Sunday, November 27, 2011

Card Of The Week November 27

This is (I think) the oldest card I have in my collection.  It's an uncatalogued bromide card of Chubu Nippon Dragons player Hideo Shimizu.  The uniform he's wearing is the one the Dragons wore in 1948, so I'm assuming that that's how old the card is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

1992 BBM set

1992 In A Box

Size:  498 cards
Cards Per Team:  35 (team card, manager + 33 players)
Team Card Theme:  Team logos
Number Of Leader Cards: 28
Checklists: 8
Subsets: Nostalgic Stars (10 cards featuring players and managers from the 1930's through 1950's); Stadiums (11 cards featuring the primary home parks in the league); Combination Cards (12 cards - one for each team - featuring two players on each card); ON Special (4 cards featuring Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima); plus three cards for the commissioner and league presidents
Inserts:  Player holograms.
Notable Rookies:  So Taguchi, Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saitoh, Kenichi Wakatabe, Atsushi Kataoka, Katsuyuki Dobashi
Late Series:  None


This is the only set that BBM ever issued in two series of 249 cards each.  The cards were numbered 1-249,251-499.  The player hologram inserts for Series One were assigned number 250.  The ones for Series Two were assigned number 500.

The Nostalgic Stars subset featured Takehiko Bessho, Kaoru Betto, Shigeru Chiba, Tetsuharu Kawakami, Osamu Mihara, Shigeru Mizuhara, Hiroshi Ohshita, Eiji Sawamura, Victor Starffin, Shigeru Sugishita, Kazuto Tsuruoka and Wally Yonamine.

The Stadium subset depicted all eleven primary ballparks used in 1992 (the Giants and Fighters still shared the Tokyo Dome at this time).  Five of the stadiums shown - Nagoya, Heiwadai (in Fukuoka), Hisoshima, Kobe and Fujiidera (in Osaka) - either are no longer standing or no longer in regular use by the ichi-gun teams.  Another stadium - Seibu Lions Stadium - had a dome built over it in the late 90's, leaving only five of the ballparks shown still in use and pretty much looking the same as now.

Here's some sample cards:




Factory Set

Promo For Series 2 

Box For Series 2

Series 2 Wrapper

Back For Card #56 (Hisanobu Watanabe)

According to Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide", "each [insert] card is a metallic silver hologram of the player's regular issue 1992 BBM card".  If that's meant to imply that the picture on a player's regular 1992 card and his 1992 hologram are the same, then it's inaccurate as  the Hiromistu Ochiai cards will demonstrate:

 UPDATE: Here's images of the packaging materials for Series One:

Box For Series One

Series One Wrapper

Promo For Series 1

RIP Yukio Nishimoto

Hall Of Fame manager Yukio Nishimoto has passed away at age 91.  Nishimoto managed for 20 years in NBP with three different Pacific League teams - the Daimai Orions (1960), the Hankyu Braves (1963-1973) and the Kintetsu Buffaloes (1974-1981).  He won eight Pacific League pennants - one with Daimai, five with Hankyu and two with Kintetsu - but never won a Nippon Series.  The Orions were swept in the 1960 Series by Osamu Mihara's Whales.  His Hankyu pennant winners (1967, 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1972) were fodder for the V9 Giants and his Buffalo pennent winners were defeated in 1978 and 1979 by the "Red Helmet" era Hiroshima Toyo Carp led by Koji Yamamoto and Sachio Kinugasa.  Sometimes it's not enough to be good - you need a little luck as well.

I am curious as to why he only managed Daimai the one season.  None of the biographical information I've seen has an explanation.

Here's a couple recent cards of his:

2011 All Japan Baseball Foundation Managers #26

2011 BBM Legend Of The Bs #52
Some years ago, I picked up a batch of postcards off of eBay that had black and white photos of a number of Japanese players and managers.  I've got written down in my notes that the postcards were made in 1966 by Mel Bailey, a US serviceman stationed in Japan who had imported the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set to the US.  I don't recall now how or why I made that connection - it's certainly possible that the pictures were made into postcards much more recently than 1966 by someone other than Mel Bailey.  The relevance to this post is that one of the postcards depicts Yukio Nishimoto:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Osamu Mihara

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of legendary manager Osamu Mihara.  Born on Shikoku Island, he attended Waseda University and played on the Japanese All Star team that went up against the US All Stars in 1934.  He was the first player ever signed by the Giants, which I think makes him the first professional player in Japan.  He only played three seasons with the team, however, before going into the Army for the next eight years.

His first managerial job was with the Giants, starting in 1947.  He managed them for three years, winning the final "one league system" championship in 1949.  Despite that championship, however, he was replaced as Giants manager by his long time rival, fellow Shikoku native Shigeru Mizuhara.

Mihara took over the newly created Nishitetsu Lions in 1951 (the Lions were formed as a merger of the Nishitetsu Clippers and Nishi-Nippon Pirates) and led them to much success on the field.  He won Pacific League pennants with them in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1958.  The Lions lost to the Dragons in the 1954 Nippon Series, but beat Mizuhara's Giants in three straight Nippon Series from 1956 to 1958.

In 1960, Mihara became the manager of the Taiyo Whales and led them to their first ever Nippon Series championship (over the Daimai Orions).  The Whales had finished last the previous six seasons, but under Mihara, the Whales finished 4.5 games ahead the Giants in Mizuhara's final season as their manager.

At this point, he had six first place finishes and four Nippon Series championships in 13 years of managing.  Although he would manage another 13 years, this was the high point of his managerial career.

He remained manager of the Whales until 1967, finishing second twice to the Tigers in 1962 and 1964.  He moved to the Kintetsu Buffaloes from 1968 to 1970, finishing second to the Hankyu Braves in 1969.  His final three seasons managing were with the Yakult Atoms from 1970 to 1973, finishing in the second division all three years.  (He was in fact the final manager of the Yakult Atoms - Yakult returned to the name Swallows in 1974.)

He is the all time leader in games managed in Japan with 3248, 40 or so more than Katsuya Nomura.  He is second all time in managerial wins with 1687, more than 100 more than Mizuhara (although in almost 500 more games).  I think he's first all time in managerial losses with 1453 (Japan Baseball Daily's numbers are inconsistent between the listing for his managerial record and the list of all time managerial records).  He was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1983, one year before he passed away.

I don't have any cards of Mihara from when he was an active manager, but he's shown up with some regularity in the recent OB sets, including the 2004 Giants 70th Anniversary set, both the Buffaloes 2009  Memorial set and this year's "Legend Of The Bs" sets and a number of the recent sets for the Lions.  For whatever reason, he did not show up in the 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary set.  Here's some sample cards:

1978 NST #74 

2008 BBM Lions Classic #01

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #041

2009 BBM Kintetsu Memorial #20

It's not clear from the uniform if the picture on the NST card was from his playing days with the Giants (1936-38) or his managerial days (1947-49).

I think that the Lions were highlighting the fact that this would be the Mihara's centennial during the Lions Classic games last summer.

Sources for this post include the always useful Japan Baseball Daily's Data Warehouse along with Gary Engel and Rob Fitts' "Japanese Baseball Superstars".

UPDATE:  I don't know why I didn't think to look when I was writing this, but Baseball Reference's Bullpen has an excellent biography of Mihara.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Card Of The Week November 20

The 62nd Nippon Series wrapped up today in Fukuoka with the Hawks beating the Dragons 3-0 and winning the Series 4 games to 3.  40 year old Hiroki Kokubo was named MVP of the Series, becoming the oldest player ever to be named MVP.  He beat out his manager, Koji Akiyama, for that honor.  Akiyama had been named MVP of the 1999 Series at age 37.  That Series also matched the Dragons against the Hawks, who included a then 28 year old Kokubo.  Here's his card from the 1999 BBM Nippon Series set (#S19):

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Banzai Babe Ruth

Rob Fitts' latest book about the 1934 US All Stars Tour of Japan, Banzai Babe Ruth, will be published on March 1, 2012.  You can pre-order the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

(The card shown is #92 from the 1992 Megacards Babe Ruth set.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Card Of The Week November 13

Bit of a rough start in the Nippon Series for Hawks reliever Takahiro Mahara - he was the losing pitcher in both Game 1 and Game 2, giving up the winning run in the top of the 10th inning in both games.  Here's his card from the 2004 BBM Hawks set's "New Power" subset (#H69) back when the Hawks were owned by Daiei instead of Softbank:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More New BBM Sets

BBM has announced a couple of new sets in the last week or so:

- There's a new box set entitled "Young Carp" being released in late November.  It contains 38 cards - 36 regular cards plus 2 insert cards.  I think that the 36 "regular" cards feature 3 cards each of 12 different players.  The insert cards include autograph and memorabilia cards.

- There's another new box set being released in late November that features Tigers reliever Kyuji Fujikawa.  It contains 27 "regular" cards plus some sort of memorabilia card - jersey, cap, undershirt, ball or autograph.

- I'm not sure of the release date, but BBM will probably be releasing the 2012 edition of their annual "Historic Edition" set this month.  As always, it's a pack-based set containing 144 "regular" cards - 72 active players and 72 OB players along with 12 insert cards ("Rival Contemporaries"), 24 "photo cards" and an unspecified number of autograph cards.  This year's theme is being translated as "Legend Of The Strongest Generation".  It looks like it's highlighting players either born in a specific year or drafted in a specific year - it may also include players who debuted in a specific year.

- I'm pretty excited about this next set because I called it a few months back.  The "Legends Of The Tokyo Big Six" set will be a pack based set that will be released in December containing former Tokyo Big Six players who went on to play in NBP.  It will contain 108 "regular" cards - 81 retired players (including Shigeo Nagashima), 18 active NBP players (including Yuki Saitoh) and a nine card "Legendary Records" subset.  There is also an 18 card insert set  called "Super Best 9" which I'm guessing has a Best 9 for both the retired and active players.  There will also be autograph and photo cards.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Card Of The Week November 6

I finally started watching NPB games on Justin.TV when the Climax Series started.  Since I usually get up around 5 AM, the schedule worked out really well for the evening games.  Should have been doing this a long time ago.

I'm amazed at the lack of commercials during the broadcasts.  Lots of times it seems that there's none at all during the breaks between innings or pitching changes.  One of the commercials that I do keep seeing though is one that I remember Yakyu Baka mentioning a few months back - Randy Bass for Owner's League baseball cards.  Here's a card of Bass from the 2009 BBM Premium Malts set with a very large can of beer (#10):

Here's something a little obscure about Randy Bass - he played for the Orlando Juice in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association in their inaugural season 1989-90.  He joined the team about a month into the season and hit .393 with 5 home runs in 29 games.  He actually parlayed this performance into a non-roster invitation to spring training with the Baltimore Orioles for the 1990 season but IIRC he retired before actually appearing in any exhibition games with them.

There were four companies that produced cards for the first (of two) seasons of the SPBA.  Because he joined the team late, Bass only appears in two of the sets - the one from Topps and the one from a company called Elite (who put out a kind of Upper Deck-esque set).  Here's his Elite card (#49):