Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sports Card Magazine #107

Once again, the latest issue of Sports Card Magazine (#107) has hit the street and once again through the magic of Amazon Japan and DHL shipping, I have my copy just a few days after it was in stores.

I have to say that this isn't a great issue for the Japanese-language impaired like myself.  The cover story is on Tetsuto Yamada of the Swallows and features a selection of his BBM cards.  The full color "New Card Information" section features six pages(!) of coverage for the new Genesis set - lots of examples of the various memorabilia and autograph cards.  There is also coverage of a number of other new BBM sets, many of which have already been released (Tigers Fielding, Celebration Of The Hawks, Buffaloes March, Red Sensation and Honeys Flash).  There is an almost full page ad for the upcoming Giants 80th Anniversary set as well as an article in the "newsprint" section of the magazine about the set.  From looking at the pictures in the article, I feel comfortable in saying that Wally Yonamine will be in the set, but I'm less sure about Masaichi Kaneda or Hiromitsu Ochiai.  (For the sake of comparison, Ochiai was in the 70th Anniversary set but Yonamine and Kaneda weren't.)

As always there are checklists for the latest issues, and price guides for the 2014 cards.  SCM features vintage checklists on a rotating basis - this issue has soccer cards.

Here's their lists of the "best" cards of the month:

Best Card Of This Month:  Autographed Diego Forlan card from the J-League Official set
Best Item Of This Month:  BBM 2nd Version set
Hot Card Lists
1. 2014 BBM 1st Version Daichi Ohsera (#239)
2. 2014 BBM 1st Version Ryutaro Umeno (#214)
3. 2014 BBM 1st Version Yuki Matsui (#019)
4. 2014 BBM 1st Version Seiji Kobayashi (#185)
5. 2007 BBM 1st Version Masahiro Tanaka (#211)
6. 2014 BBM 1st Version Yuta Yoshida (#077)
7. 2014 Calbee Daichi Ohsera (#59)
8. 2014 Calbee Yuki Matsui (#1)
9. 2014 BBM 1st Version Daiki Tohmei (#129)
10. 2014 BBM 1st Version Allen Kuri (#240)

Autograph & Memorabilia:
1. 2014 BBM 2nd Version Daichi Ohsera jersey
2. 2014 J League Diego Forlan autograph
3. 2014 J League Takumi Minamino autograph
4. 2014 BBM Dragons Michihiro Ogasawara autograph
5. 2014 BBM Tigers Tsuyoshi Nishioka/Takashi Toritani autograph
6. 2014 BBM We Love Hokkaido Shohei Ohtani autograph
7. 2007 BBM Eagles Masahiro Tanaka autograph
8. 2014 BBM Eagles Yuki Matsui autograph
9. 2014 Dancing Heroine (not sure which) Reika autograph
10. 2014 BBM Carp Daichi Ohsera/Takeru Imamura autograph

The best part of the magazine, of course, is the included baseball cards.  Once again the magazine included 12 cards.  Once again, six of them are the Cosmic Cross cards - that makes 30 of them.  The final six will be in the next issue that will be out at the end of November.

For the other six, SCM decided to repeat what they had done in the last issue and printed six bonus 2nd Version set cards for players who were late signing.  And when I say, late signing, I really mean it.  The deadline for adding players for the season is July 31 of each year.  Five of the six players signed after July 21 this year.  Two of the six players are Japanese players returning to NPB -Yoshinori Tateyama pitched in the Yankees organization the first part of this season before signing with the Tigers (after previously having played for the Fighters) and Hiroyuki Kobayashi signed with the Lions after spending much of the past two seasons in the independent Baseball Challenge League (he previous played for the Marines and Tigers).  The other four are foreign players coming to NPB for the first time and I'm very excited about two of them - Cuban players Alfredo Despaigne (Marines) and Hector Mendoza (Giants).  The other two are Nick Evans (Eagles) and Deunte Heath (Carp).  I'm fairly confident that these will be the only cards of these players done this season.

Here's a look at the six bonus 2nd Version cards:

SCM #278 (2nd Version #703)

SCM #279 (2nd Version #704)

SCM #280 (2nd Version #705)

SCM #281 (2nd Version #706)

SCM #282 (2nd Version #707)

SCM #283 (2nd Version #708)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Card Of The Week September 28

The Yomiuri Giants clinched the Central League Pennant for the umpteenth time this past week (note that NPB considers the first place team in each league the pennant winner even if that team does not win the Climax Series and represent the league in the Nippon Series).  This made me start reflecting about the managerial career of Tatsunori Hara.  This is the ninth season of Hara's second stint as Giants manager.  He won the pennant and the Nippon Series in the first year of his first managerial stint (in 2002) but stepped down after the following season when the team was unable to counter the lose of Hideki Matsui and dropped to third.  He was rehired after the Giants suffered through two seasons under Tsuneo Horiuchi, finishing third in 2004 and fifth in 2005 (the lowest the team had finished since 1979 and only the third time they'd finished lower than fourth since the two league system started in 1950).  He's won six additional pennants since he returned in 2006 and two Nippon Series championships as well.

With this being his eleventh season overall, he is now tied with Shigeru Mizuhara (1950-60) for third most seasons as Giants manager.  Shigeo Nagashima managed for 15 years in two stints (1975-1980 and 1993-2001) and Tetsuharu Kawakami managed for 14 years (1961-1974).

A couple interesting facts about the Giants - they have not made a mid-season managerial change since 1949, the last season under the one league system and they've never had a manager who played or managed for another team prior to being hired as Giants manager.  I've wondered lately if Hideki Matsui didn't return to play in Japan with another team (like Hanshin) so that he would not disqualify himself from being Giants manager in the future.

Here's a card of Hara from his first season as Giants manager (2002 BBM 1st Version #362):

Tomoya Satozaki

The Marines held a retirement ceremony for catcher Tomoya Satozaki before a packed house in Chiba today.

Satozaki was drafted in the second round by the Marines in the fall of 1998.  While he played well with the ni-gun team (he was MVP of the 2001 "Fresh All Star" game, the minor league All Star game), he didn't reach ichi-gun to stay until 2003.  He became the regular catcher for the Marines around 2006 and was named team captain in 2007.  Injuries and age started taking their toll on him (he was 30 when he became the regular catcher) and his playing time had diminished quite a bit in the past two seasons.

His BBM rookie card is #513 in the 1999 set (and he also appeared in the 1999 Future Bee Marines set that year).  His next appearance on a card wasn't until the 2002 BBM 2nd Version set.  His first Calbee card was #178 from the 2005 set.  Here's a bunch of his cards (I don't have either of the 1999 rookies or his first Calbee card):

2002 BBM 2nd Version #756

2007 Calbee #032

2011 Team26 (Marines Fan Club Issue)

2013 BBM Marines #M95

Satozaki won two Nippon Series during his time with the Marines - in 2005 and 2010.  Here's his card from the 2005 BBM Nippon Series set featuring a picture of him apparently after he homered into the fog during the Marines 10-1 Game One drubbing of the Tigers  that was ended after seven innings due to the fog:

2005 BBM Nippon Series #10
He made the All Star team seven times, every year between 2005 and 2012 except 2008.  He also made the Best 9 and Golden Glove teams for the PL in 2006 and 2007.  Here's his card from BBM's 2011 All Star set:

2011 BBM All Stars #A20
He was a member of the Japanese National Team twice - for the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2008 Olympics.  He played very well in the 2006 WBC, hitting .409 with one home run and making the WBC All Star team.  He appeared on four of Upper Deck's WBC cards that year.  Here's his card from their All World Team set:

2006 Upper Deck SPx All World Team #AWT-25

He appeared in the "Record Making Players" subset in the 2009 BBM 1st Version set, but I have been unable to determine just what the record he set was.

2009 BBM 1st Version #468

I was planning on watching the ceremony this morning but apparently win24TV had other ideas - they dropped the feed as soon as the game ended.  Luckily, PL-TV has a number of videos of today's retirement ceremony.  This is the main ceremony itself.   Here's his victory lap around the field.   This one shows the career highlight reel that played on the scoreboard.

RIP Nobuyuki Kagawa

Sad news out of Fukuoka yesterday - former Nankai Hawk Nobuyuki Kagawa has died from a heart attack at the age of 52.  Kagawa was notable throughout his career for being overweight and apparently was suffering from diabetes as well as having a heart condition.

Kagawa attended Naniwa Shogyo High School in Osaka and was drafted by his hometown Hawks in the fall of 1979.  Looking at the Hawks fielding stats during his career, it looks like he was mostly a backup catcher - another player had more games catching for the Hawks for every year except 1983 and 1985.  1983 was clearly Kagawa's best season - he hit .313 with 15 home runs.  He was named to the Pacific League's Best Nine and made the All Star team that year.  He also made the All Star team in 1984 despite the fact that his batting average plummeted almost 100 points to .215.

From what I can gather from the translation of his Japanese Wikipedia page, his weight was an issue throughout his career.  His height and weight in his rookie year of 1980 was 5'7" and 216 pounds but (again referencing his Japanese Wikipedia page) he was popular enough that "he did not refuse the invitation of the meal from the parties".  His weight reportedly ballooned to 286 and ultimately led to his release by the Hawks after the 1989 season.  At 27, he was done as a player.

Here's some cards from during his career where you can see the weight gain.

1980 Calbee #205

1980 Calbee Large #43

1983 Calbee #183

1985 Calbee #3

1998 BBM Hawks #FD76
Kagawa only played one season with the Hawks after they moved to Fukuoka after the 1988 season.  There are almost no cards that I'm aware of that show him with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks - a card from the 1989 Takara Hawks set and the above card from the 1998 BBM Hawks box set set that had a subset celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the move from Osaka.

Here's a couple pieces of trivia regarding Kagawa.  His battery mate in high school was Kazuhiko Ushijima, who would go on to play for the Dragons and Marines from 1980 to 1993.  BBM devoted a card in last year's All Star Memories 80's set to the matchup between the two of them in the second game of the 1983 All Star series:

2013 BBM All Star Memories 80's #82
Kagawa's nickname was "Dokaben" (after the baseball manga/anime) due to his resemblance to the main character Taro Yamada.  BBM included a card of Yamada in their 1999 Lions set so you can judge the resemblance yourself:

1999 BBM Lions #SL29

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 Super Star Korean Baseball Card Series 2 Box Break

I had ordered a box of the new KBO Super Star Baseball set from someone in Korea on Ebay.  I paid for the cards on the sixth but the seller didn't send the cards until the tenth.  The post office attempted to deliver them on Monday when no one was home so it wasn't until yesterday that I actually got my hands on them which means it took less than two weeks to get the cards.


Opened Box


Like Series One, Series Two features 126 cards in the base set.  Unlike Series One, however, none of the base set cards are short prints.  Instead, there's a number of parallel issues of certain cards.  I'm not entirely sure how many cards have parallels but I do know that there are three kinds of parallels - All Star, Big Star and Super Star.  I think that there's a similar breakdown in the parallels as the short prints in the Series One - each team has three All Star parallels, two Big Star parallels and one Super Star parallel but I could be wrong.

Again like the first set, the box contains 20 packs of six cards each so there's 120 cards in the box.  Here's how my box broke down:

77 unique base set cards
31 base set duplicates
4 unique All Star parallels
2 duplicate All Star parallels
4 Big Star parallels
2 Super Star parallels

With the exception of the two duplicate All Star parallels, I was pretty happy with how this box turned out.  While I'm still roughly 50 cards short of a complete set, I didn't feel like I was inundated with duplicate cards like I did with the two boxes I opened from the first set.

The cards are not numbered in continuation of the first set.  They are numbered 1-126.  However, the full card number has an "SBC02" prefix while cards in the original set had an "SBC01" prefix.  There are no players who appear in both sets.

The base cards are nearly identical in design to the first set.  The only differences that I see are that the little box with an arrow head pointing up or down in the lower left side of the First Series cards has been replaced with a holographic square in the Second Series and there's a border on the right side of the photo on the Second Series card while the photo went all the way to the right edge of the card in the First Series.  Here's some examples:

#004 Seung-Yeop Lee

#015 Sung-Heun Hong

#031 Joo-In Son

#050 Suk-Min Yoon

#063 Jun-Seok Choi

#078 Ju-Hwan Na

#089 Jun Heo

#100 Joo-Hyeong Kim

#122 Dae-Hun Jeong

I'm amused that at least one of the Doosan Bears players was depicted in a "turn-back-the-clock" uniform.

The backs of all the base cards are identical.  Like Series One, the cards all appear to be designed to be used in some sort of collectible card game, similar to the Konami "Field Of Nine" cards in Japan in 2000 and 2001.  Actually, the backs are identical to the backs of the first set:

Base Set Card Back

I suspect that we should probably consider the parallel cards more like insert cards as the design of the parallel cards doesn't resemble the base cards at all:

#106-AS Dae-Hyung Lee

#091-BS Hui-Dong Kwon

$029-SS Yong-Taik Park
You've probably already noticed that the "Big Star" cards are the only ones with the player's name in English on the front.  The backs of all the parallel cards have the same design which contains the player's name in English as well.  Interestingly, the backs of the parallels have an identical design to the All Star short print cards from the First Series.

Back of #106-AS Dae-Hyung Lee

In addition to the six cards, each pack contained some sort of "item" card.  All the ones I got had some sort of on-line code to be used somehow, possibly in the EA Sports MVP Baseball Online game.  There are possible autograph and memorabilia cards associated with the set but I don't know if they actually are included in boxes or if you have to pull a redemption card of some sort for them.

It'll be interesting to see if Super Star does a third set, given that the KBO's season is just about over.  It would be nice to see one with some foreign players.

Thanks to Jason for adding this set (and many others) to the Inventory Manager over at SportsCardForum.com.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Card Of The Week September 21

I recently learned something about one of the artifacts I saw at the Japanese Baseball Hall Of Fame last year.  I saw what I thought was a plaque for Sadaharu Oh's 756 home run, but I didn't understand the significance of it:

I was looking through the mook about old Stadiums that  Ryan bought for me last year and I saw a picture of this plaque in its original setting:

This plaque had actually marked the spot in the right field stands at Korakuen Stadium where Oh's 756th home run (which put him past Henry Aaron) landed.  Of course, if I had noticed that there was an English translation on the display card in the Hall Of Fame, I would have known that - jet lag is a terrible thing (although I have no excuse for not having noticed this since I got home).

In honor of me finally paying some attention to what's in front of me, I thought I'd show a card with a picture of Oh reaching home after home run #756:

This is from the 2007 BBM Home Run Chronicle set, a box set containing the top 45 home run hitters (at the time of course) in NPB history.  Oh's card is, of course, #01.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Latest New Releases

A couple new card sets have been announced in the last week or so:

- Pretty much as expected, BBM is doing an 80th Anniversary set for the Giants.  This will be a pack based set with 99 cards in the base set, a 12 card insert set and assorted autograph cards.  The 99 cards in the base set will divided into four subsets - six cards for "History Of Giants", 69 cards of OB Giants, 15 cards for the current team and nine cards for Giants team records.  The insert set is called "Giants Heroes".  I'll be curious to see if the two most noticeably absent players from the 70th Anniversary set (Masaichi Kaneda and Wally Yonamine) are included this time.  I think the set will be out in late October.

- Front Runner has announced two more team based box sets.  They are continuing their "Signature Edition" box sets that they had previously done for the Buffaloes and Lions with one for the Baystars.  Like the previous sets, the new set will include 22 cards - 20 cards for the base set and (I think) two autographed cards.  One of the more interesting things about the autographs is that I think Yulieski Gourriel is one of the players who signed for the set.  I'm not sure if any of the Cuban players have been available on an autographed card before.  The other set is for the Carp and has some sort of promotional thing going on with Mizuno.  I think the set is called something like "Hiroshima Toyo Carp X Mizuno".  It's the smallest set that Front Runner has done so far - 17 cards with 15 of those cards making up the base set and the other two cards being potentially autographed and jersey cards.  I'm not positive but I think that each box has one autograph card and one jersey card in it.  It looks like the press run for the set is limited to 1000 - I'm not sure what the runs have been on Front Runner's previous sets but I suspect that they were more like 5000.  Both of these sets will be released in October.

CORRECTION - looking at some of Ryan's posts about Front Runner/Frontier's box sets,  it looks like their standard print runs are in the 1000-1500 range, so the Carp sets print run will be in line with what they've done before.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Card Of The Week September 14

Junji Ogawa is assumed to be stepping down as Swallows manager after two consecutive last place finishes and the leading candidate to replace him is rumored to be Swallows batting coach Mitsuru Manaka.  Manaka played for the Swallows from 1993 to 2008, winning the Nippon Series four times and making the All Star team once.  Here's his 2005 BBM Swallows team set card (#S79):

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Card Of The Week September 7

On Friday Masahiro Yamamoto of the Dragons became the oldest pitcher to win a game in Japan.  At 49 years and 25 days, he also set records for the oldest pitcher to appear in a game, start a game and get a strikeout.

Obviously Yamamoto has been around forever.  He was taken in the fifth round of the 1984 draft (held in November of 1983) by the Dragons.  It looks like his first Japanese card is from the 1989 Takara Dragons set.  His first Calbee card was #64 from the 1990 Calbee set and his first BBM card was #67 in their inaugural set in 1991.  Yamamoto is one of only two players (Motonobu Tanishige being the other) who has appeared in at least one of BBM's flagship sets every year that BBM has done cards (1991-present).

One interesting thing about his cards - he actually had cards in the US before he had cards in Japan.  Yamamoto spent the 1988 season playing for the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League.  He appeared in both the Star team set for Vero Beach and the Florida State League All Star set (also by Star).

I don't have his 1989 Takara card but I do have his 1990 one.  As this was during Takara's "mug shot" era (until 1991 the pictures on all of Takara's cards were essentially head shots), there probably isn't a whole lot of difference between the two cards:

The records that Yamamoto broke were all set by Hall Of Famer Shinji Hamazaki.  Hamazaki had a very odd career.  After a fairly long career in the industrial leagues, he joined the Hankyu Braves in 1947 (at age 45) and became their player manager.  He managed the team until 1953, still pitching for them in 1948 and 1950.  He also managed the Takahashi/Tombo Unions in 1954 and 1955 and the Kokutetsu Swallows in 1963.  He was reportedly one of the shortest players ever, standing only 5' 1.5".

While he appeared on a handful of menko and bromide cards while he was active, Hamazaki does not appear to have any modern cards.  He's not in any of the logical BBM sets that he could have appeared in - 2006 Nostalgic Baseball, 2009 Hankyu Memorial or the 2011 Legend Of The Tokyo Big Six (he attended Keio University in the 20's).  He ranks up there with Shigeru Makino as one of the toughest Japanese Hall Of Famers to get a card of.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Carlton "Haruo" Handa

There will be an "Ask Me Anything" with former Nankai Hawk and Chunichi Dragon Carlton Handa this weekend on the NPB Reddit page.  It is scheduled for 11 AM Japan time on Monday September 8.  This will be Sunday evening in the US - 10 PM on the East coast and 7 PM on the West coast.

Handa was born in Hawaii and attended the University of Houston.  He played for the Hawks from 1958 to 1961 and spent 1962 with the Dragons.  He went by the name "Haruo" when he played in Japan - I'm guessing someone will ask him why next week.

I thought I'd share the one card I have of him from the 1959 Doyusha Game Set:

I'm not sure how many other cards he had.  He's had at least one menko card and one bromide card.  He does not appear in any of BBM's historic sets.  It'd be nice sometime if BBM did a set that included some of the nisei players who played in NPB in the 50's like Handa, Wally Yonamine, Andy Miyamoto, and Satoshi "Fibber" Hiyama.