Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform

I thought it would be somewhat appropriate to do my first post of 2015 on the first BBM set for 2015.
In November of each year since 2001, BBM issues an "Historic Collection" set, the first set for the following year.  The theme for this year's set is "Memories Of Uniform" and it showcases different uniforms worn in NPB over the years.  As has been the cases for all sets except the first one, the set contains 144 cards.  After a slight detour last year, this year's set again splits the 144 cards up evenly between OB and active players.  Each each has 12 cards in the set (6 active players and 6 OB players) except Rakuten, which has only 2 OB players - the other 4 OB players are from Kintetsu.

The OB players are all depicted wearing different uniforms from each team's past.  As usual "OB" players in this case include players still playing outside of NPB so Hisashi Iwakuma, Masahiro Tanaka and Shunsuke Watanabe are all included.  There's a number of Hall Of Famers and near Hall Of Famers in the set, including Shigeo Nagashima, Katsuya Nomura, Eiji Sawamura, Fumio Fujimura, Kimiysau Kudoh, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Hideki Matsui, Isao Haritmoto, Wally Yonamine, Hisashi Yamada, Masahiro Doi, and Tomoaki Kanemoto.  Given the theme of the set, you really can't say that a particular player should have been in the set and was left out so while someone like Sadaharu Oh would have been nice to have had in the set, it's not like his absence leaves a hole in the set.  I suspect that BBM selected many of the players simply because they could have them sign autographs for inserts.  Which I suspect is the reason behind one of my usual complaints of the "Historic Collection" sets (and BBM's OB sets in general) - it's mostly made up of 1970's and later era players.  There's only two pre-1950's players at all in the set (Sawamura and Fujimura) and maybe 5 cards from the 1960's.  Everything else is later.  Because of this, I don't feel that there's as broad a historic view on the team's uniforms that there could be.  For instance, the OB cards for the Marines don't have any uniforms from before Lotte owned the team and two of the cards actually show recent players wearing "Turn-Back-The-Clock" uniforms that are near duplicates of uniforms on other cards.  For the Lions, there are three cards for the Taiheiyo Club Lions of the 1970's but none for the Nishitetsu Lions of the 1950's and 60's.

On the plus side, however, this fashion mistake made a card:

I was pleased that another obscure team, the Yakult Atoms, also made the set although I would have liked to have seen a Sankei Swallow or Atom:


Two obscure alternate uniforms of the Dragons are included, the first from 1968 and the other from 1998:



The Whales had an alternate jersey at some point in the late 1960's and early 1970's that had "Kawasaki" on the back in place of the player's name.  Kawasaki being, of course, the city that the Whales called home until 1978:

It would have been nice if BBM had indicated somewhere on the card what year the uniform was from.  The uniform Eiji Sawamura is wearing on this card is from 1936 and the text on the back of the card starts with "36" but that isn't the case with every card:

Back Of #001

Most of the pictures used are in color but there are a couple black and white.  I'm guessing BBM wanted to tone down the ugliness of this Taiheiyo Club Lions uniform from the mid-1970's:

Some of the photos that BBM used for their cards have been used in other sets of theirs which to some degree is understandable - they do a lot of OB sets.  But there's still a lot of new photos in the set.  I like this shot of Hisashi Yamada because (a) it doesn't show him throwing side-arm which seems to be a requirement for BBM when it comes to pictures of side-arm pitchers and (b) you get a nice view of the scoreboard at Nishinomiya Stadium (where the Braves played until 1991).


While I was disappointed with the OB section of the set, I was really unhappy with the active player part.  All six players for each team are wearing the same alternate uniform from the 2014 season.  The Marines and Eagles are wearing special jerseys for their prefectures; the Dragons, Tigers, Buffaloes, Swallows, Baystars and Giants are wearing alternate colored jerseys; the Hawks, Fighters and Lions are wearing "Turn-Back-The-Clock" uniforms and the Carp are wearing those all red abominations.  My gripe with this is that most of these teams have worn multiple alternate uniforms in the past few years (and in 2014 alone).  I think showing a multiplicity of alternate uniforms would have been much more interesting.  Here's a couple of the cards for active players:




Those Carp uniforms just don't look right.

I thought it was a bit odd that a couple of the big name NPB players like Hayato Sakamoto and Takahiro Norimoto were not included in the set but then I noticed something interesting.  There's a 24 card insert set (also called "Memories Of Uniform") that pairs up an OB player and an active player from each team.  I realized that several of the active players in the insert set (Sakamoto, Norimoto, Toshiaki Imae, Kenta Imamiya and Takumi Kuriyama) do not appear in the base set.  This maybe the first time BBM has done something like this - it's certainly the first time I've ever noticed it.

All the cards from the base set can be seen at Jambalaya.

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