Saturday, January 5, 2019

2019 BBM Time Travel 1979

BBM's first set with a cover date of 2019 came out about three weeks ago.  It's the third edition of their annual Time Travel set.  The point of these sets is to highlight a particular year and this year's edition is 1979.  (I will mention that the fact that 2019 is 40 years after 1979 is probably a coincidence since the previous two editions were for 1975 and 1989 but I'll change my mind if net year they do 1980.)

1979 is kind of a watershed year for NPB.  Over the 1978-79 offseason the Taiheiyo Club Lions were sold to Seibu and the team moved from Fukuoka to Tokorozawa.  This would be the last team sold, moved or renamed until 1989 when the Hawks were sold by Nankai to Daiei and moved from Osaka to Fukuoka and the Braves were sold by Hankyu to Orix.  This might not seem like a big deal but the 10 year period between 1979 and 1988 is the longest period in NPB history where no team was sold, merged, moved or renamed.  (2019 will be the eighth consecutive year of the current NPB team "situation" - the last change was DeNA buying the Baystars before the 2012 season.)

The set has a base set of 96 cards which is three cards less than the two previous editions.  Like the two previous editions the cards have a retro feel to them - they have a matte finish rather than the usual glossy finish and monochromatic backs rather than the standard full color ones.  The bulk of the cards in the set are the 72 player cards which (as usual) are split evenly among the 12 NPB teams.  The cards are meant to look like they were actually issued in 1979 as the backs only contain stats up to and including that year.

I'm going to skip my usual nit-picking about who got left out of the set.  There's only 72 cards so someone's going to be left out.  I'll focus instead on who's in the set.  I was excited to see that Choji Murata was in the set as he pretty much hasn't shown up in a BBM set since 2004!  He was in the 2009 BBM Legends set that I think was issued as magazine inserts, the 2009 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation set and I think he's in a Bandai Owners League set but other than that his last cards were in the 2004 Golden Arm, 70th Anniversary and Marines sets.  Other notable players in the set are Sadaharu Oh, Tsutomu Wakamatsu (who I think is the only player to appear in all three Time Travel sets so far), Katsuya Nomura, Masayuki Kakefu, Koichi Tabuchi, Koji Yamamoto, Jinten Haku, Sachio Kinugasa, Yutaka Fukumoto, Hisashi Yamada, Morimichi Takagi and Masaji Hiramatsu.  There are "rookie" cards (with the same rookie icon used in the 2018 BBM cards) for several players including Suguru Egawa and Shigekazu Mori.  There's six foreign players - Charlie Manuel, Jim Lyttle, Felix Millan, John Sipin and the Lee brothers - Leon and Leron.  (OK, I can't resist - significant players who aren't in the set are Senichi Hoshino, Keishi Suzuki and Isao Harimoto.)

The cards themselves have a nice design - I can't off hand think of any other sets BBM's done with colored borders although I'm probably forgetting something.  I like the little 1973 Topps-ish position icon in the lower right although it would have been better if they'd used more symbols than just a pitcher and a batter.  BBM used a pretty good variety of photos in the set although they used a couple black and white photos for some reason.  Here's some example cards:






 Here's what the card backs look like:

#04 (Sachio Kinugasa)
The remaining 24 cards in the set are split between four different subsets.  There are six cards for players who retired after the 1979 season - Takenori (Iwao) Ikebe, Kiyoshi Morimoto, Yozo Nagabuchi, Atsushi Nagaike, Yoshihiro Sotokoba and Soroku Yagisawa.

There are eight cards showing baseball highlights from 1979 - the first home game for the Seibu Lions (and the opening of then Seibu Stadium) on April 14th (not sure if it was their first ever game or not), Makoto Shimada stealing three bases in one inning on June 5th, Charlie Manuel being hit in the face on June 9th, Yoshihiko Takahashi's 33 game hitting streak from June 6th to July 31st (longest in NPB history), Shigeru Kobayashi's 8 consecutive wins against the Giants from April 4th to September 5th (Kobayashi had been traded to the Tigers from the Giants the previous off season as compensation for the Giants signing Tigers draft pick Egawa), Kintetsu winning their first ever Pacific League pennant on October 16th, the Carp winning their first ever Nippon Series on November 4th and the Giants "Hell Camp" from October 28th to November 22 (not quite sure what this was).  Here's the card for the Lions first home game:

There's a six card subset featuring people born in 1979.  In the two previous sets the people in the "Born In X" subset have all been baseball players but this set's a little different.  In addition to five players (Shinnosuke Abe, Kazuyuki Hoashi, Yoshiyuki Ishihara, Akinori Iwamura and Atsushi Nohmi), BBM also included a card for politician Taizo Sugimura (who apparently played tennis in his youth).


The final subset in the set contains four cards dedicated to Pop Culture from 1979.  The cards are for the rock band Godiego's song "Gandhara", enka singer Sachiko Kobayashi's song "Omoide Sake" (best selling song of the year in Japan), the introduction of the NEC PC-8001 personal computer and the debut of the anime series "The Rose Of Versailles".  Here's the card for Kobayashi:

If it's not obvious I really like this set.  I've been enjoying BBM's Time Travel series and I think this is the best one so far.  You can take a look at all the card (including the insert cards which feature statistical leaders and award winners from the year) over at Jambalaya.

In a bit of synchronicity - the radio station I listen to (WXPN out of Philadelphia) is doing a special program each Saturday during 2019 where they highlight the music from one year out of the past 50.  As it happens the year they've chosen for today was 1979 so I've had appropriate background music as I've been writing this post.  Although there's a song from the mid-90's that would have been appropriate as well:


The Shlabotnik Report said...

This looks like a fun set, and it seems like it would make an interesting companion to the 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball set. It seems like BBM took bits of 1973, 1974 and 1975 Topps and combined them to make the card design.

My first exposure to NPB was in the late 1970's... it was a game televised on some UHF station out of New York City, and as a Mets fan I absolutely freaked out when I saw Felix Millan step to the plate. For purely selfish reasons it's a shame that Wayne Garrett isn't also in this new set.

SumoMenkoMan said...

I think they hit a winner this year. I like the subsets and the little bit of variety with subjects. Great rundown and thanks for sharing!

Tony Burbs said...

This is a supremely interesting idea for a baseball card set. I wish Topps would explore this idea, rather than just rehash old designs.

Brian said...

I love those backs! I am anxiously awaiting the main 2019 BBM set, I'll be looking for Kennys Vargas cards now that he plays for the Chiba Lotte Marines...

Do you happen to know of a good place to look for singles besides eBay?

Brian said...

Sorry - I just saw the link on the sidebar about where to find Japanese cards - great resource, thanks!

NPB Card Guy said...

@Brian - it's all good. I should update the info there at some point but I hope it's still helpful. If you're just looking for Vargas cards there will probably be someone selling singles on Ebay at some point after 1st Version comes out in April. If you want a complete set I'd recommend using a proxy bidder to get one from Yahoo! Japan Auctions.