Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Oscar Colas Of The Chicago White Sox (eventually)

Cuban outfielder Oscar Colas, formerly of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, has apparently agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox that will go into affect with the next MLB international signing period begins on January 15th, 2022.  This will be over two years since Colas defected from Cuba to try to join an MLB team.  He spent most of last year in a dispute with the Hawks over his contract status and the team didn't release from his contract until last November.

Colas does not have many Japanese baseball cards that I know about.  The Hawks originally signed him in 2017 as a development (ikusei) player.  BBM doesn't include ikusei players in their "comprehensive" team sets so he didn't have any BBM cards in either 2017 or 2018.  He was registered to the 70 man roster on June 24th, 2019 though, just in time to be included in the 2019 BBM team set.  He also had Epoch One cards issued for him on the occasion of his registration as well as his ichi-gun debut, as he homered in his first at bat with the top team.  He might have cards in team issued sets from the Hawks but I haven't seen any.  Here are the three cards I've mentioned:

2019 BBM Hawks #H65

2019 Epoch One #319

2019 Epoch One #505

He also had some cards in some of Panini's issues last year but obviously those aren't Japanese cards. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

2020 BBM Team Sets

A big part of the cards I got in that huge box from Ryan a couple weeks back were BBM's 2020 "comprehensive" team sets for the twelve NPB clubs.  A "comprehensive" team set is a set that contains all the players on the team's 70 man roster which is usually less than 70 players.  

As has been standard since 2015, each team set has an 81 card base set.  Most of the cards in each set (66 to 69 of them in this year's sets) are for the manager and the players on the 70 man roster.  Each of the sets except the Marines set have a card dedicated to their mascots (which is a shame since it means the Mysterious Fish doesn't have a card this year) and the Hawks set also has a team logo/checklist card.  (I should mention that the mascot cards for the other team sets have checklists on the back.  And yes, that means there's no checklist card at all for the Marines set.)  The remainder of the cards in each set are filled out by several (two to four) small subsets.  Here's how every team set breaks down:

Team Player Cards Mascot Cards Checklist Subsets
Chiba Lotte Marines 69 0 0 New Power (7), Ikemen 5 (5)
Chunichi Dragons 68 1 0 The Contenders (4), First Impact (4), Before Dawn (4)
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 66 1 1 Your Smile (5), Splendore (6), Newcomer (2)
Hanshin Tigers 69 1 0 Fly Now (3), Countdown (3), Thunderstruck (5)
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 68 1 0 Newcomer (4), High Rising (3), Supreme Glory (5)
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 68 1 0 Newcomer (3), Iron Arm (3), Special Ones (4), Great Comeback (2)
Orix Buffaloes 67 1 0 Fresh Face (3), Jumping Over (3), Ready Set Go (4), Premier Class (3)
Saitama Seibu Lions 67 1 0 Hero Comes Back (3), Spotlight (5), The Core (5)
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 68 1 0 Combos (3), Change & Challenge (3), Comeback (3), Power Hitter (3)
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 68 1 0 Combos (3), New Blood (3), Great Potential (3), Leaders (3)
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 68 1 0 160 Club (2), Sunshine Smile (4), Heart & Soul (3), Smash Hit (3)
Yomiuri Giants 68 1 0 Futurity Star (3), Genealogy Of Number (3), Revengers (3), Road To 2000 (3)

Each team set includes 30 to 35 players who do not appear in BBM's 2020 "flagship" sets (1st & 2nd Versions and Fusion).  As usual these include an interesting mix of Westerners (Jose Flores, Moises Sierra, Carter Stewart,  Emailin Montilla, Bryan Rodriguez, Ernesto Mejia, Alan Busenitz, Nattino Diplan and Isreal Mota) and somewhat big name veterans (Shota Ohno, Daisuke Yamai, Shintato Fujinami and Shingo Kawabata).  Here's a card of a player from each set who was not in any of BBM's flagship sets:

2020 BBM Marines #M36

2020 BBM Dragons #D38

2020 BBM Hawks #H08

2020 BBM Tigers #T07

2020 BBM Carp #C36

2020 BBM Fighters #F44

2020 BBM Buffaloes #B38

2020 BBM Lions #L55

2020 BBM Eagles #E17

2020 BBM Swallows #S50

2020 BBM Baystars #DB06

2020 BBM Giants #G62

The sets were all released between late March and July of last year.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Card Of The Week March 28

The Baystars and Giants had a hard fought game on Opening Day last Friday.  Yomiuri took a three run lead in the bottom of the first but the Baystars got two in the second and one in the third to tie it up.  Takumi Ohshiro of the Giants untied it in the bottom of the third though with a three run home run for a 6-3 Kyojin lead.  That's the way things stood for the next three innings but DeNA got two in the seventh to make it a one run ballgame.  The Giants got one in the eighth for some breathing room but the Baystars got two in the top of the ninth to tie the game back up at 7.

Pinch hitter Yoshiyuki Kamei led off the bottom of the ninth for Yomiuri.  Here's how his at bat went - the video is from someone in the crowd sitting behind home plate at Tokyo Dome (which hopefully means it won't get pulled for copyright violations):

Kamei became the first pinch hitter to ever hit a sayonara home run on Opening Day.  Here's a card of him from the 2015 Front Runner Giants Game Used Bat Edition set (#12), one of the last sets Front Runner ever did:

Friday, March 26, 2021

Play Ball (2021)

Another day, another idea stolen from Night Owl Cards...

I'm continuing my Opening Day tradition of doing a post showing a baseball card from the last year that each of the 12 NPB teams won the Nippon Series which was inspired by the series of posts that Night Owl Cards has been doing for a while now for MLB teams.  This is the fourth year that I've done this and the only team that's won the Series during that time is the Hawks.  Maybe it's me?

Anyway, I decided to shake things up a little and use card from BBM's Nippon Series sets for several of the years.  BBM did these sets annually from 1991 to 2012 so there's seven teams who's last (or only in one case) Series title is represented there.

The last time the HAWKS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2020 Calbee #007 (Nobuhiro Matsuda)

The last time the FIGHTERS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2016 BBM Opening #19

The last time the EAGLES won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2013 Eagles Heat #020

The last time the GIANTS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2012 BBM Nippon Series #S01

The last time the MARINES won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2010 BBM Nippon Series #S18

The last time the LIONS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2008 BBM Nippon Series #S11

The last time the DRAGONS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S04

The last time the SWALLOWS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

2001 BBM Nippon Series #S4

The last time the BAYSTARS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1998 BBM Nippon Series #S6

The last time the BUFFALOES* won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1996 BBM Nippon Series #S13

The last time the TIGERS won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1985 Calbee #185 (Kazuyuki Yamamoto)

The last time the CARP won the Nippon Series, cards looked like this:

1984 Calbee #9 (Koji Yamamoto)

*The Buffaloes were called the BlueWave in 1996

All 12 current NPB teams have won the Series at least once so there are no "Photo Not Found" teams.

I only have two Tigers cards from 1985 left that I haven't used in one of these posts.  The Tigers need to win the Series in the next two years or I'm going to have to buy some more 1985 cards.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Blog Bat Around - My Projects VI - The Voyage Home

A couple years back I took part in a Blog Bat Around suggested by Night Owl Cards that had me do a post that listed all the various projects that I was working on.  I've done update posts for it around this time in both 2019 and 2020 so I thought I should go ahead and do another one - especially now that I'm almost done in-processing all those cards I got from Ryan.

Once again I've dropped any project from the list that I previously listed as complete.

1978 Yamakatsu JY6 set

I finally got the last card I needed for this set - Koichi Tabuchi - last fall from Larry Fuhrmann.  I don't know why I didn't ask Larry sooner.

2017 Topps Now WBC set

No change on this one - still need one of the Didi Gregorius cards. 

2009 Konami WBC Inserts

Between Ryan and a trade with Steve, I picked up three of the eight cards I still needed.  So making progress but it's ever so slow.

2017 Topps TBT WBC cards

No change - still need the Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa cards.  I thought I had a line on a Correa card about a month ago but it was on a zombie website that apparently isn't still active.

1994-2000 BBM flagship sets

This has gone better than I could have believed.  That trade with Steve netted me the final card I needed for 1998 and Ryan recently sent me the final cards I needed for 1994 and 2000, along with 12 of the 14 cards I needed for 1999.  Ryan also found me a bunch of 1996 cards so I'm down to needing just 18 cards to complete the set.  But the most amazing thing is how well I've done with the 1995 set.  A year ago at this time I needed around 300 cards.  But I bought a very large lot of them from someone on Ebay and Ryan has done an incredible job tracking cards down at reasonable prices - it certainly helps that he's trying to complete the set too.  And of course there's the seller in Taiwan that I got the super rare high numbered cards from along with some other cards from the set.  I now only need 14 cards to complete the 1995 set, although nine of those cards are short printed puzzle cards (including eight Hideki Matsui ones).  I am just 34 cards away from a complete run of BBM flagship sets from 1991 to the present (I'm taking into account the cards that Ryan has told me he's found for me but hasn't sent yet - there's 20 or so 1995 cards and one 1996 card so there's about 55 missing from what I have here at the house).

1999 Teleca Sets

No change here - still one card away from completing the 1999 Teleca regular set.

2000 Teleca "'99 Korea Japan Super Games" insert set

Made some decent progress here.  Dan found me a handful of cards and that trade with Steve brought in a couple more.  I went from needing 24 cards to only needing 15 - so went from needing roughly half the set to needing just a third of it.

2001 BBM Tigers set

This one's done - Ryan found the last card I needed for this.

2004 BBM 1st Version 2003 Asian Championship insert set

Another completed one - I got one of the four cards I needed from Ryan last year and the other three in the box I just got from him.

1999 Teleca Premium Korean Dream Team insert set

No change here either - I still need three cards.

2000 Teleca set

Got two cards - both in trades with Steve - so I'm down to needing 42 cards, 15 of which are the "Rookie" insert cards.  Both of the cards I got from Steve were from that insert set.  

I did start a couple new projects although one of them is already nearly complete.

BBM Team sets

I decided I wanted to fill in the gaps in my BBM team sets - not with complete sets but with five or so cards from each set that I didn't already have cards from.  Basically I wanted the equivalent of having opened a pack for each set I didn't have any card from already.  Of course, once I went to make a want list I couldn't help but add cards of favorite players including rookie cards of big stars so it's been a little harder and more expensive that I had originally planned.  But again, Ryan's done an amazing job tracking stuff down for me so there's only about eight cards left out of the 150 to 200 that I originally had on the list.

SCM cards

I finally made up a list of the Sports Card Magazine insert cards I want to get.  There's around 50 from between 1997 and 2010 that I'm looking for.

2000 Upper Deck Ovation Rising Stars

Upper Deck's Ovation set from 2000 included 30 serially numbered "Rising Stars" cards featuring rookies or young stars.  I've got 18 of them now so there's only 12 more to get.  They aren't all that rare (their print runs were to 2000) but they're not all that common either.

2017 BBM Icons - Japan Pride printed autograph inserts

About a year ago Justin of Charm City Autographs opened a 2017 BBM Icons - Japan Pride set and sent me the insert card he got in it - a printed autograph card of Tomoyuki Sugano.  I really liked the card and I'd like to get all 18 of them.  They're not very common though so this is going to probably be very difficult.  I've added them to my Want List but Ryan and I haven't really discussed how much I want to spend on them so he hasn't been looking for them yet.

Shukan Baseball Season Memorial Cards

There was a six year stretch from 2011 to 2016 where BBM included two baseball cards in the special "Season Memorial" issue of Shukan (Weekly) Baseball.  Ryan sent me the two 2016 cards in the box I just got from him and he's already tracked down four more of them which means I'm halfway done with these already.

I want to take this moment to again thank everyone - Dan, Steve, Justin, Larry and especially Ryan - for helping me get the cards for all these projects.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

1995 BBM Final Five

The 1995 BBM set is a bear to try to complete.  Ryan wrote a post about his attempts to complete this set recently and he lays out some of the issues in it.  There are four short printed subsets (the 10 card "Then And Now" one and three nine card puzzles of Ichiro, Hideki Matsui and Hideki Irabu) plus BBM did a "Late Series" where they removed all the original cards of the Chiba Lotte Marines and replaced them with new ones.  This makes all the Marines cards - both the original and the Late Series ones - scarcer than the other cards in the set, although I don't think they're as scarce as the short printed cards.

What appear to be the most scarce of all cards from this set are five short printed cards that BBM tacked onto the end of the Late Series.  Well, six cards actually but the final card is a checklist for all the Late Series cards.  

Three of these cards are for Americans who signed with their NPB teams after the 1995 set had gone to press - Rich Monteleone, Kevin Mitchell and Terry Bross.  Monteleone and Mitchell both wore out their welcome rather quickly in Japan but Bross did very well.  He threw a no-hitter in September of 1995 and led the Central League in ERA.  He spent five years playing in NPB, three with the Swallows and two with the Lions and won Nippon Series Championships in 1995 and 1997.  These are the only cards of Monteleone and Mitchell as active players in Japan although Mitchell has an OB card from the 2013 BBM Deep Impact set.

The other two cards feature Masato Yoshii and Tatsuji Nishimura, who were traded for each other during spring training that year.  I assume that these cards replaced their original cards in the set in the same manner that the Late Series Marines cards replaced the original Marines cards.

I had never seen any of these cards before this year but I have now acquired all six of them.  I had picked up the Mitchell card on Ebay from a seller in Taiwan back in January.  I ended up having some conversations with the seller off and on over the last two months and I picked up a number of cards that I needed from both the 1995 and 1996 sets.  A few weeks back they offered me the Bross card and I jumped at it.  A few days later they offered me the other four cards and I jumped again.  By late last week I had gotten all the cards in hand.  Here they are:







"Book value" of these cards is, as always, difficult to determine.  The most recent Sports Card Magazine with values for BBM baseball sets (SCM #116) lists the value of each player card at 1500 yen and the checklist at 600 yen.  The last edition of Gary Engel's checklist and price guide that included BBM cards had the Mitchell card at $50, the Yoshii card at $40, the Nishimura card at $12, the Monteleone and Bross cards at $8 and the checklist at $5.  I saw auctions on Yahoo! Japan Auctions last week where the Mitchell sold for 4000 yen, the Monteleone sold for 2000 yen and the Bross sold for 1000 yen.  The Yoshii and Nishimura cards went unsold at 2000 yen.

I did somewhat better than that.  I got the Mitchell for $7, the Bross for $8 and the other four cards for $9 each, not including shipping.  

Monday, March 22, 2021

2020 BBM Giants "The Tokyo Culture" inserts

Every year since the last 00's BBM has included a group of "Giants Pride" cards with their Giants "comprehensive" team set.  It started out as a subset in the base set but since BBM standardized the size of the base sets of their team sets at 81 cards in 2015 it has been an insert set.  (These are not to be confused with the "Giants Pride" sets that are issued by the team itself.)  Typically the "Giants Pride" cards show posed shots of the players in front of a solid colored backdrop or somewhere around Tokyo Dome.  They're fairly attractive but a bit monotonous after a while.

But last year BBM and the Giants did something a little different for the "Giants Pride" cards.  The cards featured images of players (and manager Tatsunori Hara) superimposed over various scenes of Tokyo.  Actually "over" isn't the right word - their images were inserted into the scenes, making them appear to be actual Giants standing astride the city.  The set was subtitled "The Tokyo Culture".

I was so taken by these cards that I asked Ryan to pick the entire set up for me.  He ended up getting me a Giants "master" set - the complete base set along with all the non-serially numbered insert sets - which included all nine of these cards.  The cards all have a metallic silver border on the front which my scanner has some issues with.  The images on the front of the card feature a "close up" of the player while the image on the back of the card shows the full image.  Here's the front and back of all nine cards:

I was happy that I was able to identify six of the nine locations although a couple were pretty obvious.  Hara, of course, is at Tokyo Dome.  Takahashi is in front of the Rainbow Bridge while Nakagawa is at Tokyo Station.  Kobayashi is also in front of the Rainbow Bridge with Odaiba Island in the background.  I don't know where Ohshiro or Sumitani are although Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance to the left of Sumitani's left foot.  Sakamoto is obviously at Tokyo Tower.  I don't know where Maru is but Kamei is at Nihonbashi bridge.