Sunday, April 26, 2015

Full list of BBM sets

Ryan Laughton left a comment on a post a few weeks ago that kind of sent me down a rabbit hole that I'm just now coming out of.  Ryan said that he had stopped buying American cards in the mid 1990's because there was such an explosion of sets that it was impossible to keep up and he felt that BBM had done a similar explosion around 1998 and 1999.  I got curious and decided to do a count of the number of sets that BBM had published each year (using SCM's listings in SCM #110 as the "official" list) and see if Ryan was right.  Here are the counts:

Year Count
1991 3
1992 3
1993 3
1994 5
1995 6
1996 5
1997 8
1998 9
1999 11
2000 11
2001 12
2002 15
2003 19
2004 26
2005 27
2006 26
2007 33
2008 32
2009 34
2010 36
2011 38
2012 40
2013 48
2014 48
2015 16

Ryan's right in that BBM did start to increase the number of sets they did each year in the late 1990's but I think real explosion happened in the 2003-2004 time frame.

It's pretty wild to look at the numbers.  BBM has done a total of 514 sets in 25 years (well, 24 plus four months so far this year).  The total number of sets they did their first 10 years (1991 to 2000) was only 64.  The total for their next 10 years (2001-2010) was 260.  Their total for just the four plus years since 2011 is 190!

After I did the counts, I decided that I needed to sit down and (finally) generate the complete list of BBM sets based on what was listed in SCM #110.  It took a couple weeks to do, but I've now added this list to the Set Index page.

The sets are listed in the same order that they appear in SCM - the odd change in how the sets are listed around 2012 is due to a change they made, not me.  There are a number of sets that they list in a particular year even though the year shown on the front of the card is different - for example the "Memories Of Uniform" set has "2015" on the front (so I consider it a 2015 set) but SCM includes it in the list of 2014 sets.  I've included Engel's set notations where ever possible - since he hasn't done a modern checklist since mid-2008, his number stop there.  Engel actually lists a number of sets that SCM does not - I'll be adding them to the set index separately.  As far as I could tell, there was only one pre-2008 set that SCM listed that Engel did not which is pretty damned impressive if you ask me.

I've included links for any sets that I've written about - I think I've actually written posts on about 30% of the sets.

What I'd like to do is further expand the set index by including similar lists for the Epoch and Front Runner sets.  The Calbee sets are fairly self expanatory and any major earlier sets are already well covered by Engel.

Card Of The Week April 26

Kenny Ray of the Eagles did something no one else has ever done before this past week - he became the first pitcher in his 40's to win his first four starts of the season.  The previous record of three was set by Lotte's Choji Murata in 1990.

This is Ray's second stint in Japan.  He had previously pitched for the Eagles in 2013, making five appearances (including three starts) down the stretch.  He also contributed five scoreless innings in the post season.

I was kind of surprised to discover there are almost no Japanese cards of Ray prior to this year.  It looks like he didn't sign with the Eagles until mid way through the 2013 season (his first appearance with the ichi-gun team was in mid-July) so he didn't make it into any of BBM's sets that you might expect to find him in - 1st Version, 2nd Version or the Eagles team set.  He's also not in the Eagles team issued card set.  I was kind of surprised to see that he did not appear in the "First Crown" box set that BBM issued to celebrate the Eagles' first ever pennant.  And since the 2014 BBM Eagles 10th Anniversary set only had a "Best 9" for the 2013 team, he didn't make that set either.  According to the work that Jason's done over at SportsCardForum, the only Japanese card of Ray from 2013 was from the fourth series of Owners League cards that year (#119).  He is in the new 2015 BBM 1st Version set (#140) as well as the BBM Eagles team set (#E18).

Had BBM continued to do Nippon Series sets, he would have had a card in the 2013 edition of that set.

I don't have any of his Japanese cards yet (although I'll have the 2015 1st Version card in a couple weeks) but while looking into his background, I did discover I have two minor league cards for him.  I used to spend a lot of time rooting for the Wilmington Blue Rocks and I found that I have a card of him from their 1995 team set (from Choice) as well as a card of him from a set the team did in 2000 celebrating former Blue Rocks who had made it to the majors:

1995 Choice Wilmington Blue Rocks #24

2000 Choice Blue Rocks In The Show #30

Friday, April 24, 2015

2013 BBM Masahiro Tanaka Invincibility Legend set

2013 was a pretty amazing year in NPB.  In the Central League you had Wladimir Balentien chasing (and eventually passing) Sadaharu Oh's record for most home runs in a season (which was actually shared by Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera but they did it in the Pacific League) while in the Pacific League you had Masahiro Tanaka chasing an undefeated season - eventually ending the season at 24-0 while leading the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first ever pennant and Nippon Series championship.  It was a lot of fun for me to follow here on the East Coast of the US, waking up every morning to see what the two of them had done or (even better) getting to tune in via to watch them do it.

BBM published a box set in November of 2013 that celebrated Tanaka's 24-0 season.   It was called something along the lines of "Unbeaten Legend" although according to Ryan, the kanji for the title could also be translated as "Invincibility Myth".  I like the name "Invincibility Legend" myself so that's what I've been going with.

The base set contains 27 cards.  24 of these cards commemorate each of Tanaka's wins in 2013 (regular season only, not the Climax Series or Nippon Series).  The front of these cards shows a picture from the game in question while the back has the line score and other information about the game:


Back of #01

Here's some of the other cards for the victories:





You're probably asking yourself what the other three cards in the base set are for.  One of them is for Tanaka's only save during the regular season that year - Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino brought him in to close the game in which the Eagles clinched the Pacific League pennant on September 26.

Tanaka's winning streak actually started with his last four wins in 2012 (for a total of 28) and one of the other cards in the set commemorates the first win of the streak against the Fighters on August 26, 2012 - the card is called "PROLOGUE to the Legend".

The final card in the set is a shot of Tanaka with the idol group Momoiro Clover Z, of whom he apparently is a big fan.

This was a difficult set to track down.  It had a print run of only 1500 sets and it seemed like everyone who got one was holding on to it.  Ryan has been scouring the card shops in Japan looking for an opened set but coming up empty.  I lucked into a set a few weeks ago on Yahoo! Japan Auctions.  Total cost including shipping and kuboTEN fees was around $30 which is much higher than I would normally pay for an opened box set but considering how rare these appear to be, I wasn't too unhappy about it.

You can see all the base set cards over at Jambalaya.  Ryan's post on the set goes into some detail about the premium cards that were also in the box with the base set.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Japanese (and Korean) sets

Once again I've held off on posting about new sets coming out while waiting for BBM to get information about them up on their site and once again I've waited so long that some of the sets I'm waiting to mention are almost out.  So let's get caught up a little...

- BBM's Carp team set will be out in mid to late May.  It's a pack based set that will have 81 cards in its base set - 70 player cards, 2 BIG COMEBACK cards and 9 SHINING ORDER cards.  There will be two nine card insert sets ("Heart & Soul" and "Contenders") and the usual boatload of possible autograph cards.  (For the record, Niki has information on the Fighters, Dragons and Tigers team sets but BBM has not put up anything for them yet.)

- Front Runner Trading Cards latest offering is the third in their Heroes & Rookies series - this time it's for the Baystars.  This is a box set containing 16 cards - a 15 card base set plus a possible autograph card.  As usual, there is a bewildering array of possible autograph cards that includes cards with two, three or four signatures on it.  The set is being released on April 29th (or thereabouts).

- Looks like Duael Entertainment is going to continue to publish "Super Star Baseball Cards" for the KBO this season.  They posted pictures of the 2015 Season One box to their Facebook page yesterday.  The set will be released on April 27.  There really aren't any set details available (at least that I know about anyway) but just eyeballing the photos, I suspect that this set will be more similar to the Season Three and Blue Edition sets rather than the Season One and Two sets.  That would imply a more expensive ($50-ish) box with a smaller amount of base set cards and more short-print cards.  I would be very happy to be wrong about this however.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Orix Players Card Set

I got another lot of team issued cards from Ebay in the mail today.  This batch is from the brand new 2015 Orix Players Card set - or at least that's what I'm calling the set anyway.

Here's the front and back of Ryoichi Adachi's card:

The QR codes on the back of the card link to the Buffaloes website, their Facebook page and their Twitter page.

I did a little looking around on the Buffaloes website and I actually found some information about this set - it was a 75 card set containing all the players plus the mascots (and I assume the manager) that was sold in a binder for 3500 yen.  It looks like production was limited to only 250 sets and the team has sold out of them.

The fourteen cards I have are (using uniform numbers as there are no card numbers):
3 Ryoichi Adachi
6 Yuma Mune
12 Koudai Sano
18 Mamoru Kishida
23 Torai Fushimi
36 Ban Takagi
37 Kenya Wakatsuki
47 Tomoyuki Kaida
50 Yuya Oda
54 Yuki Tsutsumi
56 Kengo Takeda
60 Yuji Maeda
66 Kazunao Yamamoto
69 Kento Shibata

Apparently, the Buffaloes have issued a 70+ card set like this for each of at least the past five years - I found information on their site for the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 sets.  The 2013 set matches one of the other Orix sets that I have but the 2011 was does not.  Based on what Jason's found as well as that 2011 set I have cards from, there are obviously other Orix sets other than the ones on their website.

I did find it interesting as I went through their "goods" related headlines in their new sections to see that they had announcements for Orix card sets from both BBM and Front Runner Trading Cards, including sets that aren't exclusively Orix like BBM's 1st and 2nd Version sets.  Unopened boxes for BBM's sets can be found in the team's online store.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Card Of The Week April 19

Masahiro Tanaka pitched an outstanding game for the Yankees yesterday, throwing 7 shutout innings against the Rays while only giving up two hits and striking out eight.  He also didn't walk anyone.  As fan of Japanese baseball, I'm glad to see him doing well but as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, I wish he was doing it for someone else....

I thought I'd take this opportunity to follow up on something I said in my post on this year's Rookie Edition set - for the past three years, BBM has included a "Then & Now" subset in the Rookie Edition set that pairs the top draft pick for each team with a veteran player.  For each of these three sets, the Eagles top draft pick (Yudai Mori, Yuki Matsui and Tomohiro Anraku) has been paired with Tanaka:

2013 BBM Rookie Edition #93

2014 BBM Rookie Edition #091

2015 BBM Rookie Edition #111

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hawks Team Issued Sets

Here are some cards from some Hawks sets I've picked up recently.  Jason has the list of all the cards I have (and their numbers if applicable) at his mongo Japanese team issued cards post.

2002 "Official Fan Club" card set:

2003 "Official Fan Club" set:

2007 "Club Hawks":

The QR code appears to be a dead link.

2008 "Club Hawks":

There appear to be at least two different versions of the 2014 "Hawks Players Card" sets.  One has action photos and the other has posed photos of the players pointing at the camera.  The backs are identical.  And by that I don't mean they use the same design - I mean that the backs of all the cards in the two sets are exactly the same.

2014 "Hawks Players Card" action photo set:

2014 "Hawks Players Card" posed photo set:

One interesting Hawks set that Jason lists is the 2015 "Spring Camp" set.  17 of these cards were available on Ebay recently although they were a bit more expensive than I was willing to pay.  According to the seller, they were available only to fans visiting the Hawks spring training in Miyazaki and are fairly rare in Japan.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Card Of The Week April 12

For some reason runs were very hard to come by in Sendai this past week.  On Tuesday, the Hawks and Eagles played to a scoreless tie in 12 innings, the first tie of the season.  On Wednesday, the two teams went another 9 and a half scoreless innings until the Eagles finally pushed a run across in the bottom of the 10th.  The run was scored on a leadoff walk to Toshihoto Abe, a sacrifice bunt by Akihisa Makida, intentional walks to Kazuo Matsui and Kazuya Fujita and a sacrifice fly by Takero Okajima.  I imagine that Okajima looked something like this when he saw the run score:

2013 BBM Eagles #E96

Thursday, April 9, 2015

2015 Calbee Series One

The first of three expected sets from Calbee this year was released a couple weeks back.  The base set contains 103 cards, split up between 84 "regular" player cards, 12 "Exciting Scene" cards, 3 "Legend" cards and four checklist cards.

The design of the front of the "regular" player cards for Calbee has been essentially unchanged since around 1997 it's actually big news this year that there's a bit of change this year.  Instead of the players name being in white text, this year it's in black text with a white outline.  Other than that, this year's cards pretty much look like every other Calbee set, including the great photography:





The 84 "regular" player cards are split up evenly between the 12 NPB teams with each team having seven cards.  Many of the photos are from last year but Calbee did manage to include several players who changed teams over the winter, either returning from MLB (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kensuke Tanaka and Hiroyuki Nakajima) or changing NPB teams (Eiichi Koyano, Keiji Ohbiki and Yoshihisa Naruse) as well as a couple rookies (Tomohiro Anraku and Kohei Arihara).  Another notable player included is Alfredo Despaigne - this is his first Japanese card other than an SCM insert card last year.  (And there are players included in the set other than Yamazaki and Higa.)

The "Exciting Scene" subset (or non-premium insert set) commemorates 12 "exciting" events from last year, one for each team.  As usual I'm not entirely sure what the events are but the players in the subset include Shohei Ohtani, Masahiro Yamamoto, Shintaro Fujinami, Tetsuto Yamada, Rainel Rosario and Daisuke Miura:

The three card "Legend" subset is for three players who retired at the end of the 2014 season - Atsunori Inaba, Makoto Kaneko and Tomoya Satozaki.  Calbee had a similar subset in Series One last year.

The four checklist cards feature team celebrations from either late last season or the post season - the Hawks winning the Nippon Series, the Giants clinching the Central League title in September, the Buffaloes winning Game 2 of Stage One of the Pacific League Climax Series (kind of odd since they didn't win the First Stage, the Fighters did) and the Tigers beating the Giants in the Final Stage of the Central League Climax Series:

All the cards can be seen at Jambalaya (including the Star inserts and some of the mail-in premium sets and cards).

RIP Jose Capellan

Former major league pitcher Jose Capellan passed away earlier this week.  In addition to playing for the Braves, Brewers, Tigers and Rockies, he also spent a season with the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO.  That season was 2010 which happen to be a year that someone did a Korean baseball card set that included foreign players.  Here's the front back of his card from that set (#AH-007):

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I don't have a whole lot to add to the discussions that have been going on regarding DeNA's decision to void Yulieski Gurriel's contract and place Lourdes Gurriel on the restricted list.  I think it's a shame that the elder Gurriel will not be in the Baystars lineup this year and I can't help feeling that the possibility of Gurriel being able to move to MLB in the near future is a factor in all of this somehow. But what do I know?

Actually what I do know is that despite the voiding of his contract, there will most likely be cards of Yulieski Gurriel in Japan this year.  The BBM 1st Version checklist that appears in SCM 110 lists two cards for him - his "regular" card (#286) and a Cross Plasma card (#CP32).  (The Cross Plasma card appears on the webpage for the set at BBM's web site).  I suspect that it's unlikely that BBM will remove the card from the set as it's probably too late to do so - the set will be released in less than two weeks.

2015 BBM Softbank Hawks 10th Anniversary

BBM put out a set celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Softbank buying the Hawks from Daiei about a month and a half ago.  This set was a pack based set and featured 81 cards in its base set that were split between three groups - OB players, 2014 players and "Memories Of The Decade".

There are 63 cards for OB Softbank Hawks players.  As usual this includes both retired players as well as former Hawks who are still active either in NPB (like Toshiya Sugiuchi) or MLB (Munenori Kawasaki, Tsuyoshi Wada).  The only two managers that the Softbank Hawks have had - Sadaharu Oh and Koji Akiyama - are included in this group.  The rest of the players include pretty much every one you'd expect - Kazumi Saitoh, Hiroki Kokubo, Nagisa Arakaki, Arihito Muramatsu, Julio Zuleta, Naoyuki Ohmura and Jose Ortiz for example.  There really isn't anyone I could think of who is missing from the set.  I thought there were a few players who were included that were kind of odd picks - both Kenji Johjima and Tony Batista only played one season for Softbank (both in 2005) but at least both were significant contributors that one season.  There's a couple other guys who I'm really wondering why they were included - Yudai Deguchi (6 ABs in 10 games in 2005), Tetsuya Matoyama (40 games in 2008) and Masanori Taguchi (10 ABs in 6 games in 2005).  I wonder if BBM was scrambling to get enough players to fill in 63 cards.  The photos on the cards are nice but fairly unremarkable:



There are nine cards for the 2014 Hawks.  It's not quite a Best 9 for the 2014 team - there are two pitchers (Kenji Ohtonari and Tadashi Settsu) but no catcher.  The other seven players are Yuya Hasegawa, Yuichi Honda, Kenta Imamiya, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Seiichi Uchikawa and Yuki Yanagita.

The "Memories of The Decade" subset is also nine cards.  Instead of being numbered with the rest of the set, they are numbered M01 to M09.  The "memories" being commemorated are the official introduction of the Softbank Hawks in January 2005, the Interleague Championship in June 2008, Koji Akiyama taking over as manager from Sadaharu Oh in October of 2008, clinching 1st place in September 2010 (I think), the 2011 Nippon Series Championship, their walkoff win against Orix last October to clinch 1st place, their 2014 Nippon Series Championship, Kimiyasu Kudoh being named manager in November 2014 and Daisuke Matsuzaka being signed in December 2014.

I'm not going to lie - this is an odd little set.  First of all, it's kind of strange that this set came out this year rather than last year since 2014 was Softbank's 10th season (the Eagles started in 2005 as well and their 10th Anniversary set came out last year).  It's also kind of odd that 44% of the most memorable moments for the Hawks happened between October and December of last year.  It's also extremely odd that all the player cards show the players in their home white uniforms - no away jerseys, none of the colorful alternate jerseys, nothing but white tops.  I kind of get the feeling that the Hawks and/or BBM decided that they needed to get a card out of Matsuzaka in a Softbank uniform as quickly as possible and worked backward from there.  This set just seems kind of superfluous, especially considering that there was a 75th Anniversary set for the Hawks just a few years ago.

You can see all the cards at Jambalaya and Ryan has a post describing the set as well.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Card Of The Week April 5

The Giants beat the Tigers yesterday by a score of 9 to 5.  This was significant because it was the 1000th time that the Giants had beaten the Tigers in the two team's history going all the way back to 1936.  If I'm reading the translation of this Nikkan Sports article correctly, it looks like the Giants' first ever victory against the Tigers was Eiji Sawamura's no-hitter against them on September 25, 1936.  This was also the first no-hitter in Japanese professional baseball history.

BBM commemorated this no-hitter (as well as almost all the others in Japan up until 2012) with a card in the 2012 No-Hitters set.  Since it was the first no-hitter, it's the first card in the set:

H/T Yakyu Baka for the link to the Nikkan Sports article

Friday, April 3, 2015

Orix Team Issued Sets

Some more team issued sets, this time from Orix.

I've got six cards from the 2011 BsClub set:

These are actually numbered and the numbering implies that there's only 19 cards in the set.  Here's what I have:

#2 - Yoshihisa Hirano
#3 - Mamoru Kishida
#4 - Chihiro Kaneko
#5 - Satoshi Komatsu
#8 - Shinji Shimoyama
#9 - T-Okada

I've also got 16 cards from the 2013 BsClub set (I'm going by the Ebay seller's description for the year as the card themselves don't say what year):

These cards are unnumbered other than the uniform number.  Here's the list of what I have:

#11 Takahiro Matsuba
#17 Shun Tohno
#19 Chihiro Kaneko
#30 Taiki Mitsumata
#31 Shunichi Satoh
#34 Shinya Nakayama
#38 Shuhei Kojima
#46 Takayoshi Kawabata
#48 Makoto Yoshino
#57 Nobuyoshi Yamada
#58 Ryo Toda
#59 Shohei Tsukahara
#61 Kohdai Matsumoto
#63 Issei Nakamura
#115 Daiki Hara
#119 Shoki Kakihara

I thought that the seller I bought this from had two other auctions for cards from this set that I did not bid on but I've been searching completed auctions on Ebay and not finding them.

Actually now that I do some looking around, Kohdai Matsumoto was only with Orix in 2013 so that would pretty much confirm the year.