Wednesday, October 20, 2021

1999 BBM/Yomiuri Giants Set

I came across an interesting item on Yahoo! Japan Auctions a few months back.  I asked Ryan to pick it up for me and he included it in the stuff he shipped me last week.  In 1999 the Yomiuri Shimbun teamed up with BBM to do a set of baseball cards that were given away to new subscribers.  There were a total of 36 cards available - 18 cards for the base set along with 18 "special" cards.  The auction I found included unopened packs of the set along with a bunch of loose cards from it (and randomly a 1999 Calbee So Taguchi card).  I thought I'd devote a post to the set and how it was distributed.

The set was split up into six Series.  Each Series consisted of three base cards and three "special" cards.  Series I was cards 1-3 of both the base and "special" cards, Series II was cards 4-6 of both, Series III was cards 7-9 of both and so on.  Each Series was distributed in a pack of four cards that was included in a plastic bag with an oversized (roughly 8 inches by 5 1/2 inches) advertising card.  Each pack was supposed to contain all three base cards for the Series and one of the three "Special" cards.  I say "supposed to" because my Series IV pack actually contained only one base card and all three "Special" cards.

Because I only got one base card in the Series IV pack (and the missing base set cards were not in the bunch of loose cards that came with the auction), I'm two cards short of a complete base set.  But I also have 11 of the "special" cards.

Here's some examples of the base cards:







Engel describes the "special" cards as parallels but that's not quite accurate.  For one thing, the checklist for the base set and the checklist for the "special" cards are not the same.  15 of the 18 "special" cards do have a similar design to base set cards but also have a gold facsimile autograph.  Here are Koji Uehara's base and "special" cards as an example:

Left Base #12; Right "Special" #S18

Here's a couple other examples of the "special" cards:



The three "special" cards for Series III used a completely different design than the other 15.  I ahve two of these - the other one is Hideki Matsui.  There are apparently some sort of gold parallel available for these three cards also.



There are 12 players who have both a base card and a "special card" - Balvino Galvez, Hiroo Ishii, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Masumi Kuwata, Domingo Martinez, Hideki Matsui, Daisuke Motoki, Tomohiro Nioka, Toshihisa Nishi, Takayuki Shimizu, Yoshinobu Takahashi and Koji Uehara.  Matsui, Takahashi and Uehara actually have two "special" cards each - Matsui and Takahashi have the different design Series III cards while Uehara has two of the gold facsimile autograph cards.  There are six players who only have base set cards - Koji Gotoh, Masahiro Kawai, Hiromi Makihara, Shinichi Murata, Hideki Okajima and Naoki Sugiyama.  There are two players who only have "special" cards - Yusaku Iriki and Masaki Saitoh - along with manager Shigeo Nagashima.

I found the oversized advertising cards that were included with the packs to be kind of interesting.  Each one features a player on the front and shows the base cards that appear in that particular pack.  The backs each have some sort of information on them although I'm not entirely sure what they are.  The Series I card has a checklist of sorts on the back of it but it only lists the cards by number.  The Series II card has some sort of promotion about the Series I "special" cards on the back of it.  I really have no idea what the Series III card has on its back but the Series IV and Series V cards have ads for the BBM Mr. Giants set that was dedicated to Nagashima.  The Series V card also has Nagashima's managerial record in the years that he led the Giants to the Central League pennant on it.  The Series VI card has Nagashima's career batting record on it.  Here's the front and back of each of these cards:

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka made the final appearance of his 23 year career today.  He had burst onto the scene in 1998 with a spectacular performance for Yokohama High School in that year's Summer Koshien tournament.  He threw all 250 pitches in their 17 inning quarterfinal victory against PL Gakuen, picked up the win in relief the next day when Yokohama rallied from a 6 run deficit to beat Meitoku Gijuku in the semi-finals and then threw a no-hitter against Kyoto Shisho in the final a day later.  He was selected by three teams in the first round of the 1998 draft with Seibu winning the lottery for his rights over Nippon Ham and the Baystars.  

Japanese baseball history is littered with players who made a name for themselves at Koshien but never accomplished much in NPB, including Daisuke Araki, the player who Matsuzaka was named for.  Matsuzaka proved right out of the gate that he would not be one of those players.  He went 16-5 with an ERA of 2.60 in 1999, leading the Pacific League in wins and winning the Rookie Of The Year award.  He went on to lead the PL in wins in 2000 and 2001, strikeouts in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005 and ERA in 2003 and 2004.  He was named to the Best 9 three times (1999-2001), won seven Golden Gloves (1999-2001, 2003-2006) and won the Sawamura award in 2001.  He was named to the All Star team eight straight years from 1999 to 2006 although injuries kept him out of the games in both 2002 and 2003.  He helped the Lions win the Pacific League pennant in 2002 and the initial Pacific League Playoffs and the Nippon Series in 2004.

The Lions posted him following the 2006 season and the Red Sox won the bidding for him with a bid of over $51 million.  He went 15-12 in his first season in Boston, helping the Sox win the World Series, and followed that up with an 18-3 record in 2008.  Unfortunately, 2008 would prove to be the last season he was injury free and effective.  He moved on from the Red Sox following the 2012 season and started 2013 with the Cleveland Indians.  He joined the Mets after being released in mid-season and remained with them until the end of the 2014 season.

He returned to Japan for the 2015 season, signing a three year deal with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks.  His tenure with the Hawks was marked by injuries - he made only one start with the ichi-gun team in 2016.  The Chunichi Dragons gave him a tryout after he parted ways with the Hawks and signed him to a one year contract for 2018.  He had his best season in 10 years, going 6-4 with a 3.74 ERA, making the All Star team for the final time in his career and winning the Comeback Player Of The Year award.  He returned to the Dragons for 2019 but injuries limited him to only a couple games at the ichi-gun level and the Dragons declined to pick up his contract for 2020.

He returned to the Lions for the 2020 season but injuries have prevented him from pitching at any level for the last two seasons.  He announced in early July that he would retire at the end of the season.  

He was the starting pitcher for the Lions today against the Fighters which was fitting as the Fighters were his opponent in his first NPB appearance in 1999.  He faced one batter (Kensuke Kondoh) who he walked before leaving the mound to a standing ovation.  Here's the highlights from Pacific League TV:

In addition to his NPB and MLB appearances, Matsuzaka also suited up for the Japanese National Team in four major tournaments, the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics, and the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.  He was the MVP of both WBCs.

Matsuzaka's injury issues over the past 13 years have somewhat obscured how big of a deal Matsuzaka was.  He literally has given his name to his age group - the Matsuzaka Generation refers to players born between April 2, 1980 and April 1, 1981.  With his retirement, Tsuyoshi Wada of the Hawks is the only remaining active player from the Matsuzaka Generation.

I've seen people disparage Matsuzaka's career but the way I look at it, the guy won a Koshien Tournament, a Nippon Series Championship, a World Series Championship, two World Baseball Classic championships and a Bronze Medal in the Athens Olympics.  I don't think he'd trade it for anything.

Here's a bunch of cards from his career:

1999 BBM #413

1999 Calbee #115

1999 BBM All Stars #A69

1999 BBM Lions 20th Anniversary #SL37

2000 BBM #30

2000 Upper Deck Sydney Olympic Games Japanese Team Cards #213

2001 Upper Deck #155

2002 BBM 1st Version #400

2002 BBM PL Champion Lions #L5

2003 Calbee #130

2004 BBM Nippon Series #06

2005 Calbee "Title Holder" #T-13

2006 Upper Deck WBC Inaugural Images #II-30

2006 BBM 2nd Version #555

2009 Topps WBC Redemption #10

2015 BBM Softbank 10th Anniversary #M09

2017 Epoch Hawks #04

2018 Calbee "Exciting Scene" #ES-11

2019 BBM 1st Version #275

2020 Epoch Lions Rookies & Stars #07

2021 BBM 1st Version #060

Sunday, October 17, 2021


Ryan sent me a number of cards from the now defunct Japan Woman's Baseball League (JWBL).  The cards fall into two groups - cards from the 2011 set that BBM did for the Girl's Professional Baseball League (GPBL) which is what the league was originally called and some cards that AIAIO issued between 2016 and 2018.

First the GPBL cards.  Ryan had sent me a bunch of these in the last package he sent me and he added another handful with this package.  Here's the cards that I didn't previously have:

2011 BBM GPBL #07

2011 BBM GPBL #12

2011 BBM GPBL #15

2011 BBM GPBL #19

2011 BBM GPBL #29

I knew that AIAIO had done cards for the league for a number of years but I didn't have any besides the cards Ryan had sent me last time around (two 2013 cards and the complete 2015 set).  I had found a handful of cards I was interested in on Yahoo! Japan Auctions and Ryan was kind enough to pick them up for me.

2016 AIAIO JWBL #F16-03-01

2017 AIAIO JWBL #D17-11-02

2017 AIAIO JWBL #D17-18-05

2017 AIAIO JWBL Unnumbered

2018 AIAIO JWBL #D18-18-C1

2018 AIAIO JWBL #A18-05-03

I believe that the autograph on Bandoh's card is authentic - or at least someone added it to the card.  It doesn't look like a facsimile autograph.  The card with two players from the Hyogo Dione features Ayami Sato and Minimi Takatsuka (who went by just "Minami" for a couple seasons).

Four of the five players on the AIAIO cards are still playing despite the demise of the JWBL.  Sato is playing for the Lions women's team while Bandoh, Miura and Takatsuka are on the Tigers women's team.  Taguchi is a coach with the Lions.  I think only one player from these 2011 BBM GPBL cards is still active - Uemura is on the Tigers women's team.