Sunday, June 30, 2024

Card Of The Week June 30

Masato Morishita had a pretty good night at the ballpark last Tuesday.  He threw a "Maddux" against the Swallows - a complete game shutout on under 100 pitches - as well as getting a "modasho" - three or more hits.  He actually had one more hit than he allowed the Swallows.  He was the first pitcher to do both in the same game since Kazuhisa Inao did it in 1968.

I would expect that this feat is going to be highlighted in BBM's Fusion set when it gets released in November.  If so, it'll be the third time Morishita's batting exploits will have been featured in that set.  The first time was in 2022 (card #14) for his game on April 9th when he had four RBIs (including a bases loaded triple).  His three run home run against the Baystars on June 28th last year put him in the 2023 Fusion set (#40).  Here are the two cards:

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Trip Overview Part 3 - Days 3 & 4 - Tokyo And Sendai

The forecast for Monday, May 13th in Tokyo was not good.  It called for heavy rains and there was actually a flood watch in effect.  Luckily my plans for the day didn't involve going to any baseball games - as usual, NPB had no games scheduled for that Monday.  What my plans DID involve, though, was going to a bunch of baseball card shops, some of which were some distance from the nearest train station, so I was going to get wet.  Especially since I had forgotten to pack my raincoat!

My first stop for the day was not a card shop but rather Shinjuku Station.  One of the ways I had cut back on the amount of time I had to spend at Haneda when I arrived the previous Friday was I didn't activate my JR Pass there.  I had discovered that I could activate it at most of the major JR stations (and Shinjuku's pretty major) so I decided to wait a couple days.

I'm not sure it really bought me much time, though, as there was a long line at the Exchange Office and it took about a 40 minutes before I was able to get my pass activated.  The first thing I did with it was use a nearby machine to make Shinkansen reservations to and from Sendai for the following day and heading west to Nagoya the day after that.  So after about an hour at the station I was finally ready to my first card shop.

My goal was to hit at least four stores that day - Mints Akihabara, Ikebukuro and Urawa along with Coletre.  I had the lowest expectations for Mint Akihabara but since they opened at 10 while the other three didn't open until noon, it was off to Akihabara first.  I'll eventually write more about the stores in separate posts but suffice it to say that the store was about what I expected and I was relatively quickly on a train heading to Ikebukuro.  I made a side trip at the station to check out the Lions team store in Seibu's department store there before heading towards the card shop.

Sugamo Prison used to stand not far from where Mint Ikebukuro is located and since it wasn't raining very hard, I decided to walk over and see the monument for it.  It's kind of hidden away in a corner of East Ikebukuro Central Park:

One of the Google reviews of the monument claims that it marks the spot where the Allies hung the Japanese war criminals (like Hideki Tojo).

The prison was torn down in the early 1970's and the Sunshine 90 building was erected on the site.  It was the tallest building in Japan (and all of Asia) when it opened in 1978:

I headed over to Mint Ikebukuro and had a bit of a frustrating time there.  Despite them still having a very good selection of old singles and still being a great shop to do set building at, they didn't happen to have cards from any of the mid 00's team sets that I was looking for.  The store's personnel gave it there best shot though.  

One of the workers in the store was an American named Nick who actually recognized me!  He followed me on Twitter and knew I was in Japan so when I started asking about the sets I was looking for, he asked me if I wrote a blog.

After leaving the shop with mostly empty hands, I made my way north a few blocks towards Coletre.  I decided to grab some lunch before going up to the store and decided to finally try Mos Burger, a Japanese fast food chain.  It wasn't anything to write home about but I've had worse hamburgers so I'm not complaining.

Ryan had warned me on my last trip that Urawa could be a pain to get to in rush hour and as I ate I started considering heading to Urawa now and coming back to Coletre later.  I was texting Ryan at the time and he said that I'd still be ok if I did Coletre first and then went to Urawa.  I took his advice and headed to Coletre when I finished eating, only to discover that the owner had temporarily left the shop.  Since I didn't know how long he was going to be away, I decided I'd head to Urawa after all.

Mint Urawa is about a 10 minute walk from Urawa Station and it was raining pretty hard as I walked.  I had a disposable poncho* on but it was still not a pleasant walk.  Making it worse was the fact that the store seemed to be smaller and much less useful than when I went there in 2019.  I bought only a few random cards there, having no luck with anything on my want list.  It seemed like they no longer had the collection of old singles that they had previously although Deanna told me later that they might have those cards in cabinets and that I probably should have asked the store for help.  Be that as it may, I was still pretty disappointed that I was basically empty handed after hitting three stores.  I walked back to Urawa station and drowned my sorrows in a coffee before heading back to Ikebukuro.

*My company ordered way too many ponchos for a golf event some eight or nine years ago and I always pack a couple in case of emergency.  I've used them all over the US as well as Japan, the UK and Iceland

I want to quickly mention something I saw at Urawa Station though.  Fukui prefecture is known for their dinosaur fossils and I think this is part of a push to get tourists to visit by taking the train:

I'd seen a similar ad in a couple other train stations (like the one below in Noborito on Saturday) but nothing as elaborate as this.

Coletre was open when I returned and made up for all the earlier disappointments.  Not only did they have cards that I was looking for from my want list but they also had all four of the 2024 BBM team sets that had been released up to then - the Hawks, the Tigers, the Lions and the Baystars - for only 1000 yen each.  I had been expecting to find them cheap at Mint Urawa but they only had the Tigers set at the outrageous price of 2500 yen.  The best part of the trip to Coletre is that I was able to trade the autographed "1990 Donruss" Tomoyuki Sugano card from Panini I had picked up for 7000 yen in store credit.  I had correctly guessed there'd be some demand for the card since Yomiuri doesn't allow their players to sign autographs for BBM or Epoch.  I had only spent about $20 on the original redemption card so getting roughly $50 for it was a nice payoff.  With that store credit, I only ended up spending around 1200 yen for everything I picked up here.

I'd been messaging back and forth with Deanna all day about possibly meeting up with her and Noel for dinner but by the time I left Coletre I was pretty fried (as well as pretty wet from the rain) and just wanted to head back to my hotel and crash.  I grabbed dinner at the CoCo Ichibanya restaurant a few blocks from my hotel (and just up the street from the World Meatball Classic).  CoCo Ichibanya is a chain of curry restaurants that Ryan had previously recommended to me and I've had good experiences with them.  My only complaint was that they were sold out of beer that evening:

I was back at my hotel shortly afterward and asleep pretty quickly after that.

The rainy weather moved out overnight and by Tuesday morning it was a beautiful day.  Good thing too as I was going to be traveling up to Sendai for an afternoon Eagles game.  I made my way over to Tokyo Station to catch the Shinkansen - getting there early enough to take photos of the Victorian facade on the west side of the station:

It was dark when I went up to Sendai back in 2019 so I wasn't able to see much scenery.  I was pleasantly surprised as the train headed north and crossed the Arakawa river that I could see Mount Fuji in the distance.

I had seen it on my first trip in 2013 but never saw it on the 2019 trip.  It was visible from the air as we flew over Tokyo on our approach to Haneda the previous Friday and I had glimpsed it a couple of times on Saturday but this was the first time I'd been able to take a long look at it.  It was visible for at least ten minutes before it was lost due to distance and haze.

Fuji was not the only stratovolcano visible on the trip however.  We passed just east of the Zao Mountains - I took this photo as we were passing through Shiroishi:

At least I'm pretty sure the photo shows the Zao Mountains but I could be wrong.  And it's possible there are other stratovolcanoes visible on the route that I didn't notice.

We arrived in Sendai just a little before noon and I had to head directly to the ballpark as the game started at one o'clock.  Luckily it's just a short (but very crowded) subway ride to Miyaginohara Station, the closest stop to the ballpark.  I'm always amused at the design of the entrance nearest the park:

It's just a couple minutes walk to the ballpark from the subway stop.

I feel like Miyagi Baseball Stadium, the home of the Eagles, is a very underrated ballpark.  It opened in 1950, making it the third oldest ballpark in regular use in NPB.  Rakuten has made a lot of renovations and improvements to it in the 20 years that the Eagles have played there so it's kind of a maze under the stands but it's still quite nice. The view from the seats is pretty good or at least it was for the game I went to there in 2019.

It was "Dream Order" day at the ballpark that day and I was handed a Takahiro Norimoto Dream Order game card as I entered the park.  I stopped off to pick up a Hideto Asamura bento box for lunch before making my way to my seat.  I got there about a half hour before game time, just in time to catch most of the pregame activities.  This was the fifth game I'd been to on this trip and the third NPB game but it was the first one that Kimigayo, the Japanese National Anthem, was played at - it was performed by a choral group.  This was followed by a Ceremonial First Pitch by Nobuto Kobayashi, the "Dream Order Producer".

I felt like my seats for this game were even better than I had had the last time I was there:

The Eagles were playing the Hawks this afternoon and the pitching matchup featured two former Fighters - Kohei Arihara for Softbank and Cody Ponce for Rakuten.  I was most excited about seeing another player on the field that day though.  Yuki Yanagita had been injured when I was in Japan in 2019 so I didn't get a chance to see him.  He was batting third in the lineup for this game so I got to see him in the top of the first:

He struck out to end the inning but at least I got to see him play.

The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second and when the top of the third rolled around, I decided to take a walk.  My destination was beyond the left field stands:

Yes, that's a Ferris Wheel.  It's part of the ballpark and you can ride it for free during the game.  Of course, I wasn't the only person wanting to do this so I had to wait in line for about 20 minutes before it was my turn.

Each car is done up with stuff for an Eagles player and the one I got was for Asamura:

Here's some photos from the ride.  I think the whole thing took less than ten minutes.

It was the bottom of the fourth when I got off the Ferris Wheel and started to head back to my seat.  I was still behind the stands when I heard the crowd cheer loudly.  I checked a nearby monitor and saw that Tsuyoshi Ishihara of the Eagles had hit a two run home run, making the score now 4-0 Eagles.

I stopped off at a stand to try Zunda, a green mochi...uh...thing that Ryan had recommended.  I got basically a slice of a cake roll with the Zunda filling.  It wasn't bad.

The Hawks scored a run in the top of the fifth to cut the Eagles lead to three runs but that was the end of the scoring for the day.  Ponce had a pretty good day on the mound, going six innings while striking out nine.  The Eagles bullpen was almost perfect, only giving up a walk in the final three innings of the game.  The final score was 4-1 (which coincidentally was the score of the game I went to there in 2019).  Here's the highlights of the game from Pacific League TV (including the hero interviews):

On my way out of the ballpark, I caught sight of something framed over one of the staircases:

I took the subway back to Sendai Station and made a stop at Mint Sendai, a card shop in the Parco Shopping Mall next to the station.  My expectations for the store were that I would be able to find Eagles team issued cards but not anything off my want list and that's pretty much what happened.  Afterwards I looked around for some place to get some dinner.  I had originally been planning on trying to find gyutan (beef tongue) which is a regional delicacy in Sendai but I had sent Deanna a photo of the bento box I had had for lunch and she pointed out that I had already had it.  After not being excited about any place I saw and having issues pulling up an English menu on my phone at a Yoshinoya, I gave up and got some chicken from a Family Mart convenience store.  

My train that evening left Sendai around 7:30 and got me back to Tokyo a little after nine.  I got back to my hotel about a half hour later and spent some time getting packed up.  I'd be checking out of my hotel the next morning and heading west.  I would not return to Tokyo for another week. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Some Updates And Genesis

I wanted to do a quick post about a new set announcement and some updates about previously announced sets.

- The new set announcement was for Genesis, BBM's annual high end set.  As usual the base set contains 120 cards - ten per team which splits up as nine player cards and a team checklist.  Also as usual, no one really cares about the base set as the attraction of Genesis is the autograph and memorabilia cards available in the boxes.  The different varieties are too numerous to list but there are booklets, super patches, ball autographs and multiplayer autographed memorabilia cards.  There's also a myriad of parallel versions of all the base cards and five "High-grade insert card" sets - Elite Of Nine, Game Changer, "Rookie Limited Insert", Cross Earth and Combo Cross Foil Signing.  The set will be released in late September.

- Calbee Series Two was scheduled to be released "in late June" but I haven't seen any evidence that it has come out yet (although there are four more days in the month).  The official announcement on Calbee's website hasn't changed but I've seen two different things saying the set won't be released until late July.  The first was Jambalaya's front page where they list upcoming releases while the second was this tweet I saw this morning.  (On the other hand I saw several other tweets implying the set would be out on the 27th so we'll see what happens.)

- Vol. 2 of the Central and Pacific League Booster Packs for Bushiroad's Dream Order collectible card game will be released this weekend.   I hadn't realized that Bushiroad had put checklists for all Booster Pack set on their website and I was confused for a moment when it listed 228 cards for all of them when I thought that the Vol. 1 sets were more like 108.  Their listings contain all the parallel versions of the cards - for example the Orix Buffaloes checklist for the Vol. 1 set has four separate Tomoya Mori cards listed - all with the same card number - which is why the numbers are so high.  UPDATE - forgot to mention that the website mentions that Vol. 3 of the Booster Packs will be released on August 24th with Vol. 4 scheduled for October 12th.  No checklists for those sets yet though.

2023 Epoch Hawks Premier Edition

I was browsing the selection of cards at Mint Umeda in Osaka when I came across a bunch of hand collated complete sets for 500 yen apiece.  Several of them were recent BBM team sets that I already had (many of which I bought at higher prices than 500 yen) but I saw the 2023 Epoch Hawks Premier Edition set and the top card of Sadaharu Oh appealed to me:


I decided to buy the set, figuring if nothing else I'll get another Carter Stewart card out of it along with the Oh card.  Of course, when I eventually opened up the set I discovered a couple important things - the set was kind of blah and Stewart didn't appear in it.  I should have guessed there was a reason I hadn't wanted the set when it had come out last year but I was too excited about picking it up for 500 yen.

Let's get to the details about the set.  It contains 39 cards - 32 cards for the manager (at the time) Hiroshi Fujimoto and members of the 2023 Hawks and 7 cards of OB players (and manager Oh).  The active players include most of the Hawks big names from last year - Kensuke Kondoh, Yuki Yanagita, Tsuyoshi Wada, Takuya Kai, Ryoya Kurihara, Taisei Makihara, Ukyo Shuto, Kohei Arihara, Nao Higashihama, etc - along with all the non-ikusei rookies.  The cards are a heavy stock so they've got some heft to them.  The photos though are pretty pedestrian and the design isn't all that interesting.  Here's some example cards:







Where the set really disappoints is the selection of OB players (which the card backs refer to as "Legendary Players".  Now you'd think with the rich recent history of the Hawks, they could really pick some relatively big names.  I'm talking Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Seiichi Uchikawa, Toshiya Sugiuchi, Kenji Johjima, Munetaka Kawasaki or Hiroki Kokubo.  Or fan favorites like Yuichi Honda, Yuya Hasegawa or Tadashi Settsu.  Or even former managers Koji Akiyama or Kimiyasu Kudoh to go along with former manager Oh.  Nope.  The six retired Hawks players are Tomoaki Egawa, Kazuyuki Hoashi, Ryoma Matsuda, Katsuhiro Miyaji, Kenta Nakanishi and Yosuke Shimabukuro.  If your reaction to that list is "who?", join the club.  Egawa was at least in the organization for 14 years (although he only got into 345 games at the ichi-gun level over that time) while most of the other players were only with the Hawks for 3-5 years.  Shimabukuro is particularly egrigious - he was in the organization for five seasons but only appeared in two games with the top team during that stretch.  Hardly the stuff of legends.  Here's Matsuda's card as an example:


 So obviously I'm pretty "meh" about this set but there are probably worse things to spend 500 yen on.  You can check out all the cards in the set for yourself over at Jambalaya (which I probably should have done before buying it).  And I'll point out that Jambalaya is selling the set for 3900 yen which is WAY too much.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

2024 Epoch NPB Retail Vs Hobby Boxes

One of the things I've enjoyed about collecting NPB baseball cards is the lack of cards that are exclusive to some retail outfit or another.  It seems like in any given year, Topps' MLB sets have cards - parallels or otherwise - that can only be found in packs bought from Target or Walmart or Walgreens or Fanatics.  Now mind you, NPB cards tend to have a ridiculous number of parallels but typically all the inserts and all the parallels are available in any random pack you buy from any seller.  (The one exception to this is the Light Packs that BBM used to do for the 1st & 2nd Version sets but I'm pretty sure they don't do those any more.  And those weren't particular to any particular retailer.)

Until now that is.  In the last week or so, I've fielded questions from two different Jasons - the one of "Clyde's Stale Cards" fame and the one who sells cards on Ebay - asking about two different versions of boxes for the new 2024 Epoch NPB set - black ones and white ones.  I did a little research (which is a much more impressive way to say "I looked at Epoch's website") and discovered that the black boxes were a "Retail Edition" that were only sold at FamilyMart convenience stores while the white ones were the standard boxes available everywhere.

The two products are a little different.  Both have a 348 card base set along with 90 parallels but that's where the similarities end.  The "Retail Edition" has a photo variant parallel for each of the first round draft picks from last fall.  In addition, the standard version has 24 Holospectra insert cards while the "Retail Edition" only has 12.  There's no overlap between the two Holospectra checklists and the numbering for them is different - the standard version cards are numbered HS-01 to HS-24 while the "Retail Edition" cards are numbered HS-01R to HS12R.  Lastly there are six more autographed cards available in the "Retail Edition" than the standard version - 146 to 140.  I didn't verify that they have 140 in common or who the extra six in the "Retail Edition" are.

While this doesn't really affect me all that much - I'm only picking up the base set - I'm kind of disappointed that this nonsense has made its way to Japan.  I'm also kind of surprised it started with Epoch and not Topps.  I just hope this doesn't grow much bigger than this.

Monday, June 24, 2024

2021 BBM 2nd Version Show Man Insert Set

In 2019, BBM issued a "Franchise Builder" insert set with the 2nd Version set that kinda-sorta showed off all twelve primary NPB ballparks.  There were 12 cards (one for each team of course) and each card featured the image of a player superimposed over a panorama of his home ballpark.  The ballparks weren't identified by name, however, and the cards didn't have any additional information about them but it was still the first time since 1992 that BBM made an attempt to showcase the NPB ballparks.

Two years later, BBM returned to this theme with another 12 card insert set in the 2021 2nd Version set.  This time it was called "Show Man" but again it featured a player's image superimposed over a panorama of his home ballpark.  I had resisted picking it up but I ended up buying the Shota Imanaga card on Ebay right before I left for Japan so I decided to look for the rest while I was on the trip.  If I remember right, I got them all at Quad Sports and they weren't particularly cheap.  I got the entire 2019 set for 1200 yen but I think I spent about 400 yen each for the 11 cards I got in Japan.

Here's all 12 cards:













A couple comments:

- Masataka Yoshida and Tetsuto Yamada are the only players to appear in both sets.  

- I really don't understand why you'd pick a photo of the Eagles' ballpark that doesn't show the ferris wheel, the park's most iconic landmark.

- Not all of the ballpark photos are while games were going on but the ones that were reflect the low crowds from the second year of the pandemic.  The one that really stands out is the Koji Chikamoto card showing the empty stands at Koshien during a night game.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Card Of The Week June 23

Interleague play wrapped up last week and the Eagles were Interleague Champions.  The Interleague MVP was not an Eagle, however, as Shun Mizutani of the Fighters took the award after batting a record .438 over the three weeks of cross league play.  Mizutani just joined the Fighters this season and I don't have any cards of him with his new team yet so instead I'll share his rookie card from 2019 when he was still with the Hawks:

2019 BBM 1st Version #052

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Team Issued Cards

One of the things I've been on the lookout for as much as I can on my trips to Japan are team issued cards.  These aren't necessarily the cards that get issued with meals (although one set I'm going to talk about kinda are) but cards that the teams themselves publish (occasionally in collaboration with BBM or Epoch) that are either sold in the team stores or given away to fan club members.  Usually I have no idea how these cards get distributed but I actually do know for most of the ones I'm going to talk about in this post.  

We'll start off with some cards from the Marines.  I'd mentioned in my post about the bento box cards that the Lotteria stands at Chiba Marine Stadium give away oversized cards with certain hamburger meals.  Deanna and Steve let me know that this year all the food stands at the Stadium will give away a normal sized card IF you show your fan club card when you buy your meal (or if the concession stand worker just gives you one like she did me).  I ended up with three of these cards actually - one that I got when I bought my meal, one I found on the ground a little ways away from the Lotteria stand and one that Steve gave me in return for the Ogino Lotteria card I gave him (for the purposes of full disclosure - Steve gave me two cards but I gave Ryan one of them).  Here's all three cards:

Next up is the Hawks.  Ryan had two cards of Carter Stewart from last year that he had picked up for me.  Here's the fronts and backs of them:

If you look carefully on the card fronts, you'll see the cards are numbered "23SBH241" and "23SBH311".  I think this means that the cards came from the Hawks "2023 Season Vol.2" and "2023 Season Vol.3" sets.  The reason I think this is that I bought several packs of the Hawks "2024 Season Vol.1" packs out at Fukuoka Dome and those cards are numbered in a similar way.

We'll get to that in a moment.  First let me show you a photo of a pack of these:

I bought four packs of these before the Hawks game I went to in Fukuoka although I gave one of them to Ryan.  Each pack was 550 yen and contained six cards.  Each pack I got had the same distribution of cards - three gold bordered cards, one silver bordered card, one "normal" "Viva! Hawks!" card and one "kira" "Viva! Hawks!" card.  Looking at the back of the pack, it appears there are 69 total cards - 10 silver bordered cards (#24SBH101-#24SBH110), 30 gold bordered cards (#24SBH111-#24SBH140), 15 "Viva! Hawks!" cards (#24SBH141-#24SBH155) which have parallel "kira" versions and 14 autograph cards (#24SBH156-#24SBH169).  You can see that the format of the card numbers indicates that these cards are from the 2024 Vol.1 set.  I don't know if there is any overlap between the the players featured on the different types of cards - all I know is there isn't among the cards I have.

I got one duplicate card in the three packs so I have a total of 17 of these cards.  I'm only going to show one pack's worth of cards though:

It may not be visible in the scan but the Arihara card has a "kira" finish.

All the cards have the same back (although the color of the  text on the backs of the silver bordered cards is silver):

I also got some oddball Hawks items.  Ryan had given me three small (about 2 1/2 inch square) stickers with caricatures of Hawks players.  I don't know what year they are from but it must be between 2007 (Tamura's first year with the Hawks) and 2011 (Sugiuchi's last):

The backs indicate that they were some sort of promotion with the Hotto Motto fast food chain:

I was also given a slight smaller sticker of Tsuyoshi Wada when I did a tour of Fukuoka Dome:

Ryan and I checked out the Lions team store at Seibu Dome before the game we went to.  I had mentioned before that we had each bought a couple packs of the Lions "mini-shikishi" cards but we also each bought three packs of the "L Collection Vol. 1" set, the collaboration that the Lions have been doing with BBM the past few years.  I think these are physical versions of virtual cards available on the Lions mobile app (hence the "real" on the pack and the backs of the cards) but I could be wrong.  And I have no idea why the set is labeled "Vol. 1" when I don't think I've ever seen any "Vol. 2" cards.

The packs were 500 yen each and contained two cards.  I'm not sure how many cards there are total but I do know that the packs could contain autographed cards.  Here are the six cards I got (no autographs):

The card backs are all identical except for the card number in the lower right corner.  Here's the back of Matsui's card:

Here's what the pack wrapper looks like:

I stopped by the Lions store at Ikebukuro Station a few days later and discovered they were selling packs from some other card set.  There were only two packs left so I bought both of them.  They were a little pricey, 500 yen for only one card.  Here's a photo of the packs themselves:

They contained translucent plastic cards labeled "Seibu Blue Series".  Here are the two cards I got:

I wasn't entirely sure that these were from this year until I did a little detective work and discovered that Satoh didn't start wearing uniform number 10 until 2024.

The Eagles have been selling a pack based team set for years now.  In fact, most years they sell the set in two parts - 1st Version and 2nd Version.  There were packs of this year's 1st Version set available in the team store out at Miyagi Stadium:

I didn't buy any packs, however.  After the game I went to up in Sendai, I headed over to Mint Sendai in a shopping mall just west of Sendai Station where I found a lot of the team's cards from the past decade or so.  I was a little nervous about buying any older cards since I wanted to make sure I didn't buy any cards I already had but I felt pretty safe picking up cards from this year and the past two.  I won't show all the cards I got but just some of the highlights.  Here's some cards from 2022:

It's going to be pretty obvious that I like the team checklist cards.  Here's some cards from last year:

I came across some interesting insert cards from the 2023 set.  These were basically faux menko cards - while they were the standard size in height and width, they're much thicker, more like a piece of cardboard.  I think each card features an Eagles coach from their playing days with the team.  There's no English on the cards at all.  I have the cards of Tatsuya Shiokawa, Naoto Watanabe and Akihisa Makida:

The card backs include the "rock-paper-scissors" symbol like the traditional menko sets had.  All they need is some random number to look more authentic.  Here's the back of Makida's card:

This year, the Eagles started to collaborate with Epoch on their cards.  Here's a couple of the ones I got:

And lastly I picked up some Baystars team issued cards at Mint Yokohama.  Again, I was a little careful about what I bought since I didn't want to buy a card I already had.  I mostly concentrated on the past couple years although I did get a card from 2016.  Here are all the Baystars cards I got - it'll be pretty obvious on the front which year they're from: