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:
|#04 (Sachio Kinugasa)|
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: