Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Years Of OB Team Sets

NPB celebrated the 70th Anniversary of professional baseball in Japan in 2004*.  Since the Giants were the first professional team in Japan, they also celebrated their 70th Anniversary that year.  To commemorate the Giants' anniversary, BBM released a set called (obviously) the Giants 70th Anniversary set.  (They also released a small box set for the 70th Anniversary of professional baseball but the less said about it, the better.)

* Just to be clear, Nippon Professional Baseball as an organization has not been around since 1935.  Professional baseball in Japan was called the Japan Baseball League from 1935 until 1949.  The reorganization into the two league system resulted in the creation of NPB.

The Giants 70th Anniversary set was the first set BBM ever released that was a team specific OB set.  BBM had done team specific sets before that included OB players (the 1999 Seibu Lions team set celebrating their 20th year in Tokorozawa is one example) but this was the first set that featured many more OB players than current players.  The pack based set pretty much established the pattern for many of the OB team sets that would come later.  There was a six card "History Of The Giants" subset, a large subset (75 cards in this case) featuring OB players for the Giants which included players who were still active at the time in both NPB and MLB, and a smaller subset (28 cards in this set) featuring the current year's team.  This particular set was 104 cards, the largest of any of the OB team sets.  Most would be 99 cards with some of the more recent sets dropping to 90 or even as low as 81 cards.

BBM followed up the Giants set with 70th Anniversary sets for the Tigers (in 2005) and Dragons (in 2006).  In 2008, they really got going - pumping out sets to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Hawks, the 40th Anniversary of the acquisition of the Orions by Lotte, the 30th Anniversary of the Lions being acquired by Seibu and the 30th Anniversary of the Whales (now Baystars) moving to Yokohama.  In addition to those pack based sets, BBM also issued box sets celebrating the Lions' 29 years in Fukuoka and the closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium.

2009 saw another six OB team sets.  The 60th Anniversary of the two league system brought 60th Anniversary sets for both the Lions and the Carp as well as a Kintetsu Memorial set (BBM had done a small box set in 2004 to commemorate Kintetsu leaving professional baseball but that was a more traditional BBM team set with only a relative few OB players).  Another set celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Swallows by Yakult.  The 20th Anniversary of Orix buying the Braves from Hankyu was commemorated by a pair of box sets - one was dedicated to Hakyu players before the sale of the team and the other was for the Orix era.  Somewhat significantly, 2009 did NOT see a 75th Anniversary set for the Giants.

BBM dialed things back a bit for 2010 and 2011.  They only issued two OB team sets in 2010.  Five years after the Tigers had celebrated their 70th Anniversary, BBM was back with a 75th Anniversary set.  And for the first time, BBM issued an OB team set that was not tied to an Anniversary (or an event like the closing of a stadium) - the Lions Classic set that showcased the throw back uniforms that the Lions had worn in recent seasons.  The set contained both active players wearing the throw back uniforms and OB players wearing the original uniforms.  BBM did three more sets in 2011, only two of which were actual Anniversary sets - the Dragons 75th and the Marines 20th year in Chiba.  The other set was a tie-in to a promotion that the Orix Buffaloes were doing that commemorated the 1970's era Kintetsu Buffaloes and Hankyu Braves.

After no OB team sets in 2012 (for the first time since 2007), BBM brought them back with a vengeance in 2013.  Three were "traditional" Anniversary sets - the Hawks 75th, the Baystars 20th of having the name and the Fighters 10th of being in Hokkaido.  They also did a small box set featuring the three Nippon Series championships that the Hawks had won during their 25 years in Fukuoka.  Lastly, BBM started a new series of OB team sets called Legend.  The first one was for the Giants and commemorated the two stints Shigeo Nagashima had managing the team (1975-1980, 1993-2001).  The second highlighted the Tigers in the 1980's (when they won their sole Nippon Series championship).

So far 2014 has seen three OB team sets - the latest Legend set that commemorates the Senichi Hoshino era with the Dragons (1987 to 2001 although he didn't manage them that entire stretch) and Anniversary sets for the Eagles (10th) and Orix (25th).  I'm anticipating that there will be a Giants 80th Anniversary set before the end of the year but that remains to be seen.

If you've read this blog for a while then you know that I'm a big fan of the OB teams sets.  I actually own all of these sets and I've written a post on all of them except the Giants and Dragons 70th Anniversary sets.  I thought I'd present a table breaking all the sets down by team with links to the post for the set:

Team Year Set Commemorates Type Of Set
Chiba Lotte Marines 2008 Lotte 40th Anniversary Lotte buying Orions in 1968 Pack
2011 Chiba 20th Anniversary Lotte moving to Chiba from Kawasaki in 1992 Pack
Chunichi Dragons 2006 Dragons 70th Anniversary Dragons 70th Anniversary Pack
2011 Dragons 75th Anniversary Dragons 75th Anniversary Pack
2014 Dragons Legend Senichi Hoshino Mangerial Era (1987-2001) Pack
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 2008 Hawks 70th Anniversary Hawks 70th Anniversary Pack
2013 Hawks 75th Anniversary Hawks 75th Anniversary Pack
2013 Fukuoka Legacy Nippon Series Championships in Fukuoka Box
Hanshin Tigers 2005 Tigers 70th Anniversary Tigers 70th Anniversary Pack
2010 Tigers 75th Anniversary Tigers 75th Anniversary Pack
2013 Tigers Legend 1980's Pack
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 2008 Hiroshima Memorial Closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium Box
2009 Carp 60th Anniversary Carp 60th Anniversary Pack
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 2013 Fighters 10 Years in Hokkaido 10th Anniversary of Fighters moving to Sapporo Pack
Orix Buffaloes (including Kintetsu) 2009 Hankyu Memorial Players from before Orix bought Braves in 1988 Box
2009 Orix 20th Anniversary 20th Anniversary of Orix buying Braves Box
2009 Kintetsu Memorial 60th Anniversary of founding of Kintetsu team in 1950 Pack
2011 Legend Of The Bs 1970's era Hankyu and Kintetsu Pack
2014 Orix 25th Anniversary 25th Anniversary of Orix buying Braves Pack
Saitama Seibu Lions 2008 Lions Memorial Players from before Seibu bought the Lions in 1978 Box
2008 Seibu 30th Anniversary 30th Anniversary of Seibu buying the Lions in 1978 (and moving them from Fukuoka to Tokorozawa) Pack
2009 Lions 60th Anniversary Lions 60th Anniversary Pack
2010 Lions Classic Lions throw-back uniforms Pack
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2014 Eagles 10th Anniversary Eagles 10th Anniversary Pack
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary 40th Anniversary of Yakult buying the Swallows in 1969 Pack
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 2008 Yokohama 30th Anniversary 30th Anniversary of then-Whales moving to Yokohama from Kawasaki Pack
2013 Baystars 20th Anniversary 20th Anniversary of Whales changing their name to Baystars Pack
Yomiuri Giants 2004 Giants 70th Anniversary Giants 70th Anniversary Pack
2013 Giants Legend Shigeo Nagashima's stints as manger (1975-1980, 1993-2001) Pack

As you can see from this list, all 12 NPB teams have had at least one OB team set done.  The coverage of a team's history, however, varies greatly from team to team.  While most teams have coverage for their entire history (in theory anyway), for teams are missing large chunks of their history.  The Marines, the Swallows and the Whales all were founded in 1950 but their coverage in the OB teams sets starts in 1969, 1970 and 1978 respectively.  The Fighters have been around nearly 70 years (they started life as the Senators in 1946) but their history prior to 2004 has been ignored.  I'd love to see BBM rectify this for these four teams but I'm not really expecting it to ever happen.


Greg Dunn said...

I collect the team anniversary sets so this was a very nice post as far as a handy checklist to make sure I don't overlook any.

On a different subject, did you do a post on the Epoch History of Best Nine sets that were issued last year? I did a search but didn't come up with anything. Ryan on his blog mentioned them but didn't go in to a lot of detail. Didn't see it listed at SCF either (though my search skills there generally suck). Looking for number of cards in set, checklist info, etc. I believe there were 2 sets issued.

NPB Card Guy said...

There were two of them - part 1 came out in late 2012 and part 2 came out in early 2013.

I didn't do posts on them as I didn't get them. Jambalaya should have the complete checklist for both sets on-line.