Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are You Serious?

A couple years back, Jason did a post about an auction of Japanese cards that he had won on Ebay (outbidding me by the way :-)).  One of the cards in the lot was this 1988 Calbee card of Rick Lancelotti of the Carp (card #117):

Jason's scan of the card

This is without a question one of the worst pictures ever used for a baseball card.  Jason mentioned that it was so bad that it looked like it was a video capture or a picture taken of a TV screen.

Fast forward now to this week...

Sean had left a comment on a post the other day that mentioned that there was a page for Calbee baseball cards on the Japanese edition of Wikipedia.  While looking over the Google translation of the page, I came across some text about the 1988 set that appears to say that Calbee did in fact actually use pictures of players on TV on some of the cards.  After I pointed it out to Sean, he confirmed that that's what the text really said.

I took a look at my 1988 Calbees to see if I had any other examples of cards like this but I didn't (I only have around 20 cards from that particular set).  I did a little looking on Yahoo! Japan Auctions though and found a couple I was suspicious of:

#128 Bill Gullickson

#119 Ryuzo Yamasaki
The Calbee Collector website has a couple additional examples in their 1988 page:

#101 (Masumi Kuwata) & #108 (Takao Obana)

#110 (Doug Decinces) & #114 (Takashi Nishimoto)
The website appears to go into a bit of detail regarding the use of TV images.  Again, I'm trying to make sense of the Google translation (and the page gets rearranged somewhat by the translation) but I think that the author is saying that the pictures from the cards are from the opening series for the season.

I think this is a prime example of how lazy a card company that doesn't have any competition can get.


Ryan G said...

This is lazy, for sure, but I think it was also a point when technology was advancing to a point that Calbee (and other companies) were willing to try something to bring images where there were none before. I have a non-sport set from the Lois and Clark: Adventures of Superman TV show that relies heavily (entirely, perhaps?) on screen captures. This was a few years after the 1988 Calbee set, and while the quality is a bit better than the Calbee version, it's not great.

I remember Snappy, which was an image capture device from video. I had one, in fact. But the images were pretty bad.

I see these 1988 TV screen caps from time to time and they are pretty bad. But these days I think this is a viable option, with all the super HD quality video being captured.

Sean said...

Awesome post, that Gullickson card definitely looks like it was taken from a TV. I am planning to go through my 88 Calbees to look for suspicious ones. I think I also only have about 20 cards from the set so I might not, but this will make an awesome subset to collect.

Ryan - that is a good point. Actually today they could easily get away with something like that, but with 1988 technology the cards look like they literally just pointed a camera at a 20 inch Sony Trinitron and crossed their fingers that when the film was developed they would have something they could use. I say that in praise though, it is hard to dislike a team of baseball card designers who are so amateur that they actually hit on that as a solution to their not-having-pictures-of-certain-players problem.

Its also another thing that is probably unique to Japanese baseball cards. The worst American sets in terms of photography (1981 Fleer, 1969 Topps?) never did something as interesting as that!

Sean said...

This post inspired me :) I just bought a copy of that Gullickson card off of Yahoo Auctions. I`ll do a post about it after it arrives in the mail!