Monday, January 30, 2017

Sports Card Magazine #121

Sports Card Magazine #121 was published last Friday.  Here's my summary:

Color Section:

- Three page interview with Seigi Tanaka, top draft pick of the Hawks
- Two page spread showing "cheki" photograph cards from the new "Shining Venus" Woman Athlete set - I think every athlete in the set is featured on the pages.
- Ads for Rookie Edition (2 pages), "Farewell" (1 page), Shining Venus (1 page), Fast Break 1st Half (Basketball) (2 pages),  Japan National Team (Football) Special Edition (1 page), Sumo (1 page) and True Heart (Women's Pro Wrestling) (1 page) sets

Monthly "Bests":
Best Card Of This Month: 2016 BBM Fusion Ami Inamura Autograph Card
Best Item Of This Month:  2017 BBM Rising Sun box

Hot Card Lists
1. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shun Takayama (#238)
2. 2016 BBM 1st Version Eigoro Mogi (#158)
3. 2013 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani (#183)
4. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shota Imanaga (#318)
5. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shinnosuke Ogasawara (#292)
6. 2016 BBM 1st Version Masataka Yoshida (#126)
7. 2016 BBM 1st Version Louis Okoye (#156)
8. 1993 BBM Ichiro Suzuki (#239)
9. 2016 BBM 1st Version Taiga Hirosawa (#075)
10. 2016 BBM 1st Version Shinnosuke Shigenobu (#210)

Autograph & Memorabilia:
1. 2017 BBM Rising Sun Shohei Ohtani Autograph card
2. 2016 BBM Fusion Ami Inamura Autograph card
3. 2017 BBM Time Travel 1975 Hiromi Iwasaki Autograph card
4. 2016 BBM Masterpiece Naoko Takahashi Autograph card
5. 2016 BBM Masterpiece Kosuke Kitajima Autograph card
6. 2017 BBM Rising Sun Hayato Sakamoto Bat card
7. 2017 BBM Rising Sun Shohei Ohtani "The Prime 3D" card
8. 2016 BBM Masterpiece Kazu Autograph card
9. 2016 BBM Masterpiece Kyoko Iwasaki Autograph card
10. 2016 Epoch Carp Stars & Legends Seiya Suzuki Autograph card

"Newsprint" Section:
- Five page interview with someone that looks like a review of all the 2016 BBM issues (at least the baseball ones)
- "Card Shop Navi" for Mint Kashii
- Box Break Contest - four collectors open boxes of Fusion and Time Travel 1975 and compare the hits
- New Card List contains checklists for the sets advertised in the color section
- "Vintage" Checklist and Price Guide is for Sumo and other sports along with recent cards for all sports

SCM Original Cards:

Six promo cards for the new Rookie Edition set - Seigi Tanaka (Hawks), Chihaya Sasaki (Marines), Tatsuya Imai (Lions), Shoma Fujihira (Eagles), Naruki Terashima (Swallows) and Yuya Yanagi (Dragons)

SCM #394

SCM #396

- There's still not much information out about new BBM baseball issues for 2017.

- The first issue of SCM for each year seems to always be about Rookie Edition.  I'm mused that this year's Rookie Edition cards have the players framed by triangles when last year's set had them framed in circles.  We should start a pool for predicting next year's set - squares?  Trapezoids?  Hexagons?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Card Of The Week January 29

Former Orix Buffaloes, Fukuoka Softbank Hawk and Seattle Mariners player Dae-Ho Lee is returning to Korea and his original team, the Lotte Giants.  Lee has spent the past five seasons away from the KBO - four seasons in NPB with Orix and Softbank and one season in MLB with Seattle.

Here's a "Great Numbers" insert card of Lee and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh from the 2013 BBM Great Numbers "Historic Collection" set (#GN22):

Saturday, January 28, 2017

'99 Korea-Japan Super Games

I had been aware for while that there was an insert set in the 2000 Teleca KBO baseball card set for something called the "'99 Korea-Japan Super Games" but it wasn't until recently that I learned more about it.  Dan Skrezyna contacted me a few months ago about the set - he was trying to id a couple Japanese players in the set.  The fact that there were Japanese players in the set was a surprise to me, although I had an oddball card of Sadaharu Oh and Seung-Yeop Lee that appeared to be related to the set.  I was able to help Dan with a couple cards and I think Ralph Pearce provided the checklist information for the cards that Dan didn't have.  Dan has posted the complete checklist for the insert set over at The Trading Card Database.

I started looking around for more information on what the Korea-Japan Super Games were.  I didn't find anything in English, but both the Japanese Wikipedia and the Korean Wikipedia have pages on it.  To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the normalization of relations between Japan and South Korea and the 10th Anniversary of the KBO, NPB and KBO announced that they would play a series of post-season games every four years, starting in 1991.  There were six games played in both 1991 and 1995 but only four played in 1999.  The series was discontinued afterwards.  I don't know the reason it stopped for sure but I suspect that it had something to do with a schedule conflict with the 2003 Asian Baseball Championship, which was a qualifier for the 2004 Olympics.  By 2007 the Asia Series was in its third season so the Super Games just kind of faded away.

Back to the cards.  There are 46 cards in the set.  I only have 12 of them - one that I had from the couple 2000 Teleca packs I opened years ago and the others I recently picked up from Justin, another KBO card collector living in Korea.  Many (if not most) of the cards in the set are essentially single cards of a particular KBO player:







There's a couple cards that show Japanese players pretty clearly - like this one of Jung-Tae Park with Toshihisa Nishi:

Card #KJ39 shows Seung-Yeop Lee batting against a Seibu Lions pitcher - looking at the linescores on the Wikipedia pages it's either Denney Tomori or Takashi Ishii.

There are a couple group shots taken at the ballparks.  This one shows (from left to right) Soo-Keun Jung, Seung-Yeop Lee, Jong-Beom Lee (a Korean player who was with the Dragons from 1998 to 2001), Ki-Tae Kim and Min-Tae Chung (who would play for the Yomiuri Giants in 2001-02):

This is the one I helped Dan out with - it shows (from left to right) Jae-Hong Park, Jung-Tae Park, Jong-Beom Lee, Koji Uehara and Toshihisa Nishi:

There's a couple cards with Hideki Matsui and a KBO player - one with Seung-Yeop Lee and the other with Joon-Hyuk Yang.  There's also another version of that Oh/Lee card.

There are also a couple cards that show some sort of off field awards ceremony with the players in street clothes.  This one shows Pil-Jung Jin:

This one has Seung-Yeop Lee and Min-Tae Chung on either side of some official:

I did a couple searches on YouTube and I found some videos from all three Series.  Here are highlights from the 1991 games - a little from Game One at the Tokyo Dome and a bit more from Game Five played in Gifu which was the only game the KBO team won that year.

Here's some footage from Game Two of the 1995 Games played in Yokohama Stadium:

Finally here's what I think is basically a condensed game from Game Three of the 1999 Games in Fukuoka Dome:

I would like to complete this set but I suspect it will be difficult.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jae-Gyun Hwang Of The San Francisco Giants

Jae-Gyun Hwang of the Lotte Giants of the KBO has signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants.  Hwang was originally a third round pick in the 2006 KBO draft by the Hyundai Unicorns who folded after the 2007 season and became the Woori Heroes who became the Nexen Heroes in 2010.  He was traded from Nexen to the Giants during the 2010 season.  He also played for the Korean National team in the 2015 Premier 12 (and made the All World Team for the tournament).

As far as I can tell, there are about eight base set cards for Hwang among the well known KBO issues of the past few years.  He had a card in the 2010 KBO "game" set and also appears in base sets of the 2014-15 Blue Edition, 2015 Season Two, 2015 Hell's Fireball, 2016 Diamond Winners and 2016 Forever Ace sets, all from Super Star Baseball (or whatever the company is actually called).  He also has insert/short print cards in Super Star Baseball's 2014 Season One and Three sets and the 2014-15 Blue Edition set (in addition to the base set cards), autograph cards in the 2014 Season Three, 2014-15 Blue Edition and 2015 Season One sets and (I think) a patch card in the 2015 Season One set.  You can see a list of these (including some parallels) here.

Here's the cards I have from this list:

2010 KBO "Game" set #AN-007

2014-15 Super Star Baseball Blue Edition #SBCBE-159-GN

2014-15 Super Star Baseball Blue Edition #SBCBE-177-GN

2015 Super Star Baseball Season Two SBC1502-111-N

2015 Super Star Baseball Season Two Sticker

2015 Super Star Baseball Hell's Fireball #PA01-LO006

2016 Super Star Baseball Diamond Winners #PA02-LO001

2016 Super Star Baseball Forever Ace #PA03-LO004
I'm assuming the "D. H." is a tribute to former Lotte Giant Dae-Ho Lee, whose uniform number (#10) Hwang switched to this past season.

And I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me earlier, but I had actually seen Hwang play in Arizona last February in the game Lotte played against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.  He was the one Lotte player to get a hit against Shohei Ohtani.  Here's the tweet from @MyKBO that reminded me:

You can almost see Deanna@the_hereford and me behind the Fighters' dugout (the Padres' side).

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Card Of The Week January 22

I've been trying to follow the Australian Baseball League this winter and I've been listening to the Strike Zone Australia podcast lately.  It's a weekly podcast with player and coach interviews and a wrap up of each week's action.  A couple weeks back they had an interview with former MLB and NPB pitcher Micheal Nakamura.  Nakamura had played for the Fighters and Giants between 2005 and 2011.  He was released by the Giants after the 2011 season and was considering signing with either the Fighters or Lions for the 2012 season.  He ultimately decided on the Lions for what I thought was an interesting reason - the Lions farm team play right next to the Seibu Dome so he wouldn't have to move away from his family if he was sent to them.  The Fighters' farm team plays in Kamagaya which is just east of Tokyo which is quite a ways from Sapporo.  It was probably a good choice on his part as he appeared in 17 games with the top team but 23 games with the farm team.  He retired following the 2012 season.

His only BBM cards with the Lions were from the 2012 Lions team set.  He had a card in the "Newcomers" subset as well as a regular player card (#L13):

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New Releases For The New Year

There was a couple weeks where I was starting to wonder what was going on - there didn't seem to have been any announcements being made about any 2017 releases.  Then about a week or so, BBM made an announcement about their annual Retirement set and it's like the flood gates opened, with news of five new NPB sets and a new KBO set.

- BBM will be releasing the aforementioned Retirement set on January 28th.  This is the seventh edition of this set and like the others it is a box set.  Each box contains 37 cards - a 36 card base set plus one autographed card.  The set includes cards of all the players who announced their retirement at the end of the 2016 season such as Hiroki Kuroda, Daisuke Miura, Takahiro Suzuki, and Saburo.

- BBM is releasing their annual Rookie Edition set in mid-February.  This is a pack based set featuring all the players taken in last fall's draft.  The base set has 126 cards - 114 for the draftees and 12 for a subset called "Early Days" that I think is for OB players.  There are two insert sets - Next Generation (12 cards) which I think is a young player for each team and Rookie Of The Year (2 cards) which features the two Rookies Of The Year from the 2016 season (Hiroshi Takanashi and Shun Takayama).  There are also autographed cards available for I think both the draftees and the OB players featured in the "Early Days" subset.

- Epoch is releasing another of their ultra high end sets in conjunction with the Japan Baseball Promotion Association (or OB Club).  The set is called "Opening Day Starting Lineup" and each 16,200 yen (~$160) box contains a single pack of six cards - three base set cards, one "Holo Spectra" card and two autographed cards.  There are 40 cards in the base set.  Possible autographed cards include autographed baseballs, autographed bats (only Koji Yamamoto) and some sort of autographed booklet.  The set will be out on March 18.

- There is a new outfit called Hits that is publishing a couple team based sets of "Trading mini colored paper", one for the Baystars and one for the Hawks.  Both sets feature 8 players and each player has two "cards" - a "normal" card and a "gold foil signature" card.  I think there are possible autographed cards with the sets as well but I'm not sure.  Both sets will be released on April 8th.

- The latest KBO set is called "Black Edition" and looks very similar to the Blue and Gold Edition sets released in the past two years.  The set has a bunch of autographed and memorabilia cards as well as some short printed cards and I think around 163 cards in its base set.  I believe that this set is already out but it's possible that it won't be until this coming week.  UPDATE - Just noticed that George did a post previewing the set and provided a link to the official website for it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fighters in Arizona, 2017 Edition

As I mentioned a few weeks back, your 2017 Nippon Series Champion Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are returning to Peoria, Arizona for spring training this February.  More details have come out in the last week or so, including the schedule and the roster of who's attending.

The Fighters will have an abbreviated trip due to the World Baseball Classic starting up in early March.  Like last year they will be at the Padres training facility at the Peoria Sports Complex.  They will hold practices on February 1-4, 6-7 and the 10th, play an exhibition game against the KBO's KT Wiz on the eighth and hold an inter-squad game on the ninth.  The fifth will be an off day.

Shohei Ohtani is one of the Fighters coming to Arizona but it's rumored that he won't actually play in either of the games.  A couple of the other big names for the Fighters (Sho Nakata, Naoki Miyanishi, and Hirotoshi Masui) decided not to come to Arizona and will be with the ni-gun team in Okinawa instead.  Here's the full roster (got some help with the names from here):

There are a couple KBO teams training in the US.  Obviously the KT Wiz are in Arizona as it would be difficult for them to play the Fighters if they were not.  They will be training in Tucson from February 1 to 17 and then go to Los Angeles until March 8th.  The NC Dinos will also be in Tucson from February 1 to 19 and in Los Angeles until March 11.  The Nexen Heroes will be in the Phoenix area from January 30 to March 7 at two separate locations but I'm not entirely sure where those locations are.  The LG Twins will be at Surprise Stadium, home of the Rangers and Royals, from February 1 to 11 and the Lotte Giants will be using the Mariners facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex from January 30 to February 22.  Finally the SK Wyverns (managed by Trey Hillman) will be in Vero Beach, Florida from February 1 to 24.  (Source

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Hall Of Fame class

The results for this year's Hall Of Fame ballot were released today and there were five new inductees.  Longtime Lions catcher (and one time Lions and current Marines manager) Tsutomu Itoh was elected from the "Players Division" while the "Expert Division" elected former Dragons pitcher and manager (as well as Tigers, Eagles and 2008 Olympic manager) Senichi Hoshino and former Whales pitcher Masaji Hiramatsu.  Amateur umpire Hiroshi Goshi and "developer of standardized baseball rules" (for lack of a better term) Mirei Suzuki were elected from the "Special Division".

Here are cards for the new inductees who were former players (I don't know of any cards for Goshi or Suzuki).  I previously did a post on Hoshino when he retired as Eagles manager in 2014 and I got an autograph from him at the Cal Ripken World Series back in 2010.

Tsutomu Itoh

1982 Takara Lions #27

1993 BBM #439

2003 BBM 2nd Version #633

Senichi Hoshino

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big 6 #038

1981 Calbee #364

2012 BBM 2nd Version #663

Masaji Hiramatsu

1977 Yamakatsu JY3

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #037

2005 BBM 2nd Version #816

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mitsutaka Gotoh

Mitsutaka Gotoh of the Tohoku Rakutea Golden Eagles announced his retirement last month.  Gotoh had been released by the Eagles at the end of the season and attended the 12 team tryouts in early December but did not get any offers.  The Eagles have given him a job working with their baseball academy.

Gotoh was drafted in the tenth round of the fall 2001 draft from Kawasaki Steel Chiba of the corporate leagues by the Orix Blue Wave.  It's hard to believe but he was the last Orix Blue Wave player still active in NPB (the only other active former Blue Wave player is Ichiro Suzuki).  He played for Orix through the 2013 season.  His best seasons were 2010 when he hit .295 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 143 games and 2011 when he hit .312 in 130 games (and had a 26 game hitting streak).  He was traded to the Eagles after the 2013 season for Teppei Tsuchiya and spent the past three seasons in Sendai.

His BBM rookie card was #295 from the 2002 1st Version set.  I'm not entirely sure what his first Calbee card was as there was another Mitsutaka Gotoh who played for Seibu and Yomiuri between 2000 and 2005 but I'm pretty sure it was a card from the 2002 "New Face" subset (#BN-16).  His first regular Calbee card was #181 from the 2005 set and he also had cards in various Konami, Bandai and Front Runner sets.

2002 BBM 1st Version #295

2004 BBM Blue Wave #BW90

2007 Konami Baseball Heroes 3 Black Edition #B07B092

2009 BBM 2nd Version #577

2011 Calbee Star #S-09

2012 BBM Pedigree #20

2013 Front Runner Buffaloes Season Summary #15

2016 BBM 1st Version #147

Card Of The Week January 15

When Prince Fielder retired last summer due to a herniated disk in his neck, I immediately thought of former Hanshin Tigers outfielder Norihiro Akahoshi.  Akahoshi had been forced to retire in 2009 after suffering a similar neck injury.

BBM did a box set dedicated to Akahoshi in early 2010 called "Red Star 53".  There's a lot of great photos in the set (which you can see at Jambalaya) but one of my favorites is this one of him in Sydney, Australia:

2010 BBM Red Star 53 #07
The back of the card indicates that the photo was taken in 2003.  I think the Tigers did a trip to Australia in November or December of that year in celebration of their Central League pennant that season.

Twenty years ago Wednesday I was in Sydney myself and took a similar picture of the Opera House:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

1970's Yamakatsu Albums

I did a post a few months back on the Calbee card albums of the 1970's and 80's (and I just did an update to the post with some images I swiped off of Ebay).  But Calbee wasn't the only card company from the 1970's who had albums.  Yamakatsu did them as well.  I don't know how many the company did but I have two of them.

The first album I have is from 1977.  Unfortunately I'm not 100% sure which set it was issued with as some of the 70's Yamakatsu sets are difficult to keep straight.  I'm pretty sure it was the "JY4" set but it might have been the "JY3" set.  I had opened boxes of both of these a few years back.  The album was included in the box with the cards - I think the intention was that the shop owner would put the packs of cards out for sale and give the album as a prize to the customer who pulled a pack with a "winner" card in it.  (There were also "premium" cards packed in the box to be given away as well.)

The album has color photos on the front and back but none in the inside.  Oddly enough it does not appear that most of the photos were also used on the cards.  There are three one pocket cellophane pages in the album for putting cards in.  Like many Japanese books and magazines, the album opens from the left side.  The album is about seven inches by ten inches - keep in mind that the cards in both the "JY3" and "JY4" sets were pretty large - around 6 3/4 inches by 9 3/4 inches.

1977 Yamakatsu Album front

1977 Yamakatsu Album back

The other album I have is from the 1979 "JY8" set.  This album is smaller - about 6 1/2 inches by 7 1/2 inches - and opens from the right like Western books and magazines.  The front has photos of Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh of the Giants while the back features Koichi Tabuchi and Shigeru Kobayashi of the Tigers, a Dragons player that I think is Keiichi Yazawa and Koji Yamamoto of the Carp.

1979 Yamakatsu Album front

1979 Yamakatsu Album back
Inside the album were paper pages with spots for the cards to be glued into - six per page.  I'm guessing that Yamakatsu had decided that their cards should be pasted into albums the same way that NST cards were.  I'm grateful that more Japanese collectors at the time did not do this - there'd be a lot fewer Yamakatsu cards in good condition if they had.  The album I have had about six cards pasted in it - most of them on the first page:

That's Shigeo Nagashima and Yutaka Fukumoto on the top row and Sadaharu Oh, Katsuo Ohsugi and Shigekazu Mori.  (And in case you're curious, the other card in the album is Koji Yamamoto's #7.)  I'd love to pull the two cards that I don't have (Oh and Mori) out but I don't see a way to do it without damaging the cards and/or the album.

Here's what empty pages look like - the album was too big for my scanner to get the full spread so the image is cut off a bit on the left side and by a full card's worth on the right side.

The guy selling these on Ebay had three separate auctions going for them - there was one with no cards in it for less than $10, the one I got with six cards in in for $15-ish and a near complete set for $40-ish.

I assume there were albums for other Yamakatsu sets but I have never seen them.