Sunday, October 31, 2010

2011 Historic Edition

Now that BBM has remembered that they have a web site, they're catching up on the sets that AmiAmi and Discount Niki have been listing. Next up is the 2011 "Historic Edition" set which this year features the theme of "Hometown Heroes". If I'm reading the translation right, there is at least one OB player in the set from each of Japan's 47 prefectures and at least one active player in the set from each prefecture except Shimane (which according to Wikipedia is the second least populous prefecture in Japan).

As always, the set will contain 144 cards - 72 OB players and 72 active players. There are two insert sets - "Pride Of the Hometown" featuring OB players and "Active Stars In Japan" which is kind of self explanatory. There's also photo cards and autograph cards available and a couple parallel versions of the OB "regular" cards and the insert cards. The set will be out in late November.

Card Of The Week October 31

2005 BBM 1st Version #550

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2011 NPB Draft

The 2011 NPB Draft was held today. Both Deanna and YakyuBaka have posts up about it. The big news is that Yuki Saitoh is now a Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter (well, the Fighters own his rights anyway).

Now that there's three years worth of Tokyo Big 6 card sets as well as a couple different collegiate All Star sets, a number of the players picked today already have baseball cards. Here's the list:

Fumiya Araki, Meiji (Tigers #5)

2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #24
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #03 (shown)
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #15

Sho Araname, Toyota (BayStars #3)
2008 Upper Deck 2007 Japanese Collegiate All Stars #JN-1

Yuya Fukui, Waseda (Carp #1)

2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #07 (shown)
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #09

Masahiro Inui, Toyo (Fighters #3)

2008 BBM Japan College National Team #CN08, #CN30 (shown)

Kisho Kagami, Hosei (Baystars #2)

2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #31
2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #01
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #13 (shown)
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #25

Tatsuya Ohishi, Waseda (Lions #1)

2008 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #09 (shown)
2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #05
2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #07
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #19
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #07

Yuki Saitoh, Waseda (Fighters #1)

2008 Upper Deck 2007 Japanese Collegiate All Stars #JN-16
2008 BBM Japan College National Team #CN02, #CN24
2008 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #08
2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #06 (shown)
2009 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #08
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #20
2010 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Autumn Version #08

Kota Suda, JFE Higashinihon (BayStars #1)

2008 BBM Tokyo Big 6 Spring Version #02 (shown)

Monday, October 25, 2010

2007 Japanese Collegiate All Stars

I was being a little lazy when I wrote this post the other day talking about the 2007 Japanese Collegiate All Star jersey cards that were inserted into the 2008 Upper Deck Team USA sets. I was kind of vague on where the players in the set were because I just didn't have time to look anyone up. But when Deanna left a comment raving about the players in the set, I figured I should pay a little more attention. So here's a list of the players, their college (if I could figure it out) and their current status. (I'll point out that the cards have no information about the player other than his name and position).

NameCollegeCurrent Status
Sho AranamiTokaiToyota (as of 2009)
Takeshi HosoyamadaWasedaYokohama BayStars
Takahiro IwamotoAsiaHiroshima Toyo Carp
Tomoyuki KaidaKomazawaNihon Semei
Mikinori KatoKeioTokyo Yakult Swallows
Tetsuya KokuboAoyama GakuinHiroshima Toyo Carp
Keijiro MatsumotoWasedaYokohama BayStars
Shirou MoriKinkiPanasonic
Shinya MuramatsuKokugakuinDid not sign up for this year's draft
Ryoji NakataAsiaChunichi Dragons
Hiroki NakazawaKokusai BudoYomiuri Giants
Tomohisa NemotoYokohama ShokaChiba Lotte Marines
Shota ObaToyoFukuoka Softbank Hawks
Takashi OginoKansai GakuinChiba Lotte Marines
Shota OhnoToyoHokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Yuki SaitohWasedaWill be drafted this week
Ryo SakakibaraKansai KokuinHokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Yukinaga TanakaWasedaToyoda (as of 2009)
Shingo TatsumiKinkiFukuoka Softbank Hawks
Hiroki UemotoWasedaHanshin Tigers
Shota WaizumiHoseiToshiba
Noriharu YamazakiYokohama ShokaYokohama BayStars

The card at the top is Shota Ohno (#JN-15) and the one on the bottom is Yukinaga Tanaka (#JN-18). I got the information for this post from a number of sources, including Marinerds, Yakyu Baka and Japan Baseball Daily. You know, I think it says something about the quality of information being published in English by these sources that a non-Japanese reader like myself was able to track down information on 19 of the 22 guys in the set.

Update: I wasn't paying enough attention. This is actually the "low end" memorabilia insert for the Japanese team in the set. There are five other sets of memorabilia inserts for the set, all with limited print runs. There are three sets that feature all 22 players: autograph cards (print run of 50 apiece), jersey patch cards (print run of 20 apiece) and jersey letter cards (print run of 15 apiece). There's a card (with a limited run of 5) featuring autographs of both Pedro Alvarez and Shinya Muramatsu (team MVPs). And finally, there's a set of Japan flag patch cards with a limited press run of 1 each. For some reason, this set only has 21 cards - there's no flag patch card for Shota Ohno.

FURTHER UPDATE: I filled in the missing information based on Deanna's comments.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Card Of The Week October 24

It's been a good baseball weekend for me. Friday night, the Rangers defeated the Yankees to advance to the World Series - more importantly to me, it meant that the Yankees wouldn't be advancing to the World Series. Saturday night, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Phillies to join the Rangers in the World Series - the Giants being one of my favorite teams due to my having lived in Silicon Valley back in the 70's (and yes, I realize that one of my readers might not share my joy on this one). But more relevant for this blog is that in Nagoya on Saturday night (or morning here in Maryland), the Dragons defeated the Yomiuri Giants to advance to the Nippon Series - this being good for me because (1) the Dragons are my favorite Japanese team and (2) the Giants, being the Yankees of Japan, are my least favorite Japanese team.

Anyway, the Dragons won Saturday's game in walk-off fashion when Kazuhiro Wada hit a single that scored Ryoji Nakata from second (which if you've ever seen Ryoji Nakata then you're surprised that he could actually score from second on anything less than a double). In honor of this, I present two cards of the week this week, one for Wada and one for Nakata:

The card of Wada is from the 2001 Broccoli set (#093), back when he was a member of the Lions. Broccoli made sets for the Lions from 1999 through 2001, basically to cash in on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

The card of Nakata is a jersey card from the 2008 Upper Deck Team USA set. OK, I guess that needs a little explanation. In 2008, Upper Deck released a box set featuring the 2007 National and Junior National Teams USA. In addition to the regular cards in the set, each box contained possible autograph and memorabilia cards. One of the sets of memorabilia cards were jersey cards for the "2007 Japanese Collegiate All-Stars". There's 22 of them and the checklist contains a handful of guys (like Nakata) who've already gone on to NPB as well as the big prize in the upcoming draft, Yuki Saitoh.

About time

So BBM's website has finally been updated to include information on the Premium Malts and Rookie Edition Premium sets.

Had I known that they were just waiting for me to complain, I'd have posted something sooner...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Georgia Legend Cards

I had mentioned a while back that BBM had produced some cards to be distributed with cans of Georgia coffee, a Coca Cola Japan product. I had pretty much forgotten about these cards completely until I came across an unopened pack of "Vintage" Georgia Coffee cards. Apparently, they issued a couple "Legend" cards. I'm not positive, but I think it's possible to get either a pack with two cards (Masayuki Kakefu and Sadaharu Oh) or a pack with one card (Shigeo Nagashima). (Since their website has most of its text embedded in the graphics, Google translate can't help me out here.)

The cards are a little smaller than normal. Here are the Kakefu and Oh cards:

What's up with BBM's website?

So this is really odd. BBM's website has not been updated in about a month. They still have not had any information about the new Premium Malts or Rookie Edition Premium sets. I have, however, found out about the following new BBM sets from combing AmiAmi and Discount Niki.

- a box set devoted to Kenta Maeda of the Carp: 27 "regular" cards plus an insert/memorabilia card, due out in December.

- a box set devoted to Hisashi Iwakuma of the Eagles (who is going to be posted this offseason): also 27 "regular" cards plus an insert/memorabilia card, not sure of the release date

- some sort of Swallows box set: again 27 "regular" cards plus an insert/memorabilia card, not sure of the release date

- the 2011 "Historic Edition" set, called "Pro Baseball Biographies - Legend of the Prefectural Heroes": I think it's the standard 144 card set with lots of insert/memorabilia cards.

If anyone knows what's going on with BBM's website, please let me know.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Akihiro Yano

Akihiro Yano of the Tigers also retired at the end of the season. Like Arihito Muramatsu, Yano was drafted in the 1991 draft. What many people forget, however, is that Yano was actually drafted and signed by the Dragons. He played sporadically for them through the 1997 season, then was traded to Hanshin. With the Tigers he became a regular. He never lead the league in any offensive category, but he was named to the Best 9 three times (2003,2005,2006) and the All Star team seven times (1999, 2002-2006, 2008). He played in two Nippon Series in losing efforts in 2003 and 2005. He hit .417 in the four games of the 2005 Series and won the "Fighting Spirit" award for the series. He also played for the 2008 Japanese Olympic team.

His 1991 BBM rookie card (#112):

1994 Takara:

2000 Epoch stickers (#197):

2001 Upper Deck (#90):

2002 Calbee (#044):

2004 BBM Tigers (#T46):

2005 BBM Nippon Series "Fighting Spirit" (#59):

2007 BBM 1st Version (#269):

2008 BBM Japanese Olympic Team (#JPN17):

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Arihito Muramatsu

Arihito Muramatsu of the Hawks retired at the end of the season. Muramatsu had been drafted by the Hawks in the "1991" draft (which took place in autumn, 1990, of course). He didn't play much at the ichi-gun level until 1995 when he hit .308 in 95 games. He was pretty much a regular for the Hawks then until after 2003 when he left as a free agent for the Orix Blue Wave. He remained with Orix through the merge with Kintetsu in the winter of 2004-05 until he was traded back to the Hawks following the 2008 season.

He wasn't a huge star - the only offensive category he lead the league in was stolen bases in 1996, the year he made his only Best 9 team. He was named to three all star teams (96, 03 and 04) and played in three Nippon Series with the Hawks, winning in 1999 and 2003 and losing in 2000.

The earliest card I have for him is a 1993 Tomy card. I'm not positive what his earliest BBM card is - I know he's got a card in the 1995 set (#446) but it wouldn't surprise me to discover one from the 1994 set (although I haven't found him listed). Similarly with Calbee, I know he's got a card in the 1997 set (#002), but I'm not sure about earlier ones.

Here's a smattering of cards covering his career:

2005 BBM Rookie Edition (#95) showing him as a ni-gun Hawk in 1991 (he didn't make his debut with the big team until 1992):

1993 Tomy (#206):

1997 BBM '96 Stolen Base Leader (#13):

2003 BBM Nippon Series (#21):

2004 BBM All Stars (#A62):

2008 BBM 1st Version (#171):

2010 BBM 1st Version (#319):

Card Of The Week October 17

Colby Lewis of the Texas Rangers had a nice start against the Yankees yesterday afternoon. Lewis pitched for the Carp for two years, going 15-8 in 2008 and 11-9 in 2009 and leading the Central League in strikeouts both years. Here's his 2008 BBM 2nd Version "Title Wars" subset card (#720):

Friday, October 15, 2010

BBM Timeline 2005

Let's try a slightly different approach to this...

The big change for BBM in 2005 was that instead of the 1st and 2nd Version sets being roughly the same size, the 1st Version set was much larger than the 2nd Version set. BBM basically made the 1st Version set the equivalent of its pre-2002 regular sets at 559 cards. The 2nd Version set was only 275 cards and featured many subsets, including a 1st Version update subset which featured cards of either traded, newly signed or newly promoted players using the same format as the 1st Version cards.

Other notable sets for 2005 were a box set featuring the newest NPB team - the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (that included cards for the team's owner and GM) and a pack based Hanshin Tigers 70th Anniversary set. The "Historic Edition" set was called "Glorious Stars".

Here's a list of the sets for the year:

SetType# Of CardsInsertsPremium Inserts
Glorious Starspack144Legend Stars, Active StarsAutograph, Equipment
Rookie Editionpack1191995 Rookies, Former Rookie Of The YearsBall
Nippon Ham Fighters Challengersbox30NoneAutograph, Jersey
Tigers Team Setpack112Facsimile Autograph, Tigers Leaders, Tigers StarsAutograph, Equipment
Rakuten Eaglesbox47NoneNone
Swallows Team Setpack99Swallows StarsJersey, Bat, Autograph
1st Versionpack559Golden Glove, Best 9, MVPJersey
2nd Versionpack275Opening Game, Running & Fielding Specialist, Team HeroAutograph, Equipment
BayStars Team Setpack99BayStars HeroesAutograph, Equipment
Marines Team Setpack103Marines HeroesAutograph, Jersey
Buffaloes Team Setpack99Osaka Dome, Team LeadersBat, Autograph
Carp Team Setpack99Soul Of The CarpAutograph, Equipment
Eagles Team Setpack126Eagles EyeAutograph, Equipment
Lions Team Setpack102Strong Batting Lineup, Lion Heart, Diecut, PhotoAutograph, Equipment
All Starbox62NoneNone
Hawks Team Setpack99Opening Game Starting Members, Hawks HeroesAutograph, Equipment
Fighters Team Setpack99Sturm & DrangAutograph, Jersey
Dragons Team Setpack99Dragons Heroes, SpecialistAutograph, Jersey
Giants Team Setpack108Giant StepAutograph, Equipment
Tigers 70th Anniversarypack99Tigers Heroes, Tiger Best 9, Mr. TigersFilm, Autograph
Touch The Gamepack161NonePhoto, Autograph, Equipment
Hawks Gobox36NoneFilm
Marines Takumibox36NoneFilm
Central League Champion Tigersbox45NonePhoto
Kazuyoshi Tatsunamibox34NoneEquipment
Nippon Seriesbox60NoneNone
Tigers Kodobox42NoneUndershirt, Photo, Autograph

Shown at the top of the post are the 1st and 2nd Version sets. At the bottom of the post is the Eagles box set.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention that Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide" was the source (as usual) of most of this information.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Card Of The Week October 10

So last Tuesday, Matt Murton of the Hanshin Tigers broke Ichiro Suzuki's 16 year old record for most hits in a season. Pretty impressive for a guy who's main claim to fame before this season was accompanying Nomar Garciaparra from the Red Sox to the Cubs in that famous mid-season trade in 2004.

Here's Murton's card from this year's BBM All Star set (#A31):

Oh, yeah, and Deanna was at the game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Marty Brown

Well, it's looking like it was a good thing that I managed to find Senichi Hoshino this year, because he may not be free to go to Aberdeen next summer. Marty Brown has been let go as manager of the Eagles and they are after Hoshino to replace him.

Brown played for the Carp from 1992 until 1994. He returned to the Carp as manager in 2006 and remained until after the 2009 season. After the Carp let him go, the Eagles picked him. With his firing, it's looking like next season there will be no American managers in Japan for the first time since 2002.

Here's a sampling of cards from Brown's time in Japan. His 1992 Takara Carp card from his playing days:

From the 2008 BBM Hiroshima Memorial set (#28), having a discussion with an umpire:

2009 BBM 1st Version "Record Making Players" subset (#474) - I suspect this is to commemorate him setting some record involving being ejected, but I can't confirm this:

2010 BBM 1st Version (#253):

Thursday, October 7, 2010

RIP Keiji Ohsawa

Former Nippon Ham Fighters manager Keiji Ohsawa has passed away at age 78 from gall bladder cancer. He played for the then Nankai Hawks from 1956 to 1964, then played one season for the Tokyo Orions. He managed the Lotte Orions in 1971 and 1972, then managed the Fighters from 1976 to 1984, winning the Pacific League pennant in 1981 (and losing in the Nippon Series to the Giants). He returned to manage the Fighters again in 1993 and 1994.

Here's some cards highlighting his career. From the 2008 Hawks 70th Anniversary set (#19):

2009 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation set (#55) showing the 1981 Pacific League championship celebration:

1994 BBM (#471):

He also appeared in last year's Premium Malts set (#01) and I assume he is in this year's set as well:

One other thing of interest - according to his bio on Japan Baseball Daily, his granddaughter, Akane Osawa, is an actress and model. Turns out, she was featured in the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset from the 2007 BBM 2nd Version set (#738):

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 BBM Rookie Edition Premium

Well, like the Premium Malts set, I haven't seen any information on the new Rookie Edition Premium set on BBM's website, but it's on both AmiAmi and Discount Niki (in fact, it's already sold out on AmiAmi!). It appears to be a 50 card box set featuring 48 "regular" cards which appear to break down as 36 cards for rookies (3 per team) and a 12 card subset of some sort (with 1 card per team). Don't know if the three rookies include the guy in the subset or not. There are also two premium cards in the box which could be autograph, memorabila, photo or film cards. The set will be released in late October.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Card Of The Week October 3

Joe Torre managed his last game for the Dodgers and possible his last game ever today. Now I want to be clear that I despise both the Yankees and the Dodgers, but I have to say that Joe's a pretty classy guy.

Now you're probably saying to yourself "Well, that's nice and all, but what's that got to do with Japanese baseball. Torre never played or managed in Japan, so there wouldn't be any baseball cards of him". True, he never played or managed for a Japanese team, but he did travel to Japan after the 1974 season with the Mets. And there's actually a set of cards that commemorates that tour.

There was a guy named Ed Broder who in the 1980's became famous (or infamous) for producing non-licensed baseball cards. But before that, he was a serviceman stationed in Japan who printed up and sold baseball cards of Japanese teams for sale in the US. There was a guy named Ed Broder who was a serviceman stationed in Japan in the 1970's who printed up and sold baseball cards of Japanese teams for sale in the US. The cards are amazingly primitive - black and white photos on either card stock or paper - but they're kind of an interesting little experiment. I've been meaning to do a post about them at some point, but I need to learn how to scan black and white photos better with my scanner.

Anyway, Broder did a set of cards for the Mets' 1974 tour featuring several Mets, Yomiuri Giants and Carp players, including Mets manager Yogi Berra, Jerry Koosman, Felix Millan (who would later play for Yokohama), Tom Seaver, Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh. Torre is featured on two group cards - one with Kazuyoshi Yamamoto of the Carp and this one:

From the left, that's Ed Kranepool, John Milner, Sachio Kinugasa (who I had not realized had worn a number other than 3), and Torre.

UPDATE - Jason made a suggestion on how to scan the black and white images of the Broder cards in so that they don't look terrible, so let's try this again:

Well, I'd say that's much better. Thanks, Jason!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Light Packs

I had a bunch of questions about BBM's "Light Packs" in the comments of this post the other day, so I thought I'd devote a post just to them.

In 2003, BBM introduced the "Light Pack" for the 1st Version set. Instead of being a pack of 10 cards for 200 yen, the "Light Pack" was a pack of 5 cards for 100 yen - half the cards for half the price. Each pack contained one parallel issue "kira" card - identical to the original card except it was shiny and sparkly (and had a ginormous baseball added to the background). In addition, the "Light Packs" contained insert cards for the 2002 MVPs (Hideki Matsui and Alex Cabrera) that were not found in the standard packs. The insert and memorabilia cards that were inserted in to the regular packs were not available in the "Light Packs". To further complicate matters, only cards 1-405 of the 432 card 1st Version set were available in the "Light Packs" - it was impossible to get any of the cards in the "2002 Retirement Player" (cards 406-420) or Team Checklist (cards 421-432) subsets in the "Light Packs".

When BBM issued the 2nd Version set later in 2003, it again also issued "Light Packs" for the set. The regular 2nd Version packs were 9 cards to a pack - the "Light Packs" were 4 cards to a pack - a little less than half the cards at half the price. Again, each pack contained one "kira" parallel issue card and again there were insert cards for the 2002 MVPs that were not issued with the regular set (and were not the same as the ones for the 1st Version "Light Packs"). However, "kira" versions of the 2nd Version insert cards for the regular packs - "Opening Game" and "Record Achievement" - were inserted into the "Light Packs". And again, only a subset of the regular set was available in the "Light Packs" - cards 805 to 839 (the "New Wave" and "2002 Retirement Player" subsets) do not appear. And also again - the memorabilia cards available in the regular 2nd Version sets are not available in the "Light Packs".

Here's an example of the regular and "kira" card from the 2nd Version set (Takuro Ishii #606):

I can speak with some confidence on the 2003 "Light Packs" because I actually had a box of them for each set. All I know about subsequent years is what I can glean from Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide". It appears that BBM did "Light Packs" for both the 1st and 2nd Version sets through at least 2007 (the last full year in the book) and for all I know they continue it to this day. Regular packs have contained eight cards since 2004 and the "Light Packs" have contained four. It looks like the "Light Packs" have continued to have one "kira" card parallel issue per pack (although for the 2007 sets, Engel describes this card as "metallic" rather than "kira"). It also appears that BBM has continued to have the previous year's MVPs on insert cards that are exclusive to the "Light Packs" (although again 2007 was different - the "Light Pack" inserts were for "Speed Stars" - Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Norichika Aoki). Additionally, in 2004 and 2005, there were "kira" versions of 2nd Version insert cards in the "Light Packs". Since I was only sure that the 2003 "Light Packs" only contained a subset of the set by looking at the checklist on the back of the box, I don't know if those in subsequent years also only contained a subset.

The image at the top of the post is for a 2003 1st Version "Light Packs" box. (You can see an image of the regular box here.) The other image is of the wrappers from the regular and "Light" 2nd Version packs (which would not sit straight on my scanner).