The Shukan Baseball cards have changed over the years. In the 00's they were a combination of promo cards for BBM sets and original cards. For the last 10 years or so they've pretty much only been promos. The original cards in the 00's had an unusual card number scheme. Each card was numbered something like "n-x/y" where "n" was the "volume" ( I'll explain in a minute), y was the total number of cards with the particular issue and x was the card number itself. By "volume" I don't mean the actual issue number but the number of magazines so far that year that had cards in it. So the first magazine in a particular year to have cards in it would be "volume" 1 even if that issue was the seventh to be published that year. So let's say that volume 1 had three cards with it - they'd be numbered "1-1/3", "1-2/3" and "1-3/3". If the first magazine to have cards in it the following year had three cards in it as well then they'd be numbered exactly the same. As I said, it's confusing as all get out.
Ryan had recently picked up a big lot of Shukan Baseball cards (roughly 200 cards!) and offered them to me as part of the package he sent me a few weeks back. I've been trying to make sense of all the cards he sent and update the checklist I've been half-heartedly working on for the last five years. But once again I got very confused because I kept coming across cards that had the same numbers in the same years. For example I had two 2004 cards that were labelled "1-1/3" and "1-1/4" respectively. That would seem to indicate that there were two issues in 2004 that were the first one to have cards - one had three cards and the other had four. This didn't make any sense to me.
I had an epiphany last Sunday night. I realized that the Shukan Baseball cards all had the magazine's logo (which is a stylized version of "週刊ベースボール") on them but not all the cards I was looking at had the logo. Some of them said "ベースボールマガジン" instead. I used the Google Translate app on my phone to translate the back of these cards and discovered that those cards said "Baseball Magazine". It took me a second to realize that this didn't refer to Baseball Magazine Sha, publisher of both BBM baseball cards and Shukan Baseball, but the actual publication called Baseball Magazine. So the two 2004 cards made more sense now - the 1-1/3 card was a Shukan Baseball card and the 1-1/4 card was a Baseball Magazine card.
Ultimately there were 25 cards in the lot that were from Baseball Magazine. From those 25 cards I've been able to infer that there were at least 36 cards given away in the magazine from 2004 (I think the Fall 2004 issue to be exact but I'm not sure) until the July 2008 issue (the magazine went from being published quarterly to bi-monthly starting in July of 2007). I've put a checklist together and added a page for it on the upper right side of my blog. I'll update the checklist as I discover more cards.
Here are the cards I got. These are the earliest ones I know of:
You can see on the bottom left of the card the Japanese text for "Baseball Magazine" that I mentioned. All the cards after this one have a couple extra characters to identify the issue. Until mid-2007 these would be "winter", "summer" or "autumn" (for some reason the spring issue never had cards) and then they were the month. So I don't know for sure which issue from 2004 these cards were given away with. However the magazine's Japanese Wikipedia page lists the theme of each issue since the 1980's and the autumn 2004 issue's theme is "History of the baseball team" which sounds about right for the theme of the cards.
I do not know who the other two cards from this group are. This was the only group that had four cards.
The next cards were a little confusing. Here they are:
The "冬" character is "winter" - the two characters to the right of it mean "issue" I think. What gets confusing is that the cards are labeled as 2005 cards but there is another batch of 2005 cards labeled as from volume 2 and yet another batch that are from the 2005 winter issue! Given that these cards celebrate the "Most Impressive Players" from 2004 I figure that these were came out with what essentially was the 2004-05 Winter Issue of the magazine. So the autumn 2004 issue was the first volume with cards in 2004 and this was the second one, even though the year on the cards changed. Did I mention these are confusing?
This is one of only two groups that I have all the cards for. It's the only one that has only two cards.
The next group is from the summer 2005 issue. BBM reset the "volume" count to one with this issue:
|#1-1/3 (Kazuhisa Iano)|
|#1-2/3 (Shigeru Kobayashi)|
Not to sound too repetitive but once again I don't know who the third card is of.
You've probably already guessed that I don't know what player is on the third card from this group.
It's a shame that BBM seems to have stopped issuing cards with Baseball Magazine after 2008 as I find the 2008 cards to be the most attractive ones they did (I'm very partial to borderless photos on cards).