Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018 BBM Hawks 80th Anniversary

The Hawks are celebrating their 80th Anniversary this year.  The team was founded in Osaka in 1938 as Nankai and took on the Hawks moniker in 1947 (with the team known as Kinki Nippon and Kinki Great Ring for a few years during the war and right after).  Nankai sold the team to the supermarket chain Daiei in 1988 and the team moved to Kyushu to become the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.  Daiei sold the team in 2005 to Softbank and the team was renamed the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.

This is the third Anniversary set BBM has done for the Hawks - they did a 70th Anniversary set in 2008 and a 75th Anniversary set in 2013 (they also did a set in 2015 celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Softbank buying the team but that only covered the years since 2005 obviously).  Those sets had 99 cards each in their base sets but the base set for this set is only 90 cards (which is 9 cards larger than the last couple 80th Anniversary team sets BBM has done - the 2015 Tigers and the 2016 Dragons sets).  The 90 cards breaks down to 9 "Hawks History" cards, 48 cards of OB Hawks players and managers (and player-managers) and 33 cards of current Hawks players.

The "Hawks History" cards are odd for a couple reasons.  The first is that they are numbered separately from the rest of the set - #HH1 to #HH9.  The second odd thing is that instead of covering the entire range of the team's history, the subset only covers until 1968.  I think but I don't know for sure that this has something to do with the Hawks legendary manager Kazuto Tsuruoka ending his 23 year tenure at the helm of the team that year.  It would be the 50th anniversary of his stepping down this year.  Each card covers anywhere from 1 to 7 years during this time.  Each of the two years that Nankai won the Nippon Series during this period has a card to itself - like this one for 1959:

The OB player section is a little different from the previous two Hawks Anniversary set.  For one thing at 48 cards it's almost 20 cards smaller than the other sets had.  For another all the players in the subset are actually retired,  The previous sets included players who were still active but playing for other teams either in NPB or MLB.  Off hand the only significant player I can think of who would be excluded because of this is Toshiya Sugiuchi of the Giants.  The players who show up in this subset are pretty much everyone you'd expect - Tsuruoka, Sadaharu Oh (as manager of course), Katsuya Nomura, Tadashi Sugiura, Hiromitsu Kadota, Hiroki Kokubo, Tatahito Iguchi, Kenji Johjima, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Koji Akiyama and Yoshinori Hirose are all in the set.  As is typical for a set like this there are very few players from before 1970.  The only gaijin player in the set is Joe Stanka which is a bit odd as the previous sets had included Don Blasingame (who managed the team in the early 1980's), Julio Zuleta, Rod Pedraza, Tony Bernazard and Clarence Jones.  Masanori Murakami and Yutaka Enatsu are probably the most significant Japanese players not included in the set after being in the previous sets (although Enatsu was only in the 2008 set and hasn't been in a BBM set since late 2013).  One player I just realized is missing not only from this set but the other two is Kent Hadley, who hit 131 home runs for the Hawks between 1962 and 1967.





 The 33 cards of active (as of 2017) Hawks players is the largest active player subset in any BBM Anniversary set.  It includes all the major players for the Hawks (as you would expect from the size) - Yuki Yanagita, Seiichi Uchikawa, Kenta Imamiya, Dennis Sarfate, Munenori Kawasaki, Tsuyoshi Wada, Nobuhiro Matsuda, Alfredo Despaigne and Seiji Uebayashi.  Actually the only guy I can think of who I'm surprised is not in the set is Rick Van Den Hurk.  What's interesting about this subset is none of the players are wearing Softbank uniforms.  With one exception they are wearing "Turn-Back-The-Clock" throwback uniforms from various years.  Most of these are from 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 although the Daiei Hawks throwbacks are from 2008 (there's a notation on the lower right of the back of each card indicating the month and year that the photo is from).  The exception is the card of Wada which is from 2003 when the Hawks actually wore those uniforms.






I really like this set a lot.  It's very attractive and while it's probably missing enough significant players to not truly be a comprehensive history of the Hawks, it complements the other two sets pretty well without being redundant (which is how I felt towards the 80th Anniversary sets for the Tigers and Dragons).  It's easily the most attractive Anniversary set BBM has done since the 2014 Giants 80th Anniversary set and one of the best they've ever done. 

Ryan did a post about this set yesterday.  You can see all the cards (including the insert sets) over at Jambalaya.

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