Saturday, June 2, 2018

Venus Baseball Players

BBM has issued nine sets highlighting woman athletes over the last 10 years.  The first seven of these were called "Real Venus" and were usually issued late in the year.  The two most recent sets have been called "Shining Venus" and have been issued in January of the last two years.  (Just to beat this to death - "Real Venus" was issued every year from 2009 to 2015.  "Shining Venus" has been issued in 2017 and 2018.)  Each of these sets has featured one or two baseball players.  I asked Ryan to pick up these cards for me and he was able to find most of them for me.

To be clear - each set has three cards for each athlete - a posed shot of the athlete in their uniform (the "Regular" card), a shot of the athlete in action (labeled "Playing Venus" in a couple of the sets) and a posed shot of the athlete in street clothes (labeled "Venus Shot").  I asked Ryan to only pick up the "Regular" and "Playing Venus" cards.  And honestly I probably wouldn't have decided to go after these cards if Epoch had continued to issue Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL) sets.

I'm going to show all the cards - there are 22 cards in all of 8 different players.  Ryan found 20 of them for me (so far) but I'm going to show images of the other two that I swiped from Jambalaya.

The first "Real Venus" set from 2009 had only baseball player - Ayumi Kataoka of the Ibraki Golden Golds.  I've never quite understood what the Golden Golds are but they appear to be some sort of club team that is made up (maybe) of celebrities and/or former NPB players.  Kataoka has played for them since their inaugural season in 2005 and has been the team's manager since 2011.  These are not her only baseball cards - she's appeared in several Golden Gold team sets (like this one Ryan wrote about) and she's even had her own dedicated set.  She also appeared on a "Ceremonial First Pitch" card from the 2007 BBM 2nd Version set.

2009 BBM Real Venus #05

2009 BBM Real Venus #36
The 2010 Real Venus set had cards for two baseball players.  Kataoka appeared in the set again and was joined by Yuki Kawabata.  Kawabata was one of the first stars of the JWBL when it started in 2010 (and was then called "Girls Professional Baseball League" or GPBL).  She spent her first three seasons with Kyoto Asto Dreams and has been with Saitama Astraia since 2013.  She is the sister of Tokyo Yakult Swallows player Shingo Kawabata.  She's had cards in the various oddball card sets that have been done for the JWBL (Ryan's the go-to resource for these) as well as the 2016 Epoch JWBL set.

2010 BBM Real Venus #02

2010 BBM Real Venus #33 (Image taken from Jambalaya)

2010 BBM Real Venus #03

2010 BBM Real Venus #34
Kawabata was only baseball player featured in the 2011 Real Venus set.

2011 BBM Real Venus #10

2011 BBM Real Venus #11
Knuckle ball pitcher Eri Yoshida was only baseball player featured in the 2012 and 2013 Real Venus sets.  Yoshida has had an interesting career.  She was drafted out of high school by the Kobe 9 Cruse of the Kansai Independent League.  She spent 2010 and 2011 in the US playing for the Chico Outlaws of the Golden State League and Na Koa Ikaika Maui of the North American League.  She returned to Japan in 2012 with the Hyogo Blue Sandars of the Kansai League but went back to Maui mid-season.  She started 2013 with Maui but joing the Ishikawa Million Stars of the Baseball Challenge (BC) League mid-season.  She remained with Ishikawa through the 2016 season (including the year that Julio Franco managed the team) before joining the Tochigi Golden Braves last season.  I'm not quite sure what she's doing this year but I think she's coaching a girl's baseball team in Oyama.  She had a baseball card in a team set for Chico from 2010 but the only other cards I know of for her is a "bonus" 2009 BBM Rookie Edition card from Sports Card Magazine.  Her 2012 Real Venus cards show her in her Blue Sandars uniform while the 2013 cards show her in the uniform for the Million Stars.  I think these are the only cards that exist for these teams.

2012 BBM Real Venus #10

2012 BBM Real Venus #11

2013 BBM Real Venus #04

2013 BBM Real Venus #05 (Image taken from Jambalaya)
Yu Katoh was the only baseball player in the 2014 Real Venus set.  At the time she was playing for the Asahi Trust Women's Baseball team.  She has since joined Saitama Astraia of the JWBL and appears in the 2016 Epoch set.

2014 BBM Real Venus #01

2014 BBM Real Venus #02
The 2015 (and final) edition of Real Venus also featured just one baseball player - Minami Takatsuka of Tohoku Reia of the JWBL.  She goes by just "Minami" now and plays for Kyoto Flora after spending last season with Hyogo Dione.  She also appears in Epoch's 2016 JWBL set.

2015 BBM Real Venus #01

2015 BBM Real Venus #02
BBM changed the name of their woman athlete set to Shining Venus in 2017 but it still featured just one baseball player - Ayoko Rokkaku.  She has played for the Samurai Japan Woman's team in a number of tournaments (I think) but I don't believe she has played professionally.  I also don't know of any other baseball cards of her.

2017 BBM Shining Venus #01

2017 BBM Shining Venus #02
 The most recent edition of Shining Venus featured two baseball players - Iori Miura and Meguna Furuya who are teammates on Kyoto Flora of the JWBL.  Miura has been a star in the league since it started in 2010.  Furuya joined the league in 2015 and originally played for Tohoku Reia.  She started 2017 with Hyogo Dione but was traded to Kyoto in July.  Miura appears in the 2016 Epoch JWBL set (and on some of the various JWBL sets Ryan has mentioned) but I don't think Furuya has appeared on any other cards.

2018 BBM Shining Venus #01

2018 BBM Shining Venus #02

2018 BBM Shining Venus #04

2018 BBM Shining Venus #05

1 comment:

SumoMenkoMan said...

There is something satisfying about this small genre of BBM sets. Makes me wish there was a whole set of these ladies.