Friday, December 26, 2014

BBM Greatest Games series

Between fall of 2012 and the end of 2013, BBM issued four box sets in a series they called "Greatest Games".  I've written briefly about the first three sets in the series but now that it seems pretty obvious that BBM is not continuing the series, I thought I'd do a post on the whole thing.

Each of the four sets commemorated a game the BBM considered significant.  Each set contains most (if not all) of the players who appeared in the set along with the managers of each team involved.  Most of the photos used appear to have been taken at the actual game being celebrated.  Each set also included one or more cards showing additional events, either directly game related or related to the season of the winning team.  As is typical for BBM, each box contained the complete base set (32 or 36 cards) plus one "special" card.  Most of the "special" cards were autograph cards (either real or printed) although the first two sets featured other possibilities.

BBM picked a game from each of the four previous decades to commemorate, although they did not do them in chronological order.  Each of the games determined a pennant winner.

The first set, which was the only one released in 2012, was for the Giants-Dragons game on October 8, 1994.  This game was won by the Giants 6-3.  It is significant as it clinched the first pennant for Shigeo Nagashima during his second stint as Giants manager and would lead to his first ever Nippon Series championship against the Lions.  Hiromitsu Ochiai, who hasn't appeared on a baseball card since the Dragons fired him in 2011, played in the game but does not appear in the set (obviously).  The set featured 10 possible "film" cards as possible "special" cards in addition to the autograph cards.  The base set includes 36 cards - 17 Dragons players, 14 Giants players and five cards of game highlights.



The second set, released in early 2013, was for a Giants-Tigers game on October 22, 1973 (which coincidentally is the day Ichiro Suzuki was born).  The Giants 9-0 drubbing of the Tigers clinched their ninth straight (and final) Central League pennant of the V9 era.  This set also is missing a player from the Giants - Isao Shibata.  There are 9 cards with a "P" prefix listed on the back of the box as possible "special" cards - I suspect that these are "photo" cards but I haven't found an example anywhere to confirm this.  At 32 cards, this set is the smallest of the four sets - 18 Tigers, 10 Giants and four game highlights (more or less - one is a photo of Shigeo Nagashima showing off his broken finger).



The third set, released in the summer of 2013, was for the September 26, 2001 game between the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix Blue Wave.  The Buffaloes won the game and clinched the Pacific League pennant on a pinch hit, walk off grand slam.  This is also a 36 card base set - 15 Blue Wave, 17 Buffaloes and four "2001 Buffaloes Highlights".




The final set, released last December, was for the October 16, 1985 game between the Tigers and the Swallows that ended in a 5-5 tie.  That tie enabled the Tigers to clinch their first Central League pennant in 21 years and helped propel them to their first (and still only) Nippon Series championship.  Once again, there were 36 cards in the base set - 20 Tigers, 15 Swallows and one highlight card.




Frankly the set for the 2001 game stands out for a number of reasons - it's the only Pacific League game, it's the only game won by the home team and it's the only game that really seems like it would have been exciting to watch.  Most importantly, it's the only set of the four that isn't fairly ugly.  It's got a nice design and the photos are fairly clear - I suspect the latter is due to the fact that this particular game was played inside.  I find the designs for the other three sets to be unattractive (well, the 1985 set isn't too bad) and the photographs used are very poor.  The pictures in the 1994 set are very dark while the 1973 set uses black and white photos that may or may not have been taken at the actual game.  Some of them are actually blurry.  The 1985 set's photos are a little better than the 1994 ones but they are still pretty grainy.

I'm a big fan of BBM's historic sets but I was pretty disappointed with these sets, with the exception of the 2001 game's set.  It was an interesting idea, but the execution was poor.

1 comment:

Ryan G said...

Given the quality of images in Japan from that era, if these are actually photos from those games I'll take a knock in quality. The design could use some improvement too, but I enjoyed the little history lesson this series provided. If one of these had been released without the others, I probably wouldn't have had any interest in them, but the creation of a series was enough for me.