Thursday, August 2, 2018

History Of BBM Team Sets

I did a post a few months back describing the current group of sets that BBM issues annually.  In it I made an off hand comment about how BBM used to issue box sets for the league pennant winners and that maybe that should be the topic for another post.  I started working on that post but it's kind of morphed into a larger post on the history of BBM's team sets.  Actually I think it's going to be a set of posts - this one with the general history and then a post for each team (like I need another project...).

Just to be clear - what I mean by a team set is a set of cards that feature mostly current players from one particular team.  I know that sounds pretty obvious but I want to make a distinction between team sets and OB team sets which feature mostly retired players from one particular team.

It's actually kind of appropriate that I'm doing this post this year as it's the 25th year that BBM has been doing team sets and the 15th year that BBM has done a pack based set for all 12 NPB teams.

What follows is a somewhat rambling litany of BBM team sets.  This is not meant to be a complete list of all the team sets the company has done - I'm just trying to highlight several firsts and also list all the pennant winner box sets.

1994 BBM Tigers box
The very first team set BBM ever did was for the Tigers.  It was a 64 card box set that came out in early 1994.  The set featured cards of manager Katsuhiro Nakamura and 47 members of the Tigers.  It also included six cards for the Tigers' MVPs for each month in 1993, nine cards for 1993 statistical leaders for the team and one card celebrating Hiromi Matsunaga's 1993 season, his only year with the Tigers.  BBM would issue box sets for the Tigers for each of the next four years (1995-98).

1995 BBM Orix BlueWave I box
In 1995 the Orix BlueWave ended up winning their first Pacific League pennant since the team was purchased by Orix in 1989 and moved to Kobe in 1991.  At some point during the season BBM issued a box set celebrating the team's impending pennant clinching.  BBM issued 5000 of the sets and they proved so popular that BBM issued a second set with another print run of 5000.  The second set was issued after the team clinched the PL pennant.  Each set contained 30 "regular" cards (29 players plus manager Akira Ohgi) plus 10 cards from various subsets.

The 1996 Tigers box set was the first team set that BBM included random insert cards - the set contained three of nine possible cards of former Tiger greats.

1997 BBM Giants "Black" box

1997 BBM Giants "Orange" box
Up until 1997 all the team box sets (which to be fair there had only been five - three Tigers and the two Orix sets) had contained a subset of the teams' 70 man roster - anywhere from 29 to 47 players.  None of the sets had been "comprehensive" sets - that's a set that contains cards for all the players on the team's 70 man roster (and possibly the players on the ikusei squad).  BBM issued such a set for the Giants in 1997.  It was 98 cards in total and included cards for the team's manager (Shigeo Nagashima), plus all the coaches and players as well as a 10 card subset celebrating the V9 Giants.  BBM actually issued this set as a pair of box sets - one called "Black" and the other called "Orange".  Each box contained 49 cards from the base set.  Each box also had one of five possible "Giants Heroes" insert cards to make the card count for each box be an even 50.

1998 BBM Hawks box

1998 BBM Baystars "Get The Flag" II box
BBM issued another "comprehensive" set for the Giants in 1998 in the same manner - two 50 card box sets (49 base cards plus 1 insert card).  They also issued a "comprehensive" team set for the Hawks as a single 90 card box set (with no insert cards).  BBM also celebrated the Yokohama Baystars' first pennant in 38 years with a 40 card box set called "Get The Flag".  Like the Orix set three years earlier the set had a print run of 5000 which quickly sold out so a second set was issued - this one had a print run of 10,000.  Each set had 40 cards including 31 "regular" cards (30 players and manager Hiroshi Gondoh) plus nine cards of various subsets.

1999 had a couple milestones for BBM team sets.  The company issued their first pack based team set.  It was a "comprehensive" set for the Tigers and featured a 90 card base set along with two insert sets - a five card Minoru Murayama set and a nine card OB Tigers "Refractor" set.  Also for the first time BBM issued sets to commemorate the two pennant winners - the Dragons and the Hawks.  Both sets had 41 cards in their base sets and had no insert cards.  Both sets were issued after the team had clinched the pennant as both sets include a card showing the celebration.

In 2000 BBM issued "comprehensive" sets for the Tigers and Giants as pack based sets.  The Tigers set had possible Tsuyoshi Shinjyo batting glove cards while the Giants set had possible Hideki Matsui bat cards as well as autograph cards.  BBM only issued a set for one of the two pennant winners that year - the Giants - and it was a unique issue - BBM sold the 36 card set in four plastic sheets in a binder.

BBM again issued pack based sets for the Tigers and Giants in 2001.  They also went back to issuing box sets for both pennant winners - the Swallows and Buffaloes.  As in 2001 both sets had 41 card base sets but for the first time the sets included possible memorabilia cards.

2002 BBM Giants Central League Champions box
In 2002 BBM again issued pack based "comprehensive" team sets for the Tigers and Giants and also added sets for the Hawks and Buffaloes.  In addition they did a second pack based set for the Tigers called "Extra Version" that was a little higher end - all the cards had a "metallic silver cast" according to Engel.  BBM also issued 40 card box sets for the two pennant winners - the Giants and the Lions.  Both box sets had possible memorabilia cards.

2003 BBM Hawks Pacific League Champions box
In 2003 BBM doubled the number of pack based "comprehensive" team sets they did.  They issued sets for eight teams - the Tigers, Giants, Hawks, Buffaloes, Lions, Fighters, Baystars and Marines.  The Tigers were serious contenders that season for the first time in a while and BBM issued a pair of box sets for the team similar to what they did for Orx in 1995 and Yokohama in 1998.  Late in the season BBM issued a 55 card set called "Victory Road Prologue" and then after the team had clinched the Central League pennant BBM issued a 60 card set called "Victory Road Championship".  The first set had possible autograph cards while the later set had possible memorabilia cards.  The later set also included one of five possible player figurines with the box.  BBM also issued a 43 card box set for the Pacific League champion Hawks which included a possible memorabilia card.

2004 BBM Carp #C06, 2004 BBM BlueWave #BW28, 2004 BBM Swallows #YS19

2004 BBM Pacific League Playoff box
BBM issued pack based "comprehensive" team sets for all 12 NPB teams for the first time in 2004.  This would be standard for BBM from now on.  One odd thing about a couple of these sets this year though - the sets for the Carp, Swallows and Orix all had 96 card base sets with no insert or memorabilia cards available and the three sets used the same design for their "regular" cards.  BBM issued a box set for the Central League pennant winning Dragons - a 44 card set containing a possible memorabilia card.  The Pacific League started having playoffs this year so instead of having a box set for the pennant winner BBM instead issued a box set containing cards for all three playoff teams - the Hawks, Lions and Fighters.  The set contained 57 cards - 16 player cards and three cards featuring highlighted games for each team.  There were no special cards included the box - no insert, autograph or memorabilia cards.  (And obviously since it has three teams in it the Pacific League Playoff set doesn't really count as a team set.)

BBM approached the Pacific League playoff teams a little differently in 2005.  They issued a 37 card box set for both the first place team (the Hawks) and the second place team (the Marines).  I'm guessing that it was too difficult to predict the third place team when they were going to press with the sets.  The Hawks set was subtitled "Go" while the Marines sets was subtitled "Takumi".  Each set had a possible film card included.  The Tigers won the Central League pennant that season and so BBM issued a 46 card box set in commemoration.  Each set could possibly contain a "photo" card as a premium.

2006 BBM Dragons Central League Champions box
In 2006 BBM issued box sets for all three Pacific League playoff teams - the Fighters (set was subtitled "Hana"), the Lions ("So") and the Hawks ("Yu").  Each set had 37 cards and could possibly include a "photo" card.  There was also a 46 card box set for the Central League champion Dragons that included a possible memorabilia card.

2007 BBM Dragons "The Climax" box
The Central League adopted the playoff scheme that that Pacific League had been using for three seasons in 2007.  The Playoffs were now referred to as the "Climax Series".  BBM issued 37 card box sets for all six playoff teams that season - the Giants, Dragons and Tigers in the Central League and the Fighters, Marines and Hawks in the Pacific League.  Each set contained a possible "Prime Player" insert card.

2016 BBM Carp "Realization Of A Great Ambition" box
2007 was the last year that BBM consistently did a set commemorating teams reaching the post season.  They would occasionally did box sets for the first place teams (and remember that under the current rules the first place team is the League Champion regardless of whether or not that team wins the Climax Series and goes on the Nippon Series.  So last year the Carp were Central League Champions but the Baystars represented the CL in the Nippon Series.)  I believe that the only box sets BBM has done to commemorate league champions in the past 10 years are the 2009 Giants "Exciting Road" set, the 2009 Fighters "Energy" set, the 2013 Eagles "First Crown" set, the 2016 Carp "Realization Of A Great Ambition" set and the 2017 Carp "Successful Achievement" set.

The one other milestone I want to mention here about BBM's team sets is that they standardized on the size of the base set for their pack based "comprehensive" team sets in 2015.  Before that the base set sizes had ranged anywhere from 81 to 141 cards.  Starting in 2015 all the sets would have 81 card base sets.


SumoMenkoMan said...

Great rundown and a very informative read. Thanks for putting it together.

Fuji said...

Great post. Very informative. I'm gonna bookmark this one.

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks guys. This was one of those posts that took forever to do so I'm happy you guys liked it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Just found the 97 Orange Giants set!
Love your site and research.

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks, glad I could help. Good luck finding the Black set!