Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Calbee Hawks Team Set

There was a bit of a surprise over the weekend when some Twitter users in Japan started reporting that they saw bags of potato chips for a new Calbee set in stores in Fukuoka.  It was a 36 card team set for the Hawks which led to some speculation that there might be sets for other teams as well.

It took a couple of days for "official" information about the set to finally be released.  There's only a Hawks set and it's apparently to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the opening of Fukuoka Dome.  I don't think there's any inserts or parallels with it - the checklist simply lists the 36 cards.

I'm seeing some of these cards show up on Yahoo! Japan Auctions for around 300 yen each which would put a complete set at over 10,000 yen.  I'm hoping that we'll see cheaper prices after a while but without the chase cards to drive the speculators and make the base cards cheap, I worry the cards will remain high in price.  I guess we'll have to see what happens.

I suspect that the cards' release was delayed as they have "2023" on the front of them.  They use the same design* as the regular 2023 cards although I think the ten players from the original set have different photos in this one.  The backs have the player stats through the end of August which may be more evidence that the set was delayed.  Or that Topps is having a bad influence on the up-to-date-ness of Japanese baseball cards.

*Yeah, I know, doesn't EVERY Calbee set use the same design?  But 2023 was an odd-numbered year, so the player's names were in English on the front

H/T to Sean for finding the articles on this set for me.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

2023 Topps 206

Topps released the NPB version of their 206 set back at the beginning of December.  This is Topps' take on the classic T206 tobacco set.  They've done three or four MLB versions of this over the past 20 years or so but this is the first time they've done an NPB version.

My first thought when I saw the promotional materials for this set kicking around on Twitter was that it was a "mugshot" set.  It seemed like all the cards I saw showed "head and shoulder" shots of all the players.  But I figured I'd wait and see what the cards looked like when they got released.

Well, the set got released and I took a look and, yep, it's a "mugshot" set.  All the images in the base set are "head and shoulder" views of the players.  That's not necessarily a bad thing but it made me not very interested in picking up the set.  Luckily my friend Jason was kind enough to send me a handful of cards from the set so I'd have some examples to write about.  It's kind of funny - I'm not a big fan of the set and I had mentioned to someone on Twitter that the 20 or so cards Jason had sent me were more than enough.  But I've picked up seven more cards from the set over the past month off Ebay so apparently it wasn't enough.

So let's get into it, shall we?  First up, some details about the set.  It's got 216 cards in the base set which is (as always) split up evenly between the twelve teams with each team having 18 cards each.  Those 18 cards include the team's manager and three rookies (which I assume are the top three 2022 draft picks but I'll confess that I didn't actually check that).  Most of the major players in NPB are in the set - Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Roki Sasaki, Munetaka Murakami, Yuki Yanagita, Kensuke Kondoh, etc.  Probably the biggest name I see missing is Yudai Ohno.  There's eleven players who show up in this set but were not in either the Topps NPB or NPB Chrome sets - Yuki Fukunaga, Seigi Tanaka, Matt Davidson, Seiya Hosokawa, Tokumasa Chano, Takaya Ishikawa, Tsuyoshu Yamasaki, Ryoya Kurihara, Shunsuke Sato, Minato Aoyama and Tatsuya Imai.  

Here's several of the base set cards:






Not really sure what the deal is with some of the backgrounds.  Murakami looks like he might be on a tropical island and I think Nakamura and Yamada are at the fair.

Here's what the backs look like.  It may be hard to believe but they have even less information on them than the standard Topps NPB cards do:

#191 (Yutaro Sugimoto)

One thing I will mention that both Jason and I like about the cards is that they feel more like vintage baseball cards that most modern cards do.  The front is glossy but the back feels more like cardboard.

This being Topps and all, the set has a fricking metric sh*t ton of parallels.  So many that I'm actually not sure what all of them are.  I'm also not sure which ones are the most common although I'll hazard a guess that it's probably these brown bordered versions:


The other somewhat common parallel appears to be the "alternate image" one.  These use a non-mugshot image on them.  I think there's actually only 60 cards (five per team) that have this parallel.


Here's another "alternate image" parallel (without the base version):


The parallel that I found kind of interesting were the "stadium background" ones.  These show the facade of the player's home stadium as the background image.  Here's two of these:



Now this is where this starts getting odd.  There are apparently numbered foil parallels as well, including for the "stadium background" ones.  So yeah, there are parallels of the parallels!  It's like Inception or something.  Here's "rainbow foil" version of Ryosuke Kikuchi's card - it's numbered to 99:


And the "orange foil" version of Shogo Akiyama's card which is numbered to 50:


The backs of these two cards are glossy like most modern cards rather than the cardboard-y feel of hte others.

Every card in the set also has a "mini" parallel.  These are roughly the size of the original T206 sets - roughly 1 1/2 by 2 5/8 inches.  Here's one in comparison with a regular sized card:

#201 (left) & #107 (right)

It was not enough for the fronts of the cards in this set to have a myriad of different versions, so Topps decided they needed to also have different versions of the backs.  Jason sent me two versions of this card of Kazuyoshi Tatsunami.  The fronts of both cards look like this:


But the backs are different:

You can see that the "rabbit" version is numbered to 99.  There's a rarer "lucky cat" version that is apparently numbered to 7.  Both backs are possible in the full size and the mini cards.  

You can take a look at a lot of the cards (but not the complete set) over at JambalayaThey also have a bunch of the rarer parallels as well.

And I want to thank Jason for sending me most of the cards I've showed in this post.  I don't want my feeling of "meh" about the set to imply that I'm not grateful to him for his generosity.  (If you're curious, the cards I picked up off of Ebay were the four "stadium background" cards, the two Imanaga cards and the Murakami card.  The purchases were spaced out just far enough apart that I felt I needed to wait until the latest one showed up before I could write this post.  Which is why it took me over a month to get around to writing it!)

Card Of The Week January 28

I was rereading all of the late Roger Angell's baseball books a while back and came across a passage in Late Innings that piqued my curiosity.  The essay "Walking into the Picture" is centered around spring training in 1979 and Angell's has a page or two talking about a game he witnessed in Sun City, Arizona between the B team for the Milwaukee Brewers and the Yakult Swallows.  The Swallows did spring training in Yuma, Arizona from 1978 to 1999 and various other NPB teams have also spent at least part of their training schedule in the US over the years (most recently the Fighters from 2016-19).  I think this is the only time Angell mentions seeing a Japanese team play in all of his essays but I may be forgetting something (there was a reference to the Nippon-Ham Fighters in a bit about Walt Williams in one earlier essay).  Since Angell mentioned several players by name, I thought I'd share cards of each them.  In a couple cases, he didn't get the name quite right but I was able to figure out who he meant.

Angell realized he was sitting in the stands near Brewers' infielder (and future Baltimore Orioles emergency catcher and Chiba Lotte Marines coach) Lenn Sakata's wife Darren when she cheered loudly for him hitting a double.  But as they talked "the Swallows pitcher - a right-hander, with 'Kurata' on the back of his uniform - had suddenly whirled and thrown to his shortstop, who tagged Lenn Sakata out at second."  The Kurata in question was Makoto Kurata, who had a 16 year career with the Giants and Swallows from 1965 to 1980.  I don't have any cards of him with Yakult so here's one of him with Yomiuri:

2014 Epoch Giants V9 Glorious Victory #13

He goes on to add that "A few minutes later, the Swallows catcher, Yaebashi[sic], picked another Milwaukee runner off second, with a fine peg."  Angell is talking here about Yukio Yaegashi, who had a 23 year career with Yakult (as both the Atoms and Swallows).  He was mostly a backup catcher to Akihiko Ohya until taking over the starting role in the mid-80's, winning a Best 9 award and making the All Star team a couple times.  He eventually lost the staring role to first Shinji Hata and then Atsuya Furuta and he retired after the 1993 Nippon Series:

1993 BBM Nippon Series #S12

He has this comment about the Swallows pitchers: "Their pitchers - Kurata, who was a curveballer and his successor, Tetsuo Nichi[sic] - weren't exactly overpowering, but they mixed up their pitches, and everything they threw seemed to be around the edge of the strike zone."  He meant Tetsuo Nishi, who had an 18 year career with Yakult, Lotte and Chunichi from 1970 to 1987.  This is the only card I have of him:

2022 BBM Swallows History #15

Angell mentions one last Swallow:  "the largest player on the squad, an outfielder named Suiguru[sic], did crack a two-run, wrong-field triple off the left-field wall".  I'm pretty sure he means Toro Sugiura here, the somewhat chubby first baseman-outfielder for Yakult from 1971 to 1993 (like Yaegashi, he retired after the 1993 Nippon Series):

1979 TCMA #22

The Swallows won the game 8-4.  Angell mentions that after the game, a couple of the Yakult players went over to shake hands with Brewers first base coach Frank Howard and get their photo taken with him.  He writes this in a way to imply that the Japanese players are fascinated by how big the six foot, seven inch, 300 pound Howard was.  I'm guessing Angell was unaware that Howard had briefly played in Japan and that at least one of the 1979 Swallows - Kunio Fukutomi - was a teammate of his with the 1974 Taiheiyo Club Lions.  It wouldn't have been the first time Howard posed with some Japanese players:

2010 BBM Lions 60th Anniversary #83

Friday, January 26, 2024

2024 Is Here!

It's been a pretty dead couple of months for Japanese baseball cards.  I think the last release was Topps' 206 set back at the beginning of December and the first 2024 set won't be released until next week.*  There'd been a couple new announcements for 2024 sets in the past few weeks but I hadn't gotten around to writing about them yet.  But then there was something like four sets announced in just this past week so I thought it was time for another round up of the announcements as the 2024 season is quickly approaching - training camps open in Japan on Thursday!

*The set being released is the first part of the Eagles annual team issued set - called 1st Version.  There's a big change with it this year which I didn't really realize when I wrote about it back in December - the Eagles are doing the set with Epoch.  I mean, it's listed on Epoch's website and everything.  I know BBM has worked with a couple teams (Fighters, Hawks and Lions) in doing their "team issued" sets over the years but Epoch hasn't done any.

- Rookie Edition, BBM's annual draft pick set, will be out in late February.  This is a pack-based set containing 135 cards in its base set.  121 of those cards are for the players taken in last October's draft along with a 12 card "New Face" subset featuring young players from each team and a two card "draft pick list" subset (included to make the number of cards in the base set divisible by three).  There are three insert sets - "Starting Point" (12 cards featuring a player from each team as a rookie), "Close Relationship" (8 cards each featuring two draftees who have some "relationship" such as having been high school teammates) and "Rookie Of The Year" (2 cards featuring last year's Rookies Of The Year (Shoki Murakami and Shunpeita Yamashita).  There are autographed cards available although autographs of the draftees are only available through exchange cards.  There will be "secret versions" (short printed photo variants) of the 12 first round picks along with Baystars third round pick Rikuku Takeda who was drafted as a pitcher but intends to be a two way player.  (I'm a bit confused as to why there's only 121 draftees when according to the draft's Wikipedia page, there were 122 players drafted - and all of them signed.  I don't know if someone signed too late to be in the set which has happened a couple of times in the past.)

- BBM's annual set for retiring players will also be out in late February.  Once again the set will not only include baseball players but retiring athletes in other sports including basketball, track & field, boxing, soccer and diving.  The set is sold as a 37 card box set.  Each box will include the entire 35 card base set, one of 15 possible "Bright Future" insert cards (with parallel versions available) and one autographed card.  (No idea why there are "Bright Future" cards in a set for retiring players.)  The set includes baseball players like Seiichi Uchikawa, Nobuhiro Matsuda and Ginji (Akaminai),

- BBM has also announced that their initial flagship set for 2023 - 1st Version - will be out in late April.  The set appears to be following the same pattern it has since 2015, at least in how the base set breaks down.  There's the usual 324 player/manager cards (27 for each team), the 12 team checklist cards and the 36 "Cross Something" cards that will be continued in the 2nd Version set later in the year - this year the Something is "Earth".  That makes a total of 372 cards in the base set.  Nine cards for each team have several different facsimile autograph parallels.  There are also parallel versions for 72 of the rookie cards (or all the rookie cards).  There are three varieties of short printed photo variants - each team has a card with a rare "secret" version, a card with a rarer "ultra secret" version and a card with an even rarer "super ultra secret" version (and they could all possibly be variants for the same player).  There are two non-premium insert sets - "Prince Of The Team" (12 cards - one per team) and "Japonism" (12 cards - one per team and using some sort of Edo period theme) - and three serially numbered premium insert sets - "Amazing" (24 cards - two per team), "Cross Foil Signing" (6 cards - all members of the Giants) and "3D Cross Earth" (12 cards - one per team as you probably guessed).  Some of the insert sets will probably have parallel versions but I don't see anything about them yet.  There are memorabilia cards available for four different players although the only one actually named is Shunpeita Yamashita.  There will also of course be autographed cards available. 

- "216 Co., Ltd." (aka "Hits" and "TIC") will be releasing their annual "mini shikishi" card set for the Hawks on March 30th.  There's 40 oversized cards available - 20 "normal" and 20 "special with foil autograph".  There's 20 players listed so everyone has a "normal" and a "special" (which may be autographed) card. 

- Epoch is releasing the 2023 edition of their Holographica set on March 2nd.  This is one of their annual collaborations with the OB Club.  It's also one of their "ultra high end" sets with six card boxes selling for 16,500 yen (roughly $112).  The base set contains 55 cards and all 55 cards have a serially numbered "hologram" parallel card.  There's also something like eight different types of autograph card available.

- Two weeks after the Holographica set Epoch is releasing an OB set dedicated to the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  "Memories Of The Kintetsu Buffaloes" is another "ultra high end" set although it's slightly cheaper - 15,000 yen (~$102) for a six card box.  The base set has 43 cards and there's a five card "Baseball Mates" insert set.  There's five different types of autographed cards - all 43 players have an "Authentic Autograph" card.  I didn't take a super close look at the players listed as being in the set but it looks like both Tuffy Rhodes and Norihiro Nakamura are in the set but Hideo Nomo is not.

- Konami stopped doing their "Baseball Collection" collectible card game cards after the 2022 season and no one stepped into the niche last year.  This year, however, there's a new player entering the arena.  Bushiroad, a Japanese game manufacturer who has done other collectible card game sets, is releasing an NPB related set called "DreamOrder" on April 20th.  They're releasing a starter deck for each team containing 12 players.  Each box is 1500 yen (just over $10).  In addition there are eight cards booster packs available for 400 yen each (about $2.70) - there's a separate pack for each league (Central and Pacific).  I assume the players available in the booster packs are not available in the starter decks but I don't know for sure.  I also don't know what the total number of cards is but the booster packs are labelled "Vol. 1" so there's likely going to be more cards coming.  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Goddess Of First Pitch

I did a post a month or so ago on the history of BBM'a "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards and in it I mentioned that the person who has appeared the most number of times on these cards was Ami Inamura.  It's not even close - she's been on 14 different cards.  The three people tied for second have only been on 12 cards COMBINED - that's four each.  To be fair, I'm also counting the six cards she had that were given away in issues of Sports Card Magazine and I'm also counting the "secret version" (short printed photo variant) of her 2017 2nd Version card but even if you only count the cards that have come out of a pack and don't count the photo variant parallel, she still had seven cards, three more than anyone else.  

So who is Ami Inamura?  Her Wikipedia page says she's a "gravure idol, tarento, and sportscaster".  Other than her first pitch cards, I only know her from this:

She's the final batter in the commercial.

She apparently has set herself a goal of throwing out the first pitch at a home game for each of the twelve NPB teams.  I'm going to show all 14 of her "Ceremonial First Pitch" cards here (the cards are listed by card number, not the date of the first pitch ceremony):

2015 BBM 2nd Version #FP16/SCM #347 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #113)

2016 BBM 2nd Version #FP05

2016 BBM Fusion #FP16

2016 BBM Fusion #FP23/SCM #386 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #120)

2016 BBM Fusion #FP24/SCM #387 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #120)

2016 BBM Fusion #FP25/SCM #388 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #120)

2016 BBM Fusion #FP26/SCM #389 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #120)

2016 BBM Fusion #FP27/SCM #390 (Issued in SportsCard Magazine #120)

2017 BBM 2nd Version #FP05

2017 BBM 2nd Version #FP05 (Secret Version)

2017 BBM Fusion #FP18

2018 BBM Fusion #FP22

2021 BBM 2nd Version #FP15

2023 BBM Fusion #FP48

If you looked at the ballparks listed on the cards, you might come to the conclusion that she HAS done all twelve teams but her first card is a little misleading.  She threw out the first pitch at the Tokyo Dome on July 28th, 2015 but it was for a game between Osaka Gas and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hiroshima during the 86th Intercity Baseball Tournament, one of the top tournaments for corporate league teams.  She may have done all twelve teams - I don't know that there's a card for every time she's thrown out a first pitch - but if she's done the Giants, it wasn't immortalized on a card.

Inamura has also thrown out the first pitch at games from the Japan Women's Baseball League (JWBL) and she appeared in both of Epoch's sets for the league:

2016 Epoch JWBL #78

2018 Epoch JWBL #86

The back of the 2016 card says she threw out the first pitch at a Saitama Astraia vs Hyogo Dione game in Kawaguchi on April 9th, 2016 but the 2018 card does not identify the game.

She's had a handful of other cards.  I don't have any of these but I've swiped images of them from various places on the internet.  First up was this oddball Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters set issued by "Family Stadium" potato chips in 2017.  The cards depicted the players looking like 8 bit video game graphics characters.  Inamura appeared on a card in the set as well:

She appeared on this card given away with the April 4th, 2018 issue of Weekly Spirits magazine:

She's had autographed cards available in both the BBM and Epoch sets she's appeared in.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Bonus Players In High End Sets

I got some 1997 Diamond Heroes cards from Dan - aka Korean Cardboard - a few months back.  A couple of the cards were for players who didn't appear in BBM's flagship set that year and it got me to wondering about how often that happened.  How common was it that BBM's "high end" sets (Diamond Heroes from 1996 to 2001, Touch The Game from 2002 to 2011 and Genesis from 2012 to the present) included players who weren't in BBM's flagship set(s) from the same year?

Before I started, I needed to define my terms - what do I mean when I say someone's in the set?  What I mean is that they have a "regular" player card - not a subset card.  What do I mean by BBM's flagship set(s)?  It's their "regular" set (plus Late Series) from 1991 to 2001 and the 1st and 2nd Version sets since then.  I'm kind of counting Fusion as well, but only the "1st Version Update" subset.  My definitions can obviously be nit-picked but that's what I went with for this exercise.  If you have a problem with them, feel free do repeat this with your own terms.

So the next question was how to go about doing this?  I have my personal database with all the BBM flagship cards in it (since I have almost all of them) but I don't have a lot of the "high end" cards so they're not in my database.  The obvious place to go is TCDB but they don't make their underlying database available to query.  I tried brute-forcing it, basically looking at each name in the 1996 Diamond Heroes checklist and seeing if it appeared in the 1996 flagship set but that was both time consuming and unreliable - there was a good chance I was going to miss something.  I had some back and forth with Jason about it and he made the suggestion that I try scraping the checklists from their website.  My day job is computer programming so it wasn't a crazy idea and I quickly threw a program together that allowed me to identify who was in the "high end" set but not in the flagship set.  Since TCDB includes the teams that the players are on, I was also able to identify players who appeared in the flagship set with one team but were in the "high end" set with another.  

Once I had a preliminary list, I needed to sanity-check it.  There were three things I was keeping an eye out for.  The first thing was that TCDB's listings aren't perfect and I had a bunch of false positives because the player listed wasn't the actual player or the player's team was listed incorrectly.  Next I had to manually check if any of the players I had identified were in the Fusion set as TCDB's listing don't specify the "1st Version Update" subset (although I suppose I could have used the card numbers as a clue had I thought about it).  Finally I also had to manually check if I incorrectly decided that a player was in the flagship set because they had a subset card, not a "regular" card because - again - TCDB doesn't necessarily identify cards as being in subsets.  So for example, Takuya Nakamura and Takumi Kuriyama both appear in the 2005 2nd Version set in the "New Wave" subset but neither have "regular" player cards.  Both have regular cards in the 2005 Touch The Game set.  My program did not add these cards to my list since TCDB's checklist didn't identify them as subset cards so I had to do it manually.

OK, that's way too much detail about process.  Let's get to the list.  A quick note - an annotation of '*' means the player appeared in the flagship set with a different team and a '+' means the player has a subset card in flagship but not a "regular" card.  If I know that the player's card in the "high end" set was a subset card rather than a "regular" card, I'll put the name of the subset with the card.  I'll also share a scan of a card from each set if I have one - they're shiny and don't scan well though.

We'll do the Diamond Heroes sets first - that's 1996 to 2001. 

1996 BBM Diamond Heroes #136

9 Kazuya Tabata, Yakult Swallows
29 Shinichi Katoh, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
33 Ken Yamasaki, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
46 Timo Perez, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
52 Balvino Galvez, Yomiuri Giants
57 Mario Brito, Yomiuri Giants
69 Yudai Deguchi, Yomiuri Giants
104 Masataka Endoh, Chunichi Dragons
135 Craig Worthington, Hanshin Tigers
136 Kevin Maas, Hanshin Tigers
138 Katsuhiro Hiratsuka, Hanshin Tigers
146 Rui Makino, Orix BlueWave
149 Masahiko Kaneda, Orix BlueWave
184 Yukihiko Satoh, Chiba Lotte Marines
186 Wes Chamberlain, Chiba Lotte Marines
187 Darrell Whitmore, Chiba Lotte Marines
228 Makoto Kaneko, Nippon-Ham Fighters
258 Ryo Kawano, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks

1997 BBM Diamond Heroes #224

21 Chris Donnels, Orix BlueWave
63 Hiroyuki Takagi, Seibu Lions
64 Yoshiaki Kanemura, Seibu Lions
74 Johnny Ruffin, Kintetsu Buffaloes
75 Akira Okamoto, Kintetsu Buffaloes
76 Isao Kohda, Kintetsu Buffaloes
87 Osamu Abe, Kintetsu Buffaloes
125 Mitsugu Saitoh, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
146 Dave Pavlas, Yomiuri Giants
149 Yuichi Yanagisawa, Yomiuri Giants
154 Pedro Castellano, Yomiuri Giants
169 Takuichi Koike, Chunichi Dragons
173 Hidekazu Mitsuyama, Chunichi Dragons*
192 Ryuji Yokoyama, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
216 Hiroaki Hirota, Yakult Swallows
224 Toshifumi Baba, Yakult Swallows*
265 Bob MacDonald, Hanshin Tigers
268 Darnell Coles, Hanshin Tigers
269 Reed Secrist, Hanshin Tigers
275 Atsuhiro Motonishi, Hanshin Tigers*

1998 BBM Diamond Heroes #21

13 Hirofumi Watarai, Yakult Swallows
17 Kota Soejima, Yakult Swallows
21 Pat Mahomes, Yokohama BayStars
39 Toshio Haru, Yokohama BayStars
60 Timo Perez, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
66 Akihito Kaneishi, Yomiuri Giants
81 Darrell May, Hanshin Tigers
88 Toyohiko Yoshida, Hanshin Tigers*
108 Samson Lee, Chunichi Dragons
120 Kazuki Inoue, Chunichi Dragons
140 Tatsuya Ozeki, Seibu Lions+
142 Edwin Hurtado, Orix BlueWave
149 Takashi Miwa, Orix BlueWave
150 Troy Neel, Orix BlueWave
176 Takeshi Ohmori, Kintetsu Buffaloes
182 Hiroshi Numata, Nippon-Ham Fighters
190 Toshihiro Noguchi, Nippon-Ham Fighters*
201 Brian Williams, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
206 Tatsuji Nishimura, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
238 Yukihiko Satoh, Chiba Lotte Marines

1999 BBM Diamond Heroes #47

35 Hiroyuki Watanabe, Chunichi Dragons
47 Ryuji Kimura, Yomiuri Giants
57 Domingo Martinez, Yomiuri Giants
67 Ryuji Miyade, Yakult Swallows+
69 Koji Takagi, Yakult Swallows
71 Susumu Aoyagi, Yakult Swallows
101 Kento Sugiyama, Hanshin Tigers*
105 Kei Igawa, Hanshin Tigers
107 Shoji Toyama, Hanshin Tigers
114 Shuta Tanaka, Hanshin Tigers
136 Alan Zinter, Seibu Lions
137 Katsuhiro Hiratsuka, Seibu Lions*
156 Tsutomu Ishimoto, Nippon-Ham Fighters
159 Sherman Obando, Nippon-Ham Fighters
179 Robert Perez, Orix BlueWave
184 Tomohiro Nagai, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
185 Junji Hoshino, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
190 Rod Pedraza, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
213 Yosuke Takasu, Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

2000 BBM Diamond Heroes #175

36 Hiromasa Tamano, Seibu Lions
41 Masao Kida, Orix BlueWave
69 Tasuku Hashimoto, Chiba Lotte Marines
81 Carlos Mirabal, Nippon-Ham Fighters
85 Akio Shimizu, Nippon-Ham Fighters
88 Kevin Ohme, Nippon-Ham Fighters
107 Bob Wolcott, Kintetsu Buffaloes
110 Hiroki Yamamura, Kintetsu Buffaloes
129 Eddie Gaillard, Chunichi Dragons
175 Tatsuhiko Kinjoh, Yokohama BayStars
201 Masato Kawano, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
209 Salvatore Urso, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
214 Luis Lopez, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
221 Minoru Kasai, Hanshin Tigers
230 Hiroshi Hirao, Hanshin Tigers
236 Jason Hardtke, Hanshin Tigers

3 Yusaku Iriki, Yomiuri Giants
5 Min Chul Jung, Yomiuri Giants
10 Tsuyoshi Johbe, Yomiuri Giants
25 Masataka Endoh, Chunichi Dragons
34 Leo Gomez, Chunichi Dragons
48 Susumu Nakanowatari, Yokohama BayStars
65 Satoshi Iriki, Yakult Swallows
68 Shinji Matsuda, Yakult Swallows
84 Masayuki Hasegawa, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
157 Hiroyuki Shibata, Seibu Lions
194 Joseph Vitiello, Orix BlueWave
198 Ikuro Katsuragi, Orix BlueWave
249 Kensuke Tanaka, Nippon-Ham Fighters (New Wave)
250 Ikuro Katsuragi, Orix BlueWave (New Wave)

As you can see, there were quite a few players in the Diamond Heroes sets who were missing from (or with a different team in) the flagship sets - 107 in all.  These numbers would drop considerably during the "Touch The Game" years (2002 to 2011) for a couple reasons.  The first is with BBM splitting their flagship set into two parts - 1st Version and 2nd Version - they had an opportunity to add players who were unexpected contributors to their teams or late signing foreign players to the later 2nd Version set. The other reason is that the "Touch The Game" sets were smaller than the "Diamond Heroes" sets.  The "Diamond Heroes" sets were all over 250 cards in size.  The inaugural edition of "Touch The Game" in 2002 was the only one with more than 200 cards in its base set.  The remainder of the sets fluctuated in size between 132 and 162 cards for the next few years before settling at 108 in 2010.  The "high end" base sets (including every edition of "Genesis") have only had 108 cards in them ever since.  As a result, it's not uncommon for there to be no players in the "high end" set that were not in the flagship set.  Here's the "Touch The Game" list - I'm only listing years were there was at least one player:

2002 BBM Touch The Game #33

33 Yu Sugimoto, Yokohama BayStars
35 Yuji Yoshimi, Yokohama BayStars
52 Kazuyoshi Kimura, Hiroshima Toyo Carp
86 Kentaro Sekimoto, Hanshin Tigers
168 Itsuki Shoda, Nippon-Ham Fighters
183 Yuji Yoshimi, Yokohama BayStars (Rookie Stars)
184 Kazunori Okagami, Hiroshima Toyo Carp (Rookie Stars)

115 Ken Kadokura, Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

009 Takeya Nakamura, Seibu Lions+
012 Takumi Kuriyama, Seibu Lions+

011 Shoitsu Ohmatsu, Chiba Lotte Marines+
066 Tatsuya Shiokawa, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
088 Mitsuru Satoh, Chunichi Dragons+

Quite the drop off, huh?  There's only 13 cards from 2002 to 2011 after there being more than that each year between 1996 and 2001.  And over half of that (7 cards) are from 2002.  This trend continued with the "Genesis" sets (2012-present):

023 Tetsuto Yamada, Tokyo Yakult Swallows

021 Takahiro Fujioka, Chiba Lotte Marines
048 Kensuke Kondoh, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters

031 Yuji Onizaki, Saitama Seibu Lions

2017 BBM Genesis #103

103 Shota Suzuki, Chunichi Dragons

2018 BBM Genesis #026

026 Kazuki Tanaka, Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles

045 Ikuhiro Kiyota, Chiba Lotte Marines

50 Ryo Ohta, Orix Buffaloes

2021 BBM Genesis #079

7 Masaki Mimori, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
79 Naomichi Donoue, Chunichi Dragons
96 Kota Hayashi, Hiroshima Toyo Carp

054 Taiki Sekine, Yokohama DeNA BayStars
060 Keita Nakagawa, Orix Buffaloes

2023 BBM Genesis #026

026 Shinya Hasegawa, Saitama Seibu Lions
099 Takahiro Nakamura, Hiroshima Toyo Carp

I want to wrap up with a couple things I thought were interesting about these results:

- I had written a post a few years back about "Missing Rookies Of The Year" - Rookie Of The Year award winners who did not have a "regular" card in any of BBM's flagship sets the year they won the award.  There have been seven such players - Makoto Kaneko (1996), Tatsuya Ozeki (1998), Tatsuhiko Kinjoh(2000), Itsuki Shoda (2002), Ryo Sakakibara (2010), Hirotoshi Takanashi (2016) and Kazuki Tanaka (2018).  (My original post had eight such players but Kaima Taira ended up appearing in the "1st Version Update" subset of the 2020 Fusion set which was released after I wrote the post.  And I should point out that Tanaka had a card in the 2018 Fusion set but it was not in the "1st Version Update" subset so I don't count it.)  Five of these players - Kaneko, Ozeki, Kinjoh, Shoda and Tanaka - were in the "high end" set the year they won the award.

- Their cards on this list were the only NPB baseball cards for a number of the foreign players - Kevin Maas, Craig Worthington, Wes Chamberlain, Darrell Whitmore, Johnny Ruffin, Bob MacDonald, Reed Secrist, Pat Mahomes, Alan Zinter, Robert Perez, and Salvatore Urso.  

- Timo Perez appears on this list twice - in 1996 and in 1998.  Those were his only two NPB cards.

I've been working on this list off and on for about two months now but I haven't decided yet if I want to pursue these cards or not.  On the plus side, I like getting cards of as many players as I can for each year.  On the minus side, I really have never liked BBM's "high end" cards much.  For one thing, I'm not a fan of shiny cards.  Without much trying, though, I already have 26 of the 135 cards I have listed here.  Well, there was SOME trying - I recently bought the 2021 and 2023 cards from my friend Jason (not that Jason but the Jason I've bought stuff from on Ebay).  I know for a fact that I want at least some of these cards - the Rookies Of The Year, the foreign players sole NPB cards and the Takeya Nakamura, Tetsuto Yamada and Kensuke Kondoh ones.  So maybe I'll start with those and see where I go from there.