Sunday, October 28, 2018

RIP Tomehiro Kaneda

Former Flyers, Orions and Carp pitcher Tomehiro Kaneda passed away earlier this month at age 71.  Kaneda was the youngest of the four baseball playing Kaneda brothers.  The oldest and most famous brother is Hall Of Fame pitcher Masaichi Kaneda while the other two brothers Takayoshi and Hideo were with the Swallows in the late 50's/early 60's although neither of them ever saw any action with the ichi-gun team.  Kaneda's nephew Akihito Kaneishi (I think the son of a sister) pitched for the Carp, Fighters and Giants between 1979 and 1998.  As far as I know the other three brothers are all still living.  Tomehiro was 14 years younger than Masaichi.

2013 BBM Great Numbers #105
Tomehiro Kaneda was a fourth round pick of the Toei Flyers out of Nittsu Urawa of the corporate leagues in the 1968 draft.  He wore uniform number 34 with Toei, the same number his brother had worn with the Swallows and Giants.  The Flyers used him as both a starter and receiver.  He went 18-13 in his rookie season of 1969 and made the All Star team where he got to pitch against brother Masaichi who was in his final season as a player with the Giants.  He went 24-16 in 1970, 15-14 in 1971 and 20-12 in 1972 - the 20 wins led the Pacific League in victories that season.  Oddly enough he made the All Star team in 1970 and 1971 but not in 1972.

1975 JA5

2008 BBM Lotte 40th Anniversary #26

2017 BBM Time Travel 1975 #25
Kaneda was traded to the Lotte Orions for Osamu Nomura after the 1973 season which allowed him to play for his brother Masaichi who had taken over the team as manager prior to that season.  The Broder card shows the two of them with Tomehiro on the left and Masaichi on the right - the card is blank backed and just says "Kaneda" on the front but Engel lists the card as being Tomehiro alone.  Tomehiro went 16-7 in 1974, helping to lead the Orions to a Nippon Series championship over the Chunichi Dragons.  He lead the Pacific League in victories that season and was named MVP of the league.  He also was named to the Best 9 team that year for the only time in his career.

1979 Takara Carp #44

1979 TCMA #28

2015 BBM Carp Legends #20
Masaichi resigned as manager of Lotte after the 1978 season and Tomehiro was traded to the Carp along with Hidetake Watanabe for Takuya Mochizuki, Takahiro Kenmotsu and Hideyuki Hirata.  He spent four seasons with the Carp, mostly working in relief.  He did not appear for the Carp in either the 1979 or 1980 Nippon Series.  Probably the most notable event of his time in Hiroshima was Sadaharu Oh hitting his 850th home run off of him in 1980.  He spent the entire 1982 season with the Carp's farm team and then retired.  He coached for Lotte for two years (1987-88) and also managed a health food company.  He played for the Tokyo Dreams of the Masters League in 2001.

Card Of The Week October 28

Game One of the 2018 Nippon Series between the Carp and the Hawks was yesterday in Hiroshima and it ended in a tie after 12 innings.  (Between Game 3 of the World Series which went 18 innings and Game 1 of the Nippon Series there were 30 innings of baseball played in roughly 13 and a half hours on Friday into Saturday.)  The last time Game One of the Nippon Series ended in tie was in 1986 and the Carp were the home team in that game also.  The Lions ended up winning that Series i eight(!) games and the MVP of the Series was Kimiyasu Kudoh who is now the Hawks manager.  Here's a 1986 Calbee card of Kudoh (#210):

Saturday, October 27, 2018

RIP Masao Morishita

Former Nankai Hawk infielder Masao Morishita passed away this past week at age 85.  Morishita joined the Hawks in 1952 at age 18 after dropping out of high school and playing for Nankai's corporate league team.  He spent the next 15 years with them, retiring after the 1966 season.  He led the Pacific League in stolen bases in 1955 with 59 and stole 315 over his career, good enough for 27th on the all time list.  He made Best 9 teams in 1954 and 1961 and made the All Star team in 1954, 1956, 1957 and 1960.  He played in six Nippon Series with the Hawks (1955, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1966), winning championships in 1959 and 1964.  He won the "Fighting Spirit" award for the 1965 Series.  After retirement he coached for the Hawks (1967-68), the Dragons (1969-77), the Whales (1978-80) and the Hawks again (1986).  He also first coached and then managed the Brothers Elephant in the CPBL in Taiwan in 1991-92 - I think he was the first Japanese manager in the CPBL.

He also appears to have gone by Nobushige for a given name as his Baseball-Reference entry is under that name.

Morishita had a number of menko cards during his career as well as a card in the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set.  I think he only has a couple modern cards from the 2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball, 2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary and 2012 Epoch JPBA History Of Best Nine sets.  Here's the cards I have of him:

1967 Kabaya-Leaf #314

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #050

2008 BBM Hawks 70th Anniversary #14
He also had a card in the 1992 CPBL set (#50).  I don't have this card but I couldn't resist downloading the image of it from the list of Moriwaki's cards:

H/T NPB on Reddit's tweet of his Yahoo! obituary.

2018 BBM Carp Three-Peat Box Set

For the third year in a row the Hiroshima Toyo Carp are Central League Champions and for the third year in a row BBM has issued a box set celebrating the victory.  After the somewhat unwieldy name "Realization Of A Great Ambition" in 2016 and the somewhat smoother name "Successful Achievement" in 2017 this year's set is simply called "Three-Peat".  The base set has been getting smaller every year - it was 54 cards in 2016, 45 in 2017 and it's 36 cards this year.  (And obviously if the Carp win next year the size of the set will drop to 27...)

The 36 cards are split between 30 player cards (which also include manager Koichi Ogata) and six "season summary" cards (my term - don't know what the translation of what's on the cards actually is).  Unlike last year's set the player cards in this year's set do not highlight a particular game.  The player selection is pretty much what you'd expect from a Carp team set - Ryosuke Kikuchi, Takahiro Arai, Seiya Suzuki, Yoshihiro Maru, Aren Kuri, Tsubasa Aizawa, Kosuke Tanaka, Kris Johnson, Jay Jackson, etc.  The set also includes what I think is the first Japanese card of Geronimo Franzua who joined the team in May.  The cards do not have the player's name in English on them.  There's a couple good photos but the set suffers from the typical BBM lack of imagination in photo selection.  Here's some sample cards:

#26 (Ko Shimozuru)

#24 (Ryoma Nishikawa)

#23 (Ryosuke Kikuchi)

#16 (Geronimo Franzua)
The six "season summary" cards each highlight one month of the season (March and April are combined onto one card).  Each card highlights a particular Carp victory for the month with the line score for that game appearing on the back.  For example this one for August highlights the team's 6 to 4 victory over Hanshin on August 15th:


Like the previous two years I bought an unopened box for this set so I got the "special" card.  The "special" card can either be an autographed card or one of 12 3-D "Golden Era" cards.  I was kid of disappointed to not get an autographed card but I did get the "Golden Era" card for Seiya Suzuki who's one of my favorite players so it wasn't a total loss.  Here's the card - it looks much better in reality:

The card is serially numbered #097/189.  The press run for the entire box is 3000.  I don't know if all the 3-D cards are numbered to 189.  If they are, then there's only 732 autographed cards available which means there's slightly less than a 25% chance of pulling an autographed card.

I was disappointed in this set.  I liked the previous two sets as I felt they really told the story of the Carp's season each year.  This feels more like "hey, here's some more cards of the Carp that are just like the other ones for you to buy".  The photos are boring and they don't even show any of the Carp's alternate uniforms this year (although one of them is on the box).  Really the only redeeming feature is the 3-D card of Suzuki and considering how much I ended up paying for the set (5700 yen through Rakuten - 3700 for the set and 2000 yen for EMS shipping which works out to about $51) it really wasn't worth it.  You can see what you think of all the cards over at Jambalaya.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Samurai Japan U23 Team

The U-23 Baseball World Cup has been going on for about a week down in Colombia.  Japan went 5-0 in the Opening Round to win their Group (Group A) and beat Korea this morning in the first game of the Super Round.  This version of Samurai Japan is being managed by Atsunori Inaba who is the manager for the "main" version of the team as well. 

Obviously all 24 players on the team's roster are age 23 and under (given that it's a "U-23" tournament).  19 of the players came from NPB rosters - the remaining five are all industrial league players - Kento Harasawa (Subaru), Ryota Kita (Sega Sammy), Yoshua Miyazawa (Nippon Steel Sumikin Kazusa Magic), Masaki Mizuno (Yamaha) and Yuki Nakayama (Tokyo Gas).  (And I don't think any of them were drafted today.)  There are four players from the Eagles, three each from the Marines and Baystars, two each from the Carp and Buffaloes and one from each of the Hawks, Tigers, Fighters, Swallows and Giants.  There are no players from the Dragons or Lions.  There are three former first round draft picks (Hiroki Kondoh, Eagles 2017; Naruki Terashima, Swallows 2016; and Hisanori Yasuda, Marines 2017) and (oddly enough) two ikusei players - Ukyo Shuto of the Hawks and Ryutaro Takakyama of the Giants.  Here's a card for each of the NPB players on the roster:

2016 BBM Carp #C17

2017 BBM Eagles #E41


2018 Epoch NPB #102

2017 Epoch Baystars #20

2017 BBM Carp #C31

2016 BBM Rookie Edition Premium #RP09

2018 BBM 1st Version #080

2018 BBM Rookie Edition #075

2018 Epoch NPB #320

2018 BBM 1st Version #214

2018 BBM Rookie Edition #007

2017 BBM Buffaloes #Bs36

2017 BBM Rookie Edition #080

2017 BBM Marines #M33

2017 Epoch Swallows #04

2016 BBM Eagles #E50

2017 BBM 1st Version #159

2018 BBM Icons-Fanfare #17
Samurai Japan has two more games scheduled in the tournament - tomorrow (10/26) at 1500 local time (4 PM EDT) against Venezuela and Saturday (10/27) at 1000 local time (11 AM EDT) against the Dominican Republic.  If they make the championship game (and I expect that they will) they will play on Sunday at 1900 local time (8 PM EDT).

The tournament has kind of an odd collection of nations represented.  Some of the staples of international baseball - the United States, Cuba and Canada for example - do not have teams in the tournament.  In addition to Japan, Asia is represented by Korea and Taiwan.  I don't know anything about the players on Korea's roster but CPBL Stats had a post last week about Taiwan's roster - it's mostly made up of college players supplemented by a couple industrial league players and three professionals from the Chinatrust Brothers. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Card Of The Week October 21

The Hawks beat Seibu 6-5 today, which concluded their defeat of the first place Lions in the Final Stage of the Pacific League Climax Series.  The Hawks will now move on to face the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Nippon Series - the Carp having swept the Giants in the Central League Climax Series last week.  This will be the fifth appearance of the Hawks in the Series in the last eight years - they have won their previous four appearances.  Here's a fun fact - they've faced five different Central League clubs in those five Nippon Series appearances.  The only Central League team they haven't faced during this period is the Giants.

Yuki Yanagita was named MVP of the Climax Series after hitting .450 with 2 home runs and 8 RBIs.  Here's his card from last year's Fusion set from BBM (#045):

Epoch NPB Photos From Arizona

Justin (Charm City Autographs) has a YouTube channel and recently posted a video showing him opening several packs of 2018 Epoch NPB cards.  One of the cards he pulled was the above card of Kazunari Ishii of the Fighters (#168).  Justin immediately noticed something interesting about this card - the photo was taken in Arizona last February.  He realized that the guys in the background were from the KT Wiz of the KBO - the picture was taken at Salt River Fields At Talking Stick in Scottsdale at the exhibition game that the Fighters played back on February 10th.  A game, by the way, that I attended (along with Deanna and Dani).

I've written in the past about the photos BBM has used that were taken in Arizona in the last three 1st Version sets (2016, 2017 and 2018) but I have to confess that it hadn't occurred to me that Epoch might have also used photos from Arizona this year.  But once I knew there was one I had to go and check the rest of the cards to see if there were any others.

One thing stood out to me as I looked through the Fighters cards in the set - almost every player was shown wearing their home uniform.  There was only one player shown wearing the black jersey that the Fighters wore during training camp and that player (Eito Tanaka) was not one of the players who the team took to Arizona.  All the rest of the photos appeared to have been taken in games.  I knew that the Fighters had played three games in Arizona in February - the afore-mentioned game against KT, an inter-squad game on the 12th and a game against the LG Twins on the 13th.  I scanned through the Fighters cards then looking for photos that appeared to be taken during the day and (obviously) were of players that went to Arizona. 

I identified 12 more cards (out of the 36 total cards for the team) that I suspected of featuring Arizona photos.  Four I was quickly able to confirm were photos from Scottsdale:



How did I confirm these?  The first three photos appear in Fighters' on-line gallery for the inter-squad game on the 12th while the fourth appears in their gallery for the game against LG.  (The Ishii photo appears in their gallery for the game against KT.)

Of the remaining eight cards there are five that I'm almost positive are from Arizona based on the backgrounds in the photos:





The photos on the other three cards were probably taken in Arizona but lack any definitive in their backgrounds:



I took another look at the Series One and Series Two cards from Calbee this year just in case there were cards from Arizona in those sets as well.  The regular player cards appear to all have photos taken in Japan but I think the photo on the "Dora-Ichi" subset card for Kotaro Kiyomiya from Series One was probably taken Scottsdale.