Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Fighters Cards

Ryan's job takes him to different areas of Japan for short periods of time and he spent some time late last year up in Sapporo, home of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.  I had noticed that the Fighters were one of the few teams that I didn't have any team issued cards for* (other than some Victory cards from 2011) so I asked him to keep an eye out for any while he was up there.  He came through (as always) with a couple along with a handful of Fighters cards issued by the convenience store chain Lawson.

*if you care and even if you don't, the other teams I don't have any team issued cards for are the Dragons, the Carp and the Baystars

First up are the Lawson cards.  I know next to nothing about these - I don't know how long Lawson's been doing them (or even if they are still making them) or how many cards they did each year.  Ryan got me several of them from a variety of years.  The earliest are these two from 2007:

These look like they're from just a basic team set.  Here's the back of Inada's card to show that they had basic biographical information:

Ryan got me one card from 2008.  It's a group shot with a calendar on the front and the Fighters' schedule for August and September on the back:

The remaining seven Lawson cards he got me are all from 2009.  Five of them show Kensuke Tanaka:

Only one of these cards (the WE LOVE HOKKAIDO one) has any actual biographical data on the back of it:

All the rest have schedule information like the 2008 card had:

In fact as far as I can tell Tanaka's name doesn't appear on any of the cards except that one with the biographical information.  If the cards hadn't had his signature with his uniform number on them, I probably wouldn't have figured out it was him.  Which brings us to the problems I had with one of the other cards:

I didn't recognize who this was and since the Tanaka cards didn't have his name on the front I got lazy and didn't try to match up any kanji.  Instead I asked Deanna and Dani if they recognized who this was (I had kind of assumed it was Tanaka) and they told me it was Atsunori Inaba (and pointed out his name was not only on the front in kanji but it also had his initials "ai").  So thanks guys!

The other 2009 card was celebrates the Fighters 2009 Pacific League pennant:

The back of the card has stats for the year:

He got me two cards that were issued by the team (or the team's Fan Club).  The first of these is from 2005*:

*So just to confirm I'm an idiot - I first assumed that this card was from 2017 since it had stats for 14, 15 and 16 on the back.  Of course that didn't make any sense because Kimoto hadn't played in NPB since 2008 and hadn't played for the Fighters since 2007.  The years on the back actually indicate Heisei era years (2002-04)

The other card is from 2017:

I was very disappointed that a card promoting the "Legend Series" in which the Fighters wore throwback uniforms didn't show Sho wearing a throwback uniform.

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