Monday, September 16, 2019

Brad Eldred

I wanted to do a quick post on the retirement of Carp slugger Brad Eldred.  Eldred joined the Carp in mid-2012 after 11 seasons in major league organizations - mostly with the Pirates but he also spent time with the White Sox, Nationals, Rockies, Giants and Tigers.  His best season in Hiroshima was 2014 when he hit 37 home runs with 104 RBIs.  One of the other highlights of his time with the Carp was his hitting home runs in the first three games of the 2016 Nippon Series which the Carp ultimately lost to the Fighters.  The Carp did not renew his contract when it expired at the end of last season and he ultimately announced that he would retire last month.  The Carp have hired him to scout for them and held a retirement ceremony for him after yesterday's game.

Here's a handful of cards of him:

2013 BBM Bright Carp #13

2014 Front Runner Carp Season Summary #18

2015 Calbee #222

2016 BBM "Realization Of A Great Ambition" #17

2017 BBM Genesis #059

2018 Epoch NPB #239

As far as I know there are no cards of him from 2012.

One of my favorite things about him is that Google always translated the Japanese text of his name to "El Dread".

Sunday, September 15, 2019

RIP Gene Bacque

Former Hashin Tigers pitching great Gene Bacque passed away this weekend at age 82.  The story at the link does a better job summarizing his career than I can so I'll just hit the high points.  He played for the Tigers from 1962-68 and spent a final season in Japan playing for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1969.  He went 29-9 with a 1.88 ERA in 1964 and was the first foreign pitcher to win the Sawamura Award (Kris Johnson of the Carp is the only other foreigner to win the award to date).  He threw a no-hitter against the Yomiuri Giants in 1965 and ended his NPB career with 100 victories.  He's one of only four foreign pitchers with at least 100 wins and is tied with Joe Stanka with more wins by an American.  (If you're wondering, Taiwanese pitchers Taigen Kaku and Genji Kaku are the other two foreign pitchers with over 100 wins - Taigen Kaku has the most with 117.)

There's only one known card of him when he was an active player - a 1967 Kabaya-Leaf card.  BBM only issued one card for him during their first 20 years (although he did have a "Nostalgic Heroes" insert card in the 1999 Tigers set) but he's had a bit of a renaissance in recent years.  He made seven appearances in BBM sets between 2012 and 2017 - about 16 cards in all if you count autographed, parallel and insert cards as well as base set cards.  Here's all the cards I have for him:

1967 Kabaya-Leaf #102

1994 BBM #537

2012 BBM No-hitters #39

2013 BBM Legendary Foreigners #03

2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition #28

2015 BBM Tigers 80th Anniversary #12

2016 BBM Spirit Of Legends #04

2016 BBM Fusion #034

2017 BBM Fusion #064

2017 BBM Fusion #064 Secret Version

Card Of The Week September 15

I've got kind of a busy weekend this weekend so I decided that I'd get ahead of things a little bit on Friday night and go ahead and prepare the "Card Of The Week" post for Sunday so I didn't have to really do anything but publish it that morning.  I was feeling good when I went to bed that night that even if I didn't get any other posts done this weekend, at least that was all set to go.

Then I woke up the next morning and learned that Yudai Ohno of the Dragons had thrown a no-hitter against the Hanshin Tigers.  So I went scrambling Saturday morning to get a new "Card Of The Week" post together.  Here's a card of Ohno from the BBM Dragons team set from 2011, his rookie season (#D80):


On the plus side I've got a "Card Of The Week" post in the can already for some future week.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

2019 BBM Team Sets

The bulk of the package I got from Ryan last week contained the last six BBM "comprehensive" team sets that I needed for this year - the Dragons, the Hawks, the Tigers, the Fighters, the Buffaloes and the Eagles.  He had previously gotten four of them (the Marines, the Swallows, the Carp and the Baystars) for me and given them to me when we met up in Tokyo.  I bought the other two myself in card shops - picking up the Giants set at Coletre and the Lions set at Mint Hakata.

As has been standard for the past five years, the base set for each of BBM's team sets contain 81 cards.  There are 66-70 cards for the manager and all the players on the 70-man roster.  Every set except the Hawks and Marines have a single card dedicated to their mascots that doubles as a checklist card.  The Marines have two cards for their mascots - one that features multiple mascots and also doubles as a checklist and one the features the Mysterious Fish.  The Hawks don't have a mascot card at all.  For the first time since I've been paying attention, no set has a separate team logo/checklist card.  The rest of the base sets after the player cards and the mascot card(s) is filled in with two to four subsets.  Here's how each team's set breaks down:

Team Player/Manager Cards Mascot Cards Checklist Subsets
Chiba Lotte Marines 70 2 0 Last Voyage (3), Elite Club (3), Pump Up (3)
Chunichi Dragons 69 1 0 Combo (2), D's Emblem (9)
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 70 0 0 Fresh Prince(2), Get Over (6), Spring Big Deal (6)
Hanshin Tigers 68 1 0 New Breed (3), Fabulous Ones (4), Key Role (5)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 69 1 0 Newcomer (2), Glorious Victory (3), Best Contribution (4), Dominican Spirit (2)
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 70 1 0 King Is Coming (3), Quick Boost (3), Early Impact (4)
Orix Buffaloes 69 1 0 Super Nova (2), Winning Formula (3), Just Do It (3), Orimen (3)
Saitama Seibu Lions 67 1 0 College Connection (4), New Blue Blood (4), Pole Position (5)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 68 1 0 Newcomer (3), No Surrender (4), Meet The Target (5)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 69 1 0 Brilliant Future (5), No Doubt(3), Record Makers (3)
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 69 1 0 Limelight (5), Lockdown (3), Hop, Step, Jump (3)
Yomiuri Giants 66 1 0 Giant Four (4), Glorious Number (4), Growing Hope (3), G-Genuine (3)

Each set contains some 30-35 players who did not appear in BBM's flagship sets this year.  Here's an example card from each set featuring a player who is only in the team sets this year (so far):

2019 BBM Marines #M62

2019 BBM Dragons #D64

2019 BBM Hawks #H12

2019 BBM Tigers #T43

2019 BBM Carp #C58

2019 BBM Fighters #F45

2019 BBM Buffaloes #B15

2019 BBM Lions #L61

2019 BBM Eagles #E10

2019 BBM Swallows #S18

2019 BBM Baystars #DB19

2019 BBM Giants #G63
Huh, picked the same three guys for the Tigers, Carp and Fighters as I did last year.

The sets were all released between late March and late July.

As always I want to express my thanks to Ryan for picking these up for me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Cards From Ryan

I wanted to do one more post on cards I got from Ryan last week.  These are just some random cards he found for me.

I spent most of my recent Japan trip thinking that the only card I need to complete the 1998 BBM set was Hirokazu Ibata's rookie card (it turns out I also need the Hawks team card).  I went through card shops from Tokyo to Fukuoka but I could not find one.  After i got home I found one offered for 200 yen on Yahoo! Japan Auctions and I asked Ryan to pick it up for me:

1998 BBM #389
Another card that I search for unsuccessfully was the final "secret" version card I needed from the 2017 BBM 2nd Version set - the one for Ami Inamura.  I found this on Yahoo! Japan Auctions as well but it was much more expensive - 1600 yen!  I justified the high price to myself for a couple reasons - I wasn't able to find the card anywhere and it was the final "secret" version card I would ever go out of my way for.  I now have 14 "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards of Inamura - 3 cards from 2nd Version sets, 3 cards from Fusion sets, 2 cards from Epoch JWBL sets and six SCM cards.

2017 BBM 2nd Version #FP05 (Secret Version)
I've been pretty much ignoring Epoch's "comprehensive" team sets this year except for when they feature either players or coaches not in BBM's team sets.  Their Dragons set this year (like last year) included a card for farm team manager Michihiro Ogasawara:

2019 Epoch Dragons Rookies & Stars #08
I had written before about an oddball 1998 Yoshinobu Takahashi card I'd gotten at Mint Ponyland in Nagoya.  It was part of a four card set that appeared to be a combination of a celebration of the Tokyo Dome's 10th Anniversary and an ad for a card show at the Dome in December of 1998.  I found a complete set on Yahoo! Japan Auctions for something like 480 yen so I asked Ryan to pick it up for me:


The box from Ryan also included the remaining six BBM team sets that I didn't get while I was in Japan - either from Ryan directly or by buying in a card store.  I'll be covering them in my usual BBM team set round up in the next week or so.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

2019 Epoch Pacific League Rookies

Epoch issued a set called Pacific League Rookies a month or so ago.  This is apparently going to be an annual issue for them - at least they did one last year as well.  This set is described almost perfectly by its title - it contains cards of all the "rookies" on the six Pacific League teams this season.

"Rookies" in this case means the non-ikusei draft picks from last October's NPB draft which isn't necessarily the same as all the players in the Pacific League that qualify as rookies this season (i.e. were drafted before 2018 but haven't played much at the ichi-gun level).  The term in this case also doesn't include a certain gaijin who signed with a PL team as an amateur this season.  As I said about last year's set - think of it as half the Rookie Edition set.

The set has 44 cards - all player cards.  Like last year's set they've got a bit of a high end feel - they're thicker than standard cards and they have shiny silver borders.  They scan better than last year's cards did.  The cards feature a photo of the player superimposed on a background that has one of the team's colors at the top that fades to white at the bottom.  Pretty much all the poses are the usual "pitchers pitching, batters batting" shots - I think there's one photo of a runner running.  Here's some example cards:

#29

#08

#18

#37

#23

#02
The cards are sold in a box set that includes some sort of premium card - either a facsimile autograph parallel or a real autographed card.  As always, I got (ok, RYAN got) an opened set that only had the base set.

You can see all the base cards here and some of the premium cards here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

More Epoch One Cards

I mentioned the other day that the package I got from Ryan included a bunch of Epoch One cards.  He had picked up ten more of them after the Carter Stewart card.

If you're not familiar with Epoch One they are essentially NPB's answer to Topps Now.  The cards are made available online for a limited time (3 days) and they only print up as many as are ordered.  Cards are 500 yen (a little less than $5) each including shipping.  Currently Epoch is only doing these cards for nine of the twelve NPB teams - everyone except the Baystars, the Buffaloes and the Eagles.

I really like these cards a lot and Ryan has been amazing about ordering ones that I want.  In fact there's already another six that he's ordered for me or received since he shipped this box to me!  And that doesn't even include the Kodai Senga no-hitter card I assume they'll be offering shortly.

The ones he got me fall into three categories.   The first is cards featuring games that I actually attended.  Considering that nine of the ten NPB games I attended involved at least one team that there were Epoch One cards issued for I was very disappointed that there were only three issued for games I went to.  Even more disappointing is that they were all for the Tigers!  The cards were of Haruto Takahashi getting his first win in over a year against the Giants on May 30th at Koshien, Kenya Nagasaka hitting his first career home run against the Carp in Hiroshima on June 1st and Hiroya Shimamoto getting his first career save against the Marines in Chiba on June 6th.

#251/HT-036

#259/HT-037

#287/HT-039
The second category is cards showing alternate uniforms, in case I ever get around to updating my uniform posts:

#305/CM-030

#313/YG-048

#345/NF-034

#401/SL-049

#458/CM-054
Since Takeya Nakamura's card celebrates his 400th home run, I kinda wish they'd jimmied the numbers to make his card #400 instead of #401.

Shingo Usami was traded from the Giants to the Fighters on June 29th.  This card is the first showing him in a Nippon-Ham uniform and commemorates his first hit (or hits) with the new team.

The final category is cards with photos I like:

#440/CD-031

#461/SL-053
I really like the Akiyama photo but it would be more impressive if you could see the ball as well.  There's no way to know from the picture if he actually caught the ball.  (Spoiler alert - he did.)

The print runs on these cards go from a low of 25 for the Nagasaka card to a high of 83 for the Nakamura card.  (The Akiyama and Laird cards each had print runs of 26.)  I'm planning on at some point generating a list of all the Epoch One cards from both this year and last with their print runs although it's unlikely that I'm going to get to this anytime soon.