Monday, November 29, 2021

Daisuke Yamai

With the 2021 Nippon Series in the books it's time to get serious about doing posts about players who've announced their retirements.  I've got a list of about 15 or so players so far and it wouldn't surprise me if the list gets larger either because someone new announces they're retiring or someone already announced it but I haven't heard about it.  I thought I'd start off this round with long time Dragons pitcher Daisuke Yamai.

Daisuke Yamai spent a couple years playing for Kawai Musical Instruments in the corporate leagues after graduating from Nara Sangyo University and therefore was already 23 years old when the Dragons took him in the sixth round of the 2001 draft.  He kicked around between the ichi- and ni-gun squads for a couple of seasons due in part to injuries.  A shoulder injury sidelined him the entire 2006 season.  He got his big break in 2007 when manager Hiromitsu Ochiai had him replace Masahiro Yamamoto in the starting rotation mid-season - he went 6-4 the rest of the season and really poured it on in September, going 4-1 with an ERA of 3.00 to help the Dragons secure a second place finish and a spot in the first ever Central League playoffs.  He was named Player Of The Month for that September run.  

What happened next is Yamai's biggest claim to fame.  The Dragons swept both the Tigers in the First Stage of the Climax Series and the Giants in the Final Stage to meet the Fighters in the Nippon Series for the second straight year.  Yamai didn't pitch at all in the Climax Series or in the first four games of the Series.  With the Dragons up three games to one, Ochiai named him as the starter for Game Five in Nagoya.  All Yamai did was pitch eight perfect inning to get the Dragons three outs away from their first Nippon Series title in 53 years.  Unfortunately the Dragons had only managed to score one run during the game against Yu Darvish so Ochiai ultimately decided to have closer Hitoki Iwase pitch the ninth.  Iwase got the three outs needed to complete the perfect game and win the Series for the Dragons.  

If this were a movie, the shared perfect game would have been the start of a brilliant pitching career but unfortunately this wasn't a movie.  Yamai continued to be plagued by injuries over the remainder of his career.  When healthy he was capable of pitching well.  He got a no-hitter of his own in 2013 against the Baystars (who admittedly were dreadful but nobody else no-hit them that year).  His best season was undoubtedly 2014 when he went 13-5 with a 3.27 ERA, leading the Central League in wins and making the All Star team for the only time in his career.  In addition to 2007, he also appeared in the 2004, 2010 and 2011 Nippon Series with the Dragons.

His first baseball card was #148 from the 2002 BBM 1st Version set.  His first Calbee card wasn't until 2005 (#N-4 from the Nippon Series subset in Series One and regular card #120 in Series Two).  His inability to stick with the top team caused him to not have a lot of baseball cards - by my count he only appeared in 13 of the 40 BBM flagship sets (1st or 2nd Version sets) over the past 20 years and one of those was on a team checklist card rather than a "regular" player card.  Similarly it looks like he only had four(!) "regular" Calbee player cards over the years although he appears on another six subset cards (the afore mentioned "Nippon Series" card, a couple checklists, a "Title Holder" card, a "Star" card and a "Wins Leader" card).  Here's a bunch of his cards:

2002 BBM 1st Version #148

2005 Dragons "Official Card"

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S08

2010 BBM 2nd Version #791

2011 BBM Dragons #D18

2014 BBM 1st Version #249

2015 Calbee #070

2018 BBM Fusion #025

2021 BBM Dragons #D15

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Card Of The Week November 28

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows wrapped up the 2021 Nippon Series Championship with a 2-1 12-inning victory over the Orix Buffaloes in Kobe yesterday.  It was the Swallows first championship since 2001 and broke an eight year Central League losing streak in the Nippon Series - the last CL team to win the championship was the Giants in 2012.  It was the only extra inning game of the season in Japan and capped a very exciting Series.

BBM did box sets for the Nippon Series from 1991 to 2012 which included cards for all the players who appeared in each Series along with cards featuring the winners of the MVP, Fighting Spirit and Outstanding Player awards.  As I've done every year since 2014 (I didn't learn BBM wasn't doing a set for the 2013 cards until a month or so after the Series ended), here are cards of all the award winners:

Series MVP Yuhei Nakamura (2018 Meito Central League Home Run Popcicles #32)

"Fighting Spirit" Yoshinobu Yamamoto (2021 Calbee #IL-06)

"Outstanding Player" Keiji Takahashi (2020 BBM 1st Version #307)

"Outstanding Player" Domingo Santana (2021 BBM Swallows #S63)

"Outstanding Player" Yutaro Sugimoto (2018 BBM Fusion #053)

Additionally the 2021 Korean Series wrapped up about a week and a half ago with the KT Wiz sweeping the Doosan Bears to win their first ever championship.  Park Kyung-soo was named MVP of the Series and here's his 2015 Superstar Baseball Season Two card (#SBC1502-127-N):

Friday, November 26, 2021

But Of Course!

I had missed this at first but Topps has announced a SECOND NPB set to be released next month and, of course, it's a Topps Chrome set!  It looks similar to their previously announced NPB set in that the base set will have around 240 cards (based on their statement that there will be "about 20 players of each team") and there will be serially numbered parallel cards, insert cards and serially numbered parallel insert cards.  Boxes of the Topps Chrome set will contain 24 packs and each pack will contain 14 cards, same as the non-Chrome set.  The Chrome boxes will be a little more expensive, of course, as they are priced at 15,840 yen (~$140), about 2640 yen or $23 more than the boxes of the non-Chrome cards.  What I don't know yet is if the checklist for both sets will be the same or if there will be different photos used for some or all of the cards in the set.

A couple other items about the Topps NPB sets:

- Topps' Japan site will not ship internationally but I've heard suggestions that boxes will be available on Amazon's Japanese site from sellers who WILL ship to the US so it may be possible to order boxes without using a third person proxy

- Both sets have appeared on Discount Niki's website which implies that Japanese card dealers will be able to sell the boxes which should increase their availability.

- Each card in the non-Chrome set will have seven different parallels - "Gold Rainbox Foil", "Rainbow Foil" (#'d to 150), "Vintage Stock" (#'d to 99), "Blue Foil" (#'d to 50), "Orange Foil" (#'d to 25), "Red Foil" (#'d to 5) and "RayFoil" (1 of 1).

- The non-Chrome set has two insert sets - "1986 Topps Baseball" and "2021 NPB Team Programs".  I don't know how big either set is although I assume the "Team Programs" one is 12 cards.  I'm intrigued by the idea of Topps doing NPB cards in old Topps MLB designs.  Each insert card has four possible parallels - "Gold Foil" (#'to 50), "Red Foil" (#'d to 5) and "RayFoil" (1 of 1).

- I have no idea yet if the Chrome set will have the same parallels and inserts as the non-Chrome set.

Both sets are scheduled to be out in early December.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Hello 2022!

I wanted to do a quick post about the first 2022 set that's been announced but I need to talk just a little more about 2021 sets first.  I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is it really doesn't look like Calbee's going to be doing a Samurai Japan set this year.  In retrospect I suppose that it shouldn't be a surprise - in past years Calbee's Samurai Japan sets have been released in November/December and covered the Samurai Japan roster(s) for events from July of the previous year to June of the current year.  For example, the set released in November of 2016 had cards for players on the Premier 12 team from November of 2015 and the friendlies against Taiwan in March of 2016.  Since the Olympics this year were in August, they wouldn't be in a set from this year.  Hopefully Calbee will still have the rights to do a Samurai Japan set NEXT year which would include the Olympic team as well as whoever plays in the recently announced friendlies against Taiwan next March.  On the downside it won't include anyone who goes to MLB next season so don't expect a card of Seiya Suzuki.

The good news is that there ARE cards of an Olympic baseball team this year - the Korean team!  SCC issued their second set of the season earlier this month called KBO Golden Premium.  The base set contains 212 cards which includes a 22 card Korean National Team subset.  The remaining 190 cards are split between 100 "rare" cards, 45 "etching" cards and 45 "holo" cards - I assume it all works out to 19 cards per team but I don't know that for sure.  It looks like 180 of the 190 players in the set have an autographed card and there are also jersey and/or patch cards.  Boxes can be found on GMarket for between $60 and $80 and are guaranteed to include one autograph and one jersey or patch card.  Dan of Korean Cardboard has details along with promo images in this tweet.  As far as I know, these are the first cards EVER for a Korean Olympic Baseball Team and only the second Korean National Team cards ever produced by a Korean company (and first since the 1999 Teleca Premium "Korea Dream Team" insert set).

And finally, the first announced baseball card set for 2022 is BBM's annual ultra high-end Glory set, due out in late December (but with a "cover date" of 2022).  The details of the set seem similar to those of last year's set.  Each six card box retails for 18,000 yen or $160-ish and is guaranteed to include "two or more premium inserts including one or more autographs".  The base set has 36 cards of active players - I'm assuming six cards per team but I don't know that for sure.  There's a parallel version of some sort for each base card.  There are two insert sets - "MIYABI" which has 36 cards (I assume the same 36 players as the base set) and "Glorious 3D" which has 12.  The "MIYABI" cards are numbered to 50 (and there's a parallel version with a smaller print run) while the "Glorious 3D" cards are numbered to 25.  There are a wide variety of memorabilia cards including jersey, "super patch" and "grip end".  There are also memorabilia cards featuring jersey swatches from two, three or four players.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Card Of The Week November 21

This year's Nippon Series kicked off this weekend with two games in Osaka and they were both very memorable.  Game One yesterday was one for the ages as Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Buffaloes and Yasunobu Okugawa of the Swallows faced off in a game that was scoreless through the first five innings.  The Swallows pushed a run across in the top of the sixth but pinch hitter Steven Moya hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to tie it back up.  Munetaka Murakami hit a two run home run in the top of the eighth to put the Swallows back in the lead but the Buffaloes rallied in the bottom of the ninth with two run game tying single by Yuma Mune and a game winning walk off double from Masataka Yoshida.  

Today's game was another pitchers duel.  Buffaloes starter Hiroya Miyagi was perfect through five before allowing a hit in the top of the sixth and eventually giving up a run in the eighth.  The Swallows scored a second run off Orix's bullpen in the ninth.  The Swallows starter Keiji Takahashi ended up throwing a complete game shutout for the 2-0 victory.  

After splitting the first two games, the two teams will now head to Tokyo for the next three games on Tuesday through Thursday. 

Here are cards of Yoshida and Takahashi:

2017 BBM 1st Version #152

2021 BBM Swallows #S23

Bonus card - Takahashi is married to former AKB48 singer Tomomi Itano who appeared on a "Ceremonial First Pitch" card from the 2017 BBM Fusion set (#FP16):

Saturday, November 20, 2021

RIP Takeshi Koba

Hall of Famer and former Hiroshima Toyo Carp manager Takeshi Koba passed away last week at age 85.  Koba started playing baseball in post-war Kumamoto and played in the 1953 Koshien tournament with Seiseiko High School.  He went on to Senshu University but had to drop out when his father died in an accident.  He took a job with Nittetsu Futase and played for their corporate league baseball team.  He joined the Carp in 1958 and spent 12 seasons playing in Hiroshima.  His best season as a player was probably 1963 when he battled Shigeo Nagashima for the Central League batting title until late in the season when a pitch from Whales pitcher Gentaro Shimada broke his jaw and put him in the hospital.  He finished the season with a .339 average, second in the league behind Nagashima's .341.  It was the only season that he hit over .300.  He was a three time All Star, won a Best 9 award in 1963 and led the Central League in steals in 1964 and 1968.  He was traded to the Nankai Hawks prior to the 1970 season and retired as a player after 1971.

He coached for Nankai for a couple seasons before returning to Hiroshima as a coach in 1974.  When Joe Lutz, the first Westerner to manage in Japan, resigned early in the 1975 season, Koba stepped in as manager.  He led the team to their first ever Central League pennant that season.  The Carp were beaten by the Hankyu Braves in the Nippon Series that year but Koba would lead the team for another 10 seasons, winning three more CL pennants and three Nippon Series championships, beating the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1979 and 1980 and Hankyu in 1984.  He is the only manager to win a Nippon Series championship with the Carp.  After sitting out the 1986 season he returned to the dugout as the manager of the Yokohama Taiyo Whales.  He managed the Whales for three seasons but never got out of the lower half of the standings.  After leaving the Whales he did some TV announcing and was baseball director of Tokyo International University.  He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Hiroshima in 2002.

Here are some cards of Koba as a player...

2009 BBM Carp 60th Anniversary #113

2015 BBM Carp Legends #77

2020 BBM Carp History 1950-2020 #10

...and as manager:

1975/76 Nippon-Ham

1979 TCMA #33

2009 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation 15th Anniversary #27

2011 Epoch OB Club Managers #19

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Ohtani MVP

Tonight Shohei Ohtani was announced as the unanimous winner of this year's AL MVP Award.  I want to point out that this is the SECOND MVP award that Ohtani has won - he was the Pacific League MVP in 2016.  Ohtani becomes the second player to be MVP in both MLB and NPB - Ichiro was the first with PL MVPs in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and an AL MVP in 2001.

Here's the 2017 Calbee "Title Holder" card (#T-01) celebrating Ohtani's 2016 MVP Award:

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

2001 Japanese National Team

2002 BBM Japan National Team #30

The Baseball World Cup was a tournament that the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) put on 38 times between 1938 and 2011.  It was originally called the "Amateur World Series" and was held annually from 1938 until 1953 - which surprisingly means it was held during World War II.  After an eight year gap the tournament started again in 1961 and was held every one to four years after that.  The name of the tournament changed to the Baseball World Cup for the 30th tournament which was held in 1988.  The IBAF came to an agreement with Major League Baseball in 1998 to allow professional players to play in any of their sanctioned events (like the Olympics) but the timing of the tournament and it's lack of prestige generally precluded most teams from including professionals.  The tournament was discontinued after 2011 and replaced with the Premier 12 (and the IBAF merged with the International Softball Federation in 2013 to become the World Baseball Softball Confederation or WBSC).
The 34th IBAF Baseball World Cup was held 20 years ago this month, from November 6th to the 18th in Taiwan.  It stands out for two reasons - (1) it's the only Baseball World Cup in which the Japanese team used professionals and (2) it was the first time BBM did cards for the Japanese National team.

The Team

The team was actually a hybrid pro-amateur team similar to the one that had missed out on medalling in Sydney in the previous year's Olympics.  Because the tournament was being held after the end of both the regular season and the Nippon Series that year (the Swallows wrapped up the Series in five games over the Buffaloes on October 25th), the national team was able to work out an arrangement with NPB to get one player from each NPB team.  Additionally manager Toshihiko Gotoh added Tadahito Iguchi of the Hawks and Yoshinobu Takahashi of the Giants to the roster because of their previous national team experience - Iguchi had played on the 1996 Olympic team that had taken silver at the Atlanta games and Takahashi was a veteran of several US-Japan collegiate series.  They brought the total number of professional players on the roster to 14.

The ten remaining players were split between players from the corporate leagues, college and, surprisingly, high school.  The sole high school player was Hayato Terahara, who was the ace pitcher for Nichinan Gakuen High School and gained nationwide recognition while pitching in the 2001 Summer Koshien tournament.  There were six collegiate players from four Universities - Yuya Andoh and Taketoshi Gotoh from Hosei, Takao Kinugawa and Shohei Tateyama from Nihon, Yuya Kubo from Tokai and Shingo Maeda from Meiji.  Three corporate league players rounded out the roster - Takashi Kurosu from Nissan Motor, Yasuyuki Saigoh from Mitsubishi Fuso Kawasaki and Yoshiteru Sudo from Toshiba.  Kurosu and Saigoh had played on the 1996 Olympic team with Iguchi.  Here's the entire roster, including the careers of the players post-tournament.

# Position Player Team Draft Career
10 Catcher Abe, Shinnosuke Yomiuri Giants 2000 Giants 1st Giants 2001-19
17 Pitcher Andoh, Yuya Hosei University 2001 Tigers FA* Tigers 2002-17
23 Pitcher Fujii, Shugo Yakult Swallows 1999 Swallows 2nd Swallows 2000-07, Fighters 2008-09, Giants 2010-11, Baystars 2012-14
25 Infielder Gotoh, Taketoshi Hosei University 2002 Lions FA* Lions 2003-11, Baystars 2012-18
1 Infielder Higashide, Akihiro Hiroshima Toyo Carp 1998 Carp 1st Carp 1999-2015
2 Infielder Ibata, Hirokazu Chunichi Dragons 1997 Dragons 5th Dragons 1998-2013, Giants 2014-15
7 Infielder Iguchi, Tadahito Fukuoka Daiei Hawks 1996 Hawks 1st Hawks 1997-2004, White Sox 2005-07, Phillies 2007, Padres 2008, Phillies 2008, Marines 2009-17
43 Outfielder Kamisaka, Taichiro Hanshin Tigers 1999 Tigers 5th Tigers 2000-07
28 Pitcher Katoh, Kosuke Chiba Lotte Marines 2000 Marines 2nd Marines 2001-07, Buffaloes 2007-08, Baystars 2009-10, Tigers 2011-15
3 Outfielder Katsuragi, Ikuro Orix BlueWave 1999 BlueWave 2nd BlueWave 2000-03, Tigers 2004-11
5 Outfielder Kinugawa, Takao Nihon University N/A Never went professional.  Played for Honda
18 Pitcher Kubo, Yuya Tokai University 2002 Giants FA* Giants 2003-15, Baystars 2016, Eagles 2017-20
20 Catcher Kurosu, Takashi Nissan Motor N/A
4 Infiielder Maeda, Shingo Meiji University 2001 Dragons 5th Dragons 2002-04
35 Pitcher Nakamura, Hayato Nippon-Ham Fighters 2000 Fighters 4th Fighters 2001-04, Giants 2004-05, Brothers Elephant 2006
52 Pitcher Nakanowatari, Susumu Yokohama Baystars 1999 Baystars 7th Baystars 2000-03
6 Infiielder Saigoh, Yasuyuki Mitsubishi Fuso Kawasaki N/A
8 Outfielder Satoh, Tomoaki Seibu Lions 2000 Lions 4th Lions 2001-12
16 Pitcher Shinohara, Takayuki Fukuoka Daiei Hawks 1997 Hawks 2nd Hawks 1998-2009, Baystars 2010-13
15 Pitcher Suda, Yoshiteru Toshiba N/A
24 Outfielder Takahashi, Yoshinobu Yomiuri Giants 1997 Giants 1st Giants 1998-2015
9 Outfielder Takano, Fumitoshi Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes 1999 Buffaloes 6th Buffaloes 2000-04, Eagles 2005-08
19 Pitcher Tateyama, Shohei Nihon University 2002 Swallows 3rd Swallows 2003-19
11 Pitcher Terahara, Hayato Nichinan Gakuen High School 2001 Hawks 1st Hawks 2002-06, Baystars 2007-10, Buffaloes 2011-12, Hawks 2013-18, Swallows 2019

*FA in this instance means "free acquisition" which means the player and the team came to an agreement before the draft.  I think that the signing of a player under these circumstances means that the team would not have a first or second round pick.

Of the ten non-professional players on the roster, six of them went on to play in NPB.  Andoh, Maeda and Terahara were taken in the 2001 draft which was held on November 19th, the day after the tournament ended.  Taketoshi Gotoh, Kubo and Tateyama were taken in the 2002 draft.  One of the collegiate players, Takao Kinugawa, went on to play for Honda in the corporate leagues and never played in NPB.  The three corporate league players on the roster never played in NPB either.  

Yuya Kubo was the last active player from the team - he retired at the end of the 2020 season.

2002 BBM Japan National Team #29

The Tournament

The tournament included sixteen teams that were split into two eight team pools.  Japan was in Pool B along with Australia, Canada, Cuba, the Netherlands, Panama, the Philippines and Russia.  Pool A included the Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Nicaragua, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA.  Each team played the other seven teams in its pool with the top four teams in each pool moving on to the single-elimination finals.

Japan started out pool play with a bang, winning their first three games in blowout shutouts that were shorted to seven innings each by the slaughter rule.  They beat the Philippines 21-0, Panama 10-0 and Russia 12-0.  Cuba presented a more formidable opponent in their next game but the Japanese team proved up to the task, dealing the Cubans their first defeat at the Baseball World Cup since 1986 by a score of 5-3.

They followed that up with their fourth shutout in five games by defeating Australia 8-0 (pregame pictured above).  They completed a perfect 7-0 record in pool play with a 6-2 defeat of Canada and 6-5 squeaker against the Netherlands.  Japan was the only team to go undefeated in pool play although both Taiwan and Cuba went 6-1.

As the top seed in Pool B, Japan drew South Korea, the fourth seed in Pool A, as their opponent in the quarterfinals of the playoffs.  Japan beat their long time rivals, 3-1 to move on to the semifinals and a rematch against Cuba who had beaten the Dominican Republic in their quarterfinal game.

Japan took a first inning 1-0 lead against the Cubans but couldn't push any more runs across the plate.  The Cubans tied it up and the game went into extra innings with both starters - Shugo Fujii and Jose Contreras - going into the eleventh inning.  Cuba scored two runs in the eleventh to win 3-1, avenging their loss in pool play.

The loss dropped the Japanese team into the bronze medal game against Taiwan.   Taiwanese ace Chih-Chia Chang threw a five-hit shutout against them and Taiwan took the bronze medal with a 3-0 win.  Chang would go on to play four seasons with the Seibu Lions from 2002-05.

Cuba beat the US in the gold medal game, avenging their loss in the gold medal game in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  It was the Cuban's 23rd Baseball World Cup championship and their seventh in a row.  

Japan would go medal-less for the second straight international tournament.  They managed to do it in an extremely similar manner to how they finished in Sydney - losing to the Cubans in a semi-final game before losing to another Asian country in the bronze medal game (South Korea in Sydney and Taiwan here).

I believe that this was the third time that the Japanese National team would have a hybrid pro-amateur roster (following the 1999 Asian Championship and the 2000 Sydney Olympics).  Japan would go on to use hybrid rosters for the 2002 Asian Games and the 2002 IBAF Intercontinental Cup with mixed results - they won a bronze medal at the Asian Games but came in fifth in the Intercontinental Cup with a 4-4 record.  Japan would send purely amateur teams (collegiate and corporate league players) for the five remaining Baseball World Cups (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) while they would send purely professional teams for the other major international tournaments (Olympics, World Baseball Classic and Premier 12).  

The Cards

BBM obtained the rights to produce cards for the team.  This was the first time they did baseball cards for the National Team.  They put out a boxed set in early 2002 that contained 48 cards.  There were 28 cards for the players, coaches and manager; two cards for the match results, ten "Starting Member" cards (for the starters in the semi-final game against Cuba), four "Home Run" cards (for players who homered in the tournament), three "Recognized" cards (celebrating the Japanese players named to the All Tournament team) and either a Yoshinobu Takahashi jersey card or a Yoshinobu Takahashi "non-jersey" card - the "non-jersey" card was nine times as likely to be in the box.

Unlike the National Team cards done by Calbee and Upper Deck for the 2000 Olympic team which only included a subset of the players (just the pro players in Calbee's case and just the pro and corporate league players in Upper Deck's case), BBM produced cards of all 24 players on the roster.  This means that the set contains "pre-rookie" cards for Andoh, Gotoh, Kubo, Maeda, Tateyama and Terahara.

In addition to the box set, BBM included a 16 card subset in their 2002 1st Version set for the team.  This subset, however, only included the 14 players who were professionals at the time of the tournament plus Andoh and Terehara, who had joined the Tigers and Hawks respectively.  I have no idea why Maeda, who had joined the Dragons (and appeared in the set as a Dragon), was not also included in the subset.

This is probably a bit of overkill but here's all the cards of the players in the set, including the subset cards, along with all the 2002 1st Version National Team subset cards and a card of the professional players from late in their career.  I tried to pick cards for the players in the last year of their NPB career but it wasn't possible in a couple cases.  Honestly a couple of these guys barely had any cards beyond these.

2002 BBM Japan National Team #15

2002 BBM Japan National Team #37

2002 BBM Japan National Team #44

2002 BBM 1st Version #412

2019 Epoch NPB #302

2002 BBM Japan National Team #8

2002 BBM 1st Version #425

2016 BBM Tigers #T05

2002 BBM Japan National Team #11

2002 BBM Japan National Team #40

2002 BBM 1st Version #411

2014 Baystars Team Set #001

2002 BBM Japan National Team #22

2018 BBM Baystars #DB53

2002 BBM Japan National Team #17

2002 BBM Japan National Team #32

2002 BBM Japan National Team #45

2002 BBM 1st Version #415

2015 BBM Carp #C40

2002 BBM Japan National Team #18

2002 BBM Japan National Team #31

2002 BBM Japan National Team #46

2002 BBM 1st Version #416

2015 Calbee #127

2002 BBM Japan National Team #21

2002 BBM Japan National Team #33

2002 BBM Japan National Team #41

2002 BBM 1st Version #419

2017 BBM 2nd Version #421

2002 BBM Japan National Team #28

2002 BBM Japan National Team #39

2002 BBM 1st Version #417

2007 BBM Tigers #T075

2002 BBM Japan National Team #12

2002 BBM 1st Version #423

2015 BBM Tigers #T27

2002 BBM Japan National Team #23

2002 BBM Japan National Team #35

2002 BBM Japan National Team #43

2002 BBM 1st Version #422

2010 BBM 1st Version #137

2002 BBM Japan National Team #24

2002 BBM Japan National Team #9

2020 Eagles 1st Version #30

2002 BBM Japan National Team #16

2002 BBM Japan National Team #19

2003 Chunichi Sports #25 (Shingo Maeda)

2002 BBM Japan National Team #13

2002 BBM 1st Version #424

2005 BBM Giants #G012

2002 BBM Japan National Team #14

2002 BBM 1st Version #414

2003 BBM 2nd Version #602

2002 BBM Japan National Team #20

2002 BBM Japan National Team #25

2002 BBM Japan National Team #38

2002 BBM 1st Version #421

2012 BBM Lions #L56

2002 BBM Japan National Team #7

2002 BBM 1st Version #420

2012 Calbee #142

2002 BBM Japan National Team #6

2002 BBM Japan National Team #27

2002 BBM Japan National Team #34

2002 BBM Japan National Team #47

2002 BBM Japan National Team #NJC1 ("Non-Jersey Card")

2002 BBM 1st Version #413

2015 BBM Classic #042

2002 BBM Japan National Team #26

2002 BBM Japan National Team #36

2002 BBM Japan National Team #42

2002 BBM 1st Version #418

2007 BBM 1st Version #351

2002 BBM Japan National Team #10

2019 BBM Swallows #S13

2002 BBM Japan National Team #5

2002 BBM 1st Version #426

2019 Calbee #118

A couple notes on the cards - That "G" on Gotoh's 2018 BBM Baystars card is not a typo - he somehow picked up the nickname "Gomez" at some point and changed his registered name to "G Taketoshi Gotoh" in 2015.   I believe that's Cuban catcher Ariel Pestano making a cameo appearance on Tadahito Iguchi's 2002 1st Version card.

The Coaching Staff

I figured I'd finish off this very long post some quick comments about the coaching staff.  It'll give me an excuse to show off the last four cards from the set:

2002 BBM Japan National Team #1

The team was managed by Toshihiko Gotoh.  Gotoh had been a star at Keio University in the mid-70's, winning the Tokyo Big Six Triple Crown for the 1975 spring season.  After graduation he joined Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Mihara in the corporate leagues instead of going to NPB and eventually became their manager.  He left Mitsubishi to became the manager for Keio in 1994.  He resigned his post with Keio to take the National Team position in 2001.  Besides the 2001 Baseball World Cup, he also managed the team for the 2002 Asian Games and the 2002 IBAF Intercontinental Cup.  Since leaving the National Team he's managed both Seino Transportation and JR West in the corporate leagues.  As far as I know, this is his only baseball card.

1994 Tomy #158

2002 BBM Japan National Team #3

Pitching coach Daisuke Araki made such a name for himself in the 1980 Summer Koshien tournament that parents all over Japan were naming their babies after him - one of those babies was Daisuke Matsuzaka.  He was the Swallows first pick in the 1982 draft and had a 14 year injury-marred career in NPB with Yakult and Yokohama.  He coached for the National Team for a couple years before moving on to coach for the Lions, Swallows and Fighters.

2017 BBM Infinity #044

2002 BBM Japan National Team #4

Atsuyoshi Ohtake was actually taken in the third round of the 1976 draft by the Kintetsu Buffaloes out of high scholl but decided to go to Waseda University instead and never played in NPB.  He joined Nippon Steel Hirohata in the corporate leagues after graduation.  He shared catching duties with Atsuya Furuta on the 1988 Olympic team.  He managed Nippon Steel Kimitsu from 1994 to 2000 before becoming a coach of the National Team.  He would go on to manage Waseda from 2005 to 2010.

1977 Yamakatsu JY3

2002 BBM Japan National Team #2

Hitting coach Daisuke Yamashita had also played at Keio University although a little earlier than Gotoh.  He was the first pick of Taiyo in the 1973 draft and spent his entire 15 year career with the Whales.  He was a four time All Star and won a Best 9 Award in 1981.  He coached for the now-Baystars in the mid-90's and would manage the team in 2003-04 and would return as a coach again for a couple years after DeNA bought the team in 2012.  He also coached for Rakuten in their inaugural season of 2005.