Sunday, January 25, 2009

Card Of The Week January 25

Former Hawk, White Sox, Padres and Phillie Tadahito Iguchi is returning to Japan to play for the Marines. I read that they've given him uniform #6, which was Hiromitsu Ochiai's old number. No pressure or anything.

Here's his card from the 2003 JPBPA set:

The 2003 JPBPA set was a 60 card set produced by the Japanese Professional Baseball Players Association (the Japanese player's union). Each card featured a drawing of the player. It doesn't look the set was licensed by NPB, so there are no team logos or even names (there are some card issues in the US that are licensed by the player's association, but not MLB, so the team logos on the uniforms are airbrushed off). Instead of a pack, the cards came in a little box that included a little player pin. It was an odd little set that was only issued the one time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Career Home Run Leaders #12 - Shigeo Nagashima

Number 12 on the list, but number one in the hearts of many fans is Mr. Giants, Shigeo Nagashima. I will leave a description of Nagashima's place in Japanese baseball for others but think of the way baby boomers think of Mickey Mantle, only more so. (In fact I would bet that a really interesting sociological thesis comparing Mantle's and Nagashima's roles in the post-World War II culture in both countries could be written.)

Anyway, Nagashima had 444 career home runs, all while playing for the Yomiuri Giants from 1958 until 1974. Here's a smattering of his cards:

BBM put out a whole set dedicated to him in 1999. This card (#G27) shows him in his Rikkyo University uniform, sometime in the mid-1950's:

A Doyusha "4-in-1" bromide from 1960. Nagashima is on the lower right (obviously). (That's Kazuhisa Inao in the upper left and Tetsuya Yoneda in the lower left):

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #099. If "History Of Uniform" is to be believed, this picture is from 1960:

1964 Marukami Menko:

2002 BBM All Time Heroes #005. Don't know when the picture was taken, but it's a great shot:

1974/75 Calbee #426. This card shows his retirement ceremony on October 12, 1974. (I think that might be Sadaharu Oh bringing him the flowers):

1975/76 Calbee #604, as Giants manager. Nagashima managed the Giants from 1975-80, then again from 1993-2001. He also managed the Japanese National Team for the 2003 Asian Championship. He was expected to manage the 2004 Olympic team, but he suffered a stroke and had to step down:

Rob Fitts has a gallery of cards here.

(The card at the top of the post is 2002 BBM 2nd Version #834)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2008 BBM Nippon Series Set

BBM brings an end to their 2008 cards with the annual Nippon Series box set. This 62 card set features cards of every member of the Giants and Lions who appeared in this past fall's Nippon Series, plus cards of both managers. In addition, there are cards for the Series MVP (Takayuki Kishi), the Fighting Spirit award winner (Alex Ramirez) and the Outstanding Player award winners (Hiroshi Hirao, Hiroyuki Nakajima, and Takahiro Suzuki) as well as a "Lions Champion" card (#S62, shown above).

One thing I've always liked about the Nippon Series sets is that the pictures on the cards are from the actual series. In the past this has lead to cool cards like those for Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Koji Akiyama in 1991, as well as some cards showing the fog during the Game 1 in 2005. This year, there's no real memorable cards in the set. (Not surprisingly, this event didn't get any coverage in the cards.) I mean, the photos are nice and all, but there's no real sense that they are from the Series rather than just any other game.

Here are the cards of Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Lions (#S17) and Takuya Kimura of the Giants (#S45):

Nice photos, but they could have been taken anytime.

I did like the photo on Takahiro Suzuki's Outstanding Player award card (#S61):

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2008 Hiroshima Memorial set

Another one of the sets that I received last week was the 2008 BBM Hiroshima Memorial set. This set commemorates the closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium last September. It's a boxed set containing 45 cards plus a parallel/photo/autographed/memorabilia card (as usual, I got an opened set, so I didn't get the extra card).

The set features a three card "History" subset which has cards for the first and last games at the ballpark and a card highlighting all the All Star games played there; a six card "Victory" subset with one card each for the six Central League pennants the Carp have won while playing at the park; an 18 card subset featuring OB players; and an 18 card subset featuring 2008 Carp players, all of whom are wearing turn-back-the-clock uniforms.

The OB players subset is a little different than the usual OB player subsets in the recent Anniversary sets. Each of the 18 cards features an event that occurred at the ballpark and a player associated with it. Some of the events include Yoshiro Sotokoba's perfect game in 1968, Sachio Kinugasa passing Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played in 1987, Shinji Sasaoka's nohitter in 1999 and Kenjiro Nomura's 2000th hit in 2005.

Here's some sample cards:

That's the "History" card commemorating the opening of the ballpark (#01), the "Victory" card for the Carp's Central League pennant in 1975 (#04), Akira Etoh's OB card commemorating his record 16 home runs in August of 1994 (#23) and the 2008 Carp subset card of Soichiro Amaya (#44).

Card Of The Week January 18

I had mentioned the other day that the new BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary set did not include a card of Masahide Kaneda, their manager during much of the 1970's (and the only 400 game winner in NBP history). Here's a card from the 1975 NST Mr. Baseball set:

At least, I think this card is from the NST set. It's a blank backed card, so there's no number or anything on it. The "cards" in the NST set were actually stickers that could be pasted into a book. There was a parallel issue that were blank backed cards. I've been assuming that the card is one of these parallel cards, but I could be wrong.

Friday, January 16, 2009

2008 BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary set

Back in November, BBM released a 99 card set to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Lotte buying the Orions (now Marines) in 1969. This was one of the sets I got in the mail last week.

As I said in my earlier post when the set got announced, the set looks quite a bit like the other three anniversary sets BBM put out last year (the Lions, the Hawks and the Baystars). There are a six card "history" subset, showing pictures from various significant events in Lotte's tenure and the year-by-year results for the team on the back. There are 74 cards for OB players and 19 cards for the current (2008) team. (These counts are different from the original listing on the website.)

As was the case with the other sets, the OB players include a combination of retired players (Michio Arito, Isao Harimoto, Leron Lee, Leon Lee, Tomohiro Kuroki, Koji Yamamoto (the other one), Shinichi Etoh, Julio Franco, Hiromitsu Ochiai), managers (Kazuhisa Inao, Kazuhiro Yamauchi) and ex-Lotte players playing elsewhere both in NPB (Seung-Yeop Lee) and MLB (Masahide Kobayashi, Yasuhiko Yabuta). I don't know Lotte's history real well, so the only people that are obviously missing to me are Masaichi Kaneda, who managed them in the mid-1970's (including the 1974 Nippon Series Champions) and (as was the case with the Hawks and Lions) Katsuya Nomura. Nomura only played with the Orions for a single season (1978), but there are players who do appear in the set that only played for Lotte for two years (Harimoto and Franco).

For the most part, I think it's a pretty nice set. My only real complaint is that there are more black-and-white photos in the set than I would expect, given that all the pictures are since 1969. I do like the fact that most of the 2008 players are shown wearing "Turn-Back-The-Clock" Orions uniforms.

Here's some sample cards. That's one of the "History" subset cards (#02, showing the 1974 Nippon Series Champs); the OB cards of Keisuke Senda (#20), Kiyoshi Hatsushiba (#59) and a somewhat svelte Hideki Irabu (#55); and the cards of 2008 Marines Daisuke Hayakawa (#99) and Yasutomo Kubo (#84).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kenshin Kawakami of the Atlanta Braves

Chunichi Dragons pitcher Kenshin Kawakami signed with the Braves this week. Kawakami has rookie cards in both the 1998 BBM (#385) and Calbee (#091) sets as well as the 1998 Takara Dragons set. He appears in BBM All Star sets from 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004-06 and 2008 and the Nippon Series sets from 1999, 2004, 2006 and 2007. He's also in the 2008 BBM National (Olympic) Team set. He surprisingly is not in any of the Upper Deck sets from 2000 and 2001. (OK, actually that's not quite true. He appears in the "Rising Stars" insert set for the 2000 Ovation set.) (This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, just some of the highlights.)

Here's some cards:

From top to bottom, that's his 1998 BBM rookie card (# 385), 1999 The Television Sports, 2003 Calbee (#102) and 2008 BBM National Team (#JPN05).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 Hall Of Fame class

The 2009 Japanese Baseball Hall Of Fame class was announced today and it includes Tsutomu Wakamatsu and Noboru Aota. Wakamatsu was an outfielder for the Yakult Atoms/Swallows from 1971 until 1989. He also managed them from 1999 until 2004, winning the Nippon Series in 2001 over the Buffaloes. His .319 career batting average is second only to Leron Lee's .320 for NBP batters with at least 4000 at bats. Aota played for the Giants, the Hankyu Braves, and the Taiyo Whales/Robins from 1942 until 1959, except for a stint in the military in 1944-45. According to Japan Baseball Daily, he held the career home run record (with 265) until 1963. (I'm not sure who passed him - Katsuya Nomura maybe?).

Anyway, here's some cards of the new inductees:

Wakamatsu from the 1977 Yamakatsu "JY3" set:

Wakamatsu celebrating the Swallows Championship in 2001 (2001 BBM Nippon Series #S1):

I don't have any cards of Aota from when he was actually playing, but I've got a couple from recent BBM OB sets. Here's one from the 2000 Century Best 9 set (#088):

2005 BBM Glorious Stars #017:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Card Of The Week January 11

This is a 1964 Morinaga Standup card of Dragons pitcher Yasuhiko Kawamura. The Morinaga Standups were larger than modern cards but a little smaller than postcards. They had die-cut parts on the back of the card that you could fold out to make a little easel for the card to rest against, making it "stand up".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Career Home Run Leaders #13 - Tuffy Rhodes

With the retirement of Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes is now the active leader in home runs in the NBP with a total of 442. Rhodes joined the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1996 and moved to the Giants in 2004. He sat out the 2006 season (after going to spring training with the Cincinnati Reds), then returned to Japan in 2007 with the Orix Buffaloes. He is only the second foreign player to play long enough in Japan to no longer be considered a gaijin, at least for roster purposes (I think the first was Leron Lee, but I'm not sure).

I'm going to include a couple scans here, but Jason's really got this covered. Here's a couple of cards on his wantlist (which sadly I can't help him with):

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #120:

2000 Konami Field Of 9 #FON00T-351:

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S55 (I believe that this is him hitting a home run in Game 2 of the Series):

2004 BBM Giants 70th Anniversary set (#092):

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 BBM College National Team

BBM issued a third collegiate set last year in October with the College National set. This box set contained cards honoring the 22 players (no coaches) on the collegiate National team. There are two cards for each player (an action shot on one card and something that looks a little like a 1955 Topps card for the other) plus an additional insert card for one of the players (I got an opened set without the insert) for a total of 45 cards.

As with the other sets, this one includes players taken in the 2009 Draft. There were 14 players in the set who were drafted (including four of the five drafted players who appeared in the Tokyo Big 6 sets). (The fact that the cards showed which college the player attended was a huge help in figuring this out.) Here's the list:

Takeshi Hosoyamada, Waseda (Baystars #4)
Yusuke Inoue, Aoyama Gakuin Univ (Eagles #4)
Takahiro Iwamoto, Asia Univ (Carp #1)
Kyohei Iwasaki, Tokai Univ (Dragons #3)
Shinji Iwata, Meiji (Dragons #5)
Keijiro Matsumoto, Waseda (Baystars #1)
Hiroki Nakazawa, Kokusai Budo Univ (Giants #6)
Shota Ohno, Toyo Univ (Fighters #1)
Kohei Shibata, Kokusai Budo Univ (Tigers #2)
Tsuyoshi Takashima, Aoyama Gakuin Univ (Buffaloes #4)
Shingo Tatsumi, Kinki (Hawks #1)
Toshiki Tsubo, Tsukuba Univ (Marines #4)
Hiroki Uemoto, Waseda (Tigers #3)
Noriharu Yamazaki, Yokohama Shogyo Univ (Baystars #3)

Here's a couple example cards:

That's the "action" cards of Takeshi Hosoyamada (#CN09) and Hiroki Nakazawa (#CN11) and the 1955 Topps-ish card of Shota Ohno (#CN32).

And just so you know, these are the same players who have autograph and memorabilia cards inserted in the Upper Deck Collegiate Team USA set last summer.

Koji Uehara of the Baltimore Orioles

Koji Uehara, formerly of the Yomiuri Giants, this week finalized a 2-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles. His BBM rookie card was in the 1999 set (#329). He had a couple rookie cards in the 1999 Calbee set - #091, #163, and #252. He appears in the BBM All Star sets from 1999-2005 and 2007, the BBM Nippon Series sets for 2000, 2002 and 2008, and the BBM National Team sets from 2003 and 2008. He is in the 2000 Ovation and Victory sets and the 2001 Upper Deck set, but oddly enough not the 2001 Victory set (For whatever reason, Upper Deck chose Darrell May instead for the Strike King subset). (As always, this is not a complete list, but some of the highlights.)

Here's some of his cards:

From top to bottom, that's his 1999 BBM Rookie card (#329), one of his 1999 Calbee rookie cards (#091), 2001 BBM (#34), 2003 Calbee Title Holder subset (#T-19), 2005 Prime 9 Special Team Edition (#PN05STE-039) and 2006 Upper Deck Inaugural Images (#II-17).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 Rookie Edition

BBM added a page for the 2009 Rookie Edition set to their website today. The Rookie Edition set generally contains cards of the players drafted in the previous year's draft(s). (Oddly enough, even though the draft happened in 2008, it's referred to as the 2009 draft, or it least it will on the baseball cards). It's an 126 card, pack-based set with 95 cards for players who were drafted, 24 cards of active players (I'm betting that that's 2 per team), 2 cards for the new managers (Koji Akiyama of the Hawks and Akinobu Mayumi of the Tigers) and 5 cards that the Babel Fish translation is saying are "transfer interview card (The player who is transferred to this off new world)". I have no idea what that means.

The page on the website doesn't show any example cards. I hope that doesn't mean the cards are hideous. They couldn't be uglier than last year's cards, could they?

Monday, January 5, 2009

BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version set

I got a bunch of cards in the mail today from Japan, so I'll be trying to do a bunch of posts on some recent sets in the next week or so. First up is the BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version set. As I mentioned before, this is a 36 card (plus 1 insert card) boxed set that came out last September. The cards are evenly divided among the six university teams with each team having five player cards plus a team card. (I can't comment on the insert card because I bought an opened set that didn't include it.) About half the players in the set were also in the larger Tokyo Big 6 set that came out last spring (referred to as the "Spring Version" of course). Like the earlier set, this set is very good looking, with a simple card design and a lot of nice photography.

As I did with the Spring Version, I went and checked to see who in the set was drafted in the NPB draft back in October. As Deanna said in the comment to that post, the same five players that appeared in the earlier set who were drafted also appear in this one. They are:

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)

That actually was all the Tokyo Big 6 players taken in the draft. (I don't know if it is just a coincidence that they were only drafted by Central League teams.)

Anyway, since I know almost nothing about college baseball in Japan, I was surprised that I actually recognized one of the players - Yuki Saitoh, the "Handkerchief Prince". Here's his card and a couple of others:

From the top, that's Yuki Saitoh (#08), Kazuki Suetoh (#22), and the Hosei University team card (#30). All the team pictures were posed in front of the new scoreboard at Jingu Stadium.

Career Home Run Leaders #14 - Koji Akiyama

Next on the list is former Lions and Hawks outfielder Koji Akiyama, the new Hawks manager, with 437 home runs. I did a retrospective for Akiyama a couple of months ago, so I'll just add his 1990 Lotte card here (#9):