Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 BBM Orix 25th Anniversary set

The Orix corporation purchased the Braves from Hankyu following the 1988 season.  After two years as the Orix Braves playing in Hankyu's old stadium (Nishinomiya Stadium) in (greater) Osaka, Orix moved the team to Kobe and renamed it the Orix Blue Wave.  Following the 2004 season, the team "merged" with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes (essentially Orix assimilated the Buffaloes) and the team changed its name again to the Orix Buffaloes.

BBM celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Orix acquiring the Braves by putting out a pack based set back in February (I just got my set recently).  The set includes an 81 card base set that breaks down to 61 cards of OB Orix players, 11 cards for all the team's managers and nine cards for the current team.

BBM had done a 55 card box set back in 2009 to celebrate Orix's 20th Anniversary.  That set had featured 33 OB Orix players.  My primary complaint about their selection was that almost all of the players featured had been Blue Wave players - there were no Braves players and only one Buffalo.  This set has rectified that situation.  There are a number of players who are obviously wearing Orix Braves uniforms such as Boomer Wells and Hiromitsu Kadota (who was only a Brave) and a large number of Buffaloes as well.  The set includes pretty much all the big names for Orix - So Taguchi, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Takeshi Yamasaki, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Koji Noda, Arihito Muramatsu, Alex Cabrera, Nobuyuki Hoshino, and Tuffy Rhodes.  There were a couple surprises - I had not realized that Akinobu Okada had spent two seasons with the Blue Wave after being let go by the Tigers.  Deadbeat dad Troy Neel also is in the set.  32 of the OB players who appeared in the 2009 set also appear in this one.  The only one who doesn't is the biggest OB player that this set is missing - Ichiro Suzuki.

Here's some examples:






The 11 card Managers subset features all the former managers of Orix as well as the current manager Hiroshi Moriwaki.  The other managers are Toshiharu Ueda, Shozo Doi, Akira Ohgi, Hiromichi Ishige, Leon Lee, current Lions manager Haruki Ihara, Katsuhiro Nakamura, current Mets manager Terry Collins, Daijiro Ohishi and Akinobu Okada (his second card in the set),

The nine cards for the current team are not a Best 9 but simply who BBM thought were the most significant players, such as Yoshio Itoi, T-Okada and Chihiro Kaneko.  The nine cards include a card for Yoshitomo Tani, who spent 10 years with Orix before leaving for the Giants in 2007 but has returned for the 2014 season.  The picture on the card shows Tani wearing a Buffloes jersey and hat over street clothes while standing in the seats in a ballpark.


There's also a nine card insert set with this set.  I normally don't get these but the guy I buy cards from included them with this set for some reason.  The set is entitled "Strongest Nine Players" and is basically a Best 9 set for Orix (although without Ichiro it is more accurately "Strongest Nine Signed Players").  The set includes Nobuyuki Hoshino, Satoshi Nakajima, Boomer Wells, Junichi Fukura, George Arias, Hirofumi Ogawa, Kazuhiko Ishimine, So Taguchi and Yoshitomo Tani.


I'm kind of "meh" about this set although that's partly driven by the fact that I'm not a big fan of Orix.  The fact that the set doesn't include the team's most important player from the last 25 years (Ichiro) is kind of hard to overcome.  A lot of the pictures from the 1990's seem kind of grainy and I don't like the borders (I prefer the full bleed photo designs that BBM usually uses).  And like the Eagles 10th Anniversary set, I think the set suffers from a lack of historic highlights.  The Blue Wave won two Pacific League pennants and a Nippon Series in the 1990's and the Buffaloes have made the Climax Series once so there actually have been some highlights over the years.  I do like the player selection for the set (other than not including Ichiro) and the managerial subset - Leon Lee was the first (and only so far) African-American manager in NPB and it's nice that he has a card in the set, even though he only managed the team for part of a season.

As always you can see all the base cards and the insert set over at Jambalaya.


Sean said...

Wow, I had no idea about that child support controversy with Troy Neel. What a horrible, horrible person to be `honoring` in a set like this. I hope they didn`t give him a dime.

NPB Card Guy said...

I remember his ex-wife selling a bunch of his baseball memorabilia on Ebay back around 2001, including some of the BBM All Star and Nippon Series sets. I contacted her to let her know that she should mention that the sets included Ichiro which hopefully caused them to sell at higher price.

As far as I can tell, this is the first card BBM has done of Neel since 2000. Honestly I'm a bit surprised that they included him. Probably the only player who would have surprised me more to show up in a BBM set would have been Mel Hall.