Friday, December 26, 2014

Cuban Players

One of the most interesting events of the 2014 NPB season to me was the Cuban government allowing four of the nation's baseball players to play in Japan.  I thought I'd do a quick summary of the Japanese cards available for these four players.  I'll list every card I know about and show the ones that I actually own.

The first player to arrive was Frederich Cepeda, who joined the Giants in mid-May.  Cepeda's first appearance on a card was in the BBM Giants team set (#G057).  His first "flagship" set appearance was in the 1st Version Update subset of BBM's 2nd Version set (#428).  He also appeared in Bandai's third Owners League set of the season (#069).

2014 BBM Giants #G057

2014 BBM 2nd Version #428
The next player to arrive was Yulieski Gurriel (really Gourriel), who joined the Baystars in early June.  With six cards, Gurriel had by far the most of any of the Cuban players.  Like Cepeda, his first BBM flagship card was in the 1st Version Update subset of the 2nd Version set (#439).  However he also appeared in BBM's Genesis high end set (#094) and Calbee's Series Three (#242).  He also was in the BBM Classic set (#063), Bandai's third Owners League set (#111) and Front Runner's Baystars Signature Edition box set (#07).  I think he also had autograph cards available in the BBM Genesis and Classic sets as well as the Front Runner set.  There's at least one type of memorabilia card for him in the Genesis set and there are probably parallel issues for the BBM cards also.  There are also apparently a couple Baystars fan club cards for him as well.

2014 BBM 2nd Version #439

2014 Calbee #242

2014 BBM Classic #063
The other two players, Alfredo Despaigne of the Marines and Hector Mendoza of the Giants, arrived in Japan too late to be in any standard card issues this year, but both were included in "bonus" BBM 2nd Version cards that were included with Sports Card Magazine #107:

2014 SCM #280

2014 SCM #281
I believe that Despaigne has resigned with the Marines for the 2015 season and Gurriel (along with his brother Yunielkis) is close to resigning wth the Baystars.  The last thing I read about Cepeda was that the Giants were not planning on bringing him back for 2015.  I think Mendoza has resigned with the Giants but I could not find a confirmation for that.

Obviously the decision by the Obama administration a few weeks back to normalize relations with Cuba after 50 years will bring about a very different environment for Cuban baseball players.  It will be interesting to see how this will all play out and how this will affect Cuban players coming to Japan in the future.

Oh, and I do want to point out that these four were not the only Cuban baseball players in Japan in 2014, but the other players (Leslie Anderson, Juan Miranda, etc) had all defected from Cuba.  These four were the only ones who had been allowed by the Cuban government to leave the country.  That status makes cards of these four players much more rare than the other players, who have had many major and minor league cards in the US recently.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I collect Cuban born ball players playing in leagues around the world such USA minor leagues,Mexican leagues,Nicaraguan leagues,Canadian leagues ... Can someone let me know how can I purchase these four players cards from Japan...Julio