Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ending The Year On A High-End Note...

I was a little premature a few weeks back when I announced what I thought were the last of the 2018 card issues.  Turns out there were a few more coming out, all of which fall into the "ultra high end" category.

- It's been 15 years now since the Fighters abandoned Tokyo for Sapporo and Epoch is commemorating this by issuing a combination active/OB player set called "Fighters Season Achievement & 15th Anniversary Legends".  Each six card box runs around 15,000 yen.  The base set contains 57 cards - 36 active players and 21 OB players (which includes Shohei Ohtani but not Yu Darvish I think).  Each base card has at least one parallel version.  There's also a 24 card "Holo Spectra" insert set (don't know if Ohtani is included in that) that also has parallel versions.  Each box will contain 2 "special" insert cards (I think at least one of them is an autograph card).  Each player in the set has two possible autographed cards (horizontal and vertical versions).  There's also 2 possible multi-player autograph cards and six different types of memorabilia cards (uniform, patch, number, letter, foil signature with uniform) - there's six cards for each type so there's 36 different memorabilia cards total.  I assume everything's got a serial number on it but I don't know what they're limited to.  The set will be out on December 15th.

- Epoch's latest collaboration with the OB Club will also be released on December 15th.  This set is called something like "Batting Leaders" and will retail for 16,000 yen for a six card box.  The base set has 33 cards.  As you might expect from the set's name all the players included are OB batters, including Shigeo Nagashima, Katsuya Nomura and Tuffy Rhodes.  28 cards from the base set have a parallel versions.  Each box contains at least two autograph cards - there are three different types of on-card autograph card and two different types of autographed ball card.

- Epoch is releasing their fifth "Stars & Legend" set for the year - this one is for the Tigers.  A six card box retails for 15,000 yen (although Discount Niki has it for 13,300) - at least one of those cards will be an autographed card.  The base set contains 32 cards - 23 for active players and nine for OB players.  There's a parallel version of each base set card that is serially numbered to 10.  There's four or five different types of autograph cards available plus a multi-player autographed booklet.  There's also a variety of memorabilia cards available including ones featuring more than one player.  The set will be out on December 29th.

- Not to be left out, BBM is issuing their own ultra high end set.  This is the third year in a row that they have issued one of these in December and this is the second year in a row that it's being called "Glory".  Boxes retail for 15,000 yen and like the Epoch sets only contain six cards (which is guaranteed to include an autograph card and a memorabilia card).  The base set has 36 cards and of course there's a parallel version of each one.  The set only contains cards of active players.  There's two insert sets - "Golden Greats" (36 cards) and "Glorious 3D" (12 3-D cards) - and a variety of possible autograph and memorabilia cards.  The memorabilia cards include "bat grip end" cards, patch cards and multi-player jersey cards.  The set will be released in late December although the cards will be labeled as 2019 cards.

- Also not be left out, Daewoo Media is issuing a high end KBO set in the near future.  I don't have many details about the set but it's called SCC Premium.  What I do know about the set I learned from this tweet from Dan Skrezyna (who else?) - the set will have 150 "Normal" cards, 60 "Rare" cards, 30 "Holo" cards and 30 "Facsimile Autograph" cards along with 10 Jersey cards (serially numbered to 30), 10 "Hidden Holo" cards (numbered to 30) and 250(!) autograph cards (numbered to 5).

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

2018 Award Winners

NPB announced most of their major awards this week.  The league MVPs were Hotaka Yamakawa of the Lions and Yoshihiro Maru of the Carp:

2018 BBM 1st Version #042

2018 BBM 1st Version #181
I'll also mention here that Tomoyuki Sugano was named the Sawamura Award winner for the second year in a row a few weeks back:

2018 BBM 1st Version #245
Kazuki Tanaka of the Eagles and Katsuki Azuma of the Baystars were the Pacific and Central League Rookie Of The Year winners respectively:

2018 Calbee #161

2018 Calbee D-09
Calbee was the only company that had a flagship card of Tanaka this year.  He was taken in the 2016 draft so even though he was still officially a rookie this year all his rookie cards were from last year.

The Best 9 teams were announced this week as well.  Here's the Pacific League team:

2018 Epoch NPB #39

2018 Epoch NPB #51

2018 Epoch NPB #56

2018 Epoch NPB #53

2018 Epoch NPB #20

2018 Epoch NPB #55

2018 Epoch NPB #26

2018 Epoch NPB #66

2018 Epoch NPB #134

2018 Epoch NPB #160
And the Central League team:

2018 Epoch NPB #328

2018 Epoch NPB #232

2018 Epoch NPB #385

2018 Epoch NPB #410

2018 Epoch NPB #309

2018 Epoch NPB #342

2018 Epoch NPB #242

2018 Epoch NPB #245

2018 BBM Genesis #079
I had wanted to do the Best 9 teams with just the Epcoh NPB cards but unfortunately Neftali Soto was not in that set so I used his Genesis card instead. 

I thought I'd add the KBO Award Winners as well.  Kim Jae-Hwan of the Doosan Bears was named MVP:

2018 SCC #SCCR-01/046
Kang Baek-Ho of the KT Wiz was named Rookie Of The Year:

2018 SCC #SCCR-01/239

Monday, November 26, 2018

2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 - The Red And The Black

In addition to the 2018 SCC KBO Collection set, Dan Skrezyna also included the two 2018 KBO Collection 2 sets (Black and Red) in the package he sent me recently.  Each of these sets features players from five of the ten KBO teams.  The Black set has Doosan, Hanwha, Kia, NC and SK while the Red set has KT, LG, Lotte, Nexen and Samsung.  Both sets came out either in late September or early October.

Each set has a total of 115 cards although the last 10 are "Hidden Hologram" cards so the base set is only 105 cards.  The cards are split evenly with 21 cards per team with the exceptions of Doosan (which has 22 cards) and NC (which only has 20).  Like the first set, the base set is broken into multiple card types although these sets only have four types rather than five.  There are 50 "normal" cards in each set along with 32 "rare" cards, 15 "holo" cards and 8 "signature autograph" cards.  There are no "rookie" cards in the set but seven of the nine players who appeared on "rookie" cards in the first set appear in this set - their cards just aren't labeled as "rookie" cards.  The card types aren't split evenly between the teams but it's close - each team has 9 to 11 "normal" cards, 6 or 7 "rare" cards, 3 "holo" cards and 1 or 2 "facsimile autograph" cards.  All the cards have a glossy finish.

I don't have much to say about the player selection other than I think that all the players I mentioned that appeared in the first set appear in these two.  There's about 40 players between the two sets that did not appear in the first set - the most significant of the two are former NPB players Lee Bum-Ho and Kim Tae-Kyun.

As was the case with the first set, the backs of these cards are all identical so there's no biographical or statistical information on them.  The backs are different between the two sets - with the back of the Black set having a black background and those of the Red set having a red background.

Here's some sample cards - first from the Black set:

#SCCR-02B/027 Jang Won-Jun (Normal)

#SCCR-02B/020 Na Ji-Wan (Normal)

#SCCR-02B/098 Jung Keun-Woo (Rare)

#SCCR-02B/074 Lee Jae-Won (Holo)

#SCCR-02B/053 (Facsimile Autograph)
And from the Red set:

#SCCR-02R/079 Kim Sang-Su (Normal)

#SCCR-02R/037 Ahn Ik-Hun (Normal)

#SCCR-02R/055 Kim Ha-Sung (Rare)

#SCCR-02R/104 Kang Baek-Ho (Holo)

#SCCR-02R/015 (Facsimile Autograph)
It's probably not obvious from the scan but the "rare" cards feature a shimmering lattice finish.

Here's what the card backs look like - you can probably guess which one's which:

So the only places where the color in the name of the set is reflected on the cards themselves are in the background on the "Facsimile Autograph" cards and the card backs.

Dan has added checklists for both sets and uploaded images for all the base set cards over at (link for Black and Red).  And I want to thank Dan again for getting me these sets.

I've been having an old Blue Oyster Cult song running through my head while dealing with these sets:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Card Of The Week November 25

The Hiroshima Toyo Carp established a baseball Academy in the Dominican Republic and have had a steady stream of players from it feeding the team.  One of the earliest products of it was Robinson Checo who was an NPB All Star in 1995 and spent a couple years in the Red Sox and Dodgers organizations in the late 90's.  More recent Academy products include Xavier Batitsta and Alejandro Mejia. 

There were two Carp Academy products who both played for the Carp in the late 1990's and went on to play in MLB as well.  The most famous of this pair was Alfonso Soriano who hit over 400 home runs in a 16 year Major League career.  He only played 9 games with the ichi-gun Carp however and there was never a Japanese baseball card of him (this is NOT a real card of him even though I occasionally see it show up other places). 

The other player was Timo Perez who appeared in 227 games with the Carp's top team over four seasons (1996-99).  He left Japan as a free agent and signed with the New York Mets in time for the 2000 season.  He spent most of the season at the Mets' Triple-A team in Norfolk but he was promoted in time to play for New York in the post-season, including the World Series against the Yankees.  He was traded to the White Sox just before the season started in 2004 and was a member of their World Championship team in 2005.  He kicked around for a few years after that in the Reds, Cardinals, Tigers, Dodgers and Phillies organizations before he retired after the 2012 season which he spent with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

Perez had two cards in Japan that I know of.  Both of them were from Diamond Heroes, BBM's first version of a high end set (which became "Touch The Game" in 2002 and "Genesis" in 2012).  He was card #46 in the 1996 set (which was the first Diamond Heroes set) and #60 in the 1998 set.  The only one of the two that I own is the 1996 card:

I would love to see BBM do an OB set for the Carp that featured players from their Dominican Academy over the years.  It'd be cool to get a legitimate NPB card for Soriano.

2018 SCC KBO Collection set

Got a package in the mail from Dan Skrezyna last week containing the latest KBO card sets from Daewoo Media.  The first set I'm going to talk about is the 2018 SCC set that I think is officially called "KBO Collection".

This set came out back in August.  It contains 253 total cards but the last 13 are all autograph cards so the base set is 240 cards.  The cards are split evenly between the 10 KBO teams so each team has 24 cards.

What gets a little confusing about the base set is there are five different types of cards in it.  There are 100 "normal" cards, 45 "rare" cards, 43 "holo" cards, 43 "facsimile autograph" cards and 9 "rookie" cards.  Each category is not split up evenly between the 10 teams (which is obvious for anything beyond the "normal" cards).  SK has only 7 "normal" cards while NC has 14!  Each team has anywhere between 3 (Hanwha) and 6 (SK) "rare" cards, 2 (Doosan) and 7 (Samsung) "holo" cards and 1 (NC) and 8 (Doosan) "facsimile autograph" cards.  Each team has only one "rookie" card except Lotte which has two and NC and SK which have none.  The "holo" cards The "normal" and "rare" cards have a matte finish while the others have a glossy finish.  I don't know if any of the cards other than the "normal" cards are short-printed - you'd think that at least the "rare" ones would be but I don't know if that's the case.

I don't know a whole lot about the KBO so I don't have a sense for how good the player selection is in it.  As usual there are no foreign players in the set.  Most of the guys who've played in MLB and NPB show up including Lee Dae-Ho, Lim Chang-Yong, Park Byung-Ho, Kim Hyun-Soo, and Hwang Jae-Gyun.  The set also includes stars like Choi Jeong, Han Dong-Min and Son Ah-Seop.  Off hand the only guys I noticed who seemed to be missing were Lee Bum-Ho and Kim Tae-Kyun.

Here's some sample cards from each type:

#SCCR-01/079 Kang Yoon-Koo (Normal)

#SCCR-01/176 Seo Kyun (Normal)

#SCCR-01/047 Park Kun-Woo (Rare)

#SCCR-01/112 Kim Sung-Hyun (Rare)

#SCCR-01/196 Jang Pill-Joon (Holo)

#SCCR-01/001 Lim Chang-Yong (Holo)

#SCCR-01/230 Shim Woo-Jun (Facsimile Autograph)

#SCCR-01/116 No Soo-Kwang (Facsimile Autograph)

#SCCR-01/159 Kim Hye-Sung (Rookie)

#SCCR-01/066 Han Dong-Hee (Rookie)
I have to say that this is a very nice set.  It's very attractive once you get over the multiple card types in the base set.  The photos are attractive and aren't all "pitchers pitching, batters batting" like most of BBM's NPB issues lately.  My one main gripe with the set is that there's no biographical or statistical information on the back of the cards - they're all identical.  Which makes sense if they were used in some sort of collectible card game but I don't see any evidence that that's the case.  Here's what the backs look like:

Dan wrote about this set back at the end of August and he's also uploaded the checklist and images of the entire set to  I want to thank Dan for getting me the set.