Monday, February 26, 2024

Spring Is Coming

It's been about a month since the last time I did a round up of the new sets coming out, there's been a bunch more announced and I'm going to too busy to post much for the next week or so which means it's probably time for another roundup.  So without further ado...

- The 2024 edition of BBM's annual "Icons" box set will be out in late March and is called "Icons - Generations".  While that name might lead you to believe that the set will feature veterans as well as younger players, you'd be wrong.  The set apparently will only include younger players.  The web page touts Roki Sasaki, Hiroya Miyagi and Yasunobu Okugawa as being in the set along with nine rookies.  Each box contains 37 cards - the complete 36 card base set (three cards per team) and one "special" insert card which could be a "foil print" card, an "EXTREME2024" rookie card, a "Foil Autograph" card or a "Handwritten autograph" card.  There are parallel versions of the "foil print" and "EXTREME2024" cards.  The "Foil Autograph" cards only include the three Giants players since Yomiuri does not allow their players to have authentic autographs in any card sets.

- BBM has announced the first three of their annual "comprehensive" team sets.  Each set has a base set of 81 cards, most of which are "regular" player cards featuring the manager and the players on the 70 man roster plus a couple subsets (which may not be fully defined yet) to fill out the set.  Each set also has 18 non-premium insert cards split into a variety of sets which also may not be fully defined yet.  The Treasure, Esperanza and Magical inserts are all serially numbered.  (If it's not obvious, the "Regular Cards", "Treasure", "Esperanza" and "Magical" columns are the total number of those type of cards in each set.)  In addition, I think there's a significant subset of the player cards (12 players plus the 2023 draftees) for the Hawks and Tigers which will have parallels with different photos (which are not being referred to as "secret" versions for some reason).

Release Date Team Regular Cards Subsets Non-Premium Inserts Treasure Esperanza Magical Other
Early April Hawks 64 Promising Newcomers(3), Keio Trio(1), Transfer Players(2), Powerful Pitchers(5), Main Fielders(6) Main Players(9), New Players(3), Specialist(4), Reliable Veteran(2) 24 15 24 Autograph cards; memorabilia cards for Carter Stewart, Yugo Bando and Kensuke Kondoh
Early April Baystars 67 Boost(3), Yokohama Bond(6), Discovery(2), Headliner(3) Alpha(9), Explosion(6), Blooming(3) 24 15 24 Autograph cards
Mid April Tigers 67 Newcomer(3), Title Holders(7), On The Rise(4) Main Players(9), New Players(3), Reliable Pitcher(3), Promising Young Players(3) 24 15 24 Autograph cards; memorabilia cards for Teruaki Sato and Shota Morishita

- Not to be left out, Epoch has released information about the first two of their "Premier Edition" team sets - the Swallows and the Baystars.  The Swallows set has a base set of 40 cards - 37 active players and three OB players.  The promo materials for the Baystars set says the base set has 40 cards but it actually lists 51 cards - 44 active players and seven OB ones.  Both sets have a gazillion inserts that I honestly don't feel like listing, especially since they don't have the same ones - check out the links if you want to see the names of all 15.  Both sets feature five different types of player autograph cards - "Authentic", "Star", "Rookie", "Legendary" and "Combo".  The Swallows set also includes "mascot combo" autographed cards and something called "Tsubakurou's Flip" which I'm not quite sure is.  The Swallows set will be released on April 20th and the Baystars set will be out a week later on the 27th.

- Calbee's Series One set will be released on April 1st which is about all I can tell you about it as Calbee's not releasing the checklist for it until March 27th (the same irritating thing they've done for the last three years).  I'm not sure but I think the webpage says something about the cards not being in wide release until April 15th although I certainly could be misunderstanding the Google Translation.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

2023 Pacific League 12 Greatest Set

Last summer the Pacific League issued a twelve card set as a stadium giveaway.  I don't know all the details but at select games fans were handed bags like the one shown above containing a sheet of stickers and a paper sleeve containing a baseball card.  I assume but don't know for sure that you'd only get cards for the home team at the stadium you were visiting, so you wouldn't get cards for the Marines at a Lions home game and vice versa.

The set was called "12 Greatest" which, as you might expect, means there are two cards from each team.  The back of the sleeve lists all the players and, as you also might expect, Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the first player listed.  As you might NOT expect, Roki Sasaki is not included in the set - the Marines representatives are Kazuya Ojima and Kou Matsukawa.  Here's the full list of players - Yamamoto and Hiroya Miyagi (Buffaloes); Takuya Kai and Kensuke Kondoh (Hawks); Kona Takahashi and Sosuke Genda (Lions); Yuki Matsui and Hideto Asamura (Eagles); Ojima and Matsukawa (Marines) and Hiromi Itoh and Go Matsumoto (Fighters).

At my request Ryan picked up the two Lions cards for me off Mercari.  The listing included not just the cards but the bags with the sleeves and stickers.

The cards are larger than the standard size.  They're four inches high and three inches wide.  Here's the two Lions cards:

These are not the only cards I have from this set, however, as a month or so ago I picked this up on Ebay:

Here's what the back of the Yamamoto card looks like:

You can see that the cards are unnumbered - that number on the front of the card is the player's uniform number.

I got curious about the line on the back that said "Produced by doda".  I was wondering if "doda" was some card company I hadn't heard of.  It isn't - they're a company to help people find new jobs and they're owned by Persol, an HR management company that currently has the naming rights for the Pacfic League.

I actually like these cards quite a bit and would consider trying to track down the other nine cards.  The sad thing is that Wrappers, the card shop in Tokyo that would be most likely to carry oddball items like this, has apparently closed.  

Just to round things out, here are scans of the front and back of the sleeve and the sticker sheet:

Card Of The Week February 25

After 11 seasons away with the Dodgers and Blue Jays, Ryu Hyun-jin is returning to South Korea and the Hanwha Eagles,  He signed an eight year deal with his former team this past week.

Ryu left Korea for the majors before the 2013 season which was before Ntreev Duael got the official license to do KBO cards and released their "Super Star Baseball" sets.  So the only card I know of that shows him with Hanwha is from the unlicensed 2010 KBO Game Set.  I would expect that he will end up in whatever KBO sets get issued this year.

Since I don't collect MLB cards, the only cards I own of Ryu are WBC cards from 2009 and the afore-mentioned KBO card.  I have three cards of him and each one is from a different country:

2009 Bowman Sterling - WBC Relics #BCR-HRR

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes World Baseball Classic #W09R126

2010 KBO Game Set #AH002

I like how both he's in essentially the same pose on both the Konami WBC and the KBO Game set cards.  I was also amused that the photo on the back of the Konami card appears to be the same as the front of the Bowman Sterling card:

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Team Issued Cards

The box Ryan sent me last week contained a bunch of team issued cards.  Team issued cards - like magazine issued cards - are one of the great unknowns when it comes to Japanese baseball cards.  No one seems to know for sure how many sets are out there.  As a result, I'm always happy to find some although frequently they raise more questions than answers.

Some of these cards are ones I saw on Yahoo! Japan Auctions or Mercari and asked Ryan to pick up for me and some of them were cards Ryan put in the box figuring that I would like them (and he was right!).  I thought I'd do a post showing these off.

I'm kind of excited about this first pair of cards as they may be the first team issued cards I've ever seen for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp which is the only NPB team that I don't have any such cards for.  There's nothing on the cards that would lead you to think these were some sort of food issue.  There also isn't anything on them indicating what year they're from although they must be from 2021 or later as Kuribayashi didn't join the team until then:

The backs of the cards are generic, identical and not any help:

There were a bunch of cards for the Fighters in the box.  This card commemorates Yukio Tanaka reaching 2000 hits and I assume it was issued in 2007:

These two cards were issued in 2014 as some sort of tie-in to the tenth season of interleague play (and not the team's 10th Anniversary in Hokkaido as their tenth season up north was 2013).  I have another card from this set as well:

In 2017 the Fighters issued a set in conjunction with their "Legend Series" of games where the team wore throwback Toei Flyers uniforms.  The Haruki Nishikawa and Takuma Nakashima cards from this set were in the respective card lots I got for them.  I was a bit disappointed that they don't show the players in the Flyers uniforms although the cards have a nice throwback feel to them:

Takuma Nakashima

Haruki Nishikawa

The Nishikawa lot also had this other 2017 Fighters card:

This last Fighters card has to be from 2022 since the Fighters didn't use that logo or uniforms until then and Ishikawa joined the Buffaloes after that year.

The back's a little interesting as it talks up salmon from Hokkaido:

Google translation version:

I got a bunch of Lions team issued cards.  First up are three "Lions Classic" cards.  The first one is a postcard-size card from 2013 showing Yusei Kikichi, Takumi Kuriyama and Ginjiro Sumitani:

Next is standard (or close to it) sized card of Shogo Akiyama from 2018:

I don't know if the last "Lions Classic" card should really be considered a card or not.  It's more like a 4x6 photo as it's printed on photographic paper.  It shows Yuji Kaneko and the photo apparently is from the Lions-Eagles game on April 22, 2022 (although there is no information about the game - a 3-0 Lions victory - on the "card" at all):

Ryan found me some Lions cards from last year.  These all appear to be from the "Team Lions" set.  I guessing it's a "comprehensive" team set that includes the development (ikusei) players as well as the guys on the 70 man roster:

Kaito Awatsu

Shota Hiranuma

Toshihiro Idei

Sho Itoh

Seiji Kawagoe

Daichi Nakaguma

Yuta Nakamigawa

Hiromasa Saito

Masato Saito

Wataru Takagi

Towa Uema

Ryan also found me a handful of the "L Collection Vol 1" cards that the Lions did with BBM last year.  He got me 16 cards in all - ten base set cards and six "Hero" insert cards - but since you can see most of the cards from the set over at Jambalaya, I'm only going to show a couple here:






It took me a little while to figure out this next card.  It looked like it could have been from the same set but it was labeled as a "2022" card (and featured Hatsuhiko Tsuji who was manager that year).  It didn't look much like the 2022 "L Collection Vol 1" cards (don't ask me why they're called "vol 1" when I've yet to see any "vol 2" cards) but I wasn't sure where else it could be from.  Here's the front and back of it:

I did some searches on YJA and finally discovered what it was from.  The Lions released several cards at their offseason "Thanks Festa" fan festival and this card was one of them.  The letters in the card number (LTF05) stand for "Lions Thanks Festa".

Moving on from the Lions...Ryan also sent me a couple Baystars cards from last year:

I usually struggle with figuring out what the name of any given team issued set is but I have a good guess at what to call these.  Ryan sent them in their original packs.  It's kind of hard to read it in the scan but the pack says "2023 Official Fanclub Card":

The last card I want to show in this post isn't from an NPB team.  Instead it's the 2010 Akashi Red Soldiers team card of Shouta Tougo.  The Red Soldiers were a team in the Kansai Independent League back in 2009 and 2010 - the league itself only lasted from 2009 to 2013.  Here's the front and back of the card:

The implication of the card number in the lower right corner of the card back is that there's at least 15 other cards in the set.  I've never seen any other ones though.