Monday, January 21, 2019

Kenji Yano

Fighters outfielder Kenji Yano retired at the end of last season.  Yano was a sixth round pick of the Giants out of Kokugakuin University in the 2002 NPB draft.  He was a regular outfielder for the Giants in 2006 but moved into a backup/pinch hitter role for 2007.  Injuries cost him most of 2008-09 as he only got into 9 games with the ichi-gun team. Once healthy again in 2010 he resumed his backup role which is pretty much how he spent the remainder of his career.  He set the Giants record for pinch hits in 2013 with 19.  He was traded to the Fighters along with Hideki Sunaga midway through the 2015 season for Toshiyuki Yanuki and Atsushi Kita.

Yano got into two Nippon Series with the Giants, winning in 2012 against the Fighters but losing in 2013 against the Eagles (Masahiro Tanaka stuck him out to end Game Seven in the rain in Sendai).  He was back on the winning side in the Nippon Series in 2016 with the Fighters.

His first BBM cards were #5 from the 2003 Rookie Edition set and #29 from the 2003 BBM 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card was #210 from the 2005 set.

2003 BBM Rookie Edition #5

2003 BBM 1st Version #29

2007 Konami Baseball Heroes 3 Black Edition #B07B199

2011 BBM Tohto 80th Memorial #87

2012 BBM Nippon Series #S32

2013 Calbee #079

2016 BBM Fighters Opening #26

2018 BBM Fighters #F66

I used his Baseball-Reference Bullpen article as one of my sources for this post.

And I'm still amused I came across of jersey of his in London last September...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Toshiya Sugiuchi

Getting back to the retirement posts...

Pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi of the Giants announced his retirement back in mid-September.  Sugiuchi originally was from Kyushu - he was born in Onojo, went to high school in Kagoshima and played in the corporate leagues for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagaski - so it was fitting that he was the third round pick of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in the 2001 NPB draft.  By 2003 he was in the Hawks starting rotation and he had his best season in 2005 when he went 18-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 196.2 innings.  He left the Hawks for the Giants as a free agent following the 2011 season.  He threw a no-hitter against the Eagles in 2012.  He injured his hip during the 2015 season and despite having surgery has never been able to make it back to the ichi-gun team.  He has been named as one of the pitching coaches for the Giants farm team for 2019.

Sugiuchi was named Pacific League MVP in 2005.  He lead the league in wins and winning percentage that year and led the league in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009.  He also led the Central League in strikeouts in 2012.  He won the Sawamura Award in 2005 and was named "Best Pitcher" in 2009 and 2010.  He was named to the Best 9 team in 2005 and made the All Star team seven times (2005, 2007-12).  He played in three Nippon Series (2003, 2011 and 2013) and was named MVP of the 2003 Series and won an "Outstanding Player Award" for the 2011 Series.  (A shoulder injury prevented him from appearing in the 2012 Series.)  He pitched for the Japan National Team on five different occasions - the 2000 and 2008 Olympics and the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics.

Because he was still an amateur when he played in the 2000 Olympics, Sugiuchi is one of the rare players to have a "pre-rookie" card in Japan as he had a card in the 2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympic Games Japanese Team Cards set.  His first BBM and Calbee cards were both from 2002 - card #235 in BBM's 1st Version set and card #N-14 in the "New Faces" subset from Calbee.

2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympic Games Japanese Team Cards #221

2002 BBM 1st Version #235

2003 BBM Nippon Series #55

2006 BBM 1st Version #433

2007 Hawks "Club Hawks" #110-RB-18

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC #W09R097

2010 BBM All Stars #A36

2012 BBM No-Hitters #81

2015 Calbee #130

2018 BBM Giants #G06

Card Of The Week January 20

Brandon Laird is changing teams this offseason.  After spending four seasons with the Fighters he's now a member of the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Laird has a routine when he homers where he mimics making sushi with his hands.  This has earned him the nickname "Sushi-boy".  The "Secret Version" of his 2017 BBM 2nd Version card (#383) shows him doing this:

This habit has raised some concerns with one member of his new team.  The mascot Nazo No Sakana (the Mysterious Fish) informed Laird via an Instagram post that "All of the fish in Chiba are so delicious, but I am very bad. So you should not make me a sushi item.  Please promise it. I'm waiting for you here in Chiba. Mr. Sushi boy!"

I've got three cards of the Mysterious Fish.  I think there's at least one more Epoch One card of him that I don't have.  Here's the ones I have (including the Epoch One card I showed less than two weeks ago):

2017 BBM 2nd Version #591 (Secret Version)

2018 BBM Marines #M69

2018 Epoch one #328

H/T NPB Reddit for the story.

Friday, January 18, 2019

2018 BBM Team Sets

I want to wrap up my posts about the cards I got in the latest package I got from Ryan.  The bulk of what I got were all 12 of BBM's "comprehensive" team sets for 2018.

To be clear - what I call a "comprehensive" team set is a set that contains all the players on the team's 70 man roster which is usually less than 70 players.  For the fourth year in a row all the team sets had 81 cards in their base set.  Each set included a card of the team's manager with the exception of the Eagles - Masataka Nashida had stepped down as manager in mid-June just before the set went to press and BBM replaced his card in the set with a logo card/checklist instead of interim manager Yusuke Hiraishi (I know they replaced his card with the checklist because it's card #01 of the set while card #01 of all the other sets are that team's manager).  All the teams except the Hawks had a card devoted to their mascot(s).  Only three of the teams (the Eagles, Swallows and Baystars) had a separate logo card/checklist although a number of the mascot cards had checklists on their backs.  Here's the breakdown of the cards in all the sets:

Team Player/Manager Cards Mascot Cards Checklist Subsets
Chiba Lotte Marines 68 1 0 First Impact (4), Road To 2000 (1), U20 Shining (3), Hotshots (4)
Chunichi Dragons 69 1 0 Winners Never Quit (3), Cosmic Attack (5), Lights On (3)
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 69 0 0 Highlight Reel (3), Hawks History (9)
Hanshin Tigers 68 1 0 Newcomer (3), Great Record (3), Tigers Starters (3), Rising Stars (3)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 68 1 0 Top Prospects (3), Pitching Staff (4), Franchise Player (5)
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 70 1 0 Fresh Breeze (3), The Beginning (4), Centerpiece (3)
Orix Buffaloes 67 1 0 New Bull (2), Rookies (1), 2015 Draft (1), Bs Universe (9)
Saitama Seibu Lions 67 1 0 Catch The Moment (6), Accelerator (3), Reign Men (4)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 68 1 1 Record Breakers (3), Fans' Favorites (3), Crimson Soul (5)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 67 1 1 New Force (3), Welcome Back (3), 2015 Draft (1), Power Hitting (1), Return To The Field (4)
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 68 1 1 Quality Starters (3), Young Guns (3), Heart Of The Order (3), W Aces (1), W Lead-Off (1)
Yomiuri Giants 67 1 0 New Arrivals (4), Giant Guns (3), High Quality Triangle (3), Young Synergy (3)

As always each set features 30 to 35 players who did not appear in either of BBM's "flagship" sets (1st and 2nd Version) this year.  This list includes a surprising number of Westerners - Francisco Peguero of the Marines, Radiel Martinez of the Dragons, Alejandro Mejia of the Carp, Josh Corrales and O'Koyea Dickson of the Eagles and Spencer Patton of the Baystars.  It also includes 2018 Pacific League Rookie Of The Year Kazuki Tanaka.  Here's a card of a player from each set who was not in BBM's flagship sets:

2018 BBM Marines #M21

2018 BBM Dragons #D15

2018 BBM Hawks #H10

2018 BBM Tigers #T43

@018 BBM Carp #C56

2018 BBM Fighters #F44

2018 BBM Buffaloes #Bs02

2018 BBM Lions #L07

2018 BBM Eagles #E62

2018 BBM Swallows #S48

2018 BBM Baystars #DB60

2018 BBM Giants #G03
The Giants set is the only one that has any cards using a horizontal format.  UPDATE - I take that back.  There's one player card in the Tigers set (Koyo Aoyagi) that uses a horizontal format.

All the sets were released between March and July.

Thanks as always to Ryan for doing all the work to find these sets for me.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Fighters In Arizona, 2019 Edition

For the fourth consecutive year the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters are doing the first part of their spring camp in Arizona.  Like last year it will be at Salt River Fields At Talking Stick in Scottsdale, the spring training home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks.  The team will be there from February 1st to the 12th.  Their schedule is available on the team's website (in Japanese of course) but the important days to note are off days on the 3rd and 8th, an inter-squad game (Red vs White) on the 9th and a game against the KBO's NC Dinos on the 11th.  Both games will be at 12:30.

The Fighters announced who all is coming today.  I've translated the list (and hopefully gotten all the names correct).  There's a couple notable newcomers to the team on the roster - former Orix Buffaloes ace Chihiro Kaneko and former CPBL star Po-Jung Wang.

Number Player/Coach Category
1 Saitoh, Yuki Pitcher
2 Sugiya, Kenshi Infielder
5 Ota, Taishi Outfielder
6 Nakata, Sho Infielder
7 Nishikawa, Haruki Outfielder
8 Kondoh, Kensuke Outfielder
9 Nakashima, Takuya Infielder
12 Matsumoto, Go Infielder
14 Kato, Takayuki Pitcher
15 Uwasawa, Naoyuki Pitcher
16 Arihara, Kohei Pitcher
17 Urano, Hiroshi Pitcher
19 Kaneko, Chihiro Pitcher
20 Uehara, Kenta Pitcher
21 Kiyomiya, Kotaro Infielder
22 Tsuruoka, Shinya Coach
23 Watanabe, Ryo Infielder
25 Miyanishi, Naoki Pitcher
26 Asama, Daiki Outfielder
27 Martinez, Nick Pitcher
28 Hancock, Justin Pitcher
29 Iguchi, Kazutomo Pitcher
30 Kagiya, Yohei Pitcher
32 Yachi, Ryota Infielder
33 Barbato, Johnny Pitcher
34 Hori, Mizuki Pitcher
35 Nishimura, Takahiro Pitcher
36 Nakamura, Masaru Pitcher
38 Ishii, Kazunari Infielder
39 Akiyoshi, Ryo Pitcher
41 Rodriguez, Bryan Pitcher
42 Kurobane, Toshiki Catcher
45 Hiranuma, Shota Infielder
49 Kumon, Katsuhiko Pitcher
51 Ishikawa, Naoya Pitcher
52 Miyadei, Kohei Pitcher
54 Tamai, Taisho Pitcher
57 Sugiura, Toshihiro Pitcher
58 Yokoo, Toshitake Infielder
67 Kishisato, Ryosuke Outfielder
68 Ishikawa, Ryo Catcher
73 Ogata, Koichi Coach
74 Takahashi, Noriyuki Coach
75 Kawana, Shinichi Coach
79 Shiroishi, Noriyuki Coach
80 Kuriyama, Hideki Manager
84 Atsuzawa, Kazuyuki Coach
88 Kaneko, Makoto Coach
92 Kida, Masao Coach
99 Wang, Po-Jung Outfielder

There are also three KBO teams training in Arizona this year.  The KT Wiz and the afore-mentioned NC Dinos will be training in Tucson from the end of January until March 8th.  KT will be at the Kino Sports Complex while I assume that NC will be Hi Corbett Field but I don't know that for sure.  The newly renamed Kiwoom Heroes (formerly Nexen) will be in Peoria from January 30th to February 18th and then in Tucson for some period of time afterward.  

In addition the defending KBO champion SK Wyverns will be in Vero Beach, Florida from January 30th to February 24th.

I don't think there's a CPBL team training in the US this year but I could be wrong.

Thanks to for the information on where the KBO teams are training.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Hall Of Fame Class

The Japanese Baseball Hall Of Fame announced its 2019 inductees today.  Longtime Chunichi Dragons infielder Kazuyoshi Tatsunami was the sole candidate on the Players Selection Committee to garner enough votes for election while Hiroki Gondoh, a pitcher/infielder for the Dragons in the 1960's and manager of the Yokohama Baystars in the late 90's (including their Nippon Series Championship in 1998) as well as a coach for a number of teams, was the sole inductee from the Expert Division.  The Special Division also elected Haruo Wakimura who was involved with high school baseball.  The vote tallies can be seen here.

Here are cards of Tatsunami and Gondoh - pretty sure there aren't any of Wakimura:

Kazuyoshi Tatsunami

1988 Takara Dragons #3

1999 Calbee #080

2009 BBM 1st Version #306

Hiroshi Gondoh

1962 Doyusha JCM 55

2006 BBM Nostalgic Stars #105

1998 BBM Nippon Series #S1

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Card Of The Week January 13

BBM started including insert cards called "Phantom" with their team sets in 2017.  These were very limited edition inserts that were serially numbered to 25 each.  Each team set had between 6 and 18 of these and they featured active players from the team.  BBM continued having them with their team sets in 2018 and also added 12 "Phantom" inserts of OB players to their Fusion set in November.

I got curious about these cards and ended up getting one relatively cheaply on Ebay.  It's for Tetsuya Yamaguchi of the Giants and I think it ran me $10 or less.  Here's the front and back of it:

You can take a quick look at this search on Yahoo! Japan Auctions to see what these cards are selling for.  At the time I did the search the cheapest was Sho Nakata's 2018 card which was only 1000 yen while the most expensive was Shohei Ohtani's card from last year (and apparently has serial number 01) which is priced at 30,000 yen (about $275).  Most appear to be in the 3000 to 5000 yen range.

2018 SCC All Star Stickers

I had a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home from work on New Year's Eve -  Dan had sent me a package containing 14 packs of 2018 SCC KBO All Star stickers with the accompanying album.  This was a 218 "card" set put out by Daewon Media last summer (it was intended to be 220 cards but the cards of two Nexen players accused of sexual assault were removed from the set).  This was the second SCC set of 2018 and the first that actually was for the 2018 season - the first was a "catch-up set" for the 2017 season.

Despite the name of the set it is not a set for the KBO All Star game - you probably figured that out from the size of it.  There are 22 cards for each of the 10 KBO teams (with the exception of the previous mentioned Nexen which only has 20 due to the two cards being pulled).  At 2 1/4 by 3 inches the cards are a little smaller than the standard size.  If you pulled them off their backing the stickers themselves would be about 1 3/4 by 2 1/2 inches.  The photos are all head shots (mug shots really) and the backs have no biographical information (which makes sense since they are stickers that are intended to be put in an album).  Some of them are classified as "Rare" where the player's name and number are highlighted - I don't know if these are actually short printed or not.  There was a card distributed with the album that was "holo" but I think this was a parallel version as I got a non-holo version of the card in one of the packs.

There are supposedly three cards per pack but two of the packs Dan sent me actually had four cards in them so I got a total of 44 cards from the packs.  If you include the card that came in the album I have 45 cards total.  Nine of those were duplicates - including the "normal" version of the "holo" card I got with the album (Kang Baek-Ho).  That seems like a lot to me.  Dan says the collation for the set was terrible.  He had mentioned a friend buying something like 10 boxes (each box had 30 packs so at least 90 cards per box) but wasn't able to put together a complete set.

Here's what a couple of the cards look like:

#88 Park Han-Yi

#3 Lee Yong-Chan

#112 Lim Chang-Yong "Rare" card

#106 Kang Baek-Ho "Holo" and regular cards
I mentioned that the backs didn't have any biographical information.  What they do have is the one nod to the actual KBO All Star game.  Since all 10 teams are in a single league there's no natural way to split them up for the All Star game.  They are somewhat arbitrarily split into the "Dream" (Doosan, KT, Lotte, Samsung and SK) and "Nanum" (Hanwha, Kia, LG, NC and Nexen) teams.  The cards for the "Dream" teams have blue backs while the cards of the "Nanum" teams have pink backs:

Here's what the packs look like:

Here's the front cover of the album and a photo showing it open to a random page:

I really appreciate Dan getting me these packs but this really isn't a set that I'd recommend.  I personally am not a fan of "mug shot" sets and the decollation issues make this a very difficult set to complete.  I recommend the other SCC offerings from last year - the KBO Collectionthe two KBO Collection 2 sets - the Red and the Black or the Premium set (which I didn't get) - rather than this set.  If you are more curious about this set, Dan's put the checklist up at

Thanks again for sending me the cards Dan!