Sunday, May 29, 2011

Card Of The Week May 29

I picked this card up on eBay a couple of months ago. It appears to be from some sort of biographical card set for Detroit Tigers Hall Of Famer Al Kaline. This particular card (#24) shows a picture from the Tigers tour of Japan in 1962. From left to right is future US Senator Jim Bunning, Kazuhiro Yamauchi of the Daimai Orions, unknown, Kaline, unknown (might be Orions manager - Mitsuo Uno was manager in 1962, but he was replaced by Yasuya Honda for 1963 - don't know when in off season Honda replaced Uno - then again, could be someone else entirely) and Norm Cash. The Tigers tour was sponsored by the Mainichi newspaper chain which was one of the owners of the Orions at the time (the "Mai" portion of the name - Daiei was the "Dai" portion).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Card Of The Week May 22

I solved a bit of a mystery (to me anyway) last week but I've uncovered a new one I think. The above card is #499 in the 1997 BBM set. The player depicted is Akira Itoh - his last name was the mystery I finally tracked down last week. It was difficult to track him down because he never actually appeared in an ichi-gun game. I finally downloaded the players database from and found him in there by matching his birthdate (12-21-1978). So at the time of this card, he's 18 years old. According to the back of the card, he was drafted in the first round by Yakult in the 1997 draft (held in October of 1996). He's obviously a big deal, as not only is he a first round pick and not only does he go by his first name, he's been assigned uniform #11. The last player before him to wear #11 was Daisuke Araki - not a great pitcher, but also a first round pick (1983). Another first rounder, Yoshinori Satoh, is the current owner of the number. So I think great things were expected from Akira. But it didn't happen. According to "Player Number History", Itoh was on the Swallows roster (or at least had #11) from 1997 to 1999 (just now noticed he had #64 in 2000 and started going by his full name). I haven't seen any evidence that he ended up with another team, although that's certainly possible. As far as I can tell, this is his only baseball card. So what happened? Did he get hurt? Was he a head case? Did he just decide that he really didn't want to be a baseball player? It just seems odd to me that a first round pick wouldn't at least get one appearance with the big team (although the Swallows were a pretty good team during that time, so maybe it just didn't work out).

I'd appreciate any information anyone has about this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Card Of The Week May 15

Sorry about being late this week. Been kind of crazy around here...

Last week NPB announced their monthly MVP awards for April. Yakult's Shinya Miyamoto won his first ever monthly MVP award. At the age of 40 years and five months, he is the oldest Central League player to ever win his first monthly MVP award. Here's his 2001 Upper Deck card (#86):

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Card Of The Week May 8

Michihiro Ogasawara of the Giants got his 2000 hit the other day. Here's a 2006 Upper Deck SPX "Winning Materials" Jersey card for him (#WM-MO):

Thursday, May 5, 2011

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version

Deanna's got this pretty well covered here, but I thought I'd add my two cents about the new BBM Tokyo Big Six set. It's a 38 card box set that features five "regular" player cards plus a team card for each of the six schools and two insert cards - one of six possible "Tokyo Big Six Heroes" (active player) and one of six possible "Tokyo Big Six Legends" (former player). As Deanna mentions, it looks like the insert cards are paired up so that the two cards you get are from the same school - both my cards were from Keio, both of Deanna's cards were from Waseda, another friend of hers got both cards from Rikkio (and we know of no counterexamples). If I'm remembering my statistics right, if the cards were not all paired, the chances of getting both insert cards from the same school in one box should be around 16.7% (1 in 6). The chances of me, Deanna and the other person getting both insert cards from the same school is (I think) around 0.46% (1 in 216). So it seems much more likely that they are paired up.

Here's some sample cards. I apologize for the way the scans look - I'm trying out a new scanner and it appears to have clipped the edges of the cards. From top to bottom, that's the regular cards for Keisuke Okazaki (#28) and Shota Suzuki (#31), the Meiji team card (#24), the "Heroes" card for Hayata Itoh (#SP02) and the "Legends" card for Yoshinobu Takahashi (#SP08):

Deanna's got the full checklist of the cards and some other pictures in her post.

I ordered my set from AmiAmi. It cost 2730 Yen (roughly $33) - 1940 for the set and 790 for SAL small packet shipping. It took around 12 days to get the set after I paid for it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Card Of The Week May 1

The Eagles played their first game of the season at home in Sendai on Friday. Masahiro Tanaka pitched a complete game 3-1 victory over Orix. Here's his 2007 BBM 2nd Version card (#579):

2011 BBM Rookie Edition

BBM's annual draft pick set known as Rookie Edition was released back in February. It's a 109 card set containing 97 cards of players taken in last October's draft (known as the 2011 draft even though it took place in 2010, which I always find odd) and 12 cards of current NPB players.

So the first thing to point out is that THIS guy's in the set (#027):

Yu-Chan's card is pretty representative of the draft pick cards. Most of the pictures are of the draftees posing with baseballs or bats, or holding one or both arms up in a guts pose. I kind of liked this one of Toshihito Abe (#040):

They got Fumiya Araki (#055) acting like he was running:

I'm not quite sure what Ichiro Matsushita (#097) is doing here, but it kind of hurts to look:

I really think that BBM could do a better set by showing the draftees in their college, high school or industrial league uniforms rather than these silly posed shots.

This year's set also features 12 cards of active players (one for each team, of course). As opposed to previous editions where the players were depicted in their rookie year, it looks like these pictures were all taken last year. Here's the card of Yoshihisa Naruse (#100):

Previous editions of this set have also contained subsets for new managers and traded players, but this year's set does not.