Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition Set

NPB is celebrating 80 years of professional baseball in Japan this season and BBM is issuing two separate historic sets as part of the celebration.  The first set, called 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition, came out back in May.  To restate the obvious, the set is devoted entirely to pitchers.

The base set contains 99 cards.  90 of these are "regular" player cards.  Unlike most of BBM's other OB sets, this one has a decent representation of players from all eras, rather than just the 1970's and later.  Most of the major pitching names in history are included in the set, including Eiji Sawamura, Victor Starffin, Masaichi Kaneda, Kazuhisa Inao, Keishi Suzuki, Minoru Murayama, Shigeru Sugishita, Yoshio Sotokoba, Hisashi Yamada, Kimiyasu Kudoh and Masumi Kuwata highlight the retired players.  Active players are also included in the set including both NPB players (Masahiro Yamamoto, Kenta Maeda) and MLB players (Yu Darvish, Masahiro Tanaka, Hisaashi Iwakuma, Koji Uehara).  Players appear to have been selected because of their performance over their career as well as dominance over short periods of time (Hiroshi Gondoh, Marc Kroon).  Foreign players in the set (in addtion to Kroon) include Joe Stanka, Gene Bacque and Taigen and Genji Kaku (who I don't think are related to each other).

There are a couple players who don't often show up in the OB sets who appear in this one.  This is only the fourth OB set Masaichi Kaneda has appeared in in the last 10 years (in contrast it's at least the ninth BBM OB set Kazuhisa Inao has appeared in over the same period of time).  This is the first OB set that Yu Darvish has appeared in and the first NPB set of any type he's been in since he left for MLB prior to the 2012 season.

There are a couple notable omissions.  Hideo Nomo and Choji Murata should be in the set but Nomo hasn't been in an NPB set in 20 years and Murata almost never shows up in an OB set (only one BBM set in the last 10 years).  The most surprising omission is Yutaka Enatsu who if nothing else was one of the most interesting pitchers in NPB history.  And Enatsu appears in OB sets with some frequency (although he was also a surprising no show in last year's Hawks 75th Anniversary set).

The other 9 cards in the set are for single season and career pitching records.  The players included are Akira (Takehiko) Bessho (Most Complete Games in a Season), Hideo Fujimoto (Best ERA), Kazuhisa Inao (Most Wins In A Season), Hitoki Iwase (Most Saves), Masaichi Kaneda (Most Wins), Victor Starfin (Most Wins In A Season), Keishi Suzuki (Most Complete Games w/o BB & HBP), Masahiro Tanaka (Highest Winning % in a Season), and Tetsuya Yoneda (Most Games Pitched).  And that's not a typo - Inao and Starffin are tied for most wins in a single season with 42.

For the most part, I really like the set.  I like a lot of the photographs used, especially the ones of players from the 1950's and 1960's.  And as I mentioned above, I really like the player selection in the set.

Here's some example cards:






I did notice one oddity in the cards.  Takehiko Bessho appears in the "regular" cards by that name but in the "Leader" subset as Akira Bessho.  I'm not entirely sure, but I think Bessho went by "Akira" when he was with Nankai in the 40's but by "Takehiko" when he was with the Giants in the 1950's.  I've seem him listed by either name in previous sets but I think this is the first set I've seen that has him by both names:

#06 & #96
Ryan did a write up of this set back when it came out and you can see all the cards at Jambalaya.

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