Sunday, July 31, 2022
Card Of The Week July 31
Sunday, July 24, 2022
Card Of The Week July 24
|2022 BBM 1st Version #183|
|2022 Epoch NPB #246|
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Hawks Team Issued Cards
I thought I'd do a quick post on some Hawks team issued cards I picked up recently. I've always said that the team issued cards are one of the least understood parts of Japanese baseball cards and these new cards just continue to contribute to the confusion.
For starters, I have cards from what appear to be three different sets from 2006. Let's start with this card of Nagisa Arakaki which actually has a copyright date of 2005 on it but has his complete stats for 2005 on it as well:
I mean, maybe I should call it a 2005 set because of the copyright but since it has the complete 2005 stats, I think of it as a 2006 set.
Here's four cards from a different set:
I really like the "rock-paper-scissors" symbols on these, kind of shoutout to old menko cards. Here's the back of Saitoh's card where you can again see the player's 2005 stats, making it a 2006 set:
And then here's a card from a possible third 2006 set that includes some sort of ad for the TV broadcasts for the Hawks. Again the back has the player's 2005 stats:
This next card mercifully has the year on the front of it:
Kind of interesting that the back has Oh's stats from his playing days with the Giants rather than his managerial record with the Hawks:
Finally I've got three cards from either one or two sets that I can't narrow down the year of. These pretty much could be from any year between 2005 and 2011 as Wada left for the Orioles in 2012. Here's the fronts of all three cards:
I kind of think the Mahara card is from a different set than the Arakaki and Wada cards, both because the box at the bottom has a different color and no copyright line at the bottom of the photo. The backs are a little different as well:
The cards are similar enough that I would expect that they'd be from the same year, whatever year that is.
Friday, July 22, 2022
And Then There Was One
Sunday, July 17, 2022
Card Of The Week July 17
The great baseball writer Roger Angell passed away a few months ago at age 101 and I've been rereading his collections of essays as kind of my personal tribute to him. I was a little amused at a passage I came across recently. His essay "Sunny Side Of The Street" in the "Five Seasons" collection is a report about spring training in 1975. In it he talks about Walt Williams, the former White Sox outfielder who's trying to make the Yankees as an infielder. Williams says that "Truthfully, after last year [1974 when he hit .113 in 43 games with New York] I was going to go and play in Japan. I planned on winning the batting championship there." He goes on to say that he got fan letters urging him to stay with the Yankees so he proposed to Gabe Paul, the team's GM, that he play second base.
Williams did make the club in 1975, hitting .281 in 82 games - although only six of them were at second base. He then made the jump to Japan, spending two seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He hit .285 in 1976 and .269 in 1977. Neither value was enough to lead the Pacific League - he was sixth overall in 1976 and 15th in 1977. He spent two years after that playing in Mexico before he retired.
As far as I can tell, he had a number of Japanese cards in the 1975/76/77 Calbee set and the two Nippon-Ham sets (1975-76 and 1977-79). I only have one of these cards - #1002 from the 1975/76/77 Calbee set:
Sunday, July 10, 2022
Card Of The Week July 10
Last Wednesday Koji Chikamoto of the Tigers extended his hitting streak to 30 games which tied him with Matt Murton for the longest streak in Tigers' history. He was also just three games behind Yoshihiko Takahashi's all time NPB record of 33. Unfortunately Chikamoto went hitless on Thursday, bring his streak to an end. Here's the "secret" version (basically a short-printed photo variant) of his 2019 BBM 2nd Version card (#585):
Saturday, July 9, 2022
2022 Calbee Series Two
I picked up the Calbee's latest "set", Series Two, a few weeks ago. As the name implies, this is the second of the three series of cards that Calbee is expected to issue their annual flagship set in this year. Series One contained cards 1-72 while this Series has cards 73-144. Well, that's the numbering of the 72 "regular" cards in this Series - there's also two subsets (or non-premium insert sets) that are considered part of the base set - a 12 card "OBP Leader" set and four checklist cards. Between the regular cards and the two subsets, there's a total of 88 cards in the set.
Once again Calbee has really gone out of their way to pick boring photos for most of their cards. As usual there are way too many pictures of "batters batting, pitchers pitching and catchers catching". Like Series One, there are no horizontally formatted cards to break up the monotony either. On the plus side, there's two cards showing significant events - Tetsuto Yamada's 250th home run and Riki Sasaki's perfect game - and at least all the photos appear to be taken this year (the Fighters are shown in their new uniforms which was not the case in Series One).
The set contains a few more stars than Series One did as it has Yamada, Sasaki, Kodai Senga, Teruaki Sato, Masahiro Tanaka, Hayato Sakamoto and Tomoyuki Sugano in it. The set also contains rookie cards for Ko Matsukawa, Kosuke Ukai, and Chihiro Sumida along with a couple of guys who changed teams over the winter - Haruki Nishikawa and Taishi Ohta. Like BBM and Epoch's flagship sets so far this year, no foreign players who are new to Japan appear in the regular cards of the set (although one does in the checklists - I'll get to that in a minute).
Here's some examples, including a couple of the better looking cards:
|#117 (Roki Sasaki)|
|#086 Hayato Sakamoto|
|#073 Tetsuto Yamada|
|#122 Ryosuke Tatsumi|
|#100 Yudai Ohno|
|#143 Gakuto Wakabayashi|
|#134 Hiromi Itoh|
I was kind of disappointed with the "OBP Leader" subset. Usually Calbee's 12 card subset in their sets has something kind of interesting, be it the first round picks of the previous year's draft, "Exciting Moments" featuring recent events or milestones or even the Opening Day starters for each of the 12 teams. Frequently the photos in the subset are better than the ones on the "regular" cards of the set. But most of these cards just show a dull "batter batting" shot superimposed on a dark background with rays of light coming from behind the player. And while supposedly these are supposed to be the OBP leader from last year for each team, there's a bit of a problem - the Carp's team leader in OBP from last year is currently a member of the Chicago Cubs. As a result, Shogo Sakakura is featured instead, with a note on the back of the card that he was actually second on the team behind Seiya Suzuki:
|Back of #O-04|
The checklist cards are probably the best cards in the set. They're numbered from C-05 to C-08 (since Series One had C-01 to C-04) and feature highlights from the first week of the season. Three of the cards showcase rookies Taisei Ota, Yuma Yasuda and Shota Suekane while the fourth shows Hawks infielder Freddy Galvis hitting a grand slam on Opening Day - this card of Galvis is the only flagship card from either BBM, Epoch or Calbee so far this year to feature a new foreign player:
As you can probably guess, my feeling towards this set is kind of "meh". This is pretty much a generic recent Calbee set which - to echo what's Sean's been saying about them lately - means it's mediocre.
As always you can check out the cards yourself (along with the inserts) over at Jambalaya.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
2022 Epoch NPB set
|#'s 032, 034, 035 & 036|
Sunday, July 3, 2022
Card Of The Week July 3
Last Sunday Hotaka Yamakawa of the Lions hit the 200th home run of his career. The milestone came in his 697th game, the fewest games ever by a Japanese player. Here are Calbee cards celebrating Yamakawa getting to home runs number 100 and 150 on May 12th, 2019 and September 12th, 2020 respectively:
|2019 Calbee ES-01|
|2021 Calbee #ES-03|
It would not surprise me at all for there to be a card in Calbee's Series Three set this year for Yamakawa reaching 200 home runs.