Monday, December 30, 2019

Giants 3D Cards

I wanted to do another quick post on some other cards I got from Dan Skrezyna.  Dan had picked up a lot of six 3D Giants cards because it contained a card of Lee Seung-Yeop.  He kept the Lee card, sent one of the other cards (Koji Uehara) to Ryan and sent the remaining four cards to me:

The scans really don't do these cards justice.  They have a plastic lenticular front like the old Kellogg's 3D cards from the 70's.  What's really cool about them is that not only does the player appear to be in front of the background, the player's signature appears to be floating in front of the card.

The cards don't have anything on them identifying what year they're from but Dan and I were able to narrow it pretty quickly.  Lee's first year with the Giants was 2006 which conveniently was both Kudoh and Kokubo's LAST year with Yomiuri.  So it's pretty obvious that the cards are from 2006.

Thanks for the cards, Dan!

2019 Calbee Samurai Japan Special Limited Edition Box Set

I had mentioned a few weeks back that I had picked up the Special Limited Edition Box Set that Calbee had put out as some sort of Lucky Card redemption (I think) with their Samurai Japan set this fall.  I received the set today in the mail and thought I'd do a quick post about it.

The set contains 8 cards and each card highlights a different game that Samurai Japan has played in the last two years.  In fact, I believe that the cards cover all the games that Samurai Japan has played from November of 2017 (the Asia Professional Baseball Championship) until the two friendlies they played against Mexico in March of 2019 with the exception of the six games they played against the MLB All Stars in November of 2018.

Each card features a different player (ok to be fully accurate one features manager Atsunori Inaba) but there's actually nothing on either the front or the back of the card that identifies the player.  If it wasn't for the checklist on Calbee's website, I wouldn't know for sure who everyone was in the set.

Here's all eight of the cards:

#M-1 Tatsuhiro Tamura

#M-2 Shota Imanaga

#M-3 Atsunori Inaba

#M-4 Kodai Senga

#M-5 Shogo Akiyama

#M-6 Tetsuto Yamada

#M-7 Seiji Uebayashi

#M-8 Masataka Yoshida
Everyone except Senga appears in the regular Samurai Japan set.  Senga was previously in the 2017 Calbee Samurai Japan set.

The card backs feature the Samurai Japan portion of the game's box score.  Here's the back of Tamura's card as an example:

By the way, Japan didn't win all eight games.  They lost the game against Chinese Taipei on November 7, 2018 (kind of a warm up for the games against the MLB All Stars) and Game 1 against Mexico on March 9th of 2019.

As I mentioned when I posted about picking up the set, this was not cheap.  But I'm glad I got it - it's a beautiful little set.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Card Of The Week December 29

There's been a couple of Japanese players who've signed with MLB clubs over the last couple weeks but the big news this past week was about two players who won't be moving across the Pacific.  Ryosuke Kikuchi of the Carp apparently didn't get the contract he was looking for in North America and will be remaining in Hiroshima for the near future as he signed a four year deal with his team.  This wasn't a huge surprise but the other story was a bit of shocker - Yuki Yanagita of the Hawks signed a seven year contract extension which will keep him in Fukuoka until 2026 when he'll be 38 years old.  Since the Hawks have never posted a player, it looks like this means that any possibility of Yanagita heading to MLB is pretty much over.

I have mixed feelings on this - I like Yanagita and I'm kind of happy he's staying with the Hawks.  But on the other hand it would have been fun to see what he could do in MLB.  Plus I might have gotten to see him in person - one of my biggest regrets about my trip this year was that Yanagita was injured and I didn't get to see him play.

Here's a 2014 card of him from the BBM Hawks "Futures And Legends" box set (#26):

2019 SCC KBO Collection 2

SCC issued a set of cards for the KBO back in October.  This is their third set for the year following the KBO Collection set in June and the Premium set in August.  This set is entitled KBO Collection 2.  Dan Skrezyna picked it up for me and sent it to me a few weeks ago.

As is pretty standard for the SCC KBO sets, the 200 cards of the base set are split into five different varieties - I wouldn't call them subsets as each of these types really represents the "regular" card for players.  There are 89 "normal" cards (9 per team except that SK only has 8), 40 "rare" cards (four per team), 30 "holo" cards (3 per team), 21 "All Star" cards (2 per team except for SK which has 3) and 20 "signature" cards (2 per team) which feature facsimile signatures.  That works out to 20 cards total for each of the 10 KBO teams.

In addition to the base set, there's also two varieties of autograph cards - there's 89 different autograph cards and 15 different "red autograph" cards.  All cards of each flavor are serially numbered to 12.  There's also a parallel version of the All Star cards (called "All Star Rare") that are each serially numbered to 77.

This all sounds pretty straight forward but the set's checklist is actually kind of confusing.  The set is numbered from 1 to 200.  Each card number represents a distinct player.  I know you're thinking "So?  Isn't that how all sets are done?"  Well, yes, but the key thing here is that there are multiple cards for some players that all have the same number!

Let's pick an example - Kang Baek-Ho of the KT Wiz is card #179 in the set.  He has three different cards in the set that all have that number on it - a "red autograph" card, a "normal" card and an "All Star" card (ok, technically he has FOUR cards in the set since he's got an "All Star Rare" card as well but it's not unusual for the parallel card to have the same number as the regular card - in fact that's kind of the definition of parallel card, isn't it?).  There's no suffix on the card number to differentiate the cards.  Here's his "normal" and "All Star" cards to illustrate this:

So this brings up the other confusing thing about the set - Kang is one of 33 players who has two cards in the base set.  The implication of this is that there's only 167 unique players in the base set so there's only 167 card numbers that appear in the base set.  33 players who appear in the set ONLY have autographed cards - they're not in the base set at all.  Most (but not all) of the players who have more than one card in the set have a "normal", "rare" or "holo" card as well as an "All Star" or "Signature" card but the reverse is not true - there are a couple players who have an "All Star" or "Signature" card but don't have any other base cards.  Two players with SK are exceptions in the two card examples - Ha Jae-Hoon has a "normal" and a "holo" card and Han Dong-Min has an "All Star" AND a "Signature" card.

I don't envy the task that Dan had putting the checklist for this set together on  He ended up treating the "Normal" cards as the base set and labeling the other flavors as "Inserts And Related Sets".

As usual, there's no foreign players in the set.  Also as usual I can't speak to who's missing in the set as I don't know the KBO very well.  The four players who played in MLB a few years back - Lee Dae-Ho, Park Byung-Ho, Kim Hyun-Soo and Hwang Jae-Gyun - are all in the set along with one time Chiba Lotte Marine Kim Tae-Kyun.

The highlight of this set is the "All Star" cards.  The photos on the cards were taken at the All Star Game festivities back in July.  There's several that just show the player holding up some sort of signature paper (like Kang's above) but some of the others show the player taking part in skills competitions (I think) like this one of Jung Eun-Won of Hanwha:

There are also several cards showing players wearing various costumes at the Home Run Derby.  Since there's no foreign players there's no card of Jamie Romak dressed as Douglas MacArthur (Romacarthur) but there is a card of Choi Jeong of SK dressed as a factory worker with "Home Run Factory Owener" across his back:

There's also a card of Lee Hak-Ju of Samsung wearing...something:

As you can tell, the "All Star" cards have the player's name in English.  It's in English on the "Holo" and "Autograph" cards as well but the "Normal" and "Rare" cards only have the names in Korean.  Here's examples of the other card types:

#SCCR2-19/126 (Kim Keun-Kook)

#SCCR2-19/011 (Lee Jae-Won)

#SCCR2-19/036 (Choi Joo-Hwan)

#SCCR2-19/151 (Yoo Kang-Nam)



As usual, the backs of the cards are identical:

I want to thank Dan for getting the set for me!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Hawk Hits

I'm pretty much just a collector of base sets.  It's not that I don't like getting insert, autograph or memorabilia cards - it's just that I generally don't like paying the extra expense for them.  I will mention that lately I've been paying a little more to get some of the insert cards for BBM's sets - the "Great Record" and "Legendary Player" cards from Fusion, and the "Franchise Builder" cards from 2nd Version - but usually I pass on them.  But recently I made the acquaintance of a guy named Matt on Twitter who's a Carter Stewart collector.  He'd bought three boxes of the 2019 BBM Hawks team set to get Stewart cards.  He asked me if I'd be interested in any of his extras.  Since I already had the base set, I was curious what he'd gotten in the way of insert and autograph cards.  He sent me photos and we had some back and forth before we agreed on a deal. 

For $55 I got the following insert cards:





I want to point out that the real cards look much better than the scans.  You can see all the inserts over at Jambalaya.

Wait, what's that you say?  $55 is a lot to pay for just five insert cards?  Well, yeah, there was one other card I got:

Here's the back:

It's a sticker autograph in case you're curious.  I've got a couple authentic autographed BBM cards but this is the first one of an active player that I've gotten - the others are for OB or collegiate players.

Matt also had autographed cards from Kazuki Sugiyama and Yuki Matsumoto as well as serially numbered parallel versions of insert cards for Rei Takahashi (Elevated), Kenta Imamiya (Elevated) and Hiroshi Kaino (Closing Bell).  He also has one of the ultra rare Phantom inserts - this one's for Yuki Yanagita.

Thanks to Matt for hooking me up with these cards.  If you're interested in any of the other cards that I've mentioned that Matt still has, let me know and I'll get you in contact with him.

2019 Epoch Giants 85th Anniversary

I bought one of the latest KBO sets from Dan Skrezyna recently (which I'll posting about soon) and there was an unexpected surprise in the box he sent the set in.  Dan has a PC for Lee Seung-Yeop, the Korean baseball legend, and I've occasionally been the beneficiary of Dan's generosity when he has to buy a card lot or a complete set when he's trying to get a particular Lee card.  For example, a couple months ago he sent me two near complete Giants team issued sets.  This time Dan sent me a near complete 2019 Epoch Giants 85th Anniversary set.

This was one of Epoch's ultra high end sets where a six card box runs 16,500 yen (~$154) although two of those six cards will be autographs while one of the others is a parallel card.  The base set has 37 cards, there is a parallel for each base set card and everyone in the set has three types of autographed cards.  I think there's also a card featuring three player autographs available.  What Dan sent me was the base set minus two cards - Lee and Tatsunori Hara (which he sent to Ryan for his type collection).

The cards are nice - they've (obviously) got a bit of a high end feel to them as they're shiny.  I think they used a sturdier card stock for them as well as the cards feel less flexible than normal although the cards don't appear to be any thicker than usual.

The players included in the set are all retired Giants.  Besides Lee and Hara, the set contains other big names like Shigeo Nagashima, Isao Harimoto, Tatsuro Hirooka, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Masumi Kuwata, Hiromi Makihara, Masaki Saitoh, Hideki Okajima, Masaaki Mori, Norihiro Komada and Kiyoshi Nakahata.  I complain regularly that since BBM and Epoch's historic sets pretty much exist to have autograph cards of OB players, the player selection for those sets skews towards players active in the 1970's and later with just a handful of earlier players.  I feel like with this set Epoch isn't even making an effort here to act like there's any reason for this set to exist other than autographed cards.  You'd think a set to commemorate the Giants 85th Anniversary would include Tetsuharu Kawakami, Wally Yonamine, Shigeru Mizuhara, Shigeru Chiba, Noburo Aota and Haruyasu Nakajima, but since none of them are around anymore to autograph cards, they're not in the set.  I find it very odd that the set does NOT include Sadaharu Oh or Hideki Matsui.  Oh is especially puzzling as he appears in Epoch's newly released OB Club 25th Anniversary set so it's not like he's exclusive to BBM or something.  Granted he's in a Hawks uniform in the OB Club set but he's in a Giants uniform in the new BBM Time Travel 1985 set so it's not like he doesn't want to be associated with Yomiuri.  And while I made jokes about Hideki Matsui never seeing an OB set he didn't want to be in, he actually has only been in one BBM set over the last four years or so.  Other retired Giants who are still able to sign autographs but aren't in the set include Isao Shibata, Alex Ramirez and Koji Uehara.  Masaichi Kaneda didn't pass away until around the time the set was being published so he probably could have been included as well.

Here's some example cards (that horizontal scratch mark in the upper right of each card is from my scanner and not on the cards):

#25 Isao Harimoto

#26 Tatsuro Hirooka

#06 Masumi Kuwata

#18 Shigeo Nagashima

#17 Yoshinobu Takahashi
Dan's put the entire checklist up at and scanned the front and back of all the cards in there as well.

Thanks, Dan, for sending me the set!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Card Of The Week December 22

I picked this card up a couple weeks ago from a seller on Ebay:

I had a kind of interesting time trying to figure out who this was and what set it came from.  I was a bit surprised that the seller on Ebay hadn't identified the player's last name at least since he usually does.  But he just had a "?" where he usually puts the name in his auction titles.  So all I really had to go on was that the player was wearing a Kokutetsu Swallows uniform from 1950-51.

After all these years I still can't read Japanese but I do a decent job pattern matching kanji so I looked at the names of the players on the roster for the Swallows from those two years rendered in kanji.  I didn't see anything that matched. 

Puzzled, I started looking through Engel to see if I could identify the set.  Obviously all I knew was it was a bromide that was most likely from 1950 or 1951 although it could have been later.  I eventually came across something labeled as "JBR 87: 1950 Bromide Game".  Here's part of Engel's description for the set:
Each card has multiple versions. The regular cards have a player image within four off-white borders, with the player surname, position and team in parentheses, all in Japanese, printed from left to right within the bottom border. Ink used for the image and text can be black, brown, or green. Each regular player card also has associated game cards, which are identical to the regular card, except that the information in the bottom margin has the notation, “hit”, “double”, “triple” or “home run” in Japanese instead of the regular information.
 A light went off in my head - could this be one of the "associated game cards"?  Instead of the player's name, was this text a baseball term?  I took a look at the Japanese Wikipedia page for "home run" and I'm pretty sure that that's what the text on the card says.  Engel went on in his set description to say that "the bearer of a card with the 'hit' notation was entitled to a 4th prize bromide.  If his card had 'double' printed on it, he received a 3rd prize bromide, etc., etc."  So this card could have been exchanged for a 1st prize bromide, which are not catalogued in Engel's guide so far.  I suspect it means that this card is pretty rare.

Once I figured out the set, the player was relatively easy.  Engel only lists one Swallows player - Masataka Tsuchiya - and his description of Tsuchiya's card is simply "holding bat".  Engel doesn't think he has a complete listing for this set so it's possible that this is another Swallows player but I'm going with Tsuchiya until proven otherwise.

Favorite Card Of 2019

The last couple years I've taken part in the contest/challenge that P-Town Tom of the Waiting 'til Next Year blog has run for bloggers to pick their favorite card of the year.  Each time I took part it took me some time to decide on a favorite card.  Tom's not doing the contest this year which is a shame because I knew what my favorite card of the year was going to be back in April.

With nobody out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the tenth inning of a scoreless game between the Buffaloes and the Hawks in Fukuoka on April 25th, Kenji Akashi did this:

It was the backflip heard 'round the world as it got coverage in the US via MLB's Cut 4, SB Nation, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports, Bleacher Report and others - I think ESPN had it on SportsCenter but I can't confirm that.

Once I saw it, I figured Epoch would be doing an Epoch One card for it.  And I was right but it took a surprising long time for Epoch to publish the card - it wasn't available until May 7th, 11 days later. 

2019 Epoch One #157/SH-018

I was kind of surprised that the card only had a print run of 40.  I would have thought it would have been more popular.

As always thanks to Ryan for ordering it for me.

Friday, December 20, 2019

2019 BBM Fusion

BBM's last set for 2019 (at least the last one labeled as a 2019 set) is Fusion which was released in mid-November.  Fusion is kind of a Frankenstein of a set - the base set consists of four parts that are unrelated.  The four parts are the "regular" player cards, the "Title Holder" cards, the 1st Version Update cards and the Ceremonial First Pitch cards.  This is the fourth year that BBM has done a Fusion set and there's two new things about this year's edition.  The first thing is that the base set is now 162 cards which is 18 cards larger than the previous editions.  The second thing is that each of the four sections is numbered separately which makes it very confusing to try to checklist.

There are 99 "regular" player cards in the set.  This section includes cards of both active and OB players.  It is intended as kind of a season summary set.  The active players included in the set are commemorated for reaching some achievement while the OB players included have some sort of relationship with whatever the active players did.  I'm sure this explanation is clear as mud so let me give you an example.  In Sapporo on Opening Day this season, Sho Nakata hit a sayonara grand slam to lead the Fighters to victory.  Nakata is card #03.  Card #04 is for Tsutomu Itoh, who hit a sayonara grand slam on Opening Day back in 1994.  Here are their two cards:

#03 & #04
The cards alternate between active players and OB players - card #01 is an active player, card #02 is an OB player, card #03 is an active player, card #04 is an OB player, etc.  There's a couple times where there's either consecutive active player or consecutive OB player cards due to whatever achievement is being celebrated.  The cards are ordered by the date that whatever active player achievement is being celebrated occurred (which is displayed prominently on the front of the card), so card #01 has something from March 29th, card #03 has something else from March 29th, card #05 has something from April 9th, etc.  Hopefully this all makes sense - you'd think after four years of this I'd come up with a clear explanation.

49 of the 99 "regular" player cards are for active players.  As you might guess, these are not evenly divided between teams - there are seven Baystars but only two Marines and two Dragons in the set.  As usual I'm not completely clear on what the active player achievements are (and most of the obvious milestones like Takeya Nakamura's 400th home run are commemorated in the "Great Record" insert set that I'll discuss in a minute) although I do know that the no-hitters thrown by Kodai Senga and Yudai Ohno are commemorated.  Two players have multiple cards - Koji Chikamoto and Yoshihiro Maru.  Other players include Tetsuto Yamada, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, Seiya Suzuki, Hayato Sakamoto, Tomoyuki Sugano, Munetaka Murakami and Shogo Akiyama.  Photo selection is a little better than normal for BBM - I suspect that having to feature a photo from the actual event makes it a little harder to find boring photos.  Here's some example cards:





The 50 OB cards include Shigeo Nagashima, Koichi Tabuchi, Kazuhisa Inao, Yutaka Fukumoto, Takuro Ishii, Futoshi Nakanishi and Koji Akiyama.  Tomoaki Kanemoto has two cards - one with the Carp and one with the Tigers.  There's a card of longtime Chiba Lotte Marine Saburo Ohmura from his three month stint with the Giants in 2011 - this is only the second card I know of depicting him with Yomiuri (the first being a Bandai Owners League card from 2011).  There are cards of two players who are spent 2019 in MLB - Yu Darvish and Shohei Ohtani - and two cards of players active in NPB in 2019 but that depict them from earlier in their career - Hideaki Wakui and Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Here's some sample cards:





The "regular" player cards are numbered from #01 to #99.  Twelve of the cards (all for the active players) have "secret" versions which are short printed photo variants.

The "Title Holder" subset features the 2019 statistical leaders for 12 categories for each league - Batting Average, Home Runs, RBIs, Hits, OBP, Stolen Bases, ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins, Saves, Hold Points and Strikeouts.  If a player led the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards - for example Shun Yamaguchi led the Central League in Winning Percentage, Wins and Strikeouts so he has three cards in the subset.  The Leader cards are numbered #TH01 to #TH24.  This is a change from previous years when this subset was numbered in continuation of the "regular" player cards.

This subset is a throwback to the Leader subsets that BBM used to feature in their flagship sets from 1991 to 2013.  The big difference is that since the set is released before the awards voting is announced this subset does not include cards for the MVP or Rookie Of The Year award winners.  Here's a couple example cards - I included the Soto one because I thought the framing was odd (and I should point out my scanner cut off part of the border of Matui's card):


At 21 cards, the "1st Version Update" subset is the largest it's ever been.  This subset features players who were not included in the 1st Version (or 2nd Version) sets this year - at least not with the team they are depicted with in this subset.  This includes foreign players who signed after the 2nd Version went to press in early June such as Leonys Martin of the Marines and Rubby De La Rosa of the Giants as well as Carter Stewart of the Hawks (although technically Stewart signed before then), traded players such as Kengo Takeda of the Dragons, Takumi Miyoshi of the Carp, Shingo Usami of the Fighters, Masato Matsui, Yusuke Matsui and Steven Moya of the Buffaloes, Ko Shimozuru and Ren Wada of the Eagles, and Yohei Kagiya of the Giants.  It also includes several players who moved from the ranks of ikusei players such as Yaku Cho of the Buffaloes, Ryota Ishibashi and Yoshinori Satoh of the Eagles and Kota Yamashita of the Giants.  This subset starts its checklist where the 2nd Version set left off so it's numbered from #601 to #621.


The final subset is the 18 card continuation of the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset from this year's 2nd Version set.  The cards are numbered #FP22 to #FP39 (since the 2nd Version ones were #FP01 to #FP21).  As always these cards feature a number of Japanese celebrities.  There are the usual assorted Idols - Sarina Soda and Yuzuki Hidaka of SKE48, Tomoka Igari of Steam Girls, Maria Makino of Morning Musume and Ayumu Takeuchi.  There are several actors and actresses - Mario Kuroba, Kazusa Okuyama, Riho Yoshioka, Shotaro Mamiya, and Momoko Tanabe, a couple voice actors - Aimi (Terakawa) and Yuki Kaji, a model - Akusa Kijima, and a professional cosplayer - Enako.  The remaining celebrities are all athletes - table tennis player Mima Ito, figure skater Sara Honda, gymnast Ari Hatakeyama (who recently married Carp outfield Seiya Suzuki) and boxer Naoya Inoue.  Makino and Inoue have been featured in previous "Ceremonial First Pitch" subsets - Makino in the 2017 and 2018 2nd Version sets and Inoue in the 2014 2nd Version set.

Igari has an interesting although sad backstory,  She suffered a freak injury in the spring of 2018 where a sidewalk sign fell on her, damaging her spinal and leaving her legs paralyzed.  She is continuing her Idol career from a wheelchair:

I splurged a little when I bought this set and I picked up two of the insert sets for it.  The first one (the one I was most interested in) is the previously mentioned "Great Record" set.  This is a 24 card set that features two players from each team who reached some milestone in 2019.  This subset includes Takeya Nakamura (400th home run), Seiya Suzuki (100th home run), Tetsuto Yamada (200th home run), Tomoyuki Sugano (1000th strikeout), Shinnosuke Abe (400th home run), Yasuaki Yamasaki (150th save), Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh (200th home run) and Kosuke Fukudome (1000th RBI).

The other insert set is as 12 card set called "Legendary Player".  It simply features an OB player from each franchise.  Each of the OB players has a "regular" player card.  The set includes Futoshi Nakanishi, Yoshinori Hirose, Yu Darvish, Tetsuya Yoneda, Masahide Kobayashi, Kazuo Matsui, Tomonori Maeda, Akimitsu Itoh, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Tomio Tashiro, Hitoki Iwase, and Kochi Tabuchi.

As usual you can see all the cards over at Jambalaya.