Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hitoki Iwase

Long time Chunichi Dragons relief pitcher Hitoki Iwase formally announced his retirement back at the beginning of October.  Iwase was a second round pick of his home-prefecture Dragons out of NTT Tokai of the corporate leagues in the fall 1998 draft (Kosuke Fukudome was the team's first round pick that year).  He spent a few years working in middle relief for the Dragons before new manager Hiromitsu Ochiai moved him into the closer's role in 2004.  He sent an NPB record for most saves in a season with 46 in 2005 - this is still the Central League record although Dennis Sarfate of the Hawks broke the record with 54 in 2017).  He remained the Dragons' closer through 2014 but after that injuries prevented him from pitching much.  He missed the entire 2015 season and only got into 15 games in 2016.  He spent the past two seasons back in a middle relief role.  He holds the NPB record for most saves with 407 and most pitching appearances with 1002.

He lead the league in "Middle Relief" three times (1999, 2000 and 2003) and saves five times (2005-06, 2009-10 and 2012).  He appeared in six Nippon Series (1999, 2004, 2006-07, 2010-11), getting the final out of the deciding game of the 2007 Series, the only one the Dragons won of the six (the game was also a combined perfect game between him and Daisuke Yamai).  He made the All Star team ten times (2000-01, 2003, 2005-07, 2010-13).  He was a member of the Japanese Olympic Baseball Team in 2004 and 2008 and also played for the National Team in the 2003 Asian Championship which was a qualifier for the 2004 Summer Games.

Iwase's BBM rookie card was #311 from the 1999 set.  His first Calbee card was #035 from the 2000 set.

1999 BBM #311

2001 Upper Deck #52

2004 BBM 1st Version "Asian Championship 2003" #AJ3

2006 BBM 1st Version #458

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S04

2008 Calbee #109

2010 BBM 1st Version #038

2012 BBM All Stars #A43

2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition #94

2018 BBM 1st Version #274

Card Of The Week November 11

I really try not to feature the same players over and over as Card Of The Week but sometimes the circumstances seem unavoidable.  I highlighted Yuki Yanagita being named MVP of the Pacific League Climax Series three weeks ago and included him with the other award winners for the Nippon Series last week.  So I didn't intend to do him again this week but then Friday happened.  It was the opening game of the MLB "All Stars" vs Samurai Japan series and the MLB team was up 6 to 4 going into the bottom of the ninth.  Japan had pushed across a run on a couple singles and a stolen base but both Tetsuto Yamada and Shogo Akiyama had struck out so there were two outs with one on when Yanagita came to the plate against Padres reliever Kirby Yates and did this:

This came a week and a day after his walk off home run won Game Five of the Nippon Series.  He added an additional home run in yesterday's game as well - a two run shot off of Erasmo Ramirez of the Mariners.  He went 4-4 yesterday, scoring two runs and knocking in four.  I think this is the first time he's ever played for Samurai Japan - he was recovering from injuries and had to miss both the Premier 12 in 2015 and the World Baseball Classic in 2017.  I'm not sure if he's ever suited up for one of the "friendly" matches Japan has played over the past few years but I do know he hasn't made it into either of Calbee's Samurai Japan sets from the last few years (a set that sadly does not look like it will have a 2018 edition).

Here's Yanagita's 2013 Calbee card (#209) - I believe this is his first card from them:

I have not watched MLB's coverage of these games - for some reason MLB decided that they were only going to broadcast the game on the MLB Network and not on-line at  Since we cut the cord a couple years ago I don't get the MLB Network so I'm out of luck.  I've been finding other streams on the internet so I've been watching the Japanese broadcasts.  So I don't know how atrocious the broadcast team has been.  I did notice one thing just now about the box scores on MLB's web page however.  There's a link to a player named "Kazuk Tanaka" who is listed as being born on October 28, 1981.  I don't know who this is.  I assume that they really mean Kazuki Tanaka from the Eagles but he was both on August 8, 1994.  What's odd is that there's a Kazunori Tanaka who played for the Baystars in the 00's who's birthday is October 28, 1981.  So MLB apparently decided that Samurai Japan had a 37 year old guy on their roster who'd been retired for 10 years.

H/T for the video to this post on NPB Reddit.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

2018 Epoch JWBL set

Epoch released a set for the Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL) about a month ago.  This is the second set Epoch has released for the league - the first was two years ago.  The set has a base set of 86 cards, 8 cards more than the 2016 edition.  There were "checki" cards available in boxes as well as randomly inserted autograph and memorabilia cards in packs.

There are four teams in the league and players from all four teams appear in the set.  Unlike the NPB sets, the cards are not evenly distributed between the teams.  There are 23 cards for Aichi Dione (including the mascot, the manager and two coaches), 23 for Kyoto Flora (also including the mascot, the manager and two coaches), 15 for Reia (including the mascot, the manager and only one coach) and 24 cards for Saitama Astraia (including again the mascot, the manager and two coaches) plus a card for Ami Inamura, the "Queen Of First Pitch".  A number of the players are rookies and have the same "Rookie" designation on their card that Epoch has used in some of their NPB sets.  One thing that was a little odd was that Dione and Flora both had three rookies each while Astraia had none but all the players with Reia were rookies!  I did a little research and it looks like the league uses Reia as kind of a development team.

50 of the players who were in the 2016 set are in this one also.  I will confess to still not knowing a whole lot about this league so I can't tell you if anyone significant was left out.  Actually according to the list of players for the league at their website there isn't anyone left out of the set - there's actually one player in the set (Natsumi Nakano of Astraia) who's no longer on the team's roster (she retired).  There are six players in the set from the Samurai Japan team that won the 2018 Women's Baseball World Cup back in August  - Yuki Kawabata, Iori Miura, Tomomi Nakata, Ayami Sato, Rina Taniyama and Asaka Tsuru.  Everyone but Tsuru were in the 2016 set as well (I had missed Nakata when I did my post on the team back in August).  Ayaka Deguchi from the team was in the 2016 set but not in this one as she retired following the 2016 season.  In addition there are three Taiwanese players in the league (all rookies) who played for the Taiwanese team in the tournament - Yu-Ying Hsieh, Chia-Wen Shen and Chi Tseng.  Several of the coaches and managers are male and NPB veterans - Hiroki Fukutome, Tomoya Kawaguchi, Toyoji Matsumura, Shogo Mori, Heishu Ohhara and Takanobu Tsujiuchi.

Here's some sample cards:











I believe that the Chihiro Satoh card shows the commemoration of her 200th career hit.

I really like this set.  I think Epoch did a great job with the photo selection - they and BBM should use this set as a template for photo selection for their NPB sets.  You can see all the cards over at Jambalaya - both the base set and some of the cheki and autograph cards.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Jin-Young Lee

I've been late getting to the retiring players this year so I thought I'd start off with a fairly easy one - easy only in that I don't have many cards of the player.  Jin-Young Lee announced his retirement last month, bringing his 20 year career in the KBO to a close.  Lee was originally drafted by the Ssangbangwool Raiders in the first round of the 1999 KBO draft out of Gunsan Commerce High School.  He made his debut with the Raiders in May of 1999.  The Raiders folded following the 1999 season and many of their players (including Lee) joined the SK Wyverns, the team that replaced the Raiders.  As far as I know he's the last Ssangbangwool player who was still active.  He played for the Wyverns through the 2008 season after which he became a free agent and signed with the LG Twins.  Following the 2015 season he was taken by the KT Wiz in the expansion draft (at least I think that's what happened).  He played for Korea in the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics as well as for their gold medal winning team in the 2008 Olympics.

Here's a smattering of his cards - there's a somewhat comprehensive list over at

1999 Teleca #142

2010 KBO #AT006

2014 Superstar Baseball Season Three #SBC03-012-SS

"2017" SCC #SCC-01-KT23/N
Despite playing in three World Baseball Classics he only had cards from the 2009 tournament.  I'm used to Topps reusing photos among the cards they did for that set but I was somewhat surprised that Konami had used the same photo that Topps had used for two of his cards:

2009 Topps WBC Redemption

2009 Topps Chrome #W35

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R139

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Last Of The 2018 Sets (and maybe the first 2019 one)

There's been a couple recently announced sets:

- Epoch is putting out ultra high-end team sets called "Season Achievements" for the Baystars and Lions.  The Lions set was actually released yesterday.  Boxes contain just six cards (although I think two of them are autographed) and retail for 16,200 yen.  The base set contains 21 cards and there's a parallel version of each card.  There's also a ton of different types of autographed cards.  The Baystars set will be released on November 23rd.  Like those of the Lions set, boxes of this set contain just six cards although you'll get either two autographed cards or an autographed card and a memorabilia card in the box.  The boxes have a slightly lower retail price of 15,120 yen.  There are 33 cards in the base set and a parallel version of each card is available.  The set also contains a number of different versions of the aforementioned autograph and memorabilia cards. 

- Epoch is also putting out a set called something like "Footprints Of The Tigers 2018" that's appears to be in conjunction with an exhibit that's been going on at the Koshien Museum since the end of August.  It's yet another ultra high-end set with six card boxes retailing for 16,200 yen.  One of those cards will be an autographed card while another will be either an autograph or a memorabilia card.  The base set is 27 cards divided between 14 OB players and 13 active players, all from the Tigers.  I don't know if there's a parallel version of the base cards.  There's two types of autographed cards and a variety of memorabilia cards that appear to be focused on Koshien Stadium - relic cards for balls, bases and home plates used at the Stadium.  The set will be out on November 23rd.

- When we last checked in on the KBO, Dan had mentioned there was a new set from SCC out called KBO Collection 2 Black which had cards for only five of the KBO teams - Doosan, Kia, SK, NC and Hanwha.  Dan had speculated that there might be another set covering the other five teams and he was correct - the KBO Collection 2 Red set has cards for Samsung, LG, KT, Nexen and Lotte.  It looks like the set has the same parameters as the Black set - it has an 105 card base set plus 10 rare "Hidden Hologram" insert cards.  The set has been out for a couple of weeks now.

- BBM has announced the third entry in their "Time Travel" series.  This edition is for 1979.  Like the 1989 version that came out late last year, the base set has basically five subsets - the player cards that are made to look like they were actually issued in 1979, a subset for players who retired in 1979, highlights for 1979, a subset for players who were born in 1979 and a subset for pop culture (non-baseball) events from 1979.  There will also be two insert sets featuring the leaders from each league.  BBM's information for the set does not say how large any of these subsets will be.  I expect that the base set will be 99 cards (since the other two sets were that size) and there will be 18 insert cards between the two sets.  There will also be autographed cards randomly inserted into packs.  The set will be released in late-December.  I am unsure of what the "cover date" on the cards will be.  The two previous issues came out in December of 2016 and 2017 respectively and had a "cover date" of 2017 and 2018.  I'd expect this set to have a "cover date" of 2019 but the sample images on this set show 2018 instead.  So this will be either the final 2018 set or the first 2019 set.

Card Of The Week November 4

The 2018 Nippon Series ended yesterday with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks defeating the Hiroshima Toyo Carp 2-0 in Game Six, clinching the Hawks' second consecutive title and fourth in five years. As I've done the past few years I'm going to highlight the Series award winners.  The winners of these awards used to have extra cards in BBM's annual Nippon Series set that was published from 1991 to 2012.

Series MVP Takuya Kai (2012 BBM Hawks #H77)

"Fighting Spirit" Seiya Suzuki (2013 Front Runner Carp Season Summary #16)

Outstanding Player Yuito Mori (2014 BBM Young Hawks - Futures & Legends #09) 

Outstanding Player Akira Nakamura (2015 BBM Hawks #H60)

Outstanding Player Yuki Yanagita (2012 BBM Celebration Of Hawks #26)
Series MVP Takuya Kai set a record for throwing out six consecutive Carp base runners.  I had forgotten that Kai was originally an ikusei player - he was drafted in the sixth round of the ikusei phase of the 2010 draft and wasn't signed to the Hawks' 70-man roster until 2014.  (The Hawks also took Kodai Senga as an ikusei player in the same draft which probably makes that the best ikusei draft by a team ever.)

Saturday, November 3, 2018

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version Set - Where Are They Now?

I've gotten my collegiate sets a little out of order, mostly because I got them in a kind of random way 10 years ago and also because it's been 10 years(!).  BBM's second collegiate set was the 2008 Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set, not the Collegiate National Team set like I previous posted. 

This set was issued by BBM in September of 2008 and was a box set containing 36 cards plus some sort of insert card (don't remember the details off hand and I didn't get one).  The 36 cards were split evenly among the six teams and included a team card for each team so there were 30 actual player cards in the set.  Ten of those 30 players (including all five Waseda players) went on to play in NPB.  Of those ten, five were in the Spring Version set (Takeshi Hosoyamada, Shinji Iwata, Takeshi Komatsu, Keijiro Matsumoto and Hiroki Uemoto).  (Taking into account players who didn't go on to NPB there were 16 total players in the set who were in the previous set.)  Six of the ten players would also appear in the Collegiate National Team set (Hosoyamada, Iwata, Matsumoto, Yuki Saitoh, Hisashi Takeuchi and Uemoto - this is actually the first set that Saitoh appears in).

Here's a summary of the careers of the ten players who went on to the NPB.  (Some of these may look familiar by now...)  Four of the players were still active in NPB in 2018.

Player College Year Drafted Notes
Yuki Egarashi Meiji 4 2011 Giants 6th Played for Toshiba after graduating before being drafted. Played for Giants 2012-17
Takeshi Hosoyamada Waseda 4 2008 Baystars 4th Played for Baystars 2009-13, Hawks 2014-15. Was released by DeNA after 2013 and joined Hawks as ikusei player. Made the Hawks' 70 man roster at the beginning of the 2015 season. Played for Toyota after leaving Hawks
Shinji Iwata Meiji 4 2008 Dragons 5th Played for Dragons 2009-16. Dragons minor league pitching coach starting in 2018
Takeshi Komatsu Hosei 4 2008 Carp 3rd Played for Carp 2009-13. Was on Carp's ikusei squad in 2013 and was "dispatched" to the Tokoshima Indigo Sox of the Shikoku Island League that year. Minor league coach for the Carp starting in 2018
Keijiro Matsumoto Waseda 4 2008 Baystars 1st Played for Baystars 2009-17. Joined Nippon Steel Sumikin Kazusa Magic in 2018
Yusuke Nomura Meiji 1 2011 Carp 1st Played for Carp 2012-present. 2012 Rookie Of The Year. Lead Central League in wins in 2016. All Star in 2012 & 2016. Named to Best 9 team in 2016
Tatsuya Ohishi Waseda 2 2010 Lions 1st Played for Lions 2011-present
Yuki Saitoh Waseda 2 2010 Fighters 1st Played for Fighters 2011-present. All Star in 2011-12
Hisashi Takeuchi Hosei 3 2009 Carp 3rd Played for Carp 2010-15
Hiroki Uemoto Waseda 4 2008 Tigers 3rd Played for Tigers 2009-present

Here's each player's card from the set plus a card of them from their NPB days:

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #02

2017 BBM Giants #G27

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #10

2011 BBM 2nd Version #661

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #01

2015 BBM Dragons #D16

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #25

2009 BBM 1st Version #359

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #11

2016 BBM Baystars #DB67

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #03

2018 Calbee #111

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #09

2018 BBM Icons-Fanfare #04

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #08

2017 BBM Fighters #F02

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #26

2013 Bandai Owners League 04 #048

2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version #07

2018 Epoch NPB #271
Of the remaining 20 players in the set, two of them had their only card ever in this set - Yuhei Imura (Keio) and Kenya Ohbayashi (Rikkio).  The other 18 players appeared in other college sets - Kosuke Aizawa (Keio), Takayuki Chida (Meiji), Hitoshi Fuchigami (Keio), Hirata Furugata (Tokyo), Yusuke Hasegawa (Hosei), Daisuke Ikarashi (Rikkio), Junpei Komichi (Meiji), Takeru Maeshira (Tokyo), Nobuaki Nakabayashi (Keio), Masahito Nihira (Rikkio), Takahiro Ohtsubo (Tokyo), Yo Sasaki (Hosei), Kazuki Suetoh (Rikkio), Yuichi Suzuki (Tokyo), Takeyasu Takahashi (Tokyo), Soichiro Tanaka (Rikkio), Shota Waizumi (Hosei) and Naoki Yamaguchi (Keio).