Sunday, June 26, 2011

Card Of The Week June 26

Interleague play wrapped up last week in Japan with Hawks outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa being named Inter-League MVP for this year. Since I don't have any 2011 cards of Uchikawa with his new team yet, I thought I'd show a card with him on his old team - the Bay Stars. Here's his 2010 Calbee Star Card (#S11):

Friday, June 24, 2011

New sets

Some new sets have been announced in the last week or so:

-BBM has released information about this year's 2nd Version set. The set will contain over 300 cards (exact number is not on the web site) consisting of 36 (3 for each team) 1st Version updates, 216 "regular" player cards (18 per team), 12 each of subsets that are translating as "break players", "season pitching" and "team topics" (one of each subset per team), a currently unknown number of 1st Pitch Ceremony cards and 12 team checklists. There will be two insert sets - "Leading Players" (1 per team) and "Twin Gems" (1 card per team featuring two players). As usual, there are memorabilia cards - each team will have a Jersey card for a rookie available (hmm, wonder who they picked for the suspense here - it's on the website) as well as there being some sort of multi-player jersey cards as well. I think there's also some sort of parallel facsimile signature issue for the 216 "regular" cards, but I'm not positive. The set will be out in early August.

- Calbee has announced that Series 2 will be out on July 25. As usual, they have put their checklist on line. There are 84 "regular" player cards (7 per team) along with a couple subset/insert sets. One of these sets is a single card commemorating a charity game (I assume for the earthquake/tsunami victims) between the BayStars and the Tigers. There's also a 12 card set (OP) featuring a player from each team's Opening Day line up and a 24 card "Star Card" set (S) featuring two players from each team (I think it's a pitcher and a position player but I didn't verify that). Lastly, there are four checklist cards.

- The All Japan Baseball Foundation has announced their fifth set - "Biographies Of The 20th Century Coach" This is a 45 card set (plus autographed inserts) apparently featuring NPB managers from last century. Haven't attempted to translate the checklist on the website, but from the picture it looks like the set include Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Masaaki Mori and Hiroshi Gondoh. It'd be nice if the set included some managers from the early days of pro ball in Japan, but I'd bet that the set is mostly guys from the 70's through the 90's. It will be released in early July. (I want to point out here that it is not clear to me if this is a boxed or pack based set).

Summer 2011 Swapmeet

Well, a year ago, I had this great idea to have a series of posts where people post the things that they were looking for and what they had available for sale or trade. My intent was to do one each month, but after doing one in August, I kind of forgot about it. So I thought I'd try it again, maybe quarterly this time and see how it goes.

If you've got cards to sell or trade and/or there are cards you're looking for, add a comment to this post saying what you've got, what you want and how to contact you.

Here's what I'm looking for:

A handful of cards from the 1995-2000 BBM sets
A bunch of cards from the 2003-06 BBM 1st Version sets
10 or so cards from the 2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 set
Recent (post-2003) Calbee singles
2009 Konami WBC cards (but only at a decent price - the current auction on eBay at $760 is way more than I want to pay)

What I've got for sale or trade:

BBM cards from 1992-2006
1993 Tomy cards
Calbee cards from the 70's and 80's
Yamakatsu cards from the late 1970's
Upper Deck Victory and Ovation cards from 2000-01

I can be reached at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Card Of The Week June 19

Last week Hitoki Iwase of the Dragons saved his 287th game, which put him past Shingo Takatsu for most saves in NPB history. Of course, Iwase's biggest save isn't counted in that total - it was the perfect inning he pitched in Game 5 of the 2007 Series, completing a perfect game started by Daisuke Yamai and - oh, yeah - clinching the Dragon's first Series win in 53 years. Here's his rookie card from the 1999 BBM set (#311):

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2000 BBM box break

I picked up a sealed box of 2000 BBM on eBay recently, so I thought that I'd do a box break on it. The box contained 30 packs of 10 cards each for 300 cards total. Of those, I ended up getting 7 insert cards - three Best 9 (Takuro Ishii, Norihiro Nakamura and Koji Uehara), two Golden Glove ((Ichiro and Michihiro Ogasawara) and two New Face (Satoru Komiyama and Hiroo Ishii), so obviously then I had 293 "regular" cards. Of those cards, 251 of them were unique. I ended up with 41 doubles and 1 triple (Masaaki Daitoh). (Well, 41 doubles and 1 triple in context of the box itself - I already had a bunch of 2000 BBM so I only got 75 new cards out of the box -which actually isn't bad compared to some of my previous experiences with BBM).

The expected rate for the insert cards is 1 per 15 packs for the New Face and the Golden Glove cards and 1 per 10 packs for the Best 9 cards, so I pretty much nailed the expected number of inserts. I was kind of disappointed (although not terribly surprised) that I didn't get any of the more rare inserts - the '90's Best Nine cards (1 per 60 packs or 1 per two boxes) and the Rookie Reprints (1 per 90 packs or 1 per three boxes) or the Jersey cards for the 1999 MVPs Kimiyasu Kudoh or Shigeki Noguchi. This is actually the second 2000 BBM box that I've gotten (along with a bunch of packs) and oddly enough I've gotten the rarer insert (a Rookie Reprint card of Hideki Matsui), but not a 90's Best Nine card. Just the luck of the draw I guess.

There was one really odd thing that I noticed. This was a Late Series box, so it had updated cards for the Marines and Tigers along with corrections for the "Leader" cards (which were incorrectly labelled "Reader" in the original release of the set). But I noticed when I was figuring out which cards that I didn't already have that there are two different versions of Seigo Fujishima's card (#360). Here's the original version:

Here's the Late Series version:

The backs of the cards appear to be identical (well, the background of the back is the picture from the front of the card - what I mean is that the text appears to be the same on both cards).

Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide" does not mention this variant, so I can only speculate about why this happened. I guess the most likely reason is that maybe the original card shows someone other than Fujishima. It's kind of weird though - BBM appears to have not really had any error cards in their 20 year history other than the "Reader" cards in the 2000 set. And now it looks like there's another error in the set. Did they hire a new person for quality control in 2000 and the new guy didn't work out?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Card Of The Week June 12

I showed a Taiwanese card of former Nippon Ham Fighter pitcher Tomokazu Iba yesterday. Here's a Japanese card for him, from the 2002 BBM 2nd Version set (#771):

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Taiwanese Baseball Cards

I've written in the past about baseball cards for the pro leagues in both Korea and Australia, but I've avoided saying much about cards for the league(s) in Taiwan for a very simple reason - while I have some cards from the CPBL (Chinese Professional Baseball League) - as opposed to the Taiwanese Major League (TML) , a rival league that was eventually absorbed by the CPBL - I know almost nothing about them. I'll show some sample cards and share what I know about them in hopes that maybe somebody can fill in the details.

I think the earliest cards I have are plastic ones. I think they are from the early 90's (the league didn't start until 1989) but I haven't been able to figure it out for sure. Here's one of them - no idea who the player is:

These two cards are from 1996. I think the league published the cards. According to the pack wrapper, the set was called VIP - Very Important Player card. The first card is #111 and I think is Bien Figueroa. The second card is #222 and might be Ron Jones.

A co-worker went to Taiwan in the spring of 1997 and brought back a pack of the following cards for me. They were made by a company called ProCard (not be confused with the US minor league card dealer). I'm pretty sure that this first card (#102) is Epy Guerrero, Jr. The second card is a Best 9 insert or subset card (#223) of Chung-Yi Huang.

Looks like ProCard also did a high end set in 1997. I got a bunch of these "Topps Finest"/Diamond Heroe-esque cards from eBay a few years ago. The first card is #62, the second is #52 - I have no idea who either player is.

Jason had let me know a couple months ago that the CPBL had produced cards for the league itself in 2009 and 2010. Apparently, they have posted images of the cards on the league's official blog. Now the cards that he's pointed out to me are from a set called "2010 CPBL Player Of The Year". I recently won the cards of a couple former Japanese players from someone on eBay. I think these are from the 2009 CPBL set. Mercifully for the Chinese impaired (like myself), the CPBL put the English names of the players on the cards. The first card is Ryokan Kobayashi (#085) and the second is former Nippon Ham Fighter Tomokazu Iba (#119):

New BBM sets

BBM hadn't updated their website in over a month until last week, so I don't feel too bad about being a little slow and reporting on the two new sets that they've listed.

The first set is this year's edition of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles team set. Like most of the other team sets, it's a 99 card pack based set. There's 77 cards for the players, coaches and manager (with a couple signature parallels available), a checklist card, and a series of subsets called (according to the Google translation) "Three Opener" (3 cards), "Bat Breaker Returns" (9 cards), "Wings Of Hope" (3 cards) and "Absolute Aces" (6 cards). I think the "Three Opener" cards commemorate the Eagles first game in Sendai on April 29 after the earthquake - there's a sample card on the web page showing a card depicting the pregame ceremonies. There is also a nine card insert set called "Play Ball" (which also has parallel versions) and various autograph cards. There's also some memorabilia cards available for Akinori Iwamura and Kazuo Matsui, including one card with jersey or patch from both of them. The set will be out in mid-June.

Someone asked me about the new Fighters "Mega Energy" set about a month ago, but BBM only posted information about it last week. It's a box set containing 28 cards - 27 "regular" cards plus a "special" card. The 27 "regular" cards consist of 18 player cards, eight "New Comer" cards (which I would assume would contain Yuki Saitoh) and a mascot card. The "special" cards include possible autograph or memorabilia cards, highlighted by a bunch of "Yu-Yu" cards featuring both Yu Darvish and Saitoh (Yu-Chan). I think some of them may be die-cut as well. The set will be released in late June. (And this set should not be confused with the Fighters team set, which will be a pack based set that will be released later in the season - assuming BBM continues what they've been doing the past few years.)

New Online Store

In a comment for this post, a reader named Alex pointed out that Rakuten runs an English online store that will ship to the US (and other places) and sells baseball cards. It's apparently a collection of shops, so I've found multiple listings for some items. Unlike Ami Ami, they have more than just the most recent cards - I saw a box of the 2001 Upper Deck cards for sale. And they have a promotion going on this coming week - from 7 AM (EST) Monday (June 13) until 1 PM on Tuesday (June 14), they are offering free shipping to the US!

So thanks to Alex for the tip.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Card Of The Week June 5

Former Buffalo, Dragon and Eagle slugger Norihiro Nakamura may be activated by Yokohama this week. Here's a 2002 Calbee card of him (#M-31):

To commemorate their 30th Anniversary in 2002, Calbee issued a 36 card subset showing the first cards of a number of players, both active and OB. The original Nakamura card was #70 from the 1995 set.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

2001 BBM Preview Century Best Nine Insert Set

In 2000, there was a promotion held in Japan to elect the best player of the 20th Century for each of the nine field positions - a Century Best Nine. BBM issued two sets in conjunction with this promotion - the 484 card 20th Century Best Nine set issued in 2000 which featured four cards for each of the 120 players on the ballot and the nine card Century Best Nine insert set issued with the 2001 Preview set that featured the winning team. I'm not normally much of a collector of insert cards, but I found this one very appealing and decided that I wanted to complete it. It took 10 years, but last month I finally found the last card I needed on eBay.

As with All Star game line ups, since the fans were doing the voting, some of the winners are probably not as deserving as others. In fact, the list contains four players who were active at the time (3 of whom are still active), which seems rather unlikely. Rob Fitts sells a group of cards he calls the "All Century Team" - he's made four corrections to the team. So in Eleven Points style, I'm going to list the nine players here in order of how deserving I think they are.

1. Sadaharu Oh - 1B: This is a no brainer.

2. Shigeo Nagashima - 3B: I suppose someone could make a case for Sachio Kinugasa, but this is pretty much a no brainer also.

3. Isao Haromoto - OF: 500 homers, only guy with 3000 could he possibly not be on the team?

4. Hiromitsu Ochiai - 2B: 500 homers, a couple Triple Crowns, another no brainer

5. Ichiro - OF: This is the first guy that Rob left off his team. He picked Koji Yamamoto and Yutaka Fukumoto rather than Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. I have to say that in this case, I don't agree. I think this is the one active player who really did deserve to be on this list.

6. Hideki Matsui - OF: Now in this particular case, I will agree with Rob (although it may just be that I want to bump a Giant and future Yankee). Not sure which of Yamamoto or Fukumoto I would replace him with - Yamamoto had 536 home runs but Fukumoto had 1065 stolen bases. You have to go to the fourth significant digit to get a difference in career batting average (Fukumoto batted .2907, Yamamoto .2904). I guess I'd personally give the nod to Fukumoto because I'm partial to base stealers but Yamamoto is a good choice as well.

7. Kazuo Matsui - SS: Rob actually left him on the team, but I'm not so sure. Especially since by the end of 2000, Little Matsui had only played about five and a half seasons in ichi-gun and not shown much power yet. Problem is that I'm not sure who a better choice is. Maybe Yoshio Yoshida?

8. Yutaka Enatsu - P: OK, Enatsu is an interesting choice. He did the Dennis Eckersley thing before Dennis Eckersley - after being a top starter for the first 10 years of his career, Nankai converted him into a closer which he excelled at for much of the remainder of his career. He ended up with over 200 wins. Problem is - Masaichi Kaneda (Rob's choice) won 400 games in his career, the first 15 of which were spent with a really lousy Kokutetsu Swallows team. I don't see really how you could pick Enatsu over Kaneda.

9. Atsuya Furuta - C: OK, much as I like Atsuya Furuta, his selection over Katsuya Nomura is a joke. Nomura hit 658 home runs, second highest in Japan. He played for 26 years. Furuta is easily the catcher of the 90's, but Nomura was (arguably) the catcher of the 50's, 60s and 70's. This is a reverse no brainer.

I will point out, however, that both Nomura and Kaneda are notorious for not appearing in OB sets (in fact Kaneda is not in the 20th Century Best 9 set - he has cards in the set but the picture is blank). So I suppose it's possible that they were selected but choose not to have cards made...but that doesn't seem real likely.