Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hankyu Braves Memorial Set

2009 marks the 20th Anniversary of the sale of the Hankyu Braves to the Orix Group. The team was called the Orix Braves for the next two years, then the Orix Blue Wave until after the 2004 season, when the Blue Wave and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes merged and became the Orix Buffaloes. BBM this week announced a memorial set celebrating the Hankyu Braves.

The set is a 50 card box set that will be in the stores January 29. The set includes 48 player cards plus 2 random memorabilia cards so it's a bit on the expensive side - 5250 yen (~$58). The players shown on the web site all played in the 1970's-80's, but since Hankyu had owned the team since 1936, it's probably safe to assume that the set will have earlier players as well.

I suspect that like last year's Lions sets, this will be followed next spring with a pack based 20th Anniversary Orix set, featuring some combination of OB and current players.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sadaharu Oh Tribute Set

BBM has announced that they will be producing a "Thank you Sadaharu Oh" memorial set. This box set will contain 89 "regular" cards plus 1 memorabilia card. The set will be in the stores on January 22 and the SRP is 3150 yen (~$35).

Katsuhiko Maekawa of the St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals have signed Katsuhiko Maekawa to a minor league deal. He had signed a deal with the Nats last year, but didn't play due to visa issues. I did a post on his cards back when he signed with Washington and I don't think there's really any additional information that I've learned about his cards since then (other than he does have Calbee cards in at least the 2000, 2001 and 2002 sets). But just for fun, here's another card of him (2006 Konami Baseball Heroes 2 White Edition #B06W052):

Card Of The Week December 21

Former Baystars manager Daisuke Yamashita was hired by the Dodgers to be an infield coach for their Arizona League minor league team. Here's his 1982 Calbee card (#132):

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well, that didn't take long...

I found these on Ebay today:

I don't think they're licensed or worth the card stock they're printed on, but your mileage may vary.

But you have to admit that I nailed that prediction.

Not that it was that hard to predict.

Card Of The Week December 14

Since there's been a bunch of stuff in the news lately about this, I thought I'd show this card of Ayumi Kataoka (2007 BBM 2nd Version #737). Kataoka is an infielder for the Ibraki Golden Golds, who I think are some sort of semi-pro celebrity team (I'm looking forward to the next installments of Deanna Rubin's very informative primer on all levels of Japanese baseball and hoping that she'll explain what this team really is). Regardless of the level of baseball, it appears that Kataoka is the only other female player in professional baseball in Japan. (As always, please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nippon Series and Eric Schullstrom

Two quick items:

- BBM has announced this year's Nippon Series set. The 60 card box set apparently was released last Saturday (12/6) but only appeared on their website today. As is the case with all the Nippon Series sets, the set contains 52 cards for the players who actually played in the series, cards for each team's manager, three cards for the "Outstanding Player" award winners, one card each for the "Fighting Spirit" and "Series MVP" award winners and a card for the champion Lions. I like the look of the cards this year, especially compared to this year's All Star set.

- NPB Tracker has posted an interesting interview with former Nippon Ham and Hiroshima pitcher Eric Schullstrom who is currently a scout for the Carp. This gives me an excuse to show a card of Schullstrom:

2001 BBM #123

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Everything you ever wanted to know about Korean baseball cards

To put the title more accurately, this post is really everything that I know about Korean baseball cards.

After reading the recent news that former Doosan Bears pitcher Lee Hei Chun had joined the Swallows, I thought it'd be good to write a little something about Korean baseball cards. From what I can tell, there haven't been a lot of baseball cards for the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The KBO started in the early 1980's, so obviously there's not a huge stretch of history to be wondering about. My biggest reference on this (other than just what I've seen out there) is Rob Fitts' Korean baseball card page.

So anyway, as far as I know, Korean baseball cards were limited to team issued sets - kind of like American minor league sets until 1999. That year, Teleca issued the first "American style" set - a 232 card set sold in packs (with various insert cards including autographed cards). They also issued a 100 card high end set called "Premium" and a 23 card All Star set (that I assume was sold in a box like the BBM All Star sets, but I don't know that for sure). The packs of the Premium set were interesting as they were little boxes rather than the traditional packs. The following year (2000), Teleca issued another 200+ card pack-based set, although I have no knowledge of them doing either a Premium or All Star set. After that, it does not appear that anyone has issued any Korean cards. Rob has nothing later than the 2000 cards on his website, and I've never seen anything else on Ebay (at least nothing I could date).

So, in a nutshell, other than some team issued sets, the only serious Korean baseball cards were produced by Teleca in 1999 and 2000. If anyone has more information than this, please let me know.

I like the two "regular" sets a lot. The 1999 cards have no borders and the 2000 cards only have a border on the bottom, so I find them very attractive, even if I have no idea who 95% of the guys are. The Premium set...not so much. They're silvery with no backgrounds to the pictures, kind of like Diamond Heroes or Topps Finest. They just aren't my cup of tea.

Here's some sample cards. First, from the 1999 regular set, the aforementioned Lee Hei Chun (#11) and Lee Seung Yeop (#80):

From the 1999 Premium set, Felix Jose (#47) and Koo Dae Sung (#75):

From the 2000 set, Kim Min Jae (#41) and Charles "Bubba" Smith (#71).

Bubba Smith is a legend in minor league baseball and it was because of him that I ended up getting some Korean cards in the first place.

Card Of The Week December 7

For no particular reason:

1995 BBM #586

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Goodbye Hiroshima Shimin Kyujo

New BBM set announced today: a commemorative box set for Hiroshima Municipal Stadium. The set features 46 cards - 3 "history cards", 6 "victory cards", 18 OB Carp players and 18 2008 Carp players plus one parallel/photo/autographed/memorabilia card. Suggested retail price in 4200 yen (~$45).

Update - I forgot to mention that it will be in stores on December 11th.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Card Of The Week November 30

Daisuke Miura has resigned with the Yokohama BayStars. Here's his 1994 Takara card:

A Prediction

See this card?

This is a 1989 "Big League Starz" card of Cecil Fielder. There were cards of Fielder in the 1989 Calbee, Takara and Lotte sets (as well as a rumored card in the 1990 Lotte set). Those cards were all licensed by NPB and (I assume) the Japanese Pro Baseball Players Association (JPBPA). The "Big League Starz" card was not. Someone printed up the cards in 1990 and sold them wherever they could, probably to people who didn't know (or really care) any better.

I picked the card up on eBay for next to nothing (and I knew at the time it was unlicensed). I have noticed every year since Ichiro came over that there have been cards on eBay for the new Japanese players that I've never seen before. Cards like this one of Akinori Iwamura:

Now, I don't understand all the legal stuff that goes on with licensing and baseball cards, but I strongly suspect that cards like this are unlicensed.

So anyway the big news right now is that Junichi Tazawa is officially signing with the Red Sox tomorrow. As far as I know, there are no baseball cards that exist of Tazawa. I do not believe that his industrial league team has any baseball cards. But I predict that before spring training, someone will be selling a baseball card of Tazawa on eBay. It'll say "Future Star" or something like that on it or possibly the seller will claim it's a Japanese card of Tazawa. But it'll be unlicensed and essentially worthless.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun stuff

Deanna Rubin was kind enough to pick me up a set of the "Kiyohara Security System" stickers on one her recent visits to Osaka Dome (no check from company holding naming rights, no mention of their name). I got them in the mail today:

Not being able to read Japanese, I don't know what they say (although Deanna said that a couple of them - I'm guessing the ones on the bottom - say something like "Be careful! A loud-ass bell will sound!"), but I find them very amusing anyway.

Deanna also included one of the Bikkuriman Pro Yakyu 2008 stickers with the Kiyohara stickers. This one is of Toshihisa Nishi of the BayStars:

So thanks for the goodies, Deanna!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Card Of The Week November 23

I can be remarkably stupid at times.

This, I fear, comes as no great shock to anyone who knows me well. (Hmm, perhaps that sentence could be equally true without the "well".)

The latest manifestation of my stupidity involves the manager of the Orix Buffaloes. Back in May when Terry Collins resigned as Orix manager, I saw that the new manager was "Ohishi Daijiro" and because I'm an idiot (and I don't speak Japanese), I assumed his family name as "Daijiro". Now, if I were more familiar with Japanese names, I assume that I would have realized that that was stupid. So I looked in my baseball card database and in Japan Baseball Daily's Data Warehouse for an Ohishi Daijiro. Surprise, surprise...I didn't find him. So I wrote something about not being sure he had ever played pro baseball and moved on. And didn't pay any attention any other time that I read or heard his name mentioned.

I realized today that I'd been stupid and I should have been looking for "Daijiro Ohishi" instead. Given that he played 17 years for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, it turns out I have a bunch of cards of him, including cards in both the 2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 set and the 2002 BBM All Time Greats set. Here's one of the cards from the 20th Century Best 9 set (#296):

So, my apologies to Ohishi-kantoku and anyone who I misled. All I can say is "D'oh!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hey, How Come...

This post over at reminded me of things that I had wondered about when I started collecting Japanese Baseball cards. So in case anyone else was wondering...

1. What's the deal with the stuffed animals?

When batters for the home team hit home runs, they get handed one or more stuffed dolls of the team mascot to either throw into the crowd or keep. Here's a couple of videos from YouTube showing this, one of Julio Zuleta and one of Kenshin Kawakami.

I'm having a difficult time imagining David Ortiz throwing a Wally doll into the crowd at Fenway.

(2002 BBM Preview Team Leaders Insert A1)

2. Why does this BayStars player's uniform say "Searex" or "Shonan"?

The farm teams for the teams in NPB are different than the farm teams for the MLB teams. For one thing, each NPB team has only one farm team. This team can be referred to as the ni-gun team with the major league team being the ichi-gun team. For the most part, each farm team has the same name and uniform as its parent team. The BayStars are one of the exceptions. Their farm team is the Shonan Searex. Orix is another exception. Their team is Surpass (I think). I've seen a bunch of cards of Yokohama players wearing Searex uniforms, but I haven't been able to find any cards showing Surpass players.

This sort of answers the other question I get from time to time: are there any minor league cards in Japan? The answer is kind of yes-and-no. Yes, there are cards of minor league players (both the regular BBM sets and team sets contain cards of guys who are on the ni-gun team). No, there are no specific cards for say the Giants' ni-gun team. I don't believe you could buy a Shonan Searex team set the same way you could buy a Durham Bulls one.

I do not know if any of the teams in the couple of independent minor leagues in Japan or the industrial league teams have cards. I'd be very interested in knowing if they did.

(2001 BBM #75)

3. What are the Shoriki and Sawamura awards?

The Shoriki award is given to the person who has contributed the most to the "development of professional baseball" (which seems as nebulous as "most valuable player"). It is named for Matsutaro Shoriki, the founder of the Yomiuri Giants. It looks to me like more often than not it is given to the manager of the winning team in the Nippon Series. It has been awarded 34 times since 1977 (two people shared the award in 1994 and 2003). 22 of those award winners have been managers - 18 of them were managers of the champion team. The last player to win the award was Hideki Matsui of the Giants in 2000.

The Sawamura Award is given to the best starting pitcher in NPB. It's often called the equivalent of MLB's Cy Young Award, but it actually predates it by nine years (1947 vs 1956). Until 1990, the award was only given to Central League pitchers - Hideo Nomo was the first Pacific League pitcher to win the award. The award is named for Eiji Sawamura. There is only one award for both leagues (like the Cy Young was until 1967) and there have been years in which no one was deserving of the award (most recently in 2000).

(2000 BBM #29, 2003 BBM 1st Version #402)

4. What's so special about "Hanshin"?

This is NOT a request for Tiger fans to tell me why the Tigers are so great. This is something a little subtle that I've noticed. On the "regular" player cards for both BBM and Calbee, the team name listed for the player is usually just the team's nickname, not the full name (i.e. "Giants", not "Yomiuri Giants"). For some reason, for Tigers players, the full name ("Hanshin Tigers") is almost always listed.

It wasn't always like this. As far as I can tell, it started in 2001. The 2001 BBM Preview set had "Tigers", but the 2001 BBM regular set had "Hanshin Tigers". Since then, every BBM 1st & 2nd Version set, pretty much every All Star, Preview, Rookie and "Historic Collection" set and every Calbee set I've looked at has had "Hanshin Tigers" for Tigers players. Some of the sets have the full team name for all teams, but other than the 2002 BBM All Time Heroes set, I haven't seen a set since 2001 that lists the Hanshin players' team simply as "Tigers".

So...why is this? I don't know. It's been bugging me for a while, so if any of you have an answer, please share it.

(2003 Calbee #26 & #71)

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 Award Winners

Alex Ramirez of the Giants and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Golden Eagles were named the Central and Pacific League MVPs this week. Here are Ramirez's 1st Version (#025) and Iwakuma's 2nd Version (#672) 2008 BBM cards:

The Rookie Of The Year awards went to Tetsuya Yamaguchi of the Giants and Satoshi Komatsu of the Buffaloes. Here's Yamaguchi's 1st Version (#017) and Komatsu's 2nd Version (#704) cards:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Card Of The Week November 16

I am currently in San Antonio, Texas, running in the Rock'N'Roll Marathon. However, unlike these guys, I am not wearing a Giants uniform.

1978 NST Mr. Giants #166

Thursday, November 13, 2008

One Year Later

Today marks the one year anniversary of my first post. I didn't really have any expectations about how well this would go, no real idea if I'd have any kind of audience, and no idea if I'd get tired of doing it. It's turned out to be a lot of fun and I hope that it's been helpful. I've been discovering how hard it really is to write regularly - both in finding time to post and doing the actual writing. Like Steve Martin once said: "Some people have a way with words. Other people...not have way". I think I'm in the latter category more than I'd like but I'm working at it.

So anyway, if you're reading this, thank you. Let's see how this goes for another year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2008 BBM Olympic Team set

I picked up the 2008 BBM "All Japan National Team" box set the other day from someone on Ebay. This is the set for the Olympic team, but I'm guessing that for some licensing reason, BBM can't acknowledge that. There's 28 cards, one for each of the 24 team members and 4 coaches (including manager Senichi Hoshino). (The actual box set contains an insert card also - there's a 28 card insert set. Since I bought essentially an open box, I didn't get an insert card.)

The set is what it is. It's not particularly spectacular in any way, but it's nice enough. I don't like the greyed-out backgrounds though. It looks like everyone's playing in a fog (hmm, remind anyone of Game 1 of the 2005 Nippon Series?)

New BBM sets

OK, I'm going to pat myself on the back for a second here. When I wrote up the Yokohama 30th Anniversary set last month, I had some comments about possible future Anniversary sets that BBM could do. Well, I nailed at least one of those. On BBM's website today came news of a 40th Anniversary Lotte set.

In 1969, the Korean company Lotte bought the Tokyo Orions. (I'm trying to figure out who actually owned them before that - it looks like it might be a combination of Daiei and Mainichi. The team was known as the Daimai Orions for a couple of years after the Daiei Stars and Mainichi Orions merged in 1958.) The team was kind of nomadic for a few years after Lotte bought them, playing in Tokyo, then Sendai (in the stadium the Eagles play in now), then Kawasaki (after the Whales moved to Yokohama) then finally to their current home in Chiba City in 1992. Upon arriving in Chiba City, the team changed its name from the Lotte Orions to the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The set looks kind of like the other anniversary sets. There's a six card "history" subset, 75 cards of OB players (which I'm going to assume may include former Lotte players still active in either NPB or MLB but I don't know that for sure) and 18 cards of current (2008) Marines. There's the usual assortment of insert and memorabilia cards also. The set hits the stores on November 22.

Also newly listed on the BBM website today is their 2009 entry in the "Historic Collection" series. If you recall, last year's set was "Back To The 70's" which featured OB players who starred in the 1970's and current players who were born in the 1970's. This year, BBM has decided to continue in that vein with "Back To The 80's", featuring 72 OB players who starred in the 1980's and 72 current players who were born in the 1980's. The set will also have the usual inserts and memorabilia cards and will be in stores on November 28.

I really want to like the "Historic Collection" cards, but BBM has been making it hard. This year's theme is the dumbest they've had since...well, last year. It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the OB players - stars of the 70's and 80's makes sense. Doing a "Stars of..." for earlier decades would be kind of cool too. But insisting that the same number of current players as OB players fit whatever the theme is is a recipe for a lousy set. (That said, I'll probably still pick up the set if I can get it reasonably cheap or at least get some packs.)

On the plus side, I don't think BBM will be able to do a "Back to the 90's" set next year unless they want to only have a 50 card set.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Card Of The Week November 9

The Saitama Seibu Lions defeated the Yomiuri Giants 3-2 today to win Game 7 and the Nippon Series. This was the Lions' 13th championship (10th under Seibu's ownership) and extends the Giants championship drought to at least 7 years (2002-2009). (The record for longest time the Giants have gone between championships is 8 years, which has happened twice - from 1973 to 1981 and from 1981 to 1989 - so it's in reach.)

Lions pitcher Takayuki Kishi was named Series MVP. Here's his rookie card from the 2007 BBM 1st Version set (#68):

So the Asia Series will kick off later this week (I think) as the "Three Lions and a Wyvern Series" with the Saitama Seibu Lions, the Tianjin Lions (CBL), the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions (CPBL) and the SK Wyverns (KBO).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Ichiro reminds you to vote!

(2000 BBM All Stars #A67)

Monday, November 3, 2008

WBC Preview Set

If I wasn't clear the other day, the new Topps WBC Preview set shows MLB players from the 2006 WBC in their WBC uniforms. Here's the Akinori Iwamura card (#WBC4):

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Card Of The Week November 2

Lions pitcher Hideaki Wakui pitched eight innings of one hit ball and defeated the Giants 2-1 in Game One of the Nippon Series yesterday. Here's his 2005 BBM 1st Version rookie card (#37):

I'm pulling for the Lions not simply because they're playing the Giants (and they are probably my favorite Pacific League team), but also because I'd like to see as much of this happen as is possible. Now, since that post appeared, the Samsung Lions were eliminated in the KBO (the SK Wyverns won the championship the other day), so four Lions is no longer possible. However, the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions could still win the CPBL (Taiwan) championship (Game 7 is probably finishing as I write this), so a three Lions series is still possible. We should be able to find out by checking here later.

Update: It is at least a two Lion Series.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

WBC News

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara was named manager of Japan's World Baseball Classic team last week. Hara will be replacing Sadaharu Oh, something he should be familiar with since he replaced Oh in the Giants lineup back in 1981. (The card above is from the 2002 BBM Giants set, card #G1.)

In other WBC news, it appears that Topps has replaced Upper Deck as the official card producer for the tournament. The new Topps "Updates and Highlights" set features a 25 card insert set that they're calling the "2009 WBC Preview" set. It contains cards of players who appeared in the 2006 WBC. I think all the players in the set are in MLB or at least signed to MLB teams with the exception of Paul Bell, a South African player who used to be in the Brewers organization.

There are four Japanese players in the set - Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kosuke Fukudome and Akinori Iwamura. Neither Fukudome or Iwamura appeared in either Upper Deck's WBC box set or Inaugural Images set, although I think Fukudome appeared in one of the other couple of insert sets Upper Deck scattered WBC players through in 2006.

Hopefully, Topps will do a better job than Upper Deck with the 2009 cards. I'd like something akin to Upper Deck's 1994 World Cup set, but that may be asking too much.

Friday, October 31, 2008

2009 NPB Draft

The 2009 NPB Draft was held yesterday. Deanna Rubin has published the list of players drafted both here and (with pictures) here.

Most of the players who were picked will have their first cards ever in the 2009 BBM Rookie Edition set, which should come out next February. For the first time ever, however, a couple of these guys already have cards. They appear in last spring's BBM Tokyo Big 6 set.

Here's a list of players from that set who were drafted:
Takeshi Hosoyamada, Waseda (Baystars #4)
Shinji Iwata, Meiji (Dragons #5)
Takeshi Komatsu, Hosei (Carp #3)
Keijiro Matsumoto, Waseda (Baystars #1)
Hiroki Uemoto, Waseda (Tigers #3)

Here's the cards of Matsumoto (#9) and Iwata (#11) from the set:

It is entirely possible that there are additional cards of these players in the Fall Version of the Tokyo Big 6 set. It is also possible that there are cards of these and other players in the collegiate National Team Set. I can't say for sure since I don't have either set yet (the National Team set was just released yesterday).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Overstock Sale

Just a quick note - Yakyu Shop has an overstock sale going on. No cards, but they've got a bunch of discounted jerseys and hats. The sale items are here. So for those of you in the States that would like some NPB wear, this might be your best bet on getting something cheap.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Card Of The Week October 26

Manager Marty Brown and the Carp have re-upped for another year. Brown made a splash in his first year as manager with the following incident:

Here's his 2007 card from the BBM 1st Version set (#361). I'm not sure anyone's going to buy the "who me?" look I think he's going for here:

Thanks to Japan Baseball Daily's video archive for the link to the video.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yokohama 30th Anniversary Set

My 2008 BBM Yokohama 30th Anniversary set arrived the other day. As I mentioned before, after the 1977 season the Taiyo Whales moved from Kawasaki to Yokohama. They changed their name first to the Yokohama Taiyo Whales, then in 1993 to the Yokohama BayStars. (They are the only team in Japan to not have their ownership reflected in their official name.) BBM released a 99 card set to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the team bing in Yokohama.

The first 63 cards of the set are all OB players and managers. As with the other Anniversary sets that BBM has put out, this includes not only retired players, but former Baystars still playing both in NPB (Motonobu Tanishige) and MLB (Takashi Saitoh). Significant players and managers include Kaoru Betto, Kazuhiko Endoh, Masaji Hiramatsu, Norihiro Komada, Leon Lee, Makoto Matsubara, Bobby Rose, and Kazuhiro Sasaki. I have to confess that I don't know enough about Yokohama to notice if anyone significant is missing, although I would have liked a Felix Millan card. Here's the cards of Leon Lee (#40) and Motonobu Tanishige (#33):

The next 18 cards feature the current manager (Akihiko Ohya) and current players. I was amused that Kimiyasu Kudoh was among these cards. Kudoh was in both the Lions 30th Anniversary set and the Hawks 70th Anniversary set earlier this year, as well as the 2004 Giants 70th Anniversary set. BBM has done six team Anniversary sets in the past four years and Kudoh has been in four of them. Here's his card (#70):

The next 9 cards feature the position players of the 1998 Nippon Series champion BayStars, along with a card celebrating the team's championship. Here's the Takuro Ishii card from this subset (#82):

The final 9 cards of the set are the "The Big Scene" subset. These cards commemorate significant events in the BayStars/Whales 30 seasons. This includes Masaji Hiramtsu's 200th win in 1983, the "Super Car Trio" of Takagi, Katoh and Yashiki in 1985, Tatsuhiko Kinjoh's Rookie Of The Year award in 2000 and Takuro Ishii's 2000th hit in 2006. Here's the card celebrating the first game in Yokohama (#91):

I have to say that I was kind of disappointed with this set. Maybe it's just my unfamiliarity with Yokohama, but I just wasn't real impressed with it. A lot of the pictures seem blurry and dark and it just kind of seems like a sloppy job by BBM, especially compared to the Lions and Hawks Anniversary sets.

BBM has now done Anniversary sets for six of the twelve teams in NPB - the Giants (70th in 2004), the Tigers (70th in 2005), the Dragons (70th in 2006) and the Lions, Hawks and BayStars this year. I'm curious if they plan sets for any of the other teams. The Marines and Swallows will celebrate the 40th Anniversaries of their ownership by Lotte and Yakult respectively next year. The Fighters will have their 35th Anniversary of their ownership by Nippon Ham next year also. Orix bought the Braves from Hankyu 20 years ago next year. And the Carp will celebrate their 60th Anniversary in 2010. I could see BBM doing sets for all of these, leaving only the Golden Eagles (who are going into only their fifth season next year) without an Anniversary set.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go Dragons!

Making me feel a little better about this, Tyrone Woods hit a two run homer in the top of the ninth today to lead the Dragons past the Tigers in the deciding game of Stage 1 of the Central League Climax Series. The Dragons will now face the Giants in Stage 2 to see who will represent the Central League in the Nippon Series.

As an aside, it looks like BBM will not be doing Climax Series sets this season. They had typically done something the past few seasons, either individual box sets for the teams involved or a box set for all teams involved. (Prior to the playoffs, they would do a box set for each of the pennant winners.) But I don't see anything on their website. That's not necessarily conclusive (they never listed last year's Nippon Series set), but it does make me wonder.

(The above is Tyrone Woods' card from last year's Dragons Climax Series set - #D20)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Card Of The Week October 19

Yokohama BayStars outfielder Takanori Suzuki announced last week that he was retiring. Here's his card from the 1998 BBM Nippon Series set (#S22). He hit .480 (12-25), scoring 9 runs with 3 doubles, 1 homer and 8 RBIs, good enough to be named the MVP of the Series. The BayStars won in 6.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Koji Akiyama

To the surprise of no one, the Hawks announced a couple of weeks ago that Koji Akiyama would be succeeding Sadaharu Oh as manager. I thought a little retrospective would be in order, especially since Akiyama was one of my favorite players.

He signed with the Lions in 1981 after not being drafted (although like Takuro Ishii, he appears in the 2007 BBM Draft Story set). He briefly played for them in 1981, then was farmed out for two years - 1982 in Japan and 1983 playing for San Jose in the California League. (San Jose was a coop and/or independent team for much of the 1980's and had a working agreement with Seibu.) He joined the Lions to stay in 1984 and hit over 40 home runs a season from 1985-87. Here's his 1984 Mizuno Menko card:

1989 Calbee #101:

He left the Lions for the Hawks as a free agent following the 1993 season. Curiously, he appears to have left his power in Saitama. He hit 328 home runs for the Lions from 1984-1993. He would hit only 109 in Fukuoka from 1994-2002. Here's his 1994 BBM card (#463):

1995 BBM #589:

He got his 2000th hit on August 18, 2000, commemorated here with a Memorial Records subset card from the 2001 BBM set (#524):

He retired at the end of the 2002 season. His 2003 BBM 1st Version 2002 Retirement Player subset card (#416) shows him being tossed in the air by his former team rather than his current team. I think Kazuhiro Kiyohara got similar treatment this season.

Akiyama played in 10 Nippon Series, 8 with the Lions and two for the Hawks. He is the only player to win Nippon Series MVP's with two different teams - 1991 with the Lions and 1999 with the Hawks. Here's his 1999 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S64):

Akiyama was known for occasionally doing back flips when he hit a game winning home run. BBM has immortalized this twice that I know of. This is his 1991 BBM Nippon Series MVP card (#S58):

This is his card from the 2008 BBM Lions 30th Anniversary set (#27):

I think that this last card shows the back flip he did during Game 8 of the 1986 Series against the Carp. I found this YouTube video of this home run and flip:

I found a couple other YouTube videos of interest. Both are from the 1999 Nippon Series. The first (which I couldn't embed) is of a home run he hit of Shigeki Noguchi in Game 1. The other is of a great catch he made during Game 3: