Sunday, August 13, 2017

Card Of The Week August 13

The 99th Japanese High School Baseball Championship (aka the Summer Koshien Tournament) kicked off this past week at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya.  Koshien Stadium is the oldest professional baseball stadium in Japan - it opened in 1924, 10 years before there was professional baseball in Japan and twelve years before the team that calls it home - the Hanshin Tigers - were born.  I don't know why I hadn't realized this before this past week, but the stadium was actually built to host the tournament.  In the first two years (1915-16) the tournament was played in Toyonaka Park in Osaka  (near the site of Osaka International Airport) and then from 1917-23 it was played at Naruo Stadium in Nishinomiya.  (If you're wondering why this year is the 99th tournament when it started in 1915, it's because the tournament was canceled in 1918 due to the "Rice Crisis" and from 1941 to 1945 due to the war.) Koshien stadium was built to handle the crowds that the tournament attracted - when built it seated 55,000.  It's current capacity is around 47,500.

Here's a card of the stadium from the 1992 BBM set (#103).  BBM did a subset that year showing all the ballparks currently in use (there were 11 since the Fighters were still sharing the Tokyo Dome with the Giants then).


For comparison's sake, here's a photo of the ballpark from 1924.  Hard to believe the surrounding area was ever that open.


I swiped this photo from the book "Nostalgic Stadiums Of Kansai".

I've said this before but I'd really like to see BBM do another subset showing all the ballparks.  Of the 11 ballparks featured in 1992, only six are still in use (Chiba Marine, Koshien, Jingu, Tokyo Dome, Yokohama and Seibu) and one of those (Seibu) has gone through major reconfiguration - it has a roof on it now.

I'd also like to see a set commemorating the tournament - maybe along the lines of the OB college sets BBM did a few years back.  Something showing current NPB players in their high school uniforms and highlighting what they did at the tournament.  Perhaps this could be a tie-in with the 100th tournament next year.

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