Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 KBO "Baseball's Best Players" Set

As I mentioned the other day, I picked up a box of one of the latest Korean baseball card sets recently.  This is the second of the "Baseball's Best Players" sets and it's very similar to the previous one.

Each box contains 20 eight card packs.  Each of the eight card packs contains seven base cards and one parallel card.  There are no short print, autograph or memorabilia cards available with this set.

Unopened Box

Opened Box

Stacks of packs

I'm not sure I'm going to say anything about this set that Dan hasn't already said but let's give it a shot.  The base set has 100 cards split evenly among the 10 teams in the KBO.  The 10 cards for each team appear to be a lineup for the team (each team inludes only one pitcher) although I can't say that for sure.  Each team is numbered separately - the Doosan Bears cards are numbered PA02-DO001 to PA02-DO010, the Samsung Lions cards are numbered PA02-SA001 to PA02-SA010, etc).  The cards are designed to be used in a collectible card game - the fronts have "ATK" and "DEF" numbers that I assume mean "Attack" and "Defend" and the backs of the cards are all identical.

If all of this sounds familiar it's because the previous set had all these same features.  In fact, the design of the front of this year's cards is identical to the design of last year's cards.  And the backs are also exactly the same so if you were actually playing this game you could use cards from either set interchangeably.

Here's some example base set cards:

#PA02-DO004 (Jae-Won Oh)

#PA02-KI009 (Suk-Min Yun)

#PA02-LG010 (Kyang-Cheol Choi)

#PA02-LO002 (Jeon-Suk Choi)

#PA02-NC009 (Jae-Hak Lee)

#PA02-SK005 (Ju-Hwa Na)

Card Back
There are four types of parallels and they break down pretty much the way that the parallels in the first set do.  From most common to least common they are "kira" (which are only for card #003 for each team), "gold kira" (only for card #002 for each team), "gold signature kira" (which are only for card #001 for each team) and "clear card" (which are also only for card #001 for each team).  Here's an example for each:

#PA02-SA003 (Han-Yi Park)

#PA02-NE002 (Seok-Min Yun)

#PA02-HA001 (Geun-Yu Jung)

#PA02-KT001 (Kyoung-Soo Park)
The big difference between this set and the previous one is in the previous one, the "Clear Card" was actually a translucent plastic card while this one is "just' a regular card.  I think the reason for that is so that the card can be used in game play.  Take a look at the "ATK" and "DEF" values on the Park card above.  One the "regular" card of Park, those values are 50 and 40 respectively so the parallel version of this card is much more powerful than the regular card.  These are the only parallel cards that have boosted values.

As I said above, the box contains 20 packs of 8 cards - 7 base set cards and 1 parallel.  There are 100 cards in the base set and 40 possible parallels.  The box should contain 140 base set cards and 20 parallels.

Here's what I got:

139 base set cards (100 unique)
10 "kira" parallels (8 unique)
5 "gold kira" parallels (5 unique)
4 "gold signature" parallels (3 unique)
1 "clear card" parallel (1 unique)

Like last time, I'm short a base set card.  Somehow one of my packs must have been short a card but I didn't notice while I was opening the packs.  The good news is that I got a complete base set.

I haven't spent a lot of time looking at the players in the set but there is overlap between the players in this set and the players in the previous set.  Dan added a checklist for the set over at The Trading Card Database which is how I identified the players in the samples above.  As usual there are no foreign players in the set.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

1st Version Fighters Arizona Photos

I mentioned in my post about the new 1st Version set that typically BBM will use photos from last season for the cards (unless the team changes uniforms over the winter) when they can.  They have to get photos in training camp, however, for anyone who is new to a team - draft picks, new foreign players and players who switched teams over the winter.  I left unmentioned the implications of this for this year's set - anyone who is new to the Fighters this year likely had their picture taken for their card when they were in Arizona.

Actually let me caveat that a bit - not everybody who was new to the team went to Arizona so obviously some of the new players had their photos taken in Okinawa.  But I'm pretty sure that the cards of the Fighters top two draft picks (Kenta Uehara and Takayuki Katoh) and their two new foreign players (Anthony Bass and Chris Martin) feature photos taken in Arizona:




(Actually I just found the photo for Bass's card in the Fighter's photo gallery for February 7th in Peoria.)

Another thing that I mentioned in the post is that the theme of the team cards was training camp.  There's absolutely no question about where the photo on the Fighters' team card was taken:

I found this photo on the Fighter's web site as well.  It shows Yuki Saitoh pitching against the Lotte Giants on February 8th.

I'm kind of hoping that there will be a subset in the Fighter's team set devoted to their trip to Arizona but that's probably unlikely.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

2016 BBM 1st Version set

2016 BBM 1st Version Set Summary

Size: 372 cards numbered 1-336, CF01-CF36
Cards Per Team:  28 (team card, manager + 26 players)
Team Card Theme:  Spring Training
Number Of Leader Cards:  N/A
Checklists:  None
Subsets:  Cross Freeze (36)
Inserts:  Infinite Talent(12), 3D Cross Freeze(12)
Memorabilia Cards:  Jersey cards for Tetsuto Yamada and Yuki Yanagita (as well as a combination card with both of them).  Each individual jersey card is serially numbered to 200 plus some sort of parallel version numbered to 20.  Not sure of the counts on the dual card.  There are a large number of autograph cards available as well.
Parallels:  108 of the regular player cards have facsimile autograph parallel versions - silver, gold (#'d to 100),  holograph (#'d to 50), red (#'d to 25) and green (#'d to 10).  There is also a parallel to a number of the rookie cards (looks like the top seven for each team) that's #'d to 100 plus a "1of1" parallel for the top pick for each team.  There's also parallel versions of the insert cards.  The Cross Freeze cards have two parallels - one that's serially numbered to 100 and the other that's a "1of1".
Notable Rookies: Shun Takayama, Louis Okoye

This year's 1st Version set is an awful lot like last year's 1st Version set - same size set (smallest ever 1st Version set), same number of players per team (27), same kind of cross set subset ("Cross Freeze" this year instead of "Cross Plasma" last year).  Even the parallels look pretty much the same as last year's.

None of which is necessarily a bad thing, although I still would like there to be more players per team and I really miss the perennial "Leaders" subset that's been gone for the last three years.  I'll repeat the complaint I made last year - with the 27 cards for each team including the manager and all the non-ikusei draft picks for each team, there's bound to be significant players left out of the set (although most of the guys I can think of off hand like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tony Blanco haven't played at the ichi-gun level this year yet).

The cards themselves are up to BBM's usual high standards.  There's a little more fluff in the design than BBM usually has with this curly-cue thingy with the team's initial in it but the design doesn't take away from the photos.  Here's some examples:





The backs are pretty much the standard BBM backs:

Back of #125 (T-Okada)
Most of the photography in the set appears to have been from last year with the exception of new players on teams (rookies, new imports and players who switched teams over the winter) - those photos were taken in early training camp.  The exception this year are the Swallows who have new uniforms this year - all their photos were taken in training camp and show off the new uniform (as you can see in the above Yamanaka card).

I noticed an odd thing in the Lions cards.  The Lions kinda-sorta have new uniforms this season.  Their uniforms last year were made by Nike but this year they are made by Majestic.  The design of the uniform is pretty much the same, however (H/T to Graveyard Baseball for pointing this out to me after I did my Lions uniform post last week).  The big difference in the uniforms is that last year's jerseys had the Nike swoosh in the upper right (as seen here) and this year's have the Majestic logo in that location instead.  What's odd is that it looks like almost all the photos of Lions players that were taken last year have the Nike logo removed, as you can see in Kona Takahashi's card:

 I'm not sure I've ever noticed a case before where BBM has photoshopped photos although I won't swear it's never happened.

I do want to mention that this is the first BBM flagship set in which Motonobu Tanishige does not appear as a player.  He is only in the set because he's the Dragons' manager, which puts his streak of appearing in BBM's flagship sets at an even 40 (11 "regular" sets between 1991 and 2001 and 29 1st and 2nd Version sets since 2002).  Unless BBM adds manager cards to the 2nd Version set this year (which they haven't done since 2005), his streak will end with this set.


For the first time since 2012 (and only the second time since 2008), the theme for the team cards is NOT mascots, which makes me very happy.  This year's theme is training camp and there's a number of really good photos - so many that I couldn't pick just one card to show:




The sole subset in the set is the umpteenth cross set sub set that BBM has done.  It's called Cross Freeze and has the usual image of a player projected on a repeated background with the full picture on the back.  I assume that like last year this subset will be continued in only the 2nd Version set and not Genesis but I don't really know that for sure.  I personally am getting a bit tired of these types of subsets (this is the fifth one in the last seven years) but someone must like them since BBM keeps doing them.


Back of #CF28
You can check out all the cards at Jambalaya (as usual).

Monday, April 25, 2016

RIP Koji Yamamoto

Former Giant and Orion Koji Yamamoto passed away from liver cancer a few days ago.  Yamamoto attended Hosei University and was drafted by Yomiuri in the fifth round of the fall 1975 draft from Honda Suzuka of the industrial leagues.  He and Kiyoshi Nakahata split the starting first baseman job with the Giants in 1981 following Sadaharu Oh's retirement but Nakahata won the role by hitting .322 that year and Yamamoto started playing more in the outfield.  He was traded to the Lotte Orions between the 1983 and 1984 seasons and was their regular first baseman for the next two seasons.  He retired following the 1988 season and became a coach for Lotte.  He managed the team (now called the Chiba Lotte Marines) from 1999 to 2003, finishing fourth three times and fifth twice before being replaced by Bobby Valentine.  He coached for the Giants for a couple years after that and then became a baseball commentator.

His son Musashi is on Yokohama's ikusei roster.

1980 Yamakatsu JY12

1984 Takara Kids

2001 Upper Deck Victory #066

2009 BBM The Premium Malts #28

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lots Of New Stuff

BBM's website is apparently a mess.  They had been doing updates of their new set listings about once a month.  In March they did their regular update which disappeared a few days later.  Now the site is apparently down completely.  Since I don't know when it will be back up, I figure it would be best to go ahead with what I know about what's coming up in the next few months:

- BBM will be releasing the next three of their pack-based team sets in mid to late May.  The sets for the Baystars, Carp and Lions will contain 81 cards in their base sets (broken into around 70 cards for the manager and players plus several subsets).  The Baystars and Lions sets have a couple different insert sets containing 18 additional cards while the Carp set has 36 insert cards spread over five sets.  Packs for all three sets have randomly inserted autograph cards while the Carp packs could also have memorabilia cards.

- BBM is releasing a box set for Tatsunori Hara called something like "Wakadaisho Of My Heart" this upcoming week.  This will be a 36 card box set celebrating the career of the recently retired Giants manager.  As you should expect from BBM, the box set contains the 35 card base set plus one "special" card that apparently could be from a wide variety of options - autograph cards, die cut autograph cards, "Super Metallic Silver" cards, "Super Metallic Gold" cards and I'm not completely sure what else.

- In late June BBM will be publishing a box set called "Go Higher" featuring Shohei Ohtani and Shitaro Fujinami.  There will be 20 cards in the set - 18 cards for the base set plus one insert card and one "special" card.  It looks like the insert card is one of four possible "RIVALS" card based on the insert cards of the same name from the 1997 BBM set.  Once again there's a wide variety of possible "special" cards - memorabilia, autograph and metallic cards are possible.

There are some other additional releases to take note of:

- Epoch is releasing their second "Stars & Rookies" set this week - this time for the Baystars.  Like the earlier Lions set, this set's a bit of a high end set.  Each box (with an MSRP of 12,960 yen!) contains two mini-boxes that contain 5 base set cards and 1 autograph card.  There are 30 cards in the base set and around 69 different possible autograph cards.

- I've been remiss in mentioning a couple new Korean sets that are actually already out.  The first set is the 2016 version of the "Baseball's Best Players" set.  This set is very similar to last year's set - including the design of the cards, the number of cards (10 cards for each of the 10 KBO teams or 100 cards in the base set) and the parallel cards (kira parallels for card #03 for each team, gold kira parallels for card #02 for each team and either gold signature or "clear" parallels for card #01 for each team).  Probably the only real difference is that the "clear' parallels aren't actually clear plastic cards this time around.  Not only has this set already been released but I already have a box of it - I'll try to get a post up on it in the next few days.

- The same company that released the "Baseball's Best Players" set (SMG Holding?) has also released box sets for two teams - Samsung and Doosan.  Taking a cue from how BBM has been doing box sets, these box sets contain the complete 44 card base set for each team plus some sort of "special" card.  There are 10 possible "Super Stick" cards that are a clear plastic card along with 5 possible memorabilia cards and 6 possible autograph cards.  It is unknown at the moment whether there will be team sets made for the other eight KBO teams.

I want to mention here that Dan Skrezyna has started a blog about Korean Baseball cards and pretty much everything I wrote about the team sets is based on what he's found out about them.  Dan doesn't have a lot of posts at his blog yet but he's got a number of pages up with useful information about the recent KBO sets along with videos of box breaks.

Card Of The Week April 24

One of the regular player cards in the latest Calbee set was of Yomiuri Giants "outfielder" Takahiro Suzuki.  I say "outfielder" as he's really pretty much just a pinch runner nowadays.  The inclusion of Suzuki in the set is significant as it's his first regular player card in a flagship set from either Calbee or BBM since 2011.  But it's probably because, after all, he was an All Star last year :-)

2016 Calbee #044

Thursday, April 21, 2016

More Memories Of Uniforms - Lions Edition

I thought I'd knock out another one of these while I wait for my 1st Version set to get delivered...

Following the 1949 season, the eight team Japanese Baseball League transformed into Nippon Professional Baseball with 15 teams split between the Central (8 teams) and Pacific (7 teams) Leagues.  Two of the new teams would play in Fukuoka - the Nishi Nippon Pirates of the Central League and the Nishitetsu Clippers of the Pacific League.  Neither team was particularly successful and after the season the two teams merged to form the Nishitetsu Lions who would replace the Clippers in the Pacific League.  (I've been a bit confused on one point with this - it appears to me that Nishi Nippon and Nishitetsu are actually the same company so it would appear that one company had owned two teams in 1950.)  Following the 1972 season, Nishitetsu sold the team to the Fukuoka Baseball Company who essentially sold the naming rights for the team to a golf resort so the team became known as the Taiheiyo Club Lions.  Before the 1977 season, the naming rights were sold to the lighter manufacturer Crown Gas Lighter and the team became the Crown Lighter Lions.  After 1978, however, the Fukuoka Baseball Company sold the team to the Seibu corporation who moved them to a new stadium in Tokorozawa, Saitama and renamed the team the Seibu Lions.  In 2008 the team added the prefecture name to the team name and the team became the Saitama Seibu Lions.

I'm going to include the Nishi Nippon Pirates uniforms here since they were only around for one year.

As before I am using The History Of Uniform and Professional Baseball Uniforms Encyclopedia 1936-2013 as my primary sources as well as Yakyu Baka's Uniform posts.  (I may not have previously pointed out that HOU was published in 2005 so obviously it is no help for the post-2005 uniforms.)

1950 Nishitetsu Clippers Home

1950 Nishitetsu Clippers Away

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #076

1950 Nishi Nippon Pirates (2 different)

1950 JBR 87A
1950-51 Home

2011 BBM Lions Classic #03
1950 Away

1951-52 Home (2 different)

1951-52 Away (2 different)

1952-54 Home

1952-54 Away

2009 BBM Lions Memorial #10

1954-59 Home

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #027
1954-57 Away

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #032
1958-59 Away

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #14

1960-61 Home

2009 BBM Lions Memorial #03

1960-61 Away
2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #102

1962-65 Home

1964 Morinaga Standup

1962-65 Away

2009 BBM Lions Memorial #06

1966-68 Home

1966-68 Away

~1966 Mel Bailey Postcard

1968-69 Home

1968-69 Away

1970 Home

2011 BBM Hometown Heroes #055

1970 Away

1971-72 Home

2006 BBM Draft Stories #014

1971-72 Away

1973-75 Home

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #84

1973-75 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #122

1973-74 Home

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #83

1973-74 Away

1976 Home (2 different)

1975/76 Calbee #703

1976 Away (2 different)

1975/76 Calbee #911
1975/76 Calbee #978

1977-78 Home

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #124

1977-78 Away

1978 Yamakatsu JY6

1979 Home

1979 Calbee "July Best" #11

1979 Away

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #22

1980-00 Home

1995 BBM #66

1980-95 Away

1991 BBM #219

1996-01 Away

1997 BBM #125

2001-03 Home

2002 BBM 1st Version #261

2002-03 Away

2014 BBM Brilliant Teenagers #126

2002-03 "3rd"

2003 BBM 1st Version #BN12

2002-08 Away

2002 BBM 2nd Version #700

2004-08 Home

2005 BBM 1st Version #7

2007 Alternate

2008 BBM 1st Version #484

2007 Lions Classic

2008 Alternate

2008 Lions Classic

2008 BBM Lions Classic #16

2009-14 Home

2010 BBM 1st Version #327
2009-14 Away

2010 BBM 1st Version #562
2009 Training Home

2009 BBM 1st Version #011
2009 Training Away

2009 BBM 1st Version #012

2009 Lions Classic

2009 BBM Lions Classic #17

2010 Lions Classic

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #86

2011 Lions Classic

2011 BBM Lions Classic #11

2011 Alternate

2012 BBM Lions #L85

2012 Alternate (2 different)

2012 Lions "Victory" #49

2012 Lions Classic

2012 Calbee #158

2013 Lions Classic

2013-14 Saitama

2014 Jungle Taisei

2015 Calbee #ES05

2014 Lions Classic

2014 BBM Impact Of Lions Blue #08
2015- Home

2015 BBM 1st Version #126

2015- Away

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #127

2015 Alternate Yellow


I'm not sure why there would be uniforms with "Lions" on them dated 1950 when I didn't think the name change came until 1951 but there's obviously something going on that I don't fully understand.

There's a bunch of discrepancies between PBUE and HOU.  The biggest one is that PBUE lists two uniforms in the 1951-52 time frame that HOU does not.  For the most part I've gone with the PBUE listings.

If I didn't have the card with that 2011 Alternate that Hiroyuki Nakajima's wearing, I wouldn't know it existed - somehow both PBUE and YakyuBaka missed it.

There's a lot of subtle differences between uniforms.  The 1979 uniforms appear to only differ from the 1980 ones in that the later ones had belts.  And I'm not sure there's a difference between the Saitama alternate jerseys from 2013-14 and the away jerseys worn from 2015 on.

I'm not positive that the two "training" uniforms from 2009 are really uniforms only worn in training camp.  But the only cards I've seen that include those uniforms are cards of new Lions players in the 2009 1st Version set - photos that had to have been taken during 2009 spring training.

UPDATE 6/29/16 - Added card illustrating 2002-03 Away uniform (2014 BBM Brilliant Teenagers Hiroyuki Nakajima)