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.