsui post...

As Hideki Matsui prepared to leave Japan for the US following the 2002 season, BBM decided to put out a 55 card box set highlighting his Japanese career.  The set was called "The Legend Of Hideki Matsui" and it was packaged in a box designed to look like a leather bound book.

Each box contains 54 "regular" card plus 1 special card.  The special card could potentially be a game used bat card, a game used jersey card, a game used bat and jersey card, an autograph card, one of two different gold baseball cards or one of six different silver baseball cards.

The 54 "regular" cards were broken into seven subsets.  The first was 11 cards simply called "The Legend Of Hideki Matsui".  These cards simply had photos of Matsui on each side.  The pictures on the front and backs of the cards didn't necessarily have anything to do with each other.

#01

#05
The second subset was entitled "Giants 1993-2002".  These 10 cards commemorate each year he spent with Yomiuri.  I think this is the weakest subset in the set myself.

#20
The next subset is "Road To Giants" and features family photos from when he was growing up.  I have a feeling that he wouldn't be thanking his family for making some of these pictures on these five cards available.

#22

Back of #24

#25
Next up, a 10 card "Memorial Scene" subset showing some highlights from his career.  Card #31 stands out as it shows him playing in the 1996 MLB All Star Japan tour.  I'm not sure who the catcher is on the front of the card, but I'm pretty confident that the guy on the back of the card is his future Yankee teammate Alex Rodriquez.

#27*
* In case you're wondering, the remainder of the Giants 1993 draft class was Ryuji Kimura, Tetsuhiro Monna, Yoshinori Murata and Kazutaka Nishiyama.  Why does Shigeo Nagashima look so shifty in this picture?  

#31

Back of #31
The next subset is the six card "The Title" subset which has card commemorating various individual titles that he won in Japan (MVP, Home Run, etc):

#39
The nine card "Off Shot" subset shows a bunch of candid photos.  Like the "Legend" subset, the photos on the front and back of the cards don't necessarily have anything to do with each other.

Back of #43

#46 (Godzilla meets Gamera!)

#47
The final subset in the set is three reprinted baseball cards.  One is his 1993 BBM rookie card (#423), reprinted at the slightly smaller size that all the 1993 BBM cards were.  The next is the 1997 Diamond Heroes Jersey card (which of course does not have an actual jersey in it) which was one of the first memorabilia cards that BBM did.  The final is his 1999 Yomiuri Shimbun Giants "Special" card:

#54
I did get one of the silver "Special" cards with the box I bought.  While I think the photography is fantastic through much of the regular cards, I can't say I'm real impressed with the silver card:


The box itself is a little pretentious, especially the text on the back of it:  "The memory of his greatness comes flooding back to us as we close our eyes and let our minds drift through the timeless tunnel of the history.  The man, who has had nothing but trials, continues to impress us with superb records.  He is extraordinary and graceful indeed."

I've picked up a couple of BBM's box sets that are dedicated to a single player.  I think this is one of the better ones, despite the pretentiousness, due to the really impressive collection of photographs that BBM included.