Sunday, July 25, 2021

Card Of The Week July 25

When I was researching my post on the Korean Olympic Baseball Team, I was surprised when I saw that one player - Lee Jung-hoo - was actually born in Nagoya, Japan!  When I started reading his biography, I saw the reason why (and went "Duh!") - Lee Jung-hoo is the son of former Haitai/Kia Tigers legend Lee Jong-beom, who spent a couple years playing in NPB with the Chunichi Dragons.  Which explains why the younger Lee was born in Nagoya - he wanted to be close to his mother who presumably was in Japan with her husband.

The elder Lee had a great career in Korea, making the All Star team 13 times.  His sophomore season of 1994 was one of legend - he led the league with a .393 average (second highest all time in the KBO) while stealing a league record 84 bases.  He led the league in hits and runs scored as well, helping him win the MVP award.  After five seasons with Haitai he joined the Dragons in 1998.  He didn't have a lot of success in Japan though and rejoined the Tigers (now owned by Kia) in mid-2001.  He pretty much returned to his performance levels from before he left for Japan, at least for the first few seasons after he returned.  He retired after the 2011 season and his number 7 was retired by the team.  His nicknames were "Baseball Genius", "The Korean Ichiro" and "Son Of The Wind".

2001 BBM #298

The younger Lee was drafted by the then-Nexen Heroes in 2016 and debuted with them in 2017 without having played for their farm team at all.  He won the Rookie Of The Year award that season.  He's won a couple Golden Gloves and was MVP of the playoffs in 2019.  His lowest batting average in his four complete seasons so far was .324 in his rookie season.  And, of course, his nickname is "Grandson Of The Wind".

2019 SCC KBO Collection 2 #SCCR2-19/080 All Star

2021 Korean Olympic Baseball Team

I wanted to follow up yesterday's post for the Samurai Japan Olympic team with a post for the Korean Baseball Team for the Tokyo Games.  South Korea is the defending Gold Medal baseball champion, having beaten Cuba in 2008.  They also participated in four other Olympic baseball tournaments, losing in the Bronze Medal game in both the 1984 and 1988 games, finishing last among all eight teams in 1996 and defeating Japan in the Bronze Medal game in 2000.

While Japan only has one former Olympian on their roster, Korea has three - Oh Seung-hwan, Kang Min-ho and Kim Hyun-soo - who were all on the 2008 team*.  The team's manager, Kim Kyung-moon, was also the manager of the 2008 squad.  At the other end of the experience spectrum, the Korean team also includes two rookie players (as does the Japanese team) - Lee Eui-lee and Kim Jin-uk.  Since I don't have any 2021 KBO cards yet, these two are missing from the below list of players.

* I partially attribute this to the fact that the Korean experience in the 2008 games was much more positive than the Japanese experience was

As I did for the Japanese team, I'm listing the roster by uniform number with the pitchers first, followed by the catchers, the infielders and the outfielders.  I used this roster on Korean Wikipedia for the names and the uniform numbers (although I'm not sure it is up to date - it only has 23 players listed.  Go Woo-suk is listed the roster on the Japanese Wikipedia page (which doesn't have the uniform numbers) so I'm adding him to the list but without his uniform number):

1 Ko Young-pyo
2017 SCC #SCC-01-KT06/N

11 Cho Sang-woo

2019 SCC KBO Collection #SCCR1-19/062

18 Won Tae-in

2019 SCC KBO Collection 2 #SCCR2-19/106 Signature

21 Oh Seung-hwan

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R118

23 Cha Woo-Chan

2019 SCC KBO Collection 2 #SCCR2-19/145

32 Park Se-woong

2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 Red #SCCR-02R/006

55 Kim Min-woo

2020 SCC Premium #SCCP1-20/E07

61 Choi Won-joon

2020 SCC Premium #SCCP1-20/D09

? Go Woo-suk

2019 SCC Premium #SCCP1-19/158

25 Yang Eui-ji

2019 SCC KBO Collection2 #SCCR2-19/192 All Star

47 Kang Min-ho

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R128

2 Oh Ji-hwan

2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-121-N

3 Kim Hye-seong

2019 SCC Premium #SCCP1-19/079

10 Hwang Jae-gyun

2010 KBO Game Set #AN-007

13 Heo Kyoung-min

2017 SCC #SCC-01-DS15/N

44 Oh Jae-il

2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-022

50 Kang Baek-ho

2018 SCC KBO Collection #SCCR-01/239

53 Choi Joo-hwan

2018 SCC KBO Collection 2 Black #SCCR-02B/039

17 Park Hae-min

2014 Superstar Baseball Season Three #SBC03-085

22 Kim Hyun-soo

2009 Konami WBC Heroes All Tournament Team #W09A012

37 Park Kun-woo

2017 SCC #SCC-01-DS01/N

51 Lee Jung-hoo

2019 SCC Premium #SCCP1-19/088

Saturday, July 24, 2021

2021 Japanese Olympic Baseball Team

We're about three days out from the start of the Olympic baseball competition and I thought it was time to finally do a post for the Samurai Japan team.  This is the eighth Olympics that Japan has played baseball in - they are the only team to play in every Olympics that baseball has been included in the official program.  They've medaled in five of the Olympiads, winning Gold in 1984, Silver in 1988 and 1996 and Bronze in 1992 and 2004 (although the 1984 and 1988 "medals" aren't official since baseball was a demonstration sport in those Games).

I've arranged the cards of the players the way a typical Japanese team roster is ordered - first the pitchers are listed, then the catchers, followed by the infielders and finally the outfielders.  Each group of players is ordered by uniform number.  I'm using the roster on this Japanese Wikipedia page as my source for this including the uniform numbers. 

#12 - Koyo Aoyagi

2017 Epoch Tigers #15 (1 star variant)
#13 - Suguru Iwazaki

2020 BBM Tigers #T33
#15 - Masato Morishita

2020 Epoch Carp Rookies & Stars #04
#16 - Hiromi Itoh

2021 Epoch NPB #175
#17 - Yoshinobu Yamamoto

2019 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-19
18 - Masahiro Tanaka

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R087
19 - Yasuaki Yamasaki

2018 TIC Baystars #04
#20 - Ryoji Kuribayashi

2021 BBM 1st Version #292
#21 - Kodai Senga

2019 Calbee Samurai Japan Limited Box Set #M-4

#22 - Yudai Ohno
2020 BBM 1st Version #275
#61 - Kaima Taira

2017 Epoch Lions Rookies & Stars #34
#7 - Ryutaro Umeno

2020 BBM 2nd Version #498
#10 - Takuya Kai

2018 BBM Hawks 80th Anniversary #65
#1 - Tetsuto Yamada

2017 Bowman "Paper Prospects" #BP56
#2 - Sosuke Genda

2017 BBM 1st Version #105
#3 - Hideto Asamura

2020 Calbee Samurai Japan #19

#4 - Ryosuke Kikuchi

2017 Topps Now WBC Team Japan #JPN-8

#6 - Hayato Sakamoto

2019 Epoch One #148

#55 - Munetaka Murakami

2020 Calbee "The Record" #TR-2

#8 - Kensuke Kondoh

2020 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-08

#9 - Yuki Yanagita

2017 BBM 2nd Version #408 (Secret Version)

#31 - Ryoya Kurihara

2015 BBM 1st Version #024
#34 - Masataka Yoshida

2019 Orix Team Set #34

#51 - Seiya Suzuki

2019 BBM Fusion #29

Friday, July 23, 2021

More Summer Sets

I wanted to do another quick round up on some recently announced sets:

- BBM's final "comprehensive" team set for 2021 is for the Tigers and is being released...checks, I think.  Like the other team sets, the base set contains 81 cards.  These 81 cards include 71 cards for the manager and players, three "Set The Tone" cards, four "Big Blast" cards and three "Headlines" cards.  There are 18 non-premium insert cards split into three sets - "Wild Attack" (nine cards), "Sparkle" (five cards) and "Sonic Boom" (four cards) - along with 54(!) premium insert cards also split between three sets - "Phantom" (24 cards), ""Esperanza" (15 cards) and "Hyakka Ryoran" (I think) (15 cards).  There's also a lot of autograph and memorabilia cards available.

- Genesis, BBM's annual high end set, will be released in late-September.  As usual, it's base set contains 120 cards - 108 player cards (nine per team) plus 12 team checklist cards - and as usual, no one really cares about the base set.  The big draws of Genesis are the billion parallels of the base set cards, the premium insert cards ("Elite Of Nine", "Game Changer" and "Cross Torrent") and the autograph and memorabilia cards.  The memorabilia cards include "super patch" and "grip end" cards.  There are both memorabilia and autograph cards that feature multiple players.  There are also signed ball cards and buyback autograph cards along with "booklet" autograph cards.

- Just a month after they release the "Dragons History" set, BBM's releasing another OB team set using the "History" theme, this time for the Chiba Lotte Marines.  The base set for the "Marines History 1950-2021" set will have 90 cards split up into seven team history cards, 71 cards for OB players and 12 cards for active players.  There will also be nine "Team Record" insert cards, three "New Era" insert cards and 12 premium "Phantom" insert cards along with a bevy of autographed cards.  I'm kind of excited about this set as it's including a period of time that's not been covered with any of the previous OB sets for the Marines.  The two earlier sets were for the 40th Anniversary of Lotte buying the team in 1968 and for the 20th Anniversary of the team's move to Chiba in 1992 so the Mainichi/Daimai/Tokyo Orion era for the team has not previously been included.  The set will be out in mid-September. 

- Epoch has announced the latest two of their ultra high-end "Stars & Legends" team sets.  These will be for the Fighters and Swallows.  The boxes for these will retail for 16,500 yen (around $150) and contains four cards - one of which I believe is guaranteed to be an autographed card.  As the name of the sets might suggest, each set contains cards of both active and OB players from the team.  The Fighters set will have a base set of 52 cards - 36 active players (including manager Hideki Kuriyama) and 16 OB players.  The Swallows base set has 51 cards split between 38 cards for active players (and the mascot) and 13 cards for OB players.  Both sets will include Epoch's ubiquitous six card "Gem" and "Black Gem" insert sets.  The Swallows set at least also has a three card insert set called "Decomori Signature Black Vision".  Both sets have five different kinds of autograph cards available - "Authentic", "Star", "Legendary", "Combo" and "Baseball".  There's an "Authentic" autograph for every player in the base set and a "Legendary" autograph for every OB player.  I think the "Baseball" ones are actually on pieces of baseballs.  The Fighters set will be released on August 28th and the Swallows set will be out on September 11th. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Active Former Olympians

The Opening Ceremony for the pandemic delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics happens this Friday but the competition has already started.  Both the softball and women's soccer events have started and baseball will be kicking off in about a week.

I'm of two minds about the Games.  On the one hand, I love international baseball tournaments so I'm very excited for the baseball portion of the competition to start.  On the other hand...there's STILL a pandemic going on and it's probably a bad idea to do hold the games.  But since they ARE holding the games, I might as well try to enjoy the baseball and hope for the best for everyone health-wise.  It will be interesting to see how serious the Japanese government takes the coronavirus AFTER the Olympics are over.

I'm planning on doing some posts for the Olympic teams over the next week but I wanted to start with a quick post about former Japanese Olympic baseball players who are still active in either NPB or MLB.  There are nine active players who have played in the Olympics for Japan.  It's hard to believe but there's actually still an active player from the 1996 Atlanta Games - Kosuke Fukudome of the Dragons.  This was still the pre-professional period for Olympic baseball and the Japanese team was made up of mostly corporate league players (including Fukudome who played for Nippon Life) along with a couple collegiate players.  There are two active players remaining from the 2000 Sydney Games - Masanori Ishikawa of the Swallows and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Lions - although it's a bit of a generous definition of "active" for Matsuzaka.  The 2000 team was a mish-mash of professional (Matsuzaka), corporate league and collegiate (like Ishikawa) player.  The remaining two Olympic baseball teams were purely professional outfits.  There are three active players from the 2004 Athens Games - Fukudome, Matsuzaka and Tsuyoshi Wada of the Hawks.  There are six players still playing from the 2008 Beijing Games - Norichika Aoki of the Swallows, Yu Darvish of the Padres, Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Yomiuri Giants, Masahiro Tanaka and Hideaki Wakui of the Eagles and Wada.  Tanaka is the only former Olympian to make this year's team.

Here's a card of each player.  I tried to pick either Olympic team cards or other National Team cards for each player but Ishikawa never played for the National Team after the 2000 Olympics (and the Upper Deck Olympic cards for the team didn't include the collegiate players) so I had to settle for a card of him with the Swallows.

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN25

2009 Konami WBC Heroes "Special" #W09S001

2006 Upper Deck WBC Moments #CM-23

2009 BBM 1st Version #521

2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympic Games Japanese Team Cards #213

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN19

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN07

2003 BBM Japan National Team #11

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN08