Tuesday, April 20, 2021

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version Set - Where Are They Now?

Ten years ago this month BBM released yet another set for the Tokyo Big Six collegiate league.  The 2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version set was their seventh for the league and their eighth overall collegiate set.  Like the previous several sets it contained a 36 card base set that included six team cards along with 30 player cards (five per team).

I was somewhat surprised when this set was published as I wasn't expecting it to happen.  I'm still convinced that BBM only worked out a deal to do cards with the Tokyo Big Six so that they could have cards of Yuki Saitoh (if you don't know why Yuki Saitoh was a big deal, I go into it here).  Saitoh was drafted by the Fighters in the fall of 2010 so I frankly didn't expect BBM to continue to publish these sets.  

And I wasn't the only one.  Deanna Rubin talked to some of the players on one of the teams during the 2010-11 offseason and they expressed disappointment that since Saitoh was no longer playing in the league there wouldn't be any more Tokyo Big Six merchandise like calendars or baseball card sets.

It turned out that we were wrong (at least about the card sets - Deanna says there hasn't been a Tokyo Big Six calendar since 2010) and BBM continued publishing sets for the league for another three years after Saitoh went pro.  Which doesn't mean that they didn't start doing them because of him - it may be that the league had insisted on a six year deal, even if Saitoh was only going to be around for half of them.  BBM would ultimately do eleven collegiate sets between 2008 and 2013* and Saitoh would be featured in six of them.

*I'm not including in this count the two sets BBM did in 2011 for former players from both the Tohto and Tokyo Big Six leagues (which of course included Saitoh).

OK, so not that I've completely beaten to death that Saitoh was not in this set (only the second collegiate set BBM had done that didn't include him), who is in it?  Eight of the 30 players in the set went on to play in NPB and all eight of them had appeared in previous Tokyo Big Six sets.  SixFive of the players are still active in the league while a seventh (Shota Sugiyama) played for the independent Ryukyu Blue Oceans last year two of the others are still playing for independent teams.  Here's the list:

Player College Year Drafted Notes
Abe, Toshiki Meiji 4 2015 Dragons 5th Played for Honda after graduating before being drafted by Chunichi.  Played for Dragons 2016-present
Fukutani, Koji Keio 3 2012 Dragons 1st Played for Dragons 2013-present.  All Star in 2014
Habu, Shohei Waesda 4 2011 Carp 4th Played for Carp 2012-18.  
Itoh, Hayata Keio 4 2011 Tigers 1st Played for Tigers 2011-20, Ehmine Mandarin Pirates 2021-present
Mikami, Tomoya Hosei 4 2013 Baystars 4th Spent a yeartwo years with JX-ENOS after graduating.  Played for Baystars 2014-present.  All Star in 2014 & 2016
Mishima, Kazuki Hosei 3 2012 Baystars 2nd Played for Baystars 2013-present.  All Star in 2013
Nomura, Yusuke Meiji 4 2011 Carp 1st Played for Carp 2012-present, 2012 Rookie Of The Year.  Lead Central League in wins in 2016.  All Star in 2012 & 2016.  Named to Best 9 team in 2016
Sugiyama, Shota Waseda 3 2012 Dragons 4th Played for Dragons 2013-19, Ryukyu Blue Oceans 2020-present

Here's each of their cards from the set along with a card of them from their time in NPB:

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #21

2020 Calbee #063

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #08

2020 BBM Dragons #D11

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #05

2015 BBM Carp #C64

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #11

2020 BBM Tigers #T64

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #13

2020 BBM Baystars #DB18

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #14

2020 BBM Icons - Fireballer #22

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #19

2020 Epoch Carp Rookies & Stars #05

2011 BBM Tokyo Big Six Spring Version #04

2018 Epoch NPB #378

Three of the remaining 22 players had their only baseball card ever in this set - Ryuta Iba of Keio, Daisuke Ichimaru of Waseda and Yosuke Kobayashi of Meiji.  The other 19 players - Yusuke Hasegawa (Hosei),  Shuhei Iwasaki (Tokyo), Kenji Kawabe (Meiji), Kanji Kawai (Hosei), Masato Komuro (Rikkio), Koichiro Matsumoto (Rikkio), Masataka Nakamura (Meiji), Kensuke Ohno (Waseda), Kenya Okabe (Rikkio), Keisuke Okazaki (Rikkio), Hayato Saitoh (Rikkio), Shota Suzuki (Tokyo), Yohei Tachi (Tokyo), Hisanori Takayama (Tokyo), Daisuke Takeuchi (Keio), Hiroshi Taki (Hosei), Atsushi Tanaka (Tokyo), Yuya Watanabe (Waseda) and Ren Yamasaki - all appear in one or more of BBM's other collegiate sets.  Kanji Kawai also appears in the Japanese Collegiate team autographed inserts for the 2013 Panini USA baseball set.

UPDATE - Deanna pointed out that Hayata Itoh had been released by Hanshin last year and was playing in the Shikoku Island League this year.


Deanna said...

Hayata Itoh was cut by the Hanshin Tigers last year and he's now a coach/outfielder for the Ehime Mandarin Pirates. (I follow him on Twitter, he started posting a lot as he was going through his tryouts/etc struggle)


Mikami spent two years with ENEOS before he was drafted.

The other crazy thing about the 2011 set was that it came out despite the huge Tohoku earthquake AND despite Saitoh's departure.

Sigh, these guys were like, the last class that I really knew everyone well before I moved back to the US :(

NPB Card Guy said...

D'oh! That's what I get for being lazy and not re-researching stuff. I made the corrections. Thanks!