Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Historic College sets

Last fall, BBM issued two separate OB sets for university leagues. One celebrated the 80th Anniversary of the Tohto University Baseball League while the other was for the Tokyo Big Six league (although apparently not for any specific celebration).

The Tohto University Baseball League was founded in 1930.  I'm guessing that they shut down for a year or so during the war which is why they are celebrating their 80th Anniversary in either 2011 or 2012.  BBM's set is a 99 card pack based set featuring 45 cards of alumni that are former NBP players and 45 cards of alumni that are active NBP players.  There is also a nine card "Great Records" subset showing players who have set some sort of record in the league (it's not entirely clear to a non-Japanese reader like myself exactly what the records are).

There are 21 teams in the league, but only a handful of them are represented in the set.  Here's a breakdown of the number of cards for each included team in the OB and active portions of the set:

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Players featured in the set include Norihiro Akahoshi, Shingo Takatsu, Hiromichi Ishige, Kenjiro Nomura, Hisanori Takahashi and Hiroki Kuroda in the former NBP subset and Tadahito Iguchi, Hiroki Kokubo, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Shinnosuke Abe and Hirokazu Sawamura in the active subset.  There's a card of Ochiai - but it's Eiji Ochiai of Nihon rather than Hiromitsu Ochiai of Toyo.  Other than Ochiai, the biggest name I see missing from the players is Hall of Famer Takehiko Bessho, who attended Nihon (but I'm not clear if he actually played for them) around 1941.  The earliest player in the set is Chou's Yoshio Anabuki, who played for them from 1952 to 1955 before joining Nankai.

There's a lot of black and white photos in the set - pretty much anyone before the late 1970's-early 1980's  in in black and white.

I really like the card design - very sparse and simple.  Here's some sample cards but you can look at all of them over at Jambalaya:






The Tokyo Big Six League was founded in 1925, although the universities in the league were playing against each other earlier than that (the Waseda-Keio rivalry started in 1903).

BBM's Legend Of The Tokyo Big Six set is a 108 card pack based set featuring 81 cards of OB alumni, 18 cards of active in NBP alumni and a nine card "Legendary Record" subset.  Like the Tohto set, it's not entirely clear what the Records being commemorated are.  Unlike the Tohto set, some of the players in the subset do not have "regular" cards in the rest of the set.

Here's a breakdown of the cards by team - Waseda is certainly well represented in the active subset:


There's an amazing collection of players included in the set.  The set has Koji Yamamoto, Koichi Tabuchi, Kaoro Betto, Seiichi Hoshino, Kenshin Kawakami, Shigeru Sugishita, Tatsuro Hirooka, Satoru Komiyama, Akinobu Okada, Kenichi Yazawa, Norichika Aoki, Atsunori Inaba, Yoshinobu Takahashi and Tsuyoshi Wada.  There are even guys from the 1920's and 1930's included in the set - Osamu Mihara, Shigeru Mizuhara, Tadashi Wakabayashi, and Hisanori Karita among others.  Some of the older photos aren't very good, but some of them are very clear.

The set includes a number of players who for whatever reason did not go on to have major careers in NBP - there's a couple guys who I think became TV announcers of some sort (Satoshi Kamishige and Kansuke Ohkoshi).  There's also a trio of little known Hall Of Famers - Tokichiro Ishii, Saburo Miyatake and Minoru Yamashita were all enshrined for their performances in college and contributions to the amateur game more than anything they did in professional baseball.  And there are three guys included in the set who have actually appeared in the Tokyo Big Six sets BBM has done in recent years - Waseda alums Yuya Fukui, Tatsuya Ohishi and (of course) Yuki Saitoh.

I was stunned, however, to see that Shigeo Nagashima was not in the set.  (His son, Kazushige, who went to his father's alma mater Rikkio University is in the set.)  There's also a handful of pre-war Hall Of Famers like Katsuo Tanaka who aren't in the set either.

Like the Tohto set, most of the cards showing players from before the late 1970's are in black and white. Once again, you can see the entire set at Jambalaya, but here's some sample cards:









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