Friday, February 20, 2009

2009 BBM Hankyu Braves Memorial

Got the new 2009 BBM Hankyu Braves Memorial set in the mail today. As I mentioned before, Hankyu had owned the team from 1936 until they sold the team to Orix following the 1988 season.

As I've done previously, I got an opened set, so I didn't get any memorabilia cards, just the 48 regular cards. Unlike some of the other recent memorial and anniversary sets, this set doesn't have any subsets. Just 48 cards of former Hankyu players and managers. Pretty much every one you'd expect to be here is - Yutaka Fukumoto, Takao Kajimoto, Hiromi Matsunaga, Hisashi Yamada, Tetsuya Yoneda - along with more gaijin than I think I've seen in any other set of this type - Chico Barbon, Brad Lesley, Bobby Marcano, Daryl Spencer and Boomer Wells. The inclusion of Lesley is notable since he only played two seasons for the Braves.

The one thing about the player selection for the set - the earliest debut of any player pictured is 1954 (Takao Kajimoto). There's no picture that I know for sure is earlier than 1960-61 based on the uniforms (Yoshihiro Nakata, although the Kajimoto picture could be from 1954. That leaves a roughly 20 year stretch of the 53 seasons Hankyu owned the team not covered. There are some obscure Hall Of Famers from this time period who could have been included like Shinji Hamazaki, Saburo Miyatake, or Minoru Yamashita - none of whom have appeared in any of BBM's recent major historic sets like 2000's 20th Century Best 9 or 2006's Nostalgic Baseball. Another more well known player who could have been included was Jiro Noguchi.

Here are some sample cards:

That's Yoshihiro Nakata (#37), Koji Okamura (#17), Chico Barbon (#21) and Yasuo Fujii (and friend) (#47).

(I dug up the names of the obscure Hankyu Hall Of Famers from Gary Engel & Rob Fitts' book "Japanese Baseball SuperStars".)

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