Wednesday, March 12, 2014

2013 Box Sets

Among the goodies I got from Ryan of This Card Is Cool were nine box sets from last year.  Five of those sets were produced by "Front Runner Trading Cards" (or Frontier International) and will be the subject of another post, hopefully in the next few days.  This post will concentrate on the remaining four sets.

The first set was a single player set BBM released last spring dedicated to the recently retired Hideki Matsui.  This was a 36 card set entitled "Memories Of Matsui".  The set is a fairly typical BBM single player set - the first 27 cards give his life story.  There is one card each devoted to his childhood, his high school career, his being drafted by the Giants and each of his 10 years playing in NPB.  Several significant events (first hit, first home run, winning the MVP, etc) are also the subject of cards.  Other cards are devoted to his uniform number, his All Star appearances, his stolen bases, he and Shigeo Nagashima (his manager with the Giants for all but his last year) and so on.  The final nine cards in the set show his swing through a sequence of pictures.

It's a nice little set although probably not as nice as the "Legend Of Hideki Matsui" set that BBM did back in 2002.  But this set is probably a bit more attainable that that one at this point.

Here's a couple sample cards (you can see all of them at Jambalaya):




BBM released the third of their Greatest Games box sets last summer and this one dealt with the climactic game of the 2001 season between the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix Blue Wave.  The game was played at Osaka Dome on September 26, 2001.  The Buffaloes won the game which clinched their first Pacific League pennant since 1989.  The reason the game is considered one of the greatest in NPB history is that the Buffaloes were trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth.  Here's what happened next (h/t Ryan for the video):

The Buffaloes loaded the bases and Hirotoshi Kitagawa hit a pinch hit walk off grand slam to put the Buffaloes into the Nippon Series.

The set is the nicest looking of the Greatest Games sets so far (including the Tigers/Swallows 1985 set that came out in December).  The pictures are all clear and well-lit - probably since the game was inside (I am assuming that all the pictures came from the actual game but that may not be the case).  The set has 36 cards in all - 15 Blue Wave players, 17 Buffalo players and four cards devoted to "2001 Buffaloes Highlights" (which were Norihiro Nakamura's great season, Tuffy Rhodes hitting 55 home runs to tie the then single season record, Kitagawa's grand slam and the Buffaloes winning the pennant - and yes, the last two seem a bit redundant).  It's not exactly a star studded set - although Yoshitomo Tani, Rhodes, Nakamura and Akinori Ohtsuka are included, Hisashi Iwakuma and So Taguchi are not (presumably because they didn't play in the game).  Both managers (Masataka Nashida and Akira Ohgi) are in the set as well as several Westerners - George Arias, Sean Bergman, Shawn Gilbert, and one of the very few Japanese cards for Joe Vitiello.  There's kind of an irony about the two teams being featured as three years later they "merged" into the current Orix Buffaloes team.

Ryan had done a post last fall showing three cards from the set - here's three others (and Jambalaya has all of them):




It's pretty rare when I pick up one of BBM's team sets and even rarer when I pick up one of BBM's team box sets, but I was taken by how attractive the "Bright Carp" set was when I saw the cards on Jambalaya last fall and asked Ryan to pick it up for me.  There's only 18 cards in the set but most of the Carp stars are included - Kenta Maeda, Yusuke Nomura, Shota Dobayashi, Kan Ohtake and Takeru Imamura as well as foreigners Fred Lewis, Brian Bullington, Brad Eldred and Kam Mickolio.  The card design is not usually one that I like - I prefer action photos with full backgrounds - but somehow this set just looked too attractive to pass up.  Ryan again did a post on this set when it came out last fall so I'm just going to show one card here:


The final box set for this post is not from BBM but instead one of the sets Epoch has been doing in the past few years with the All Japan Baseball Foundation/OB Club/Japan Baseball Promotion Association.  This particular set is dedicated to Rookie Of The Year award winners.  There are only 40 cards in the set so it is not a comprehensive set of all Rookie Of The Year award winners.  The earliest winner is Futoshi Nakanishi (1952) while the latest is from 1998 (Tetsuya Ozeki).  As you might expect, there's a large number of stars in the set - Shigeo Nagashima, Isao Harimoto, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Tatsunori Hara, Akinobu Okada, Yasushi Tao, Kenichi Yazawa, Michiyo Arito and Hiromichi Ishige.

It took me a long time to decide if I wanted to get this set.  I don't particularly like the Epoch sets as I feel the same players seem to show up in them over and over and the cards frequently aren't terribly attractive.  I feel that this particular set suffers from way too many black and white photos - only three of the pictures are in color.  On the plus side, it appears that Epoch made an effort to get pictures of the players from the year that they actually won the award.  As a result, there's a couple incarnations of teams that don't get seen very often that appear in this set - the Yakult Atoms and the Nittaku Home Flyers:


The team that is now the Tokyo Yakult Swallows was known as the Atoms from 1966 through 1973.  The team that is now the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were known as the Nittaku Home Flyers for one season (1973) after Nittaku bought the team from Toei.  They sold the team the following year to Nippon Ham who renamed them the Fighters.  Beyond Niimi's award, Nittaku's single season owning the franchise is most memorable for their ill conceived decision to try a fashion experiment in which the players wore different uniforms on the field depending on which position they were playing, resulting in this travesty:

That's Hall Of Famer Isao Harimoto (#10) on the far right, wishing he was somewhere else.

Anyway, I think Ryan found me a set for 100 yen (roughly $1) at Mint Akihabara so I really can't complain too much about the set.  You can see all the cards in the set either at Ryan's post or at Jambalaya.


Greg Dunn said...

Any idea whether the OFs for Nittaku all wear the same unis or were there separate ones for LF/CF/RF? And if a player changed positions during a game, did he also then change uniforms?

NPB Card Guy said...

Looks like there were only seven variants so I'm guessing the outfielders used the same design. I don't know about switching uniforms during a game - you'd hope that was not the case.

I'll try to do a post on the uniforms in the next couple of days.