Sunday, October 30, 2011

1991 BBM set

OK, at the risk of starting yet another series of posts that takes forever to complete, I decided that I wanted to do a series of posts on the "regular" BBM set for each year.  It would be similar to the "Set Comments" posts I do for the new sets (and in fact I probably will stop this series with the 2007 sets since I've already talked about the later ones).

So here goes nothing...

1991 In A Box

Size:  399 cards
Cards Per Team:  30 (manager + 29 players)
Team Card Theme:  No team cards
Number Of Leader Cards: 23
Checklists: 6
Subsets: Nostalgic Stars (10 cards featuring players from 50's & 60's)
Inserts:  Team logo holograms.
Notable Rookies:  Hideo Nomo, Atsuya Furuta, Akihiro Yano, Akira Etoh, Shigeki Sano, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Takahito Nomura, Shingo Takatsu, Kazuhiro Sasaki
Late Series:  None


Since it's the first BBM set, deciding rookie card status was a little dicey.  I mean, it's the first BBM card for Hiromitsu Ochiai, right?  So it's his rookie card, right?  Basically I decided that if they were in their first or second season, I'd consider it a rookie card.

The cards are numbered 1-239, 241-400.  The 12 team logo hologram insert cards all have the number 240.

The Nostalgic Stars are Isao Harimoto, Kazuhisa Inao, Masaaki Koyama, Minoru Murayama, Shigeo Nagashima, Futoshi Nakanishi, Sadaharu Oh, Tadashi Sugiura, Tetsuya Yoneda and Yoshio Yoshida.

Some sample cards:







Factory Set box

#277 back (Hideki Irabu)


Promo included in packs

Kiyoshi Toyoda

Carp pitcher Kiyoshi Toyoda announced his retirement last week.  Toyoda began his career as a starting pitcher for the Seibu Lions in the mid-90's, then converted to relief in 2001, becoming one of the dominant relievers in the Pacific League for a couple years.  He moved to the Giants as a free agent for the 2006 season, then moved to the Carp for this season.  He retires in tenth place on the all time list for saves in NPB with 157.

He was drafted by the Lions in the third round of the 1993 (fall 1992) draft.  His BBM rookie card was in the 1993 set (#392):

He made his first All Star team as a starting pitcher in 1997.  He would make the team four times as a relief pitcher from 2001 to 2004.  Here's his card from the 1997 BBM All Star set (#A20):

2001 Upper Deck #159:

He pitched in five Nippon Series overall - three for Seibu (1998, 2002 and 2004) and two for Yomiuri (2008 and 2009).  Here's his card from the BBM Nippon Series set for the one of the three that the Lions won with him - 2004 (#08):

Newcomer subset card from the 2006 BBM Giants set (#G079):

2011 BBM 1st Version card showing him with the Carp (#275):

Card Of The Week October 30

I was going to write something about the surprising victory of the Lions over the Fighters in the First Stage of the Pacific League playoffs and how maybe they're following the lead of last year's Marines and this years's Cardinals - sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season, then win the hole thing.  But then I started thinking that since tomorrow was Halloween, I should do something about a Giant, since black and orange are appropriate colors.

Luckiliy, I remembered reading something interesting last week on Yakyu Baka last week - Giants outfielder Hisayoshi Chono is only the third Giant to ever lead the league in batting in his second season.  The first two were Tetsuharu Kawakami in 1939 and Shigeo Nagashima in 1959.  He's also the first right handed Giant to win the batting crown in 40 years (Nagashima in 1971).  Pretty elite company.  (Don't think there will be a lot of sympathy for him if he feels a lot of pressure living up to that company - he's the one who insisted on being a Giant.)

Anyway, here's his 2010 BBM Rookie Edition card (#001):

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2012 NPB Draft

The 2012 NPB draft was held today and as usual Deanna and YakyuBaka are all over it.  Deanna live blogged it and had a photopost preview of the some of the players that were available in the draft.  Gen also live blogged it and has the results for both the Central and Pacific League teams up.  So I'll do my usual list of the cards that are available for today's drafted players.

I think that the two collegiate National team sets (2008 Upper Deck jersey cards for the 2007 team and the 2008 BBM set) are old enough now that none of the players who appear in those sets is in this year's draft. So the only possible cards are for guys from the Tokyo Big Six league.   There are six players from that league that were drafted today (well, seven if you count a softball player from Waseda named Takumi Oshima who was taken by the Fighters), but only four of them have actually had cards.  Here's the list (all the sets listed are BBM Tokyo Big Six sets, regular cards only - I don't have a complete list of the inserts):

Shohei Habu, Waseda (Carp #4)

2009 Autumn Version #11 (shown)
2010 Spring Version #23
2010 Autumn Version #11
2011 Spring Version #05
2011 Autumn Version #29

Hayata Itoh, Keio (Tigers #1)

2009 Autumn Version #23
2010 Spring Version #11 (shown)
2010 Autumn Version #05
2011 Spring Version #11
2011 Autumn Version #05

Yusuke Nomura, Meiji (Carp #1)

2008 Autumn Version #03 (shown)
2009 Spring Version #20
2009 Autumn Version #13
2010 Spring Version #02
2010 Autumn Version #14 (see below)
2011 Spring Version #19
2011 Autumn Version #19
(Nomura has a card in every Tokyo Big Six set BBM has done except the first one, 2008 Spring Version.)

Hiroaki Shimauchi, Meiji (Eagles #6)

2011 Autumn Version #22 (shown)

I did not see any obvious former Tokyo Big Six players (or National team members for that matter) that had done to the industral leagues before making themselves available for the draft, but I could easily have missed someone.

One last card - I was amused that Deanna pointed out how consistent Yusuke Nomura's mechanics were by showing two photos she had taken of his form that looked almost identical (well, except for the uniform and background) - she also pointed out that she had many pictures that looked like that.  Well, here's another one:

UPDATE: Deanna mentioned in a comment that former Meiji player Yuki Egarashi had been drafted from Toshiba of the industrial leagues.  Egarashi had a card in the 2008 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set (#02).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

News And Notes

A couple of things I've been meaning to get to...

- BBM has announced this year's Rookie Edition Premium set.  It's a 48 card box set featuring 36 "regular" cards (three rookies for each team) plus 12 "subset" cards (one for each team).  Each box set also contains two "premium" cards - possible memorabilia, autograph, photo or film cards.  The set will be out in late October.

- Discount Niki and AmiAmi have had listings for a couple forthcoming BBM box sets - one features young Carp players and the other (I think) is for Tigers pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa.  There also looks like there's a box set coming out for Shinjiro Hiyama of the Tigers from a company called Movic.

- A couple of weeks ago, Jason told me about a really cool Japanese baseball card blog that he'd come across while looking for the 1994 Chiba Lotte Marines menko set.  It's in Japanese, but the guy posts a lot of scans of old menko and bromide cards (as well as a lot of vintage bobbleheads) so its worth checking out even if (like me) you can't speak the language.  (I have to say that I really haven't explored the Japanese language baseball card blogs much - it would probably be a great source of information.)  Anyway, I'm adding the blog to the list of links on the right.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Card Of The Week October 23

Sorry about being late this week - I spent the weekend running from zombies.  The Pacific League wrapped up its schedule last week and Takeya Nakamura of the Lions lead the league in home runs with 48.  This turned out to be two more than the entire defending Nippon Series Champion Marines team hit this season.  It was the first time since 1954 that a single player out-homered a team.  Actually in 1954, two Pacific League players out-homered the Kintetsu Pearls (27 home runs) - Futoshi Nakanishi of the Lions (31) and Kazuhiro Yamauchi of the Orions (28).

Here's Namakura's 2006 Konami "Baseball Heroes 2 Black Edition" card (#B06B055):

Monday, October 17, 2011

Now Pitching For Subaru....

A couple of months ago, I picked up a kind of obscure book on Japanese baseball - Robert Obojski's "The Rise of Japanese Baseball Power". published in 1975.  Among the interesting things I learned in the book was that Masaichi Kaneda had filmed a commercial for Subaru for the American market in the mid-70's.  I figured that this had to be on-line somewhere, so I went looking through You-Tube to see what I could find.

Unfortunately, I struck out.  I couldn't find the video anywhere.  I did, however, find a couple Subaru print ads featuring Kaneda on eBay.  I've swiped the images here:

Since Kaneda was managing the Lotte Orions at the time, he's wearing that uniform in the ads, even though he never pitched for them.  And I think that middle picture might actually be from the 1974 Nippon Series - those look like Dragons in the background.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Card Of The Week October 16

Matt Murton of the Hanshin Tigers had his hitting streak ended at 30 games this past week.  That was good enough to set the Hanshin team record (passing Shinjiro Hiyama), the foreign player record (passing Glenn Braggs) and tying Hall Of Famers Isao Harimoto and Yutaka Fukumoto for fourth on the all time list.  Here's Murton's 2010 BBM Tigers 75th Anniversary set card (#90):

I got the information on his streak from a couple of posts over at Yakyu Baka.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2009 BBM Legend Players

The current two league system in Japan was introduced in 1950.  I was kind of expecting to see BBM to do some sort of set to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of this a few years ago - after all, they had done a box set (albeit a horrible box set) to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of professional baseball in 2004 - but I never saw anything announced.

A couple of months ago, however, while looking through the Yahoo Japan auctions for stuff to bid on through kuboTEN, I discovered that BBM had done a set.  They just had never listed in on their website.  The set, which I think is called Legend Players, was released in late 2009 and contains 100 cards of players whose careers span the 60 years.  The player selection is outstanding.  The set contains both OB and active players (including a few like Ichiro and Hideki Matsui who were active in the US at the time).  The OB players include the obvious like Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima, Koji Yamamoto, etc but also a couple players who for whatever reason rarely appear in an OB set - Katsuya Nomura, Masaichi Kaneda and Choji Murata.  The set also includes a number of foreign players like Randy Bass, Tuffy Rhodes and Boomer Wells.  The active players include Norichicka Aoki, Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Masa Yamamoto.  I really think that if you were looking for one set to represent NPB history, this would be the set.  There's a couple guys missing (Wally Yonamine, Hideo Nomo, the Lee brothers, Warren Cromartie) but for the most part I think this is the most complete set of Japanese stars that BBM has ever done (with the possible exception of the 2000 20th Century Best 9 set).

Here's some sample cards:

#100 - Yu Darvish

#028 - Isao Harimoto

#062 - Ichiro

#018 - Hiromitsu Ochiai
In addition to the 100 regular cards, there were also 8 "special cards".  These cards feature new photos for eight players (Yutaka Enatsu, Isao Harimoto, Kazuhisa Inao, Hideki Matsui, Shigeo Nagashima, Sadaharu Oh, Tsutomu Wakamatsu and Koji Yamamoto) along with a gold facsimile autograph.  Since I don't know how this set was sold, I don't know if these were inserts in packs or simply a small bonus set.  Here's the Shigeo Nagashima card (#SP1):

Card Of The Week October 9

A day late this week, but it works out.  Today (October 10) is the 42nd anniversary of the 400th and final victory in the career of Masaichi Kaneda.  Kaneda labored for 15 seasons with the Kokutetsu Swallows, running up a record of 353-267 for a team that finished in the bottom half of the standings every year but one (1961).  He won 20 games in a season 14 straight years (including two 30 win seasons) and lost 20 games in a season six times).  Imagine what kind of win totals he would have run up if he'd played for a good team all those years.  In his first spring training after joining the Giants in 1965, he broke his hand.  Not sure how much this affected him, but looking at his stats, he pitched a lot less in the five years he played for the Giants than he had for the Swallows.  Some of that might be that the Giants actually had other useful pitchers, which was not the case for the Swallows.

The Giants retired his number (#34).  Oddly enough, the Swallows did not, although that might be because Kokutetsu sold the team around the same time they traded him to Yomiuri.  Sankei and later Yakult may not have felt any connection to him.  Anyway, BBM did a subset for all retired numbers in their 2001 set and included a card of Kaneda (#534):

True Stories Of Korean Baseball had a translation of a Korean interview with Kaneda recently (Kaneda is actually Korean).  Part one is here and part two is here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Tom" Uchiyama

I was going through so of my old minor league team sets the other day and I came across this card of "Tom" Uchiyama in the 1998 Multi-Ad Reading Phillies team set (#26):

Other than that I was willing to be that his name wasn't "Tom", I didn't know anything about him.  But a little quick looking around on the web filled in the details - his name is Tomoyuki Uchiyama and he played for Seibu and Daiei from 1992 until 1997 (the back of the Reading card lists his 1997 team as "Fukuoka Daiei") before signing with the Phillies organization for 1998.

Oddly enough, his card and Baseball-Reference list his birthplace as Kawasaki, but he was actually born in Gifu prefecture (JapanBaseballDaily says Minokamo, Wikipedia Japan says Kani).  I don't know much about Japanese geography, but I don't think those places are that close together (Kawasaki and Kani that is - I think Minokamo and Kani are actually right next to each other).

Here's Uchiyama's final BBM card from the 1997 set (#239):

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the highlight of his career was pitching in the 1993 Nippon Series for the Lions in a losing effort against the Swallows.  Here's his 1993 BBM Nippon Series set card (S39):

I'm not positive on this one, but I'd guess that another highlight of his career was being one of the players traded with Koji Akiyama (who played in the US for San Jose in 1982) to the Hawks following the 1993 season in a deal that involved Makoto Sasaki (who played in the US for the Sonoma County Crushers in 2001).

Card Of The Week October 2

Last Wednesday night was an amazing night in MLB.  There were four games that had a bearing on who made the playoffs and who didn't, and in three of them, the team that was leading going into the ninth inning ultimately ended up losing the game.  The hero of one of those ninth innings, Dan Johnson of the Tampa Bay Rays (who played the Hal Smith/Bernie Carbo role to Evan Longoria's Bill Mazeroski/Carlton Fisk) had played the 2009 season in Japan for the Bay Stars.  Here's his BBM 2nd Version card from that season (#733) where he looks almost as happy as he did Wednesday night:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version

When I originally wrote about this year's Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set from BBM, I said that the set would contain 38 cards - 36 regular cards and two insert cards.  I also said the the 36 regular cards would break down to five player cards plus a team card for each of the six teams.  Either I got it wrong (very possible) or BBM changed their plans for the set after the initial announcement (also possible).

So let me try this again - this year's edition of the Tokyo Big Six Autumn Version set is a boxed set containing 37 cards -36 regular cards along with one insert card.  For the first time in their Tokyo Big Six sets, BBM has dispensed with the team cards, so instead of five players per team, this set features six players per team, the most since the 2009 Spring Version (which had nine per team).

As usual, the cards are very nice looking, even if I only know who a couple of these guys are.  Here's some sample cards:



 There are two six card insert sets - "Tokyo Big Six Heroes" which features current players (one from each team) and "Tokyo Big Six Legends" which features former players (one from each team) who went on to fame in NBP (such as Shigeo Nagashima and Koichi Tabuchi).  I got a Heroes card for Tomoya Mikami from Hosei (#SP03):

Jabalaya has all the cards here.

2011 BBM All Star Set

BBM released their annual All Star box set about a month ago.  This set contains cards for the players who made the All Star teams this season.  Continuing what they started last year, BBM delayed the set so that they could use pictures from the actual All Star games.  This year's set contains 73 cards - 64 cards for the players, 6 cards for the managers and coaches and three cards for the MVPs of each of the three games (Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, Takeya Nakamura, and Atsunori Ibaba).

In general, I've had mixed feelings towards the All Star sets.  When I was first learning about Japanese baseball, the sets were very useful to me in getting some sense for who the better players were.  But they don't really help me that much anymore (not that I'm not still learning) and (in my opinion) some of the recent sets have featured some of BBM's ugliest card designs.  So I was starting to question whether I wanted to continue to get the set every year.

I have to say that this year's set is pretty nice.  The card design has borderless photos with some reasonable simple decorations containing the player info.  There's also a big "All Star" game logo superimposed on the photo as well.  As they've been doing lately, there's also indicators on the front of the card if the player was elected by the fan vote and/or the player vote and also if the player is making his first All Star roster.  In the case of Nobuhiko Matsuda, all three of these things were true, so he has all three indicators on his card (#A25):

NPB instituted an internet vote (called the "+1 Vote") this season to select the final player for each team's roster.  BBM added an indicator to the cards for the two winners of this vote, Hirokazu Sawamura and Yuki Saitoh (#A35):

I've got the same complaint this year that I had last year - it's nice that the pictures were taken at the All Star games, but there's nothing in them that really makes it obvious that they were.  No shots showing several players in different uniforms or anything like that.  I do like this shot of Hiroyuki Nakajima though (#A27):

NBP held the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for the 2011 inductees (Hiromitsu Ochiai and Mutsuo Minagawa) before the first All Star game.  Since Ochiai was the Central League manager, he has a card in the set (#A36) and the photo for it was taken at the ceremony:

For the first time in years (since the mid-90's), the set does not contain a card for the top finisher in the fan vote (Norichika Aoki this year).  I don't know if this is somehow related to the fact that there were three games instead of two this year so they needed three cards for the MVPs rather than two (and they were committed to a 73 card set rather than a 74 card set for some reason - in fairness to BBM, with the rosters going to 32 players from 29 last year and 28 the year before, this year's set is the largest All Star set ever).  Anyway, here's the MVP card for Atsunori Inaba (#A73):

As always, you can see all the cards at Jambalaya.