Sunday, January 30, 2022

Card Of The Week January 30

Yoshihiro Maru has been a member of the Yomiuri Giants for three seasons now.  I'd be curious what the team's winning percentage is when both he and catcher Seiji Kobayashi are in the line up together.  I suspect it's not very high because I had always heard that Kobayashi Maru was a no-win scenario...

2019 Calbee #054

2021 Calbee #038

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Calbee Cards From Mandarake

I recently placed an order for a bunch of old Calbee cards from Mandarake, a chain of antique toy stores in Japan that ships to the US, and the cards showed up yesterday.  My selection criteria for the cards was simply if I liked the photo on it.  I thought I'd do a quick post to show off the cards I got.  So in chronological order...

I've been wanting this card of Sadaharu Oh ever since I saw Sean post about it:

1974/75 Calbee #405

By the way, that mirror was under the stands at Korakuen Stadium - I think it was between the clubhouse and the tunnel to the dugout.  It can now be found in the Hall Of Fame.  I didn't take a picture of it during either of my visits there but there's a virtual tour of the Hall Of Fame available on-line so I grabbed a screen shot of it from there:

This card shows Makoto Matsubara coming home after hitting a pinch hit two run home run to put the Central League ahead 4-3 in Game 2 of the All Star Games on July 20th, 1975.  Matsubara was the game MVP.  That's Shigeo Nagashima behind him:

1975/76/77 Calbee #26

Here's a card of Jinten Haku from the pink border series of the 1975/76/77 Calbee set.  Haku is from Korea and his real name is Baek In-Chun.  He spent 19 seasons in NPB before joining the KBO when it started up in 1982.  He hit .412 with 19 home runs in 71 games as player-manager of the MBC Blue Dragons that year - he's the only .400 hitter in KBO history:

1975/76/77 Calbee #349

I picked up three cards that show scenes from the 1976 Nippon Series in which the Hankyu Braves defeated the Yomiuri Giants in seven games.  The first card shows Giants outfielder Isao Shibata leading off first at Korakuen Stadium.  That's Bobby Marcano playing second for the Braves and I'm pretty sure that's Hideji Katoh playing first:

1975/76/77 Calbee #1265

It's funny - Mandarake actually misidentified this card being Kenji Awaguchi instead of Shibata.  They misread the number on the back as "1263" rather than "1265".  To be honest, I can see how they could have made the mistake:

Speaking of Marcano, this card shows him doing what I think is a post game interview.  Since he's in a home uniform, I'm assuming it's from one of the games played in Nishinomiya - maybe Game 3 since he hit a home run in that game.  The gentleman to the left of Marcano is Roberto Barbon, who had played for Hankyu in the late 50's/early 60's and became an interpreter for the team when Barbon joined:

1975/76/77 Calbee #1280

This last card shows Bernie Williams rounding third after homering in Game Six of the Series at Korakuen Stadium.  That's coach Akira Ishii (#72) and Braves starting pitcher Takashi Yamaguchi (#14) cheering him on (not sure who the guy in the jacket is):

1975/76/77 Calbee #1288

This is a 1981 card shows Yohohama Taiyo Whales shortstop Daisuke Yamashita leaping to avoid the sliding Awaguchi:

1981 Calbee #334

I picked up several cards from the 1983 Calbee set.  Here's Fighters catcher Tatsuo Ohmiya:

1983 Calbee #259

Kenichi Yazawa high-fiving Yasunori Ohshima:

1983 Calbee #388

Yutaka Fukumoto tracks down a fly ball:

1983 Calbee #395

Takuji Ohta getting a stuffed animal after homering:

1983 Calbee #592

I've got a couple 1987 Calbee cards of Bob Horner already but this one intrigued me.  I'm not entirely sure what the occasion was but I think it may have been his first game with the Swallows:

1987 Calbee #111

Lotte's Norifumi Nishimura doing some light weight training:

1991 Calbee #26

The first Calbee cards I ever got were from the 1992 set so it's a bit odd that I only have nine of them.  I decided to pick up two more:

1992 Calbee #92

1992 Calbee #101

Mandarake's prices are still amazingly cheap.  The most expensive card of all of these was the Oh mirror card which was only 400 yen.  The Williams, Akiyama and Nishimura cards were 300 yen apiece; the Fukumoto, Hasegawa, Ohmiya, Yazawa and Yamashita cards were 200 yen each; the Matsubara, Marcano and Haku cards were 150 yen each and the Shibata, Horner and Ohta cards were only 100 yen each.  The subtotal was 3050 yen.  DHL shipping was 2060 yen so the total was 5110 yen which worked out to only $46.86.  So the average price for each card, including shipping, was a little over $3.  Not too shabby!

Friday, January 28, 2022

Topps Coda: Chrome

The Chrome version of Topps' NPB set was released last week.  Personally I'm not a big fan of the Chome sets from Topps - I think they're kind of ugly.  But I was intrigued by the set for one reason - I had read some posts on the Shlabotnik Report that explained that the Chrome cards weren't always ugly expensive parallel of the non-Chrome Topps cards - sometimes Topps either used a different photo for a player or added a player to the Chrome set who wasn't in the non-Chrome set.  So I was curious if either of those things happened with the Chrome NPB set.  It wouldn't be enough to make we want to buy the set but I might be interested in picking up the variations.

The Chrome NPB set contains 216 cards in its base set, the same as the non-Chrome version.  After a pretty thorough investigation, I've concluded that there aren't any players who appear in one set but not the other - both sets contain the same 216 players.  What's odd though is that the checklists aren't the same - 163 of the cards have a different number in one set than the other.  For example, Seiya Suzuki is card #80 in the non-Chrome version but #139 in the Chrome set.  This means 53 of the cards have the same number in both sets - for some reason all 18 of the Giants cards are included in those 53.  I have no explanation for any of this - I just point it out because it seems so odd to me.  

So I'm completely confident that there are no players in Chrome who aren't in the non-Chrome set.  I'm almost completely confident that there aren't any photos in the Chrome set that weren't in the non-Chrome set.  I didn't actually compare all 216 photos but I looked at a lot of them and didn't see any differences.  So it doesn't look like there are any variations for me to pick up somewhere.

I should mention here that the insert sets for the Chrome set are a little different than those of the regular set.  The regular set had two insert sets - the 24 card "1986" set and the 12 card "Team Programs" set.  Chrome has three insert sets - a Chrome version of the "1986" set plus a 12 card "Prismic Power" set and a 24 card "Stadium Sluggers" set.  I assume that the players and photos are the same in both "1986" insert sets but I didn't actually verify that.

If you want to examine the Chrome cards yourself, you can see them in all their glory over at Jambalaya.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2021 SCC KBO Golden Premium Set

SCC issued two sets for the Korean Baseball Organization last year - a very odd set called "Rainbow" in June that seemed to be made up entirely of parallel cards and the "Golden Premium" set in November that was more like the previous KBO sets that SCC has issued over the past couple years.  Dan Skrezyna of Korean Cardboard was kind enough to pick me up a set and I received it in the mail last week.

The base set has 212 cards, 190 of which are for players on the 10 KBO teams.  Normally I'd expect those 190 cards to be split evenly among the team so that every team has 19 cards but that's not the way it works.  Doosan actually is the only team that has 19 cards.  Hanwha only has 16 while NC has 17 and Kiwoom has 18.  The six other teams (Kia, KT, LG, Lotte, Samsung and SSG) each have 20 cards.

As is pretty standard for SCC's sets, the cards are split into several different types.  This time around they're "rare", "holo" and "etching".  Each team has 4-5 "etching" cards, 4-5 "holo" cards and 8-12 "rare" cards.  Each team's cards are numbered separately - the Doosan Bear cards are numbered D01 to D19; the Hanwha Eagles cards are E01 to E20; et cetera.

I'm not going to comment too much on who's in the set - I don't claim to know much about who the best players in the KBO are so I don't know if there's some big name that's missing from this set.  I will mention that, as usual, there are no foreign players in the set.  I also want to mention that former MLB player Choo Shin-Soo is in this set (as well as the "Rainbow" set).  As this is Choo's first season in KBO these are his first KBO cards.

Here's some example cards.  First up are three "rare" cards.  The "rare" cards are the only ones that do not have the player's English name on the front:

#SCC-21/E16 (Yoo Jang-Hyeok)

#SCC-21/G13 (Lee Dae-Ho)

#SCC-21/W13 (Kwon Dong-Jin)

I'm not positive, but I think all the "holo" cards are pitchers:




Similarly, the "etching" cards all appear to be position players.  With the other cards have a glossy feel to them, these have kind of a rough feel.




The backs of the cards look the same regardless of which type they are.  One oddity - the photo on the back may or may not be the same as the one on the front.  I'm guessing that it's about half and half although I didn't count them up to be sure.


If recall, I mentioned earlier that 190 of the 212 cards were for players on the 10 KBO teams.  So what are the other 22 cards?  They are for the Korean National Team from last summer's Tokyo Olympics (which had the baseball competition played in Fukushima and Yokohama, not Tokyo).  I was excited to see this subset included in this set as it is (1) the first cards ever of a Korean Olympic baseball team, (2) only the second time a Korean company had done cards of a Korean National team (after the 1999 Teleca Premium set) and (3) the first time the Korean National Team had a significant representation on baseball cards since the 2009 World Baseball Classic (there were only five cards total for them in the cards for the  2013 and 2017 WBCs).

The one odd thing about the National Team cards is the numbering.  SCC did not create new card numbers for these cards - they use the same numbers as the corresponding player had in the rest of the set.  For example, Lee Jung-Hoo's Olympic team card is numbered SCC-21/H18, same as his card with the Kiwoom Heroes.  So technically all the Olympic team cards are parallels although I don't think they're any less common that the other 190 cards in the base set.  Here's the front and back of Lee's National Team card:

Dan's got scans of all the base set cards up over at the Trading Card Database.

Thanks for getting me the set, Dan!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Card Of The Week January 23

Daisuke Araki made such an impression with his performance during the 1980 Summer Koshien tournament that there was an epidemic of parents naming their babies "Daisuke" afterwards.  The most famous one of these babies, of course, was Daisuke Matsuzaka, who would go on to have his own Koshien heroics 18 years later before embarking on his 23 year professional career on two continents.  I was amused recently to discover that Araki had been the Lions' pitching coach for the last three years that Matsuzaka played for Seibu before leaving for the Red Sox.  Here are their cards from the 2004 BBM Lions team set - it was issued back in the days when BBM included the team's coaching staffs in their "comprehensive" team sets:

2004 BBM Lions #02

2004 BBM Lions #13

2021 BBM Fusion

2021 BBM Fusion Set Summary

Size: 144 cards numbered 1-99, TH01-TH24, 601-621
Cards Per Team:  Variable
Team Card Theme:  N/A
Number Of Leader Cards:  24
Checklists:  None
Subsets:  1st Version Update (21)
Inserts:  First Pitch Ceremony (29), Great Record (24), Legendary Player (12), Phantom (12, #'d to 25), Esperanza (24, #'d to 50)
Memorabilia Cards: There are four different types of autographed card available - "Team Pack Version" (cards in the style of the format for the autograph cards in the player's team set), "Autograph", "Cross Sign" and "Picturesque".  There are two versions of autographed cards for the "First Pitch Ceremony" cards as well - the "silver paper" version is the more rare of the two.
Parallels:  12 regular player cards have a "secret" alternate photo version.  "Title Holder" cards have two parallels - "silver paper" (#'d to 100) and "silver paper + holo PP" (#'d to 50).  "Great Record" insert cards have two facsimile signature parallels - "silver" (#'d to 100) and "gold" (#'d to 50).  "Legendary Player" insert cards have two parallels -  "silver" (#'d to 100) and "gold" (#'d to 50).  "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards have five parallels - "Holo PP" (#'d to 200), "Silver Paper" (#'d to 150), "Gold Paper" (#'d to 100), "Silver Paper + Holo PP" (#'d to 50) and "Gold Paper + Holo PP" (#'d to 25).
Notable Rookies: Yoshinobu Mizukami

BBM's Fusion set was released about a month ago.  This set functions as a combination update and season summary set.  It's typically BBM's final set each year - this year it came out on Christmas Eve!

Last month I had a conversation with twycchang, a Japanese card collector from Taiwan, in which he suggested that I start treating BBM's Fusion set as part of their "flagship" set.  I had already been thinking along those lines so when he made the suggestion, I decided to go ahead and formally do it - "formally" in this case meaning that I did the little summary thing at the beginning of this post and I added all the Fusion sets to the BBM Flagship set list on my "Set Index" page.

Fusion is a kind of confusing set.  I've referred to it in the past as a Franken-set and as a "four-headed" monster as the past editions of the set had four separate parts - player cards, Title Holder cards, 1st Version Update cards and Ceremonial First Pitch cards.  It's slightly easier this year as BBM made a somewhat major change to the set - the Ceremonial First Pitch cards are short-printed and no longer considered part of the base set (I listed them above in the "Inserts" section but that's not really accurate).  As a result of this, the base set size is back to 144 cards instead of the 160+ it had been the past two years.  If the 29 Ceremonial First Pitch cards were part of the base set it would have had 163 cards in it.

The bulk of the set is the player cards.  There are 99 of them.  This is one of the parts of this set that is really confusing and I kind of struggle every year to explain it.  48 of these cards feature a player who achieved some notable feat during the 2021 season while the remaining 51 cards feature a different player (usually an OB one) who achieved some sort of related feat sometime in the past.  Probably the best way to illustrate this is with an example.  Card #23 in the set commemorates Yuki Matsui of the Eagles notching his 150th career save on May 9th.  Matsui was the youngest player to reach this milestone as he was 25 years and six months old at the time.  This broke the existing record of 26 years, nine months set by Yasuaki Yamasaki of the Baystars.  Card #24 in the set shows Yamasaki celebrating his 150th save on July 17th, 2019.  

#23 (left) and #24 (right)

The cards are ordered by the date of the event during the 2021 season.  The 2021 player always comes first in the checklist and then is followed by one (or more) OB players.  As usual I only know the significance of a handful of the cards such as Masanori Ishikawa winning at least one game in 20 consecutive seasons, Ryoji Kuribayashi converting 22 straight save opportunities and Kosuke Fukudome becoming the oldest NPB player ever to hit a home run.  There's a couple milestones like Yoshiyuki Kamei's 100th home run although most of the major milestones are commemorated in the "Great Record" insert set.  Other players featured include Seiya Suzuki, Tetsuto Yamada, Takashi Ogino, Tsuyoshi Wada, Kazuma Okamoto and Hiroya Miyagi.  Several players - Kuribayashi, Yosunobu Yamamoto, Munetaka Murakami, Hayato Sakamoto, Teruaki Sato and Shugo Maki - have two cards in the subset.  Departing from most other BBM sets the cards are not split evenly between the teams - the Fighters only have one (Hiromi Itoh) while the Swallows have nine.







The "other" players, the players who did their achievements prior to 2021, include Hall Of Famers Hideki Matsui, Isao Harimoto, Koji Yamamoto, Shigeo Nagashima, Keishi Suzuki, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, Tetsuya Yoneda, Tomoaki Kanemoto, Koichi Tabuchi and Yutaka Ohno.  Other players include Motonobu Tanishige, Takahiro Arai, Akinobu Okada, Takeshi Yamasaki, Yoshitomo Tani, Daisuke Yamashita, Atsunori Inaba and Hisanori Takahashi.  There are two cards each for Kyuji Fujikawa, Takahiro Ikeyama and Isamu Kida.  Yu Darvish is the only player in the set who is currently playing in MLB.  Yukihiko Machida is included in the set - this is his first BBM card that I know of since the 2003 Sluggers set.







The Title Holder cards are a throwback to the Leader cards BBM used to include in their flagship sets between 1991 and 2013.  There are a total of 24 cards (numbered TH01 to TH24) that include the leader (or leaders) in twelve statistical categories for each league -  Batting Average, Home Runs, RBIs, Hits, OBP, Stolen Bases, ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins, Saves, Hold Points and Strikeouts.  If a player leads the league in multiple categories then he has multiple cards in this subset - for example, Yoshinobu Yamamoto has four cards since he led the PL in ERA, Winning Percentage, Wins and Strikeouts.  If more than one player tie for the lead in a category they all appear on the card.  There are three cards that show multiple players including the PL Stolen Base card which shows all four players who tied for the title.



The 1st Version Update subset contains 21 cards for players who were not included in the 1st Version set or the 2nd Version sets's "1st Version Update" subset, at least not for the team they ended the season on.  Actually only 20 of the 21 players fall into this category because for some reason BBM included Masaki Tanigawa of the Fighters again after including him in the 2nd Version set.  This is the second time BBM has repeated a player in this subset - the first was Duente Heath in 2018.  Players in this set include a number who were traded during the season (Sho Nakata, Ginjiro Sumitani, Takuma Katoh, Yuki Kuniyoshi, Sohei Katoh and Fumikazu Kimura), a couple late signing foreign players (Cesar Vargas and Enny Romero), several players who graduated from being ikusei (Kenjiro Tanaka, Yuki Watanabe, Tomohisa Ohzeki and Takuya Takahama), a player who signed with the Marines after spending most of the season in indy ball (Tetsuya Kokubo) and a player who returned mid-season from playing in MLB (Shun Yamaguchi).  Since one of the ikusei graduates - Yoshinobu Mizukami of the Lions - was a 2020 draftee, BBM put the "rookie" icon on his card.  As you can probably guess from the fact that there's 21 cards, there are not an even split of the cards between the 12 teams - the Marines have five cards while there are none for the Swallows or Carp.  These cards are numbered in continuation of the 1st and 2nd Version sets so they pick up at card #601 and go to #621.




As I've done for the past couple years, I picked up the two non-premium insert sets for this set.  The first one is the 24 card "Great Record" set which commemorates some milestone reached by two players from each team during the 2021 season.  This includes Takumi Kuriyama's 2000th hit, Hayato Sakamoto's 250th home run, Munetaka Murakami's 100th home run, Yuki Yanagita's 200th home run, Masahiro Tanaka's 100th NPB win, Yoshio Itoi's 300th stolen base and Naoya Masuda's 150th save.  Sometimes it's a struggle to find a second milestone for a team so the Lions other card (after Kuriyama) is for Yutaro Watanabe's first win.


The other insert set is the 12 card "Legendary Player" set which simply has one OB player from each of the 12 teams (with a player from Kintetsu instead of Rakuten).  The big names in the set are Nagashima, Fujikawa, Ohno, Tatsunami and Inaba.  All the players in the set appear in the regular set although they may be shown with a different team - Tabuchi is a Tiger in the regular set but a Lion here, Junichi Kashiwabara is a Nippon-Ham Fighter in the set but a Nankai Hawk here.


As always you can see the entire set (including the inserts and Ceremonial First Pitch cards) over at Jambalaya.