Saturday, November 26, 2022

2022 Award Winners

NPB announced most of their major awards earlier this week.  For the second straight year the league MVPs were Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes and Munetaka Murakami of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.  It was the first time that both MVPs repeated since 1977 when Sadaharu Oh of the Giants and Hisashi Yamada of the Hankyu Braves did it.

2022 BBM 1st Version #167

2022 BBM 1st Version #019

The Rookies Of The Year were Yoshinobu Mizukami of the Saitama Seibu Lions and Taisei (Ota) of the Yomiuri Giants:

2022 BBM 2nd Version #579

2022 BBM 2nd Version #410

Here are the Best 9 winners for the Pacific League:

2022 Epoch NPB #223

2022 Epoch NPB #342

2022 Epoch NPB #413

2022 Epoch NPB #308

2022 Epoch NPB #237

2022 Epoch NPB #344

2022 BBM 2nd Version #567

2022 Epoch NPB #353

2022 Epoch NPB #317

2022 Epoch NPB #241

And the Central League Best 9 team:

2022 Epoch NPB #049

2022 Epoch NPB #016

2022 Epoch NPB #023

2022 Epoch NPB #197

2022 Epoch NPB #025

2022 Epoch NPB #060

2022 Epoch NPB #062

2022 Epoch NPB #206

2022 Calbee #102 (Yuki Okabayashi)

Additionally Yamamoto also won the Sawamura Award a few weeks back:

2022 Topps NPB #27


Monday, November 21, 2022

History Of Calbee Part 7 - 2004 To 2009

As so often happens when I tackle a series of posts like this, the Calbee History posts are taking me longer than I expected.  I was hoping to be doing one of these a month but it's been over a month and a half since the last one.  Luckily by 2004 Calbee's sets had pretty much settled into the pattern that we see today with the flagship sets being issued in three similarly sized Series so this should be a little easier to write.  Although perhaps not as interesting to read.

2004


In 2004 Calbee changed the font for the player's name back to the slanted one they had used in 2002 after switching to a straight one in 2003.  This would essentially be the last "major" (and I use that term lightly) change to the front design of Calbee's "regular" cards for the next 11 years.  Really the fronts of the cards were basically unchanged from 2001 until 2015 - they all featured the player's name on the bottom of the card with his team name and uniform number above it.  Most of the time the name would be towards the left side with the team logo to the left of it although sometimes it would be towards with the logo to the right of it - this is not counting the two years (2010 and 2012) where the team logo appeared above the team name and number.  All of the text was in white and with the exception of 2003, the player's name used a slanted font.

The 2004 set had a total of 228 "regular" player cards along with five separately numbered subsets and 12 checklist cards (also separately numbered), bringing the total number of cards in the base set to 313.  In addition there were two insert sets - "Star" and "Player Of Glory" which was basically a combination "Title Holder" and "Best 9" set.

Series One had 72 "regular" player cards (six per team, numbered 1 to 72), four checklist cards and two separately numbered subsets.  One of these - "Monthly MVP" - featured the monthly MVPs from the 2003 season.  There's actually four MVPs each month - a pitcher and a hitter from each league - and there's six months in the season so there's 24 cards in the subset.  The other subset is a nine card one celebrating the 2003 Nippon Series - there's one card for each of the seven games in the series as well as cards for Series MVP Toshiya Sugiuchi and "Fighting Spirit" award winner Tomoaki Kanemoto.  The checklist cards featured four players who hit sayonara home runs in 2003.  There were also 25 "Player Of Glory" insert cards issued with this Series.  Here's examples of all the cards except the checklists and the "Player Of Glory" cards:








Series Two expanded to 84 "regular" player cards (7 per team, numbered 73 to 156) along with another four checklist cards and two separately numbered subsets.  One subset was called "Opening Game" and had six cards featuring players from the winning teams from Opening Day in 2004.  The other subset was called "1st Home Run" and featured the player who hit the first home run for each of the 12 teams.  The four checklist cards feature early season highlights.  There were also 24 "Star" insert cards issued with the Series along with one more "Player Of Glory" card.  The single "Player Of Glory" card was for Tuffy Rhodes, who had moved from the Buffaloes to the Giants after the 2003 season, making it difficult for Calbee to get a photo of him in his new uniform in time for Series One.  Here's an example of a regular card and a "1st Home Run" card - I don't have any of the other cards.





Series Three went back to 72 "regular" player cards (six per team, numbered 157 to 228), four checklist cards and only one separately numbered subset - a 22 card "All Star" subset featuring the players elected to the game by the fan voting.  The backs of the player cards had the player's 2004 stats up until the time the cards went to press.  The theme of the checklist cards was 2004 highlights and once again there were 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's examples of the "regular" cards and the "All Star" cards - again I don't have any of the other two types of cards:






2005


The number of "regular" player cards in the 2005 set remained at 228.  Those cards plus the now standard 12 checklist cards and the six to eight separately numbered subsets (depending on how you decide what a subset is) brought the total number of cards in the base set to 316.  There were two insert sets - "Title Holder" and "Star".

The breakdown of "regular" cards was the same in 2005 as it was in 2004.  Series One had 72 cards numbered 1 to 72, Series Two had 84 cards numbered 73 to 156 and Series Three had 72 cards numbered 157 to 228.  Each series were split evenly between the 12 teams with six cards per team in Series One and Three and seven in Series Two.

Series One had three or four separately numbered subsets.  The discrepancy centers around if you want to count the eight cards commemorating the 2004 Pacific League Playoffs as one subset or two.  The cards are numbered P-1 to P-8 with the first three cards dedicated to the first round of the playoffs where the Lions beat the Fighters in three games and the remaining five cards dedicated to the second round where the Lions beat the Hawks in five games.  I would view this as a single subset but Calbee has them listed separately on their checklist.  In addition there's a nine card subset for the 2004 Nippon Series (one card for each of the seven games in the Series plus cards for the Series MVP Takeshi Ishii and Fighting Spirit award winner Kazuki Inoue) and a 19 card subset for the 2004 Best 9 award winners.  There's something odd with the Best 9 subset as it actually should be 20 cards as Masahiro Araki and Greg Larocca tied for the Central League Second Base award but Tadahito Iguchi, winner of the Pacific League Second Base award, had departed for MLB and is not included in the subset.  I'm not sure what the theme for the four checklist cards is but I know that one of them shows a team photo of the Eagles in their first spring camp.  Series One also had 21 "Title Holder" insert cards.  Here's examples of the "regular" cards, the subset and checklist cards and one of the "Title Holder" cards:













Calbee had introduced parallel versions of their insert cards in 2003 but I don't have any examples until now.  The normal version has a "lattice" design in the background while the parallel has a "kira" background:


Series Two had two subsets - a 12 card "Opening Game" subset featuring a player from each team's Opening Day game and a six card "Interleague" subset featuring a player from each team in the first interleague series of games (2005 was the first year for interleague play in Japan).  The theme of the checklists appears to be early season highlights like Atsuya Furuta's 2000th hit.  There were also 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's examples of "regular", "Opening Game" and checklist cards:








Series Three either had two subsets or one new subset and a continuation of a previous subset, depending on how you want to slice it.  It has 12 more "Interleague" cards that are numbered in continuation of the Series Two subset (Series Two was IL-01 to IL-06 while this one is IL-07 to IL-18).  These 12 cards give the interleague results for each team with a photo of a player or players who did well for the team during interleague play.  The other subset is a ten cards "All Star" subset that features the five award winners from each All Star game in 2005.  The checklist theme is season highlights (like Kazuhiro Kiyohara's 500th home run) and there were another 24 "Star" insert cards.  The "regular" player cards have the player's 2005 stats up until the cards went to press.  Here's examples of the "regular" and "Interleague" cards:





2006


Calbee increased the number of "regular" player cards in 2006 to 288 but they cut somewhat back on the subsets as they only had four (plus the 12 checklist cards).  But the total number of cards in the base set grew to 363, the most since the 1989 set which had 414 cards.  The set also had two insert sets - "Top Player" and "Star".

Despite this being the largest Calbee set in 17 years, this is one of the sets I have the fewest cards from.  I only have 29 cards from the set, by far the fewest for any set since the mid-90's and all of them are "regular" player cards except for one checklist card.  So there won't be many examples for this year and I'll show them all after I describe each Series.

Each Series had 96 "regular" player cards - numbers 1 to 96 in Series One, 97 to 192 in Series Two and 193 to 288 in Series Three.  As usual the cards were split evenly between each team with eight cards per team per Series or 24 cards per team for the entire set.  The "regular" player cards from Series Three have the player's 2006 stats up until the cards went to press.  Series One had two subsets - a six card "Nippon Series" subset (four cards for the four games in the 2005 Series plus cards for Series MVP Toshiaki Imae and "Fighting Spirit" award winner Akihiro Yano) and a 12 card "Team Stats" subset.  Series Two had a 24 card "Opening Game" subset featuring the starting pitcher and a batter for each team from their Opening Day lineup.  Series Three had a 21 card "All Star" subset featuring all the players elected by the fans (except Kosuke Fukudome and Hiroki Kokubo who were injured and didn't play in the games).  Series One also included a 24 cards "Top Player" insert set while Series Two and Three each had 24 "Star" insert cards.

The 12 checklist cards (four from each Series) featured the mascots for each team.

Here's a "regular" card from each Series plus a checklist card from Series Two:










2007


Calbee continued expanding the size of their base set in 2007.  The number of "regular" player cards jumped to 324 with each Series having 108 (9 per team).  Adding in the nine subsets and the 12 checklist cards, the base set was 430 cards, making it the largest Calbee set in 22 years.  In addition there were three insert sets - "Title Holder", "Top Player" and "Star".

The biggest change to the card design this year was the return to having rounded corners on the cards for the first time since 1996 (although it's a much subtler curve than the cards from the 1990's had).  Calbee has continued having round corners on their cards to this day.

Series One had 108 "player" cards numbered 1 to 108 along with four subsets - "League Championship", "Nippon Series", "Record Achievements" and "Rising Power".  The four card "League Championship" subset featured two cards for each of the 2006 league champions - the Fighters and Dragons.  One card had the box score for the pennant clinching game while the other had a list of all the team's games.  The four card "Nippon Series" subset had a card showing the clinching moment of the Series, a card showing the Fighters celebrating and cards for the Series MVP (Atsunori Inaba) and "Fighting Spirit" award winner (Kenshin Kawakami).  The "Record Achievements" and "Rising Power" subsets each had 12 cards and featured a player from each team who had some achievement in 2006 in the former subset or were a young player in the latter.  The four checklist cards featured the first and second place teams from each league in 2006.  There were 18 "Title Holder" insert cards and 24 "Top Player" insert cards.  Here are examples of the "regular", "League Championship", "Nippon Series" and "Rising Power" cards:









Series Two had another 108 "regular" player cards numbered 109 to 216 and two subsets.  The 24 card "Opening Player" featured the starting pitcher and clean up batter from the Opening Day lineup for each team.  The six card "Opening Victory" subset had a player from each team that one on Opening Day - although the Fighters and Marines tied so the card for that game shows a player from both teams and the card for the Dragons' win shows two players.  The checklist cards show scenes from the initial weekend of the season.  There were also 24 "Star" insert cards issued with the set.  Here's examples of the "regular" and checklist cards:





Series Three had the last 108 "regular" player cards (numbered 217 to 324) along with three subsets.  As had become standard, the backs of the "regular" player cards had the player's stats from 2007 up until the cards went to press.  The 24 card "Monthly MVP" subset had cards for the players who won the monthly MVP awards during the first half of the 2007 season.  The 14 card "Interleague" subset had highlights for each team's performance in the Interleague portion of the 2007 season plus cards for the team that "won" Interleague (the Fighters) and the "Interleague MVP" (Andy Green).  The six card "All Star" subset had cards for each league's top vote getter (Takeshi Yamasaki and Tomonori Maeda), group photos for each team and the MVPs of each game (Alex Ramirez and Shinnosuke Abe).  The checklist cards featured events from earlier in the season.  The Series also had an additional 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's examples of a "regular" card, an "All Star" card, an "Interleague" card and a "Star" card:










2008


After issuing the most cards since 1985 in 2007, Calbee pulled things back a little in 2008.  They lowered the number of "regular" player cards back to 288 with having 96 (8 cards per team) in each Series.  With the usual 12 checklist cards and the eight subsets, the total number of cards in the base set was 369.  Once again there were two insert sets - "Top Player" and "Star".

Series One had 96 "regular" player cards numbered 1 to 96 and four separately numbered subsets.  There was a 12 card "Team Stats" subset that had the 2007 rosters and stats for all the players on each team on the back.  There was a two card "League Championship" subset that showed the celebration for each of the 2007 league champions - the Giants and the Fighters.  The four card "Climax Series" had a card for the First Stage and Final Stage for each league in 2007, the first year that both leagues had the current playoff system.  There was another four card subset for the "Nippon Series" containing cards showing the Dragons clinching the Series and celebrating the win along with cards for Series MVP Norihiro Nakamura and "Fighting Spirit" award winner Yu Darvish.  The four checklist cards had late 2007 regular season and post-season highlights for the first and second place finishers that season.  There were also 24 "Top Player" insert cards.  Here's examples of the "regular", "Team Stats", "League Championship", checklist and "Top Player" cards:












As usual the "Top Player" insert cards had a parallel version (and this time I have an example of it).  The original has a "kira" finish while the parallel has a "hologram wave" in the background (unless it's the other way around):


Series Two had the next 96 "regular" player cards (numbered 97 to 192) along with just one subset - a 24 card "Opening Game" subset featuring the starting pitcher and cleanup hitter from each team's Opening Day lineup.  The four checklist cards all featured early season highlights.  There were also 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's examples of everything except the checklists:









I have an example of the parallel version for the "Star" cards.  Like the "Top Player" cards, the parallel version has a "hologram wave" in the background:


Series Three had the final 96 "regular" player cards (numbered 193 to 288) and three subsets.  As usual the backs of the player cards showed the player's 2008 stats to date - although this time they actually said what the date was (June 30th).  The "All Star" subset had cards for the MVPs of the two 2008 All Stars games (Takeshi Yamazaki and Masahiro Araki).  The nine card "League Leader" subset showcased the league leaders in a number of categories as of the end of June - each player is only included once regardless if he was leading in more than one category which is why there's an odd number of players in the subset.  There was also a 12 card "Mascot" subset featuring the mascots for all 12 teams.  The checklist cards featured highlights from the season.   The Series also included another 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's examples of the "regular", "Mascot" and checklist cards:







2009


The set size grew again in 2009.  There were an even 300 "regular" player cards (25 per team) with 108 in Series One and 96 each in Series Two and Three.  There were nine subsets and the usual 12 checklist cards which brought the total number of cards in the base set to 390.  There were three insert sets - the usual "Top Player" and "Star" sets along with a set for the retiring Kazuhiro Kiyohara.

The 2009 Calbee cards I have are a bit heavy on Series One.  I don't have many cards from Series Two and none at all from Series Three.

Series One had 108 "regular" cards numbered 1 to 108 along with five subsets.  Like Series One in the 2008 set, there were three subsets celebrating the league champions from 2008 (two cards for the Lions and Giants), the Climax Series (four cards covering the First Stage and Final Stage for each league) and the Nippon Series (four cards including cards for Series MVP Takayuki Kishi and "Fighting Spirit" award winner Alex Ramirez).  There was also a 19 card subset for the 2008 Best 9 award winners and a single card celebrating the retirement of Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh.  The checklist cards all showed late 2008 highlights for the first and second place teams from each league.  There were two cards celebrating the retirement of Kazuhiro Kiyohara that apparently were considered insert cards. along with the 24 "Top Player" insert cards.  Here's examples of the "regular" cards along with the Oh retirement card, a checklist and a "Top Player" card:









I don't know this for sure, but I think 2009 was the first time that the parallels for the insert cards that could be pulled from packs featured facsimile signatures.  While there had been facsimile signature parallels before, I think all of them were only available as redemptions for "Lucky" cards and were not found in packs.  I have an example of a parallel of a "Top Player" card:



Series Two had only 96 "regular" player cards (numbered 109 to 204) along with two subsets.  The 12 card "Opening Pitcher" subset featured each team's Opening Day starting pitcher while the 12 card "Hot Player" featured a young player for each team.  The checklist cards again featured early season highlights and there were 24 "Star" insert cards.  Here's a "regular" and "Opening Pitcher" card:





Series Three include the final 96 "regular" player cards (numbers 205 to 300) along with two subsets.  The two card "All Star" subset again featured the MVPs of the two All Star games (Norichika Aoki and Nobuhiko Matsunaka).  The 20 card "Top 10 Home Run" subset was just what it said it was - a collection of the top 10 home run hitters to this point in the 2009 season (which I assume was around the end of June).  The checklist cards all feature highlights from the 2009 season and there were another 24 "Star" insert cards.  As I said earlier, I don't have any cards from this Series.

My primary sources for information again were Calbee's website, the Calbee Collector's site and the 7th Edition of Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Cards Checklist & Price Guide" (although it only covers up until Series One of the 2008 set).