Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 BBM Dragons Legend

The latest team to be "honored" by BBM with a Legends set is the Dragons.  The theme of this set is the Senichi Hoshino managerial era from 1987 to 2001.  That's actually two separate managerial stints for Hoshino - Morimichi Takagi ran the team from 1992 to 1995 (as well as 1981 to 1986 and 2012 to 2013).

As I discussed with Ryan in the comments of his post on the set, this is kind of an odd era to highlight for the Dragons.  The highlights of this time period were that they won the Central League in 1988 and 1999, but lost in the Nippon Series both times.  But given that this was a team that hadn't won a Nippon Series since 1954 and had only made two in those 30+ years (1974 and 1982), this may have been the "Golden Age" for the Dragons until the past 10 years.

At 81 cards, this set is smaller than the two previous Legend sets (Giants and Tigers).  It uses the same basic card design, although the background color is blue rather than the beige of the Giants and the gray of the Tigers.

The set went to press after the Dragons announced their manager and coaching staff for 2014 back in October.  The first 14 cards in the set are labelled "2014 Dragons Headquarters" and feature cards of player/manager Motonobu Tanishige and the rest of the 2014 coaching staff from when they were players with the Dragons (regardless of whether or not that was between 1987 and 2001).


The bulk of the set is made up of cards of Dragons players from the featured time frame.  There are 58 player cards (including Hoshino and Takagi).  Most of the major stars from this time period are in the set, including several who are still currently active - Kosuke Fukudome, Kenshin Kawakami, Shigeki Noguchi, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Masaru Uno, Hitoki Iwase, Hirokazu Ibata, Massahiro Yamamoto and Takeshi Yamasaki.  There's a heavy dose of gaijin players included also - Alonzo Powell, Gary Rajsich, Leo Gomez, Genji Kaku and Jong Beom Lee as well as what I believe is the first Japanese card ever of Vance Law (who played 122 games with Chunichi in 1990).  The biggest name missing is Hiromichi Ochiai, who as GM of the team could have been included in the "Headquarters" subset as well.  Ochiai has not appeared on a baseball card since being dismissed as Dragons manager in 2011.






The final nine cards in the set are devoted to Dragons team leaders.  These are all time team leaders, not just for the Hoshino era.  This strikes me as something that belongs in an Anniversary set more than a Legends set but I'm guessing that BBM wants an opportunity to get a couple older players in the set so they can have an excuse to include an autograph card of the player.  And so 88 year old Shigeru Sugishita, who last threw a pitch for the Dragons in 1958, eleven years before Hoshino joined the team as a pitcher, is included in the set for being second in victories (behind Masahiro Yamamoto).


If you can't tell, I'm feeling kind of "meh" about this set.  As a Dragons fan, I really want to like it but it really suffers in comparison to the 70th and 75th Anniversary sets that BBM's done previously (although neither of those sets included Hoshino which may have been part of the attraction for this set to BBM).  I'll be interested in seeing if BBM continues the Legend series and what team will be next.

All the cards in this set can be seen here.


Jason Presley said...

It appears you are correct about Law. Unless the Dragons had a team issued set in 1990 that included him, that is his first Japanese card. He actually had a pretty good season there in 1990, hit .313 with 29 home runs. Definitely tops for his career. He's another candidate for the hopeful 3rd series of Foreign Legends sets.

NPB Card Guy said...

I had checked the list at SCF and didn't see anything other than the card from this set. I figured if there was anything else from Japan, you'd have put it in.

Greg Dunn said...

In the last month or so, I've started using the SCF database in cataloging the cards I have and ones I still need. Just wanted to give a big shout-out to Jason for all his hard work in getting the Japanese cards into the DB (and also thanks for all the cards he recently sold me over on ecrater)!