Monday, December 31, 2012

Hideki Matsui

Hideki Matsui announced his retirement last week.  I had done a post of Matsui last year when he reached 500 home runs but I decided that I still had enough interesting cards of him to do another post.

There's not much I can say about him that would add anything, so I'll just show the cards:

1993 Takara Giants #55

1994 Calbee Hokkaido Edition #C-1

2000 BBM Diamond Heroes '90s Franchise Player #F16

2000 Konami Field Of 9 #FON00T-010

2000 Upper Deck Victory Superstar Showcase #SS2

2002 BBM 2nd Version Golden Glove #GG8

2011 BBM Hometown Heroes #013

2012 In Review - Calbee

I thought I'd start a tradition at the end of the year of reviewing the releases from Calbee and BBM for that year, because, hey, I don't have enough posts waiting to be done, let's add a couple more...

Luckily, the Calbee review is pretty straight forward.  As they have done for a number of years, Calbee issued their cards this year in three Series.  Each Series contained 72 base player cards (6 per team) for a total of 216 for the entire set (18 per team).  Series Three contained 32 cards of players who had already appeared in Series One and Two, so the total number of players represented in the set was 184.

Calbee also had a number of subsets - two of which spanned all three Series and three of which were unique to each Series.  Series One contained 22 "Title Holder" cards which commemorated players who had led their league in one or more categories or who had won a major award.  It's the equivalent of the "Leaders" subset in the BBM 1st Version set.  Series Two contained 12 cards commemorating the twelve Opening Day starting pitchers (obviously one for each team).  Series Three contained a 22 card subset featuring the players who were elected by the fan voting to be starters in the All Star series.

Calbee celebrated their 40th Anniversary by adding a "Memorial Card" subset to each of the Series.  This subset featured reprinted cards from Calbee's past.  The earliest card represented was Shigeo Nagashima's card from the 1973 set which was the first Calbee card (#1 in the set).  The latest card included was Hirotoshi Kitagawa from the 2002 set.  The Memorial cards from Series One were for Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh plus the managers from each of the teams.  There was a problem with this, however, as Swallows manager Junji Ogawa had never actually had Calbee card made of him during his playing days.  Technically Ogawa's card is a base card (it's numbered as such and has a back consistent with the base cards) but the picture on the card is from his playing days in the 1980's.  The Memorial cards from Series Two featured players who are now coaches from each of the 12 teams.  The Memorial cards from Series Three featured one active player from each team.  There were a total of 37 Memorial cards (plus the "regular" card of Ogawa).

The final subset shared between the three Series is the checklists.  There were four checklists for each Series for a total of 12 altogether.  Each card depicts some event - the Series One cards show events from late in the 2011 season or the 2011 post-season while the cards from the other two Series show events from the 2012 season.

Calbee also included an insert set that spanned all three Series - the Star cards.  Each Series contained 24 of these cards (2 per team) which were sparkly kira type cards.  There were 72 of them in all (6 per team) and there was a gold signature parallel version of them as well.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

1993 Teleca Korean Cards

I've been meaning to get around to this forever - a couple months back I bought a bunch of Korean baseball cards from 1993-94 from Robert Shadlow, another of the "pioneers" of the Asian baseball card hobby in the US.  Robert was actually kind enough to scan all the cards he had and make the scans available to me via dropbox.  I've been feeling very guilty that I have not gotten around to doing any posts on these cards since he had done all that hard and tedious work for me.

I'm going to start with a post on the 1993 cards.  These cards were made by Teleca, who later put out some pack based sets in 1999 and 2000.  The cards are the size and shape (with rounded corners) of phone cards (which Teleca also did in 1993 and 1997).  Instead of being sold in packs or boxes sets, they apparently were sold one card at a time in a "hanging sleeve".  The card would be inserted in the sleeve by having two corners slipped under tabs on the sleeve.  The sleeves themselves would generally have the team's logo under the card and usually a blank back (other than some information about Teleca) although Robert did send me a sleeve for a 1994 LG Twins card that had the Twins schedule on the back side.

I've set up an account on Flickr to show Robert's scans.  The 1993 cards can be seen here.  It's unclear how many cards actually exist in the set and how many teams had cards.  Robert only has five 1993 cards and they are only for the Haitai Tigers and the OB Bears.  Here's a list of the cards he has and links to the fronts, backs and "in sleeve" pictures:

1Sun Dong-yeolHaitai Tigersscanscanscan
9Kim Kyeong-wonOB Bearsscanscanscan
10Kim Hyeong-seokOB Bearsscanscanscan
11Chang Ho-yeonOB Bearsscanscanscan
12Lee Myeong-sooOB Bearsscanscanscan

Robert also scanned empty sleeves for both the Tigers and the Bears.  The cards shown on the Tigers' sleeve are phone cards that Teleca did in 1991.

You'll probably notice that it looks like there are two numbering systems with the cards.  The OB Bear cards have a number in the form "O.9308XX" where "XX" is the player's uniform number.  Many of the 1994 cards have a similar numbering scheme but since several players in the 1994 set have multiple cards, these numbers aren't unique.

Robert suspects that there are actually only 12 cards for 1993 and that the 1994 Teleca set is a continuation of it as the lowest numbered card he has for the 1994 set is #13.

Robert has 70+ 1994 cards scanned as well - I'll be doing posts on them in the future, probably on a team by team basis.

Since Robert has been so helpful to me I will plug the fact that he is currently selling many of these cards on eBay under his handle bpi6tzt.

Latest BBM Announcements

BBM announced a couple new sets in the past week or so, both of which are the 2013 editions of sets that have now become annual releases.

- The Rookie Edition set will be released in mid February.  This is a pack based set that contains cards for all the players who were taken (and signed) in the 2012 NBP Draft last October.  The base set will contain 96 cards - 83 for the drafted players, 1 sort of checklist card showing all the draft picks (I'm making a guess here based on last year's set) and 12 "Then and Now" cards that I'm not entirely sure of.  I'm guessing that they either show a current player from both his rookie season and last season or it shows a current player's rookie picture along with a newly drafted player from the same team's rookie picture.  With 12 cards, I'm assuming that it's one card per team.  There are also two insert sets - a 24 card (2 per team?) Next Generation set and a 2 card set for the 2012 Rookies Of The Year (Kosuke Nomura and Naoya Masuda).  There will also be possible autograph cards available.  The big names in the set this year will be Shohei Ohtani of the Fighters, Tomoyuki Sugano of the Giants and Shintaro Fujitani of the Tigers.

- BBM's box set for players who retired in 2012 will be released in late January.  The set will contain 43 cards - 42 "regular" cards and 1 "special" card - either a foil or real autograph card.  Obviously the big names in the set will be Takuro Ishii, Hiroki Kokubo, Tomoaki Kanemoto, Kenji Johjima and So Taguchi.  I don't know if they will have enough time to add Hideki Matsui to the set as well.

Card Of The Week January 30

Takashi Saitoh is returning to Japan to play for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles next season.  Saitoh, who will be 43 when the season begins, has spent the last seven seasons in the US pitching in the Dodger, Red Sox, Braves, Brewers and Diamondback organizations.  As I pointed out a few months back, I believe Saitoh is one of only three former Yokohama Taiyo Whales still active with Motonobu Tanishige and Daisuke Miura being the other two.

Here's Saitoh's rookie card from the 1992 BBM set (#471):

Monday, December 24, 2012

Card Of The Week December 23

Hopefully I'll get back to posting stuff this week but in the meantime, here's this week's Card Of The Week, a day late.

I'm not quite sure where this card of Koichi Tabuchi of the Tigers comes from.  Gary Engel's latest guide book lists a set called "1976 Blank Backs" (JMC 2003).  This particular card is not listed, but some of the other cards that I got with this one (from a group of cards I won on eBay a few years back) are.

I had not realized that Tabuchi was so tall :-).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Card Of The Week December 16

Busy weekend, so I'll be making this a quick one today.  This is a JCM2 "Blue Baseball Back" menko card from 1948 of Takeshi Doigaki of the then Osaka Tigers:

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Blog by Rob Fitts

Rob Fitts has started a new blog called "Japanese Vintage Baseball Cards".  I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of cool old cards on it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Card Of The Week December 9

Thought I'd add one last Kyuji Fujikawa item.  Frequently, BBM's team sets include some sort of puzzle or sequence of cards that go together.  The 2007 Tigers team set included a six card puzzle of Fujikawa.  Unfortunately, I only have five of the six but I think it's still kind of neat even without the one card:

The top row is cards T109-T111; the bottom row is T112 and T113 (so the missing card is T114).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kyuji Fujikawa of the Chicago Cubs

Kyuji Fujikawa, formerly of the Hanshin Tigers and the Cubs announced that they had come to an agreement last week and Fujikawa will be pitching in Wrigley Field for the next two years.

Fujikawa was drafted by Hanshin in the first round of the 1999 NPB draft (which was held in the fall of 1998).  His rookie card is #392 in the 1999 BBM set.  His appearances in the "flagship" BBM sets are somewhat sporadic over the next few years - he's in the 2001 set, but not in the 2000 set or either the 1st or 2nd Versions in 2002.  He's in the 2003 and 2004 2nd Version sets but not the 1st either year and in the 2005 1st Version set but not the 2nd.  It's not until 2006 that he started showing up in both the 1st and 2nd Version sets each year (not coincidentally, 2005 was the year he really became a star).  He's made the All Star team each season since 2005 so (logically) he's in each of the BBM All Star sets since 2005.  The Tigers have made the Nippon Series twice during his time with the team, however he only appeared in the 2005 Series so his lone BB Nippon Series set appearance is from that year.

He does not have a Calbee card until 2005 (#213) but he's had at least one card in each Calbee set since then.  He played for the Japanese team in the WBC in both 2006 and 2009, but he only has a single card (along with 11 parallel versions) in the 2009 Bowman Chrome WBC Prospects set.  He also played on the 2008 Japanese Olympic Baseball team and has a card in BBM's set for that team.

As always, this is not a comprehensive list but merely some of the highlights.  Check out Sports Card Forum's Inventory Manager for a much more complete list (thanks to Jason).

Here's a couple of his cards (can't show the rookie card because I don't have it):

2003 BBM 2nd Version #809 (New Wave subset)

2005 Konami Baseball Heroes Black #B05B109

2006 BBM Tigers # T100

2007 BBM 2nd Version #702 (For The Ultimate! subset)

2009 Bowman Chrome WBC Prospects #BCW39

2011 Calbee Star Card #S-16

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Award Winners

Running very late on this this year...this year's MVPs were Shinnosuke Abe of the Giants and Mitsuo Yoshikawa of the Fighters, the Rookies Of The Year were Yusuke Nomura of the Carp and Naoya Masuda of the Marines and the Sawamura Award winner was Tadashi Settsu of the Hawks.  Here's the 2012 BBM 1st Version card for each of them:






The Best 9 teams for both the Central and Pacific Leagues were announced last month as well.  Here's 2012 Calbee cards for all the winners:

Central League Best 9

Pacific League Best 9

Pacific League DH

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kota Kobayashi of the Cleveland Indians

In what I think was the first signing of a former NPB player this off season, the Cleveland Indians last week announced the signing of former Yokohama DENA Baystars ikusei pitcher Kota Kobayashi.  Kobayashi was drafted out of high school by Yokohama in the 2010 draft (which took place in October of 2009).  He spent all three season with Yokohama in the minors.

Kobayashi doesn't have a whole lot of baseball cards.  Like most of the rest of his draft class, he appeared in the 2010 BBM Rookie Edition set.  His only other cards were in the annual BBM Baystars team sets - he never appeared in any of the main "flagship" sets from BBM, Calbee, Konami or Bandai.  Here's his Rookie Edition card (#049):

I also want to note that Kobayashi is the second Japanese player that the Indians signed this off season (although the first former member of an NPB team).  Back in October, they signed Takuya Tsuchida from Hagura High School.  Tsuchida went undrafted in the NPB draft in October and signed a deal with the Indians shortly after.  There are the same amount of legitimate cards of Tsuchida kicking around as there are for Shohei Otani.

Cool blog

Sorry I've been off line for much of the past two weeks.  I got sick Thanksgiving weekend and really only started recovering this week.

I learned about a great blog a few weeks back called This Card Is Cool.  The writer Ryan is living in Japan and has been hitting the Mint baseball card stores and posting scans of what he finds there.  He's found a lot of cool stuff that I didn't know existed and he gets a lot of parallels and inserts, which I don't pay a lot of attention to, so you get a really good survey of what's actually out there from reading his blog.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Card Of The Week December 2

Just finished reading Ralph Pearce's book "From Asahi To Zebras:  Japanese American Baseball in San Jose, California".  It's an interesting book about the history of baseball in the Japanese American community in San Jose (which you probably figured out from the title) from the 1910's through the early 1960's (and actually some community youth programs later than that as well).  Mush of the book focuses on the San Jose Asahi team in the years prior to World War II, especially spotlighting their tour of Japan in the mid 1920's and their games against the Tokyo Giants during the Giants tours of the US in 1935 and 1936 (the Asahi was one of only two Nisei teams to defeat the Giants during the 1935 tour).  The section of the book dealing with the post war era concentrates on the Zebras, who basically replaced the Asahi as the preeminent team in the Japanese American community in San Jose.

One of the Zebra's primary rivals in the Northern California Nisei Baseball League (NCNBL) was the Fresno Nisei.  A couple of the players on the Fresno team eventually played for the Carp in the mid-1950's.  The most successful of these players was an outfielder named Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama who would spend 10 years with Hiroshima from 1955 to 1964.  Hirayama was the subject of an article in the August 4, 1958 issue of Sports Illustrated written by Mark Harris, author of the great Henry Wiggen baseball novels (of which the most famous is "Bang The Drum Slowly", made into one of the best baseball movies ever).  He's also one of the subjects of Rob Fitts' "Remembering Japanese Baseball".

I was kind of surprised to realize that Hirayama hasn't appeared in any of BBM's OB sets, especially the Carp's 60th Anniversary set from a few years ago.  I'm actually not positive I have a card of him or not.  This card is from the 1959 "2 in 1" Marukami B & W set (JBR 5):

The listing for the set in Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist And Price Guide" says that the player on the left is an unknown player for the Orions.  The player on the right could either be Hirayama (described in Engel as "RHB - hips up") or Takeshi Koba ("RHB - thighs up").  I'm going with Hirayama, but it could be Koba.  (And now you see the kind of issues that you run into trying to identify old bromide cards, even when you have a checklist.)

(And in case you're curious, the other two members of the Fresno Nisei to play for the Carp were Kenso and Kenshi Zenimura, sons of Kenichi Zenimura who was known as the "Father Of Japanese American Baseball".)