Sunday, May 27, 2018

Infinity Welcomes Amateur Players

In the fall of the past two years BBM has released a set for athletes of multiple sports, not just baseball.  In 2016 this set was called Masterpiece and celebrated BBM's 70th Anniversary as a magazine published.  In 2017 the set was called Infinity.  I wasn't particularly interested in either set - I'm kind of myopic in that I don't care much about sports other than baseball and despite both sets having quite a few baseball cards (72 in Masterpiece and 45 in Infinity) I realized that I already had dozens of cards of most of the baseball players in the sets - so I didn't get either of them.

You'll notice however that I said I had dozens of cards for most of the baseball players in the set.  It turns out that Infinity had three cards for players who never played in NPB.  One of them is actually a Hall Of Famer.  These three cards were part of the package I got from Ryan yesterday.

2017 BBM Infinity #43
Masatake Yamanaka holds the record for most career victories in the Tokyo Big Six collegiate league.  He had 48 wins for Hosei between 1966 and 1969.  He spent seven years playing for Sumitomo Metal of the corporate leagues and then moved into coaching positions.  He managed Sumitomo Metal from 1981-84 and also managed Hosei from 1994-2002.  He was also a pitching coach for the Japanese Olympic baseball teams in 1988 and 1992.  He was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2016.  The only other card of him that I'm aware of is from the 2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six set.

2017 BBM Infinity #44
Atsuyoshi Otake went from Waseda University of the Tokyo Big Six league to Nippon Steel Hirohata of the industrial leagues.  I think that the highlight of his playing career was splitting the catching duties on the 1988 Japanese Olympic baseball teamwith Atsuya Furuta (who was playing for Toyota at the time).  He later managed his industrial league team (now renamed Nippon Steel Kimitsu from 1994 to 2000.  Some of the players he managed there include Nobuhiko Matsunaka (later with the Hawks) and Shunsuke Watanabe (later with the Marines).  He managed Waseda from 2005 to 2010.  As far as I know this is his only baseball card (although I'm pretty sure he appears on any Waseda team cards in BBM's Tokyo Big Six sets in 2008-10).

2017 BBM Infinity #45
Masanori Sugiura (Japanese Wikipedia here) played for the Japanese Olympic team in 1992, 1996 and 2000.  He holds the record for most Olympic baseball wins with five.  He attended Doshisha University of the Kansai Big Six collegiate league.  After graduating in 1991 he joined the Nippon Life team of the corporate leagues.  He had numerous opportunities to go pro (including an offer from Bobby Valentine when he was managing the Mets) but he remained with Nippon Life until retiring after the 2000 season.  He later managed the team from 2006 to 2009.  His nickname was "Mr. Amateur Baseball".  The only card other card I know of for him is from the 2000 Upper Deck Japanese Olympic Team set - ironically his was the final card I needed for that set and Ryan included it in this package as well.  I wrote about it earlier today.

I really liked the fact that BBM included these three in last year's multi-sport set and I hope that they continue this in future sets.

1 comment:

SumoMenkoMan said...

I hope we see another multi-sport set this year. It is the only time we get to see diversity in cards on the sumo side of things.