Not only did BBM phase out their annual All Star box set last year but they also ended production of their annual Nippon Series set. This box set usually was released in mid-December to commemorate the Series concluded the previous month and was the final set of the product year. BBM had produced this set every year since 1991 up to and including 2012.
Each set would (at a minimum) contain the cards for every player for each team that appeared in the Series (which is not the same as every player on each team's roster) as well as the manager for each team. In addition, each set also contained a card commemorating the winning team (from 1991-2000 this would be a formal team picture, from 2001-2012 it showed the team celebrating - frequently tossing their manager in the air in the traditional do-age). Each set also contained five cards for the winners of the major Series awards - MVP, "Fighting Spirit" (sort of an MVP of the losing team) and three "Outstanding Player" awards (which can be given to players from either team).
|1998 BBM Nippon Series #S62|
|2005 BBM Nippon Series #60|
|1999 BBM Nippon Series S65|
In 2000, the Hawks (managed by Sadaharu Oh) took on the Giants (managed by Shigeo Nagashima). This Series was dubbed the "ON Series" and BBM add two cards of the managers to celebrate this:
|2000 BBM Nippon Series #S65 (Nagashima) and #S66 (Oh)|
|Backs of 2000 BBM Nippon Series #S65 and #S66|
|2002 BBM Nippon Series #S58 Parallel|
From 1991 to 2000, the "regular" player cards in the set used a design based on BBM's flagship set that year. From 2001 to 2012, they used an entirely new design. This parallels what BBM did with the All Star set (with the exception that most of the Nippon Series sets used an attractive design). The photos used on all the cards in the set (with a couple of exceptions) were taken during the Series itself or the celebration afterwards. Here are some of my favorites:
|1991 BBM Nippon Series #S58 (Series MVP)|
|1994 BBM Nippon Series #S6|
|1996 BBM Nippon Series S18|
|2001 BBM Nippon Series #S55|
|2003 BBM Nippon Series #11|
|2007 BBM Nippon Series #S04|
|2008 BBM Nippon Series #S61 (Outstanding Player)|
I mentioned that there were a couple exceptions - in the 1991 set, there's three players who played in the Series but for whatever reason BBM used a portrait (or mug shot) on their card rather than an action shot from the Series. There's also one case of a player making the set who didn't actually play in the commemorated Series - Takeshi Yamasaki of the Dragons was hurt late in the 1999 season and was not able to play in the Series but he appears in the set anyway.
12 of the 13 NPB teams (counting Kintetsu and Orix as separate teams) made the Series between 1991 and 2012 and are therefore included in one of the sets. The only team that didn't, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, of course made the Series for the first time in 2013, just missing out on being in one of the sets. With nine appearances, the Lions made the set the most times (1991-94, 1997-98, 2002, 2004 & 2008) with the Giants the second most frequent team with seven (1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2008-09, 2012). There were six Series with the Dragons, five for the Swallows, four for both the Hawks and Fighters, two for the Blue Wave, Marines and Tigers and one each for the Baystars, Buffaloes (Kintetsu) and Carp. Not surprisingly, the two most common match-ups both featured the Lions - there were three Lions/Giants Series (1994, 2002, 2008) and three Lions/Swallows Series (1992-93, 1997).
|1992 BBM Nippon Series #S12|
The person who appeared as a player or manager in the most sets was Tsutomu Itoh, who appeared in seven sets as a player and one as a manager (he was with the Lions in every appearance except 2008). There were seven players who appeared in seven sets as a player only - Masafumi Hirai, Atsunori Inaba, Itoh, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Satoshi Nakajima, Tatsuya Shiozaki, Ken Suzuki. The manager who appeared in the most sets was Hiromitsu Ochiai (five).
There were three players who won an award in three separate Series - Koji Akiyama (two MVPs and an Outstanding Player), Atsunori Inaba (one of each award), Kenji Johjima (a Fighting Spirit and two Outstanding Player awards), Kazuhito Kiyohara (two Fighting Spirit and an Outstanding Player award) and Kazuhiro Wada (aFighting Spirit and two Outstanding Player awards). There were three guys to win two MVPs (Koji Akiyama, Atsuya Furuta and Toshiaki Imae), two guys who won two Fighting Spirit awards (Kenshin Kawakami and Kazuhiro Kiyohara) and seven guys who won two Outstanding Player awards (Tetsuya Iida, Takahiro Ikeyama, Kazuhisa Ishii, Kenji Johjima, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Shingo Takatsu, and Kazuhiro Wada). No one else won more than one of any of these awards.