Sunday, July 22, 2018

Card Of The Week July 22

Just to keep the Korean theme going...

Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo last week became the third Korean baseball player to appear in the MLB All Star game (H/T KBO Reddit), following Chan-Ho Park in 2001 and Byung-Hyun Kim in 2002.  Coincidentally both Park and Kim ended up in NPB in 2011 with Park going 1-5 with the Orix Buffaloes while Kim spent the entire season (or whatever portion of it he spent in Japan) with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles' farm team.  Here are cards of both players:

2011 Calbee #106

2011 BBM 1st Version #146
Like Choo both Park and Kim had bypassed the KBO and signed with MLB teams directly.  Both of them ended up in the KBO in 2012 with Park joining the Hanwha Eagles and Kim joining the Nexen Heroes.  Park retired after 2012 but Kim spent three more seasons playing in Korea - one more with Nexen and two with the Kia Tigers.

More New Korean Sets

While I'm on the topic of KBO sets, there's a couple new and recently released items of note.

- Dan Skrezyna is issuing two new sets under his "Vittum" label.  The first is the next edition of his "Foreign Attack" set and features all the foreign players in the KBO last season (2017).  The set will have 39 cards in all - 37 cards of foreign players (and SK Wyverns manager Trey Hillman) plus a "League Leader" card and a checklist.  The other set is "KBO Home Run Kings" and features the top 10 home run leaders from 2017.  This set includes both foreign and Korean players.  The set has 11 cards - the ten players plus a checklist.  Both sets have a total print run of 25.  Dan tells me that he's only sold around half the sets so if you're interested, contact him via his website.  The cost is $25 for all 50 cards (not sure if that's just the US price or if overseas shipping would cost more).  The sets should be shipping soon.  The checklists for both sets (Foreign Attack and KBO Home Run Kings) are available at TradingCardDB.com although there are no card images loaded yet.  Like the SCC set, these are considered 2017 sets despite the fact that they're published in 2018.  Here's the sample images Dan provided:




The other item is the latest release from SCC which has been out for a little but and it's a 2018 issue this time.  It's a 220 "card" sticker set called "KBO All Star Stickers".  There are 22 stickers per team with six stickers being either "RARE" (looks like they've got foil lettering) or "HOLO" (the usual "holographic" finish).  Each card features only a head shot of the player and the backs are all identical as there's a companion book that the stickers are meant to be put into.  This reminds quite a bit of the 2000 Epoch Pro Baseball NPB sticker set.  I'm not much for "mug shot" sets so I think I'm going to pass on this one.  Dan says he's heard the collation is terrible - he's knows someone who bought ten boxes but is still short some cards.  Not sure how many cards are in a box but that's got to be pretty frustrating.  The checklist (with images) is available at TradingCardDB.com.

2017* SCC KBO Set

In April of this year a company called SCC (Sports Collector Card) issued the first official KBO set since the 2016-17 Black Edition set from SMG/Ntreev Duael back in early 2017.  Despite the set being issued this year it is considered a set for the 2017 season.  All the players in it were active in the KBO last season so none of the players who were in MLB in 2017 and returned to the KBO this season are included.  Also as usual no foreign players were included.

I had resisted buying any boxes of the set when it was released as it was priced just a bit higher than I was willing to spend on unopened KBO cards (I have a big vacation coming up in September so money's been a little tighter than usual this year).  But Dan Skrezyna managed to put together a complete base set for me and I got it in the mail last week.

The base set is 224 cards which is almost 100 cards largest than the largest base set from any of SMG's offerings.  For the first time in "modern" KBO card history (since SMG's first set in 2014) the cards are not split up evenly between all 10 teams.  Each team has anywhere between 20 and 24 cards.  The cards are numbered by team only.

I think the one drawback in issuing a set for 2017 in 2018 is that it apparently prevents players who retired at the end of last season (Lee Seung-Yuop) or switched teams in the offseaon (Choi Jeon-Suk) from being in the set.  I don't know enough about the KBO to know if there are any other glaring omissions in the player selection for the set.  It includes several players who have played in MLB and NPB like Lee Dae-Ho, Lim Chang-Yong, Kim Tae-Kyun and Lee Bum-Ho.  It also includes stars like Choi Jeong and Son Ah-Seop. 

The cards themselves are fairly attractive.  I really like the fact that they have player's name in English on them.  They have a matte finish that reminds me of some of Fleer's issues from the mid to late 1990's.  The photos are all pretty attractive and feature a decent assortment of action shots.  Here's some examples:

#SCC-01-SS15/N

#SCC-01-HH13/N

#SCC-01-NX09/N

#SCC-01-KT06/N

#SCC-01-LT15/N

#SCC-01-SK11/N

#SCC-01-NC14/N

#SCC-01-KA02/N

#SCC-01-DS11/N

#SCC-01-LG11/N
It was kind of bothering me that the card design looked kind of familiar.  I finally figured it out yesterday - it's very similar to the 2016 Topps design:


Dan did a post on the set back when it came out that details all the aspects of the set - parallels, autographs and memorabilia cards - as well as his card breakdown after opening four boxes.  He's also added all the base set cards and many of the other cards for the set over at TradingCardDB.com.

I like this set a lot.  I'll be interested in seeing what the next SCC card set looks like.

And I want to thank Dan for all his work in getting a base set together for me.  I really appreciate it!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

New Vintage Price Guide Available

The latest edition of Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist & Price Guide" is now available.  This is the Second Vintage Edition and covers baseball cards from 1929 to 1990.  This edition is ONLY available as a pdf file.  The file itself is $25 - you can either download the file directly (Prestige Collectibles will send you a link to download the file from wetransfer.com) or for an extra $3.50 they'll send you a thumb drive containing the file.

I downloaded the file today and it's great.  It's the first guide to be in full color and being able to search it is fantastic.  One of the things that I like is that Gary added information about sets that he doesn't feel he has seen enough cards to create a checklist.  You get a description and a sample card for the set though so you can see if a previously uncataloged card you have fits.  And I've already downloaded it to my iPad so the next time I'm in Biblio I won't be fumbling with a book (especially since my copy of the First Vintage Edition is falling apart).

There's more details (along with the ordering information) here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Card Of The Week July 15

It was All Star Weekend the past couple days when NPB put on their All Star games.  Thursday was the Fresh All-Star Game which is the All Star game for the farm teams.  Friday and Saturday were the games that everyone thinks of when they hear "All Star Game".  Friday's game was in Osaka at the home of the Buffaloes and was won by the Pacific League 7-6.  Saturday's game was played in Kumamoto and was also won by the Pacific League, this time with a score of 5-1.

NPB's version of the Home Run Derby took place before each game.  Eight players were selected to participate - four on each day.  On Friday Masataka Yoshida of the Buffaloes went head-to-head with Tetsuto Yamada of the Swallows and Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh of the Baystars went up against Sho Nakata of the Fighters.  The winners of each matchup would then go head-to-head with each other to determine the day's winner.  On Saturday Hotoka Yamakawa of the Lions went head-to-head with Seiya Suzuki of the Carp and Yuki Yanagita of the Swallows went head-to-head with Wladimir Balentien of the Swallows.  Again the winners of each match up would go head-to-head with each other to determine the day's winner and then Friday's winner would go up against Saturday's winner to determine the overall Derby winner.

Each player has three minutes to hit as many home runs as he can.

Yoshida kicked things off with an impressive outing in his home ballpark on Friday, hitting 12 home runs to easily outpace Yamada who only had five.  Tsutsugoh easily defeated Nakata as well, 9 to 2.  In the day's final Yoshida again put on an impressive display with another 10 home runs but Tsutsugoh blew him out of the water with an amazing 14 to take Friday's crown.  Tsutsugoh followed the performance up with a home run during the actual game as well.

On Saturday both Suzuki and Balentien eaked out narrow wins over Yamakawa and Yanagita by a score of seven to sixscores of seven and eleven to six and ten respectively.  Balentien then defeated Suzuki in the day's final by a score of seven to six again.  In the overall final Balentien again hit seven home runs but Tsutsugoh took the title with eight home runs.

Here are the videos for both day's Derbys:




Here's Tsutsugoh's rookie card from the 2010 BBM 1st Version set (#212):


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Releases

There's been several new sets announced recently -

- The second of BBM's two annual cheerleader/dance squad sets - "Dancing Heroine - Mai" - will be out by the end of the month (Jambalaya's calendar says July 20th).  Like the earlier "Hana" edition this is a pack-based set with around 90 cards in the base set.  The set features members from the dance teams for all the teams except Orix, DeNA and the Carp (who actually don't have cheerleaders).  There are nine insert cards of an unspecified nature (and I assume that there's one per team) plus autograph cards and "cheki".

- BBM's annual high end set - Genesis - will be out in late September.  The base set will be the usual 108 player cards (9 per team) plus 12 team checklists but this is completely incidental - no one buys Genesis for the base set (except me last year).  Each of the player cards will have parallel versions although they aren't specified on BBM's website - they're usually some sort of color thing on the front of the card.  There are three 12 cards "High Grade" insert sets with each card being serially numbered to 50 - "Elite Of Nine" (some sort of plastic card), "Cross Universe" (holographic processing?) and "Game Changer" (some sort of 3D card using three separate images).  The main draw of Genesis is the memorabilia/autograph cards and this set has them in abundance as usual - including jersey cards featuring two or three players.  Each box contains 20 packs containing five cards each and retails for 12,000 yen (~$107).  Each box is guaranteed to contain one memorabilia/autograph card.

- Epoch is putting out a couple new ultra high end sets.  The "Swallows Stars & Legends" set will be out on July 21st.  Each box contains I think just six cards, retails for 13,600 yen (~$120) and is guaranteed to contain two or more autograph cards.  The base set contains 45 cards - 27 current Swallows players (well 26 and a card of both Norichika Aoki and Tetsuto Yamada) and 18 OB Swallows players.  Each card in the base set has a parallel version and I believe that each card except the afore mentioned Aoki/Yamada card has five different autograph versions.  The Aoki/Yamada one apparently has just one autographed version.

- Epoch's other new ultra high end set is called "Pacific League Rookie Card Set" and it will be released on August 11th.  This is actually a box set - each 10,000 yen (~$88) box contains the entire 39 card base set plus one parallel card and one autographed card.  The parallel card is either a gold or "holo" facsimile autograph parallel.  The autograph card is one of two versions for each card - a vertical "holo" signed card or a horizontal silver signed card.  The base set features all 39 of the non-ikusei 2017 draft picks of the Pacific League teams - obviously the 39 cards do not split evenly between the six teams.

- Hits is putting out yet another "Mini Color Paper" set.  This is another team set for the Baystars called "Baystars - Fierce Battle 2018".  There are 15 players in the set who each have two "cards" each - a "normal" version and a "gilded print sign" version.  The set will be out on August 25th.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Card Of The Week July 8

Haven't done an Ohtani card for a while so I thought I'd share one to celebrate his return from the disabled list last week.  Unfortunately for me he returned two games after I saw the Angels in Baltimore on June 30th.

2017 BBM Fighters #F79

Study Abroad - Yomiuri, Miami and Visalia

The Yomiuri Giants were another team that sent players to play in the North American minor leagues in the 1980's.  The Giants sent a total of 13 players over between 1987 and 1989.  The first two years of this period the Giants sent their players to the Miami Marlins who were an independent team in the Class A Florida State League (remember that the MLB Marlins wouldn't start play until 1993).  During the final year of this period the Giants apparently had some sort of working agreement in place with the Minnesota Twins as their players spent the season with the Twins' Class A California League affiliate in Visalia, California - the Visalia Oaks.

There were team sets issued for all three teams and almost all the Giants players had baseball cards.  The Marlins sets were issued by ProCards (1987) and Star (1988).  The Oaks had two sets in 1989 - Cal League and ProCards.  I have images of the front and back of all the cards issued - I got them either from TradingCardDB.com. COMC, Ebay and my own collection.

Here's a summary of the 13 players and their NPB careers:

Name Teams Draft NPB Career
Shuji Inagaki 1987-88 Miami 1982 outside draft Giants 1983-89
Yasushi Matsubara 1987 Miami 1985 outside draft Giants 1986-1991, Lions 1992
Hideto Matsuo 1987 Miami 1982 outside draft Giants 1983-89
Mamoru Sugiura 1987 Miami 6th round 1985 Giants 1986-91?
Masahito Watanabe 1987 Miami 3rd round 1985 Giants 1986-2000
Masao Kida 1988 Miami 1st round 1986 Giants 1987-97, BlueWave 1998, Tigers 1999-2000, BlueWave 2000-01, Dodgers 2003-04, Mariners 2004-05, Swallows 2006-09, Fighters 2010-12, Ishikawa 2013-14
Mitsuru Ogihara 1988 Miami 1987 outside draft Giants 1988-92
Motokuni Sano 1988 Miami 3rd round 1977 (Kintetsu) Buffaloes 1978-84, Giants 1985-89
Kanenori Tarumi 1988 Miami 4th round 1986 Giants 1987-89
Kenji Fujimoto 1989 Visalia 6th round 1984 Giants 1985-93
Koichi Ozawa 1989 Visalia 4th round 1987 Giants 1988-94
Kiyoshi Sagawa 1989 Visalia 3rd round 1988 Giants 1989-92, BlueWave 1993, Fighters 1994-95
Minoru Yojo 1989 Visalia 4th round 1988 Giants 1989-95, BlueWave 1995-98, Baystars 1999

Shuji Inagaki is the only one of the players to have spent two seasons in the US.  Inagaki has an odd background - if I'm understanding the Google Translation of his Japanese Wikipedia page, he dropped out of high school and played for the Tanaka Soil Basic Research Laboratory which I assume is a corporate league team.  He went undrafted in the 1982 NPB draft and ended up signing with the Giants afterwards.  He played in the Giants organization from 1983 to 1989 but never played for the ichi-gun team.  The only Japanese card of him that I know about is from the 1983 NST set and I don't have it.

1987 ProCards #722

1987 ProCards #722

1988 Star Miami #12

1988 Star Miami #12
Yasushi Matsubara went 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 games with Miami in 1987.  He joined the Giants as an undrafted player in 1985 from Takasaki Shinkin Bank - it's not clear to me from the translation of his Japanese Wikipedia article if the bank had a corporate league team or he was simply working for them.  He got into nine games with the ichi-gun Giants in 1988-89 and was traded to the Seibu Lions for Hirokazu Okada after the 1991 season.  He got into five games with the ichi-gun Lions in 1992 before retiring at the end of the season.  He's the only one of the Giants players who did not have a card in the 1987 ProCards Miami team set.  The only Japanese cards I know of for him are Takara issues from 1989-1992.

1991 Takara Giants #58 (Yasushi Matsubara)
Hideharu Matsuo got into 32 games with the 1987 Miami Marlins and went 4-4 with a 2.81 ERA.  Like Inagaki he signed with the Giants as an undrafted player in 1982, although he was signed after graduating from Yokohama Municipal Totsuka High School.  Also like Inagaki he spent his entire career on the Giants' farm team and retired after 1989.  And one more parallel to Inagaki - his sole Japanese baseball card is from the 1983 NST set - but this one I actually have:

1983 NST #237 (Hideharu Matsuo)

1987 ProCards #731

1987 ProCards #731

I don't know much about Mamoru Sugiura - he doesn't have a Japanese Wikipedia page.  From doing some looking around I've found that he was drafted in the sixth round of the 1986 draft and he played with the Giants at least until 1991.  He got into 66 games with the Marlins in 1987 and hit .200 with 2 home runs.  He never played for the ichi-gun Giants and I don't think he ever had a Japanese baseball card.

1987 ProCards #NNO

1987 ProCards #NNO
Masahito Watanabe spent 15 seasons in the Giants organization.  He was drafted as a pitcher in the third round of the 1985 draft out of Hoyang High School and made four starts with the 1987 Marlins, going 1-0 with a 3.57 ERA.  After he hurt his arm in the early 90's he converted to being a position player.  He finally debuted with the ichi-gun Giants in 1997 after 11 years in the organization and eventually got into 13 games with the top team over the next four seasons.  Baseball-Reference has his NPB stats on a separate page than his Miami stats.  He had a handful of Japanese cards that I know of - a 1991 Takara card plus BBM Giants team set cards from 1997-98 and 2000.

1997 BBM Giants #G84

1987 ProCards #721

1987 ProCards #721
Maso Kida is the biggest name of all the players the Giants sent to the US.  Kida was a workhorse for the 1988 Miami Marlins, going 7-17 with a 3.99 ERA.  His 27 starts were the most for any pitcher on the team.  Kida was the Giants top draft pick in 1986 out of Nichidai Meisei High School.  I did a post on him when he retired a few years back.  He played professionally for 28 years including two stints in the majors with three different teams (Tigers 1999-2000, Dodgers 2003-04, Mariners 2004-05) and couple years with the Ishikawa Million Stars of the independent Baseball Challenge League.  He has had many Japanese baseball cards.

1992 BBM #111

1988 Star Miami #14

1988 Star Miami #14
Mitsuru Ogihara is another player who the Giants signed outside of the draft.  He joined the team in 1987 after graduating from Tokai University.  I think he had arm surgery his senior year which is why he wasn't drafted.  He got into 45 games with the 1988 Marlins, going 1-4 with a 6.29 ERA.  He spent five seasons in the Giants organization but he only made two appearances with the ichi-gun team - both were 1992, his final year.  As far as I know he never had a Japanese baseball card.

1988 Star Miami #17

1988 Star Miami #17
Most of the players that the Giants sent to the US were in their late teens to mid-twenties.  But Motokunki Sano was 30 years old and had 10 years of professional baseball under his belt when he played for Miami in 1988.  Sano was a third round pick of the Kintetsu Buffaloes out of Yokohama High School in the 1977 draft and made his debut with the ichi-gun Buffaloes in 1979.  With Masataka Nashida and Shuzo Arita splitting the catching duties for the Buffaloes at this time, Sano spent most of his time with Kintetsu's farm team - he only got into 18 games with the top team between 1979 and 1984 and only had eight plate appearances in those games (and no hits!).  He was traded to the Giants after the 1984 season for Shoichi Shimanuki but his playing time didn't increase a whole lot - he only got into nine ichi-gun games between 1985 and 1986 although he finally got a handful of hits.  He got into 40 games with the Marlins and hit only .105.  He retired following the 1989 season and spent time as coach with Taiyo (1990-92) and the Giants (1993-96, 1998-00).  I only know of one Japanese card of him from his playing days - a 1985 Takara card - and one card of him from his coaching days - a 1998 BBM Giants card.  I don't have either of those but he also appeared in all three of BBM's sets for the "The Premium Malts" Old-timers games and I have all of them.

2009 BBM Premium Malts #51

1988 Star Miami #23

1988 Star Miami #23
Kanenori Tarumi was a fourth round pick of the Giants in the 1986 draft out of Yanagawa High School.  He spent three seasons with Yomiuri - all with the farm team.  He 3-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 35 games with the Marlins in 1988.  I don't know of any Japanese cards for him.

1988 Star Miami #11

1988 Star Miami #11
Kenji Fujimoto got into 60 games with the Visalia Oaks in 1989.  He hit .209 with one home run.  He was the Giants' sixth round pick in the 1984 draft out of Tokaidai Sagami High School.  His father Kensaku pitched in one game for the Giants in 1960 and later worked for the organization.  The younger Fujimoto played with the Giants from 1985 to 1993 and got into 48 games with the ichi-gun team between 1987 and 1991.  His only Japanese card that I know of is from the 1988 Takara set.

1988 Takara Giants #64 (Kenji Fujimoto)

1989 Cal League #116

1989 Cal League #116

1989 ProCards #1432

1989 ProCards #1432
Koichi Ozawa hit .286 with one home run in 24 games with Visalia in 1989.  He was drafted by Yomiuri in the fourth round of the 1987 draft from the Mitsubishi Motors Mizushima industrial league team.  He was in the Giants organization from 1988 to 1994 but only got into one game with the ichi-gun team (in 1993).  I don't think he ever had a Japanese baseball card.

1989 Cal League #114

1989 Cal League #114

1989 ProCards #1422

1989 ProCards #1422
Kiyoshi Sagawa was the Giants third round pick in the 1988 draft out of Akita Prefecture Kinpoku Agricultural School.  He got into 15 games with the Oaks and went 0-0 with a 7.59 ERA.  He spent four seasons in the Giants organization (1989-92), one with Orix (1993) and two with the Fighters (1994-95) but never got promoted from the farm team for any of the teams.  I don't think he has any Japanese baseball cards.

1989 Cal League #103

1989 Cal League #103

1989 ProCards #1434

1989 ProCards #1434
After Masao Kida, Minoru Yojoh probably had the most successful career of any of the players the Giants sent to the US.  Yojoh was the Giants fourth pick in the 1988 draft (out of Mitsubishi Motors Kawasaki of the industrial leagues) and spent eleven years in NPB.  He played in 64 games with Visalia in 1989 and hit .209 with no home runs.  He got into 144 games with the ichi-gun Giants between 1990 and 1993.  He was traded to the BlueWave in April of 1995 for Akiyoshi Sasaki and had his best season in 1996 where he hit .261 in 108 games.  He got to play in the Nippon Series that season and was on the field as a defensive replacement for first baseman Doug Jennings when Orix won the Championship over the Giants.  Orix released him following the 1998 season and he spent the 1999 season with the farm team for the Yokohama Baystars before he retired.  He has more than ten Japanese baseball cards including Takara cards in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1997 and 1998; BBM "flagship" cards from 1993, 1994, 1997 and 1998 and a 1996 BBM Nippon Series card.

1994 BBM #317

1989 Cal League #115

1989 Cal League #115

1989 ProCards #1424

1989 ProCards #1424
In addition to the 13 players, the Giants sent coaches to the US as well.  They may have sent them all three years (and in fact I assume that they did) but I only know who the coaches were for 1987 and 1989 and that's only because the minor league team sets for those two years included cards of the coaches.  The 1988 Star Miami set did not include cards of any coaches.  The two coaches were both members of the Giants V9 teams - the teams that won the Nippon Series nine straight years between 1965 and 1973.  Both of them have many Japanese baseball cards.

Toshimistu Suetsugu had a 13 year career with the Giants from 1965 to 1977.  He was a five time All Star, was named to a Best 9 team once and was named MVP of the 1971 Nippon Series.  He coached at Miami in 1987.  (And his bio on the back of his ProCard is incorrect - he was an All Star from 1972 to 1976 so five times rather than three and not in the late 1960's.)

1974-75 Calbee #687

1987 Procards #734

1987 ProCards #734
Takashi Yoshida had a 19 year career with Yomuri from 1965 to 1983.  He was a two time All Star.  He coached at Visalia in 1989.

1973 Calbee #27

1989 Cal League #120

1989 Cal League #120

1989 ProCards #1430

1989 ProCards #1430