Sunday, March 18, 2018

Card Of The Week March 18

There was a trade last week in NPB - this is notable only because trades in NPB are somewhat rare.  The Hanshin Tigers sent pitcher Daiki Enokida to the Saitama Seibu Lions for pitcher Yosuke Okamoto.  Here's a card of each of the players:

2011 Bandai Owners League 02 ##086

2013 Front Runner Lions Rookies & Young Stars #24
It'll be interesting to see if either of them end up getting cards this year with their new team.  Neither of them have appeared in a flagship set for a couple years now so they will most likely only show up in team sets from either BBM or Epoch.  BBM has not announced either team set yet so it's possible that both players will end up in the set for their new team.  Epoch on the other hand has already announced their Lions set and it will be released in less than a month so it's likely that it will include Okamoto.  There's a pretty good chance that Okamoto will also be in their Tigers set (assuming they do one) and Enokida doesn't get an Epoch team set card at all.  (This happened a couple years ago when the Fighters and Giants made a trade - the two players sent from the Fighters to the Giants showed up in both team's sets but the two going the other way showed up in neither of them.)

Broder Takahashis

A while back I did a post on the six NPB sets that Ed Broder did in the mid 1970'sJason had asked a question in a comment about a couple players who were not completely identified in Engel's checklists for the sets.  Both the JA5 and JA6 sets list a player named "Takahashi".  Unfortunately it's not clear which of about five or six players with that family name active at the time the cards are for.  Engel does not indicate which team "Takahashi" was playing for.  Luckily there was someone selling the cards on Ebay recently and I was able to see the cards and figure out who "Takahashi" was.

The JA5 Takahashi is Kazumi Takahashi of the Giants.  This is a pretty easy id as Kazumi wore #21 and we can see the number on his uniform.

The JA6 Takahashi is a little harder.  There were three Takahashi's with the Fighters that season - Hiroshi, Naoki and Kazumi (who had been traded to Nippon Ham by the Giants for Isao Harimoto in the 1975-76 off-season).  However Naoki and Kazumi were pitchers so I'm pretty confident that this Takahashi is Hiroshi (who was one of the two other players that Nankai sent to the US in 1964 to play in the San Francisco organization along with Masanori Murakami).

I want to point out that I didn't buy either of these cards so I need to thank the Ebay seller (who of course I didn't take note of) for posting the images.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

BBM Holograms

Ryan did a post a few months back talking about the 1991 BBM team logo holograms and I thought it might be good to do a post on the holograms that BBM did in their first four years doing cards - 1991 to 1994.

BBM was not the first card manufacturer to do holograms.  Calbee did a six card hologram set in 1989 that's extremely rare.

Like Ryan mentioned, the 1991 BBM set included team logo holograms.  These were the only insert cards and were quite rare - according to Engel they were distributed at a rate of one every two boxes.  Each box had 30 packs containing 10 cards each so that's 1 logo per 60 packs.  All 12 cards were assigned number 240 - the base cards were numbered 1-239 and 241-399.  The latest Sports Card Magazine (SCM) that had a price guide for BBM cards (SCM #116) has a value of 2000 yen for each card.

The 1992 BBM set featured player holograms.  There were 12 in total - one for each team (as you probably guessed).  BBM issued the 1992 set in two separate series of 259 cards and there were six holograms inserted into cards of each series.  Series One had holograms of Takahiro Ikeyama, Masumi Kuwata, Hideo Nomo, R. J. Reynolds, Kazuhiro Satoh and Hiroshi Yagi while Series Two had Koji Akiyama, Mitsuchika Hirai, Katsuyoshi Murata, Yukihiro Nishizaki, Hiromitsu Ochiai and Shinji Sasaoka.  The cards are all unnumbered but officially the Series One holograms are all card number 250 and the Series Two holograms are all card number 500.  SCM has values for the cards starting at 1500 yen and going up to 3000 yen for Nomo, Akiyama and Ochiai.

For 1993 BBM returned to the team logo holograms.  This time they were not only inserted randomly in packs but all 12 were included in the factory set (the last time BBM issued a factory set for their flagship set).  Despite the fact that the set was not issued in two series this time there were still two numbers were set aside in the checklist for the holograms - numbers 237 and 500.  Again the holograms are unnumbered but according to SCM the six Pacific League team logos are assigned to #237 while the six Central League logos are #500.  SCM has the value of each card at 500 yen.

1994 saw BBM go back to doing player holograms.  This time there was a bit of twist on them - they had the player's home stadium in the background.  Oddly enough the stadium photo was oriented horizontally while the player's photo was oriented vertically.  Once again the holograms were unnumbered but this time there was no number or numbers put aside in the checklist to account for them.  The 12 players (one from each team of course) were Akira Etoh, Atsuya Furuta, Mel Hall, Shinji Imanaka, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Hideki Matsui, Koji Nodo, Hideo Nomo, Hiroki Nomura, Tsuyoshi Shinjyo, Matt Winters and Koichiro Yoshinaga.  SCM has values starting at 2000 yen for these cards and going to 9000 yen for Matsui and Nomo.

I will point out that the cards look better in person than they do in the scans.  You'll notice that there's text on the front of each card.  I'm not sure what this says but it's on a small decal for the 1991 and 1992 cards.  For the 1993 and 1994 cards I think the text is on a clear "shield" covering the entire card.

 As far as I know BBM did not do any more hologram cards after 1994. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Prestige Collectibles Auction #53

Just a quick FYI - Prestige Collectibles' latest auction (#53) went live today and will be accepting bids until the 29th.  There's a lot of very cool vintage stuff available - it's not cheap but if nothing else the auction is a great place to see some pretty rare stuff.  Information on how to register and bid is on the website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Some New Old Stuff - 1976 Yamakatsu JY1a cards

I don't usually do posts on what I've just gotten on Ebay but I thought the stuff I received today was just too cool not to.  I love the big (almost 7 inch by 10 inch) cards that Yamakatsu published in 1976 and 1977 and I just got five cards from the 1976 JY1a set - a set that I previously only had one card from (although it's an awesome card featuring Isao Harimoto and Dave Johnson).  Here are the five cards:

Senichi Hoshino

Makoto Matsubara

Hiromu Matsuoka

Yoshito Oda

Tsutomu Wakamatsu
All the cards are blank backed and unnumbered.

I don't know for sure that the Matsubara card is from this set - it is not in Engel's listing for the set.  It could be from one of the other 1976 blank backed sets (JY1 or JY1c) but it's not listed there either - there's another Matsubara card listed with JY1.  As Engel points out, these sets are very confusing.

Engel lists the Oda card simply as "Fighters vs Buffaloes - action shot".  I wouldn't have known it was Oda if the seller hadn't included the name in the listing.  The Buffaloes pitcher is Toshio Kanbe.  You can tell the card is for Oda because the copyright line at the bottom says "Nippon-Ham Fighters"

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Card Of The Week March 11

After 9 seasons in the majors pitcher Koji Uehara is heading back to NPB.  He's returning to the Yomiuri Giants, the team he left following the 2008 season and the team that had drafted him out of the Osaka University of Physical Education in the first round of the draft twenty years ago this fall.  He'll be assigned uniform number 11 as his old number 19 is in use by Tomoyuki Sugano.

Here's a card of Uehara from his rookie season of 1999.  This card is a signature parallel of his card from Calbee's All Star subset that year (#252):

Calbee issued complete gold signature parallel versions of their cards in 1999 and 2000.  I believe that hese sets were available as a mail-in redemption of one or more "lucky" cards randomly inserted into packs.  I got a near complete 1999 Series Four parallel that included this card at a store in Tokyo when I was there five years ago this week.

More Cards From Dan

Got a package from Dan last week - he tracked down a bunch of KBO cards that I was looking for.  We didn't trade this time - I just paid him for the cards.  He was going to use what I paid him to pay Ryan for some stuff so ultimately my money was going to end up in Ryan's hands like so much of the rest of my hobby dollars!

Anyway I wanted to do a quick recap on what Dan sent me.  First up I got two more cards from the 2000 Teleca Korea-Japan Super Games insert set.  I still need 30+ cards from this set so it's probably a pipe dream that I'm ever going to finish it but progress is progress.


The bulk of the cards that Dan sent me were all short prints from the 2014 Superstar Baseball Season One set.  That set had 126 cards (14 per each of the then nine KBO team) but 54 of those cards were short printed.  The short printed cards fell into three categories - "Superstar" (gold facsimile signature), "Big Star" (holographic foil text) and "All Star" (different card design).  I had still needed 16 of these and Dan was able to locate 15 of them!  So I'm down to only needing one card to complete the set.  Dan sent me six "Superstar" cards, three "Big Star" cards and six "All Star" cards.  Instead of showing all the cards he sent me I'm just going to show one of each type:

#SBC01-113 (Superstar card of Tae-Kyun Kim)

#SBC01-072 (Big Star card of Jung-Kwan Park)

#SBC01-089 (All Star card of Jong-Ho Kim)
The final cards Dan found for me were the last five cards I needed to complete my 2016-17 Black Edition base set.  Here's one of them:

#SBCBK-103-N (A-Seop Son)
My "modern" (post 2014) KBO want list is now down to just that one 2014 Season One short print (#SBC01-001 Sok-Min Park) thanks to Dan's efforts.  So thanks Dan!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

BBM Pennant Winning Team Sets From The 1990's

In 1995 the Orix Blue Wave won the Pacific League Pennant for the first time since the franchise had been purchased from Hankyu after the 1988 season and relocated to Kobe in 1991.  It was the first pennant for the franchise since 1984.  In January of 1995 the Kansei region had been rocked by the Great Hanshin Earthquake which had its epicenter near Kobe.  The success of the Blue Wave that season helped rally the people of Kobe during their recovery.

Late in the season BBM issued a 40 card box set for the team.  This would be the first time that the company would issue a box set for a pennant winner.  At this point in time BBM had only done one or two team box sets - both for the Hanshin Tigers (one in 1994 and the other in 1995 although I don't know if it was issued before the Orix set).  I believe although I don't know for certain that BBM issued the set before the end of the regular season.  Orix ended up winning the pennant by 12 games over second place Lotte so it was probably pretty apparent by say August or September that they were going to win the pennant.

As I mentioned, the set contained 40 cards.  All 40 cards were base set cards - there were no inserts, parallels, autographs or memorabilia cards.  The first 30 cards in the set were the "regular" player cards and include Ichiro, So Taguchi, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Satoshi Nakajima, Akinobu Okada, Nobuyuki Hoshino, Masumi Hirai, Koji Noda, Troy Neel and Doug Jennings along with manager Akira Ohgi.  10 of these cards had gold facsimile autographs on the front (Yasuo Fujii, Hagegawa, Hoshino, Nakajima, Noda, Hirofumi Ogawa, Yoshinori Satoh, Ichiro, Taguchi and Satoshi Takahashi.


The backs of the cards are a bit unusual for BBM in that they have a big picture of the player:

#27 (So Taguchi)
The remaining 10 cards in the set were broken into several subsets.  Cards 31 & 32 feature multiple players.  Card #31 has Ichiro and Taguchi on it and is called "Blue Thunder".  Card #32 is called "Blue Wave Fireman" and has Masafumi Hirai and Takahito Nomura on it.

Cards 33-37 feature the "Best" players on the team.  Ichiro has three of these cards "Best Hitter", "Best Baserunner" and "Best Defense".  The other two are Koji Noda ("Best Starter") and Masafumi Hirai ("Best Reliever").

  The last three cards in the set are for the mascot Neppie (#38), Orix's home park of Green Stadium Kobe (#39) and the "Electric" (kira) card of Ichiro that's labelled "The Natural" (#40).


If you've been counting along at home you'll have come to the realization that there are six Ichiro cards in the set.

5000 of these sets were made.  Apparently these sets were so popular with Orix fans that BBM ended up issuing a second 40 card box set for the team.  I don't know for certain but I think that the first 30 cards in the second set (known as "Orix Team Set II") are identical to the corresponding cards in the first set except that the players' names are in red instead of gold (don't know about the facsimile signatures).  I think (although again I don't know for sure) that cards 31-38 of the later set featured the "Team Leaders" in a number of categories.  Card #39 was for the "Moment Of Victory" when the Blue Wave actually clinched the pennant and card #40 was another Ichiro card labelled "The Natural" (although featuring a different photo and no kira finish).  The second set has five total Ichiro cards.

Orix ultimately lost the Nippon Series that season to the Yakult Swallows but bounced back in 1996 to defeat the Yomiuri Giants for the franchises most recent Nippon Series Championship.

Lightening struck again for BBM in 1998.  The Yokohama Baystars won the Central League pennant for the first time since 1960 when they were the Taiyo Whales and played in Kawasaki.  BBM again issued a 40 card box set (called "Get The Flag!") and again I think it was published before the end of the regular season (although the race was much closer than the 1995 PL race - the Baystars ended the season only four games ahead of the second place Chunichi Dragons).  As in 1995 the run of 5000 box sets sold out quickly and BBM ended up issuing a second set - this time the print run was 10,000.

In this case I have the second set instead of the first so I'll describe it first and then talk about the differences between it and the first set.  I will mention that the first set is numbered YB1 to YB40 while the second set is numbered YB41 to YB80 - this is not how the Orix sets were done.  Both of those sets were numbered 1-40.

Like the Orix sets, the 40 cards in these sets contained only base cards - no inserts, parallels, autographed or memorabilia cards.  The first 31 cards in the set are cards for manager Hiroshi Gondoh and various Baystars players including Kazuhiro Sasaki, Daisuke Miura, Tajuro Ishii, Motonobu Tanishige, Norihiro Komada, Bobby Rose, Takanori Suzuki and Takashi Saitoh.




The next six cards in the set contain members of the 1960 Taiyo Whales - manager Osamu Mihara and players Noburo Akiyama, Kiyoshi Doi, Akihito Kondoh, Kazuhiko Kondoh and Takeshi Kuwata.  All the cards are black and white with a bit of a sepia tinge.


The final three cards in the set are entitled "Baystars Returned Glory!" and feature scenes from the Baystars' pennant clinching victory on October 8, 1998.  There's one card showing the traditional doage for Gondoh, a card showing Tanishige and I think Sasaki embracing after the last out and a card showing the players saluting their fans. 

The first set also featured 31 player cards.  As far as I can tell, the cards look almost exactly the same except that the original cards featured full bleed photos while the cards in the second set were white bordered.  The names on the cards in the first set are in gold while they are in silver in the second set.  The player cards in the second set also feature a silver "V" that is not on the ones in the first set.

The final nine cards in the first set are completely different than the final nine cards in the second set.  There's three multi-player cards but only the first one of these feature players on the 1998 team - Sasaki, Rose and Suzuki.  The other two cards have former Yokohama players - one has Akio Saitoh and Kazuhiko Endoh while the other features Daisuke Yamashita and Tomio Tashiro.  The next three cards feature "Memorable Moments" from 1998 and the final three cards all feature Sasaki.

The Baystars went on to defeat the Lions in the Nippon Series that year.  It was the last time that they made the Series until last fall.

As always, Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card and Price Guide - 7th Edition" was invaluable in researching this topic.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Card Of The Week March 4

Southern Thunder, the Australian National Baseball Team, took on Samurai Japan, the Japanese National Baseball Team, in two games this week.  Japan won 2-0 yesterday in Nagoya and won again 6-0 today in Osaka.  I haven't been able to find any box scores on line but I think Shogo Akiyama was one of the stand outs in both games.  He singled in the sixth inning yesterday and scored the first run on Yuki Yanagita's double.  Not completely sure how well he did today but he had two RBIs, hit a triple and scored at least one run.  He was on the podium with Takehiro Norimoto as the "Heroes Of The Game" after today's game (Yanagita was the Hero yesterday).  Here's a card of Akiyama from last fall's Calbee Samurai Japan set:


2016 BBM Rookie Edition Premium

BBM has issued a "Rookie Edition Premium" box set in the fall of every year since 2007.  It features 36 players (3 per team) that are the rookies (well really draft picks from the previous year) who had had the best season.  The set used to have 48 cards - the extra 12 cards were an additional card for one player from each team - but has been down to 36 cards the past three seasons.  As you'd expect from a BBM box set - each set contains a couple "premium" insert cards including possible autograph cards.  And as you'd expect from the "Premium" title the unopened sets are pretty pricey. 

This is not normally a set that I pick up - it's kind of a high end set and I typically don't like the designs of the high end sets.  And since I get the Rookie Edition, 1st and 2nd Version and all the team sets each year it just seems kind of redundant to get this set as well.  But for the third time in as many years I had a seller on Yahoo! Japan Auctions include a bonus set with something else that I won - I discovered that there was a 2016 Rookie Edition Premium set included with my 2018 Rookie Edition set

As I described above, the 2016 Rookie Edition Premium has three cards for each team.  The three cards are for the three players who were taken in the fall 2015 draft who (in BBM's opinion anyway) had the best 2016 seasons (at least up until the time the set went to press which is probably end of August/beginning of September).  This is not necessarily the top three picks in the draft for each team - there's a fourth round pick (Hiroto Fuku of the Dragons) and two fifth round picks (Ryoma Nishikawa of the Carp and Yasuhiro Yamamoto of the Giants) include in the set.  The big names in the set are Shun Takayama, Louis Okoye, Eigoro Mogi, Masataka Yoshida, Shinnosuke Ogasawara, Junpei Takahashi and Shota Imanaga.




They're nice looking cards and I'm certainly happy to have them for free.  I'm not sure that I'm going to go out of my way to get the set again though.

You can see all the cards for yourself over at Jambalaya.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

2018 BBM Rookie Edition

Rookie Edition, BBM's annual draft pick set, was released a few weeks back.  It contains 126 cards, 114 of which are the players who were taken in last October's NPB draft.  As always, the photos of the players were taken at the press conferences that each team has over the winter to introduce the players to the fans and as always the photos are remarkably monotonous.  The big names in the set (so far anyway) are Kotaro Kiyomiya of the Fighters and Shosei Nakamura of the Carp.  The players are framed in a pentagon this year which continues the sequence of geometric figures started with circles in the 2016 edition and triangles in the 2017 edition.




I need to point out that this set includes the players taken in both the regular draft and the ikusei draft - the ikusei players will probably not show up in any other sets this year.

I didn't realize this until the set came out but BBM did "secret" versions of all 12 1st round draft pick cards.  Unlike the "secret" versions of the cards in last year's 1st and 2nd Version and Fusion sets which featured more interesting pictures than the original cards, these "secret" versions just show a different boring posed photo than the original card.  I decided to pass on them, especially when I saw the prices that Jambalaya is charging for them - 2500 yen for the Kiyomiya card alone which is almost what I paid for the entire regular set.

The remaining 12 cards in the set is the "Early Days" subset.  This subset features one OB player from each franchise (Kintetsu is represented instead of Rakuten).  The photo for each player are apparently from their rookie season - the photo of Atsunori Inaba looks like it's from the Swallows' rookie player press conference in the winter of 1994-95.  I've no idea why any of these players were included in this subset - my bet is simply to provide OB players to have autographs in the set.

I complain about this set every year and yet I still buy it - this is the one set that's really driven by the players.  The problem is - you don't know who the interesting players are going to be for a couple years.  As I keep saying, this set would be a lot better if BBM showed the players in their college/high school/industrial league/independent minor league team uniform rather their new NPB team's.  Here's some place where Epoch could really give BBM a run for their money.

Ryan did a post on this set a few weeks back where he gets into the parallels, inserts and autograph cards.  And as always you can see all the cards (including the "secret" versions and the inserts) at Jambalaya.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Epoch To BBM - It's On

That loud thud you heard from Japan today was Epoch throwing the gauntlet down at BBM.  Epoch has announced that they are doing their first "flagship" set ever (unless you want to count their 2000 Pro-Baseball Sticker set).  The set is called NPB Pro Baseball and it will have a base set of 432 cards - 60 more than BBM's 1st Version set.  There don't appear to be any subsets so the base set will have 36 cards per team (assuming that the set is spilt evenly between all 12 teams which is typical of most NPB sets) - that's nine more cards per team than 1st Version.  This will include the manager, rookies and the "main players".  There are four types of parallels - 72 cards will have a "kira" parallel, 60 cards will have a "silver foil" parallel, 24 cards will have a "hologram foil" parallel and 36 cards will have a "holospectra" parallel.  I think there's actually three different varieties of the "holospectra" parallels - emerald, sapphire and ruby (I think).  I'm not sure if any of the parallels are serially numbered.  There are no autograph or memorabilia cards associated with the set.  The cards will be sold in boxes containing 24 packs - each pack will contain 12 cards so each box will have 288 cards.  Each pack will contain one of the parallels and I think will contain one card per team.  Boxes have an MSRP of 9,072 yen.  (As a point of comparison, a box of 1st Version has an MSRP of 6,480 yen and contains 200 cards including possible autograph and memorabilia cards.)  The set will be out on May 26th.

This set is significant because it's the first serious competitor to BBM's annual flagship set(s) since probably the Tomy sets of 1993-94.  You could maybe consider the Upper Deck issues of 2000-01 but those were relatively small (the largest of their four sets had a 180 card base set).  (This is not to diss Calbee - I love Calbee but if you think of the recent Japanese card market as being similar to the US market in the 1970's, Calbee plays the Kelloggs/Hostess role to BBM's Topps role.)

In addition, Epoch also announced their second somewhat reasonably priced team set for this year - the Lions "Rookies & Stars" set.  Like the Carp set I mentioned last week, this set is being sold in boxes of 20 5 card packs for an MSRP of 8,640 yen.  The base set is 90 cards and 13 cards have two possible parallels I think - sapphire and ruby foil.  There's two nine card insert sets that are serially numbered - a gold holospectra set and a silver holospectra set.  There are 8 rookie autographs and 27 non-rookie autographs available.  The fact that there's 8 rookie autographs is significant - you only get 8 rookies with the Lions if you count the two ikusei players they took in the draft last fall.  That implies that the set will include the ikusei players which (to me anyway) implies that Epoch really is taking on BBM in the comprehensive team sets this year.  (The Carp set only has six rookie autographs so it will not have autographs of the three ikusei players taken in the draft.)  The set will be released on April 14th.

It will be interesting to see as the year progresses whether Epoch will do a "Rookies & Stars" set for each of the 12 NPB teams.  So far they haven't announced a set for anyone that they didn't do a team set for last year.  If they do a set for Orix, Lotte, Nippon-Ham or Rakuten I'd start thinking they really are going to challenge BBM on the big team sets as well as the flagship set.

I'm excited about Epoch making this challenge to BBM simply because I feel that BBM's offerings have gotten very stale the past few years - kind of like Topps did in the late 1970's.  Some serious competition will hopefully light a fire under their creative juices.

Besides these two sets from Epoch, there have been several other new sets announced in the last week or so:

- BBM's first two pack-based team sets were announced recently.  They are for the Swallows and Marines.  The base set for each set will be 81 cards.  The Swallows set is not broken down by subset but the Marines set will have 69 "regular" cards for the manager and players, four "First Impact" cards, a "Road to 2000" card (for Kazuya Fukuura I assume), three "U20 Shining" cards and four "Hot Shots" cards.  The Swallows set will have 27 insert cards - 18 of these are unspecified while the other 9 are "Phantom" cards.  The Marines set will have 30 insert cards - 9 "Jet Sream", 9 "Front Runner" and 12 "Phantom".  Both sets also have a variety of autographed cards available.  They will both be released in early April.

- BBM's annual "Icons" box set is back this year and is called "Fanfare".  I'm not quite sure of the significance of the name but each box contains 37 cards - the 36 card base set plus one "special" card.  I assume the base set has three cards per team but I don't know that for sure.  The base set contains the two top rookies from last fall's draft - Kotaro Kiyomiya of the Fighters and Shosei Nakamura of the Carp - as well as Daisuke Matsuzaka's first card with the Dragons.  The "special" card could possibly be a facsimile autograph parallel card, a die-cut card or an autographed card.  The set will be out in late March.

- I mentioned a few months back that there were a number of team anniversaries this year that I was wondering if BBM would do sets for.  Well, they're doing at least one of them - the Hawks 80th Anniversary set will be released at the end of March.  This will be a pack-based set with a 90 card base set.  The 90 cards break down into 9 "Hawks History" cards, 48 cards of OB Hawks players (which I assume will include former Hawks playing for other teams) and 33 cards of active Hawks players.  There will be two nine card insert sets - "Fukuoka Hawks Legends" and "The Hawks Dynasty" and a plethora of autograph cards - including cards of former Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh.

- Epoch is also doing a team anniversary set.  This one is called "Legends Of Yokohama" and celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the then Taiyo Whales moving south from Kawasaki to Yokohama in time for the 1978 season.  The set is actually subtitled "Yokohama Stadium 40th Anniversary".  This is one of Epoch's high end sets - each box retails for 14,040 yen and contains only (I think) six cards - I think it's three regular cards, one parallel card and two autograph cards.  The base set has 24 cards in it and there are parallels of 12 of them.  There are six different types of autograph card for each player in the base set.  The set will be released on March 31.

- Hits has announced a third "Mini Color Paper" team set for this year - this one is for the Carp.  There are 14 players represented in the set and each player has two versions of a "card" - a "normal mini colored paper" and a "gold foil signed special mini colored paper".  The set hits the shelves on April 27th.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Card Of The Week February 25

Shohei Ohtani made his spring training debut with the Angels yesterday.  It wasn't a great outing - he gave up two runs on two hits and one walk while striking out two in 1 1/3 innings pitched - 31 pitches total.  One of the runs was unearned but the other one scored on a long home run by Keon Baxter.  It'll be interesting to see how he does in his next outing - probably next weekend.  He's expected to make his batting debut sometime this week.

I'd been seeing this oddball Ohtani card on Ebay for a little while and I finally picked one up a few weeks back.  Here's the front and back of the card:

This is a card issued by BBM that apparently ties into a charity called the Fighters Foundation which I assume is an charity with ties to the team.  I did some searching on the Fighters' website but I didn't find anything relating to the card specifically.   I did find an item from December of 2016 that the photo on the back is from - it looks like Ohtani along with several other players including Sho Nakata and manager Hideki Kuriyama appeared on Hokkaido Cultural Broadcasting (UHB) TV to read storybooks.  I suspect the text on the back has something to do with this since I see "UHB" in the middle of it.  The uniform was worn by the Fighters in early 2017 so the card must have been released after that.  The design of the card is very similar to BBM's Fighters team set from last year.  There's no card number so I don't know if there are any other cards like it.

More Cards From Alex

I got another package of vintage cards from Alex a few weeks back.  Alex - who lives in the UK - had offered to send me a bunch of old cards in exchange for me acting as a proxy for him to order cards from Sportslots - basically he would order the cards and have them shipped to me and I would forward them on to him once I received everything he ordered.  It was a sizable lot of cards that he sent me so as always I feel like I still owe him.

First up from what he sent me were six cards from the 1962 JGA 146 "Tassel Playing Cards" set.  This set was basically a set of playing cards that each featured a different player.  Each card had a clothe tassel tied off through a hole the upper right hand corner of the card like so:

Yoshinori Hirose
All the cards have identical backs so you could actually use the complete set as a deck of cards:

Here's the other cards from this set that Alex sent me:

Yoshio Kitagawa

Kimitaka Sugimoto

Kohei Sugiyama

Masataka Tsuchiya

Award Plaque
I do want to point out that just because all the Swallows cards I have are 6's and both Hawks cards I have are 10's, that doesn't mean all the Swallows cards are 6's and all the Hawks cards are 10's and vice versa.  The Six Of Diamonds is Kihachi Enomoto of the Orions and the Ten Of Clubs is Wally Yonamine of the Dragons.

Next we have another card of Kohei Sugiyama of the Hawks, this time from the 1959 Marukami JCM 14b set:

Here's three cards from the 1979 Takara Carp set:

Tomohiro Kaneda

Yoshiaki Oka

Hidetaka Watanabe
The rest of the cards sent me were all bromides.

This is a 1950 Yamakatsu JBR41 card of Masakazu Kato of the Kintetsu Pearls.  Kato only played two years in NPB - he played for Kintetsu's first two seasons in 1950 and 51.  His brother Haruo was the team's captain.

This is a bromide of pitcher Takashi Eda of Goldstar which based on the uniform is probably from either 1946 or early 1947.  I have another card from the same uncatalogued set of another Goldstar player Isao Tsuji.

I think that these next two cards are also from around 1946-47 based on the fact that they show two members of the Kinki Great Ring which is the name that the team that's now the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks went by those two seasons.  They both appear to be uncatalogued.  The first card is Hall Of Fame manager Kazuto Tsuruoka (who went by the name Kazuto Yamamoto at the time).  The other card I think is Naofumi Yasui who had an 11 year career with the Hawks, Whales and Unions between 1943 and 1955 (he missed two seasons due to the war).

I haven't been able to figure out ANYTHING about this next card.  All I can tell you is the player is a right handed pitcher.  The text is hard to make out and I can't figure out what uniform the player is wearing either.

I'm mostly stumped by this next card as well.  I think that the team is the Kinki Great Ring (it's written out in parentheses in the middle of the text on the bottom of the card.  But I'm not sure of the text on either side of the team name.  This might be Kiyoharu Sakata who was one of the team's catchers in 1947.  The kanji doesn't really match though.  If it is Sakata then the card is from 1947 - it was the only year he played for Kinki.  I think the card is uncatalogued - Engel's listing for the 1947 JBR 36 "Team Nickname in Parentheses" set lists a card for Sakata that's described as "catcher squatting" but I'm not convinced that this card is that one.

Next up is another catcher that I'm not sure of the identity of.  The team at least is obvious and the design of the uniform places the photo from 1948.  I can't quite match the player's name however.  Only one of the large kanji characters is the player's name - the other two (the two on the bottom) say "catcher".  I think this is Shigejiro Kanbayashi because he's the only guy who caught in any games by the Dragons in 1948 who has that kanji in his name - although it's the second kanji for his last name.  The card appears to be uncatalogued.  Kanbayashi only spent 7 seasons in pro ball from 1947 through 1953 with the Dragons, Flyers and Orions.  Between playing several years in the corporate leagues after graduating from Meiji University and (I assume) the war, he didn't debut with the Dragons until he was 30 years old.  He became a politician after he retired.

This next card may be from the same uncatalogued set as the last one although they aren't quite the same size.  I'm pretty sure that this one is Shoji Kato of the Kyuei Flyers.  Kato only played for the Flyers in 1948 so again that helps date the card.  Kato entered signed with the Dragons in 1939 out of Chuo University.  He had three separate stints with the team - 1939, 1943-44 and 1946-47 - I assume the time between each stint was spent with the military.  After playing for the Stars in 1948 he spent the last four years of his career with the Stars.  He became coach of the Chuo University baseball team after he retired and tragically passed away of liver cancer in 1958 at the age of 44.

This card is of Hall Of Fame pitcher Takehiko Bessho.  The uniform in the photo was worn by the Hawks from 1947 to 1949 but Bessho had left Nankai after 1948 so the card must be from 1947 or 1948.  Once again the card appears to be from an uncatalogued set.

Engel lists a couple mid 1950's sets in the bromide section of the guide that are essentially transitions to the "tobacco menko" sets of the late 50's/early 60's.  These sets are roughly the same size as the menko (1 3/4 inches wide by 3 inches high) and have menko-ish fronts.  On the other hand they are blank backed and lack the typical menko card decorations (random numbers, rock-paper-scissor symbols, etc).  I think this next card is from one of these sets although it may be uncatalogued.  The player is Masayoshi Miura of the Daiei Stars who only played for the Stars in 1956 - he lead the Pacific League in wins that year with 29, over half of the 57 wins the 7th place (out of 8 teams) Stars had that year.  This card could be from the JBR 17 set but Engel lists that set as a 1957 set - not that they couldn't have used a 1956 photo in a 1957 set.  The Stars merged with the 8th place Takahashi Unions in 1957 to become the Daiei Unions - Miura followed up his Victory Leader season by leading the PL in losses in 1957 with 21 for the team which finished last in its sole season before merging with the Mainichi Orions.

These next two cards are also "tobacco menko" sized but based on the uniforms shown in the photos they're from a few years earlier than the other "transitional" sets.  The Giants uniform was used from 1951-52 and the Dragons uniform was used from 1952-53 so it would place the photos from 1952 obviously.  There's no text on the cards but I think the Giants player is Hideo Fujimoto and the Dragons player is Michio Nishizawa, both Hall of Famers.

I'm almost positive that this next card is of Tsutomu Wakamatsu of the then-Yakult Atoms.  This is the uniform that Yakult wore between 1971 and 1973 and it looks like the uniform number is "1" which Wakamatsu wore in 1972-73 (and no one wore for the Swallows in 1971).  But that's about all I know about this card.  It's blank backed and a little large than the standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 card size.  It looks like it could have been created by either Mel Bailey or Ed Broder but I know nothing about anything that either of them did that this could be from.

I saved the best two cards for last.  Alex sent me not one but TWO cards of Hall Of Famer Victor Starffin.  On this first card Starffin is wearing a Pacific uniform which is the name that the team that was later known as the Robins went by in 1946.  The photo itself is a recrop of the card that Engel uses as a sample for the 1947 Marutoku B&W bromide set (JBR 73).  But the example card has white text as opposed to the black text on this card and this card is a little larger (1 3/4 inches by 2 11/16 inches) than the JBR 73 cards.  So I'm guessing that this is from an uncatalogued set from either 1946 or 1947 (JBR 73 shows photos of players in their 1946 uniforms).

The other Starffin card is a little easier.  There were several sets issued by Marutoku in 1950 and 1951 that used this design.  The sets were issued in different sizes.  Of course this particular card is 2 1/8 inches by 3 inches which doesn't match the set description for any of the sets Engel lists although he points out that "checklists for many companion series are unavailable".  So my bet is that this is from one of those other sets.  The uniform that Starffin is wearing was worn by the Daiei Stars from 1951-54 so I'd go with 1951 as the year of the card.

My thanks to Alex for sending me all these great cards!  If anyone recognizes any of the cards I couldn't identify or sees that I'm wrong about something I've written here, please let me know.