Sunday, August 28, 2016

Card Of The Week August 28

Thursday's game between the Eagles and Hawks took a kind of unexpected turn late in the game.  The Hawks were up 5 to 4 going into the top of the ninth which is normally time for Dennis Sarfate to come in and close the door.  Unfortunately for the Hawks, Sarfate hurt himself two days earlier and was not available and the closing responsibility fell on Robert Suarez.  The Eagles got two of the first three guys on base in the inning and then Eigoro Mogi stepped to the plate...

Mogi hit a low sinking line drive that center fielder Yuki Yanagita attempted to do a sliding catch of and missed.  The ball skipped by him and rolled all the way to the wall.  By the time Yanagita ran the ball down and threw it to the infield, Mogi had made it around the bases for a three run inside-the-park home run.  The Eagles ended up winning the game 7 to 5 which coupled with the Fighters 4-1 win over the Marines knocked the Hawks out of first place for the first time since April 18th.

Mogi's home run (which probably should have been ruled an error) was only the second one of his career and I suspect was his first inside the park one.  Here's his Calbee rookie card from this year's Series Two (#104):

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Variants In BBM's Flagship Sets

One of the things I've noticed when I've been leafing through Sports Card Magazine's Price Guide listing for BBM's baseball issues is that there are a number of variants listed among the flagship sets.  I noticed a number of times in the Price Guide where there would be an 'a' and a 'b' version of the card (and two times where there was a 'c' version as well).  I thought I'd do a list of what I know about the variants.

Research for this was a bit difficult.  Engel only lists one of these variants and really doesn't go into any detail about it.  I did some searches on Yahoo! Japan Auctions to see what I could find but that only really helped with one card.  Luckily, however, I had been contacted by a Japanese card collector named Takashi last year who was interested in a trading cards.  One of the cards that Takashi was looking were the Hideki Irabu cards I'll be mentioning in a moment.  I asked him what the story was with those card and he told me.  He also offered to answer any other questions I had about BBM cards and I took him up on the offer and asked about the other cards as well.  While he didn't know about all the cards, he knew much more than I did about them so most of the following should be credited to him.

Here's the list:

1993 BBM #417 Takashi Wada

The original ('a') version of the card has a headshot of Goichi Inokubo on the back rather than Wada.  I'm pretty sure what I have is the corrected ('b') version of the card:

I don't have a copy of the 'a' version but oddly enough, this is the card that Gary Engel uses as an example card for his listing of the 1993 set:

SCM #116 has the 'a' version of the card at 50 yen and the corrected version at 300 yen.

1993 BBM #477 Masanori Murakami

This is the variant that is listed by Engel.  Takashi says "There is a notation error on the back side of the sentence" that was corrected on the 'b' version.  I don't know which version I have but here's the back side of it:

SCM #116 has both versions of this card at 500 yen

1995 BBM #216 and #604 Hideki Irabu

These are kind of odd - technically the variation is with the gold signature parallel versions, not the base card.  The 'a' version of the card is the base version.  The 'b' version of the card has an incorrect gold signature on it - it's Ken Hirano instead of Irabu.  The 'c' version of the card has the corrected signature.  It's weird that the mistake was made on both the regular version of the card (#217) and the "Late Series" version (#604).  I have the 'c' version of card #217 and the 'a' version of card #604.

SCM #116 has the 'a' and 'b' versions of card #216 at 400 yen while the 'c' version is 3000(!) yen.  Version 'a' of #604 is listed at 500 yen while version 'b' is 1000 yen and version 'c' is 800 yen.

1999 BBM #464 Koichiro Yoshinaga

Takashi says that the original version of this card has an incorrect photo but he didn't know any more details about it.  I don't have this card but I found this image on Yahoo! Japan Auctions.  I don't know which version of the card this is although I'm pretty confident that this is Yoshinaga so it's probably the corrected version.  SCM #116 has both versions listed at 50 yen.

1999 BBM 485 Naoyuki Ohmura

This is another case with an incorrect photo (kind of) but I think I understand what happened here.  Notice in the above card that while the player's number on the card is 7, the player's uniform shows #60.  Ohmura had worn #60 prior to 1999 when he switched his number to 7 so I think this is a picture of him with his old number (there's a possibility that this is a picture of Hironori Fujisaki who took uniform #60 in 1999 but it's unlikely as the little bit of the left sleeve patch looks like the one on the 1998 uniforms and Fujisaki was a pitcher).  I don't have the corrected card but I found it on Yahoo! Japan Auctions (and the auction indicated that it was the corrected version):

SCM #116 has both versions of the card at 50 yen.

(And just so you know, Yoshinaga didn't change his number for 1999 so I don't think his card was corrected for that.)

2000 BBM #360 Seigo Fujishima

I've talked about this one before.  This is the only one of these cards that I have both version of.  The one on the left is the original while the one on the right is the corrected version (obviously).  Takashi did not know why the change was made although I think he thinks that the original photo is not Fujishima.  SCM #116 has both cards at 50 yen.

2000 BBM #374 Takashi Yoshida and #377 Yuji Yoshioka

This is another issue with the head shots on the back of the cards - the head shots of the players are switched on the original ('a') version of the cards.  So Yoshioka is on the back of Yoshida's card and Yoshida is on the back of Yoshioka's card:

Yoshioka's facial hair makes it kind of obvious.  I don't have the corrected version of the cards and I couldn't find an image of them.  SCM #116 has all four of the cards at 50 yen.

2001 BBM #284 Taka Miura

This is a fairly straight forward one - the original version of the card has the player's name as "Takashi Miura" rather than "Taka Miura".  Here's the corrected version (from Yahoo! Japan Auctions):

SCM #116 has both versions of the card at....wait for it...50 yen yet again.

I don't know for sure but I'm pretty confident in saying that the corrected versions of the 1999-2001 cards were released as part of BBM's Late Series releases those years.  I don't know how the corrected versions were released for 1993 and 1995 but the corrections may have been somewhat limited which would explain why some versions are more expensive than others.

SCM does not list the Reader/Leader variants from the 2000 BBM set as separate versions but obviously these are another example of corrected cards.

Thanks again to Takashi for all his help.  Anything incorrect here is my fault, not his.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Card Of The Week August 21

I went to the Cardinals - Phillies game last Friday night up in Philadelphia.  I was hoping to get a chance to see former Samsung Lion and Hanshin Tiger reliever Seung-Hwan Oh pitch for the Cardinals - especially since Oh has been the Cardinals closer lately and seeing him would imply the Cardinals were winning the game (and the Cardinals are my favorite MLB team after the Red Sox).

It didn't look good for seeing him, however, as the Phillies were leading 3-1 going into the ninth inning.  But then Jedd Gyorko hit a two run home run to tie the game up.  Oh came in the bottom of the ninth.  He gave up a single and an intentional walk that inning but kept the Phillies from scoring.  He pitched the bottom of the tenth as well with the game still tied and retired the side in order, striking out two in the process.  The Cardinals took the lead in the top of the 11th and Oh was replaced on the mound by Alex Reyes, who got the save.  Oh ended up as the winning pitcher.

Here's Oh's card from the 2015 BBM Tigers set (#T11):

Thursday, August 18, 2016

More New Stuff

Several new sets have been announced recently:

- The last time I did a "new cards post" I mentioned that Sports Graphic Number was releasing a set in September featuring Hiroki Kuroda and Takahiro Arai of the Carp to celebrate the two of them reaching the Meikyukai this season (actually I left out that part).  BBM apparently has decided to rush a similarly themed box set out next week to preempt the Sports Graphic Number set.  BBM's box set will be called "200 Wins & 2000 Hits" and will also feature Kuroda and Arai.  Each box will contain 25 cards - 23 cards in the base set, an insert card (one of seven possible foil signed cards) and a "special" insert card (one of 11 possible memorabilia cards or one of three possible "super metallic" cards or one of an unspecified number of autograph cards).

- BBM's annual premium set will be released in late September.  For the fifth year in a row the set is called Genesis (I make the distinction simply because the set was previously known as Diamond Heroes from 1996 to 2001 and Touch The Game from 2002 to 2011).  The base set contains 120 cards - 108 player cards (9 from each team) and 12 team checklists - and there will be three 12 card insert sets - ELITE OF NINE, STADIUM JEWEL and CROSS FREEZE - but honestly no one really cares all the much about the base set or the insert sets - Genesis is all about the chase cards.  As always there is a bewildering amount of what BBM refers to as "Premium insert cards" - memorabilia cards including "big patch", "super patch", and "bat grip end" plus cards with more than one piece of memorabilia on them and a wide variety of autograph cards including autographed memorabilia cards (at least autographed balls) and multi-player autographs.  There is also some sort of booklet card available.  There's also the usual crazy parallel versions of the base sets.  I think the insert cards are all serially numbered to 50 but I don't know for sure.

- The checklist for Calbee's Series Three appeared on line recently.  Like the two previous Series this year there will be 72 player cards in the set (six per team).  There's also a 12 card "Exciting Scene" subset and the usual four card Checklist subset meaning that the base set will be 88 cards again (like it was for Series Two).  As always there is also a 24 card "Star" premium subset/insert set.  I haven't seen a release date for the set yet but it usually comes out in mid to late September.

- The Dragons are celebrating their 80th Anniversary this season.  BBM snuck out a kind of lousy Anniversary set last winter and now Epoch has decided to try their hand at one.  The set is called something like "Chunichi Dragons 80th Anniversary Record Breakers" and will be out in late August or early September.  I'm a little confused on the details but I think it's sold by the box (and a box has an MSRP of 11,200 yen or roughly $112).  Each box contains two mini-boxes and each mini-box has 11 cards.  I think there's a guarantee of two autographs in each box (which would probably be one in each mini-box) which I think means that the other 10 cards in the mini-box would be base set cards.  There are 49 cards in the base set which includes Dragons manager (at the time the set went to press anyway) Motonobu Tanishige and both active and OB Dragons players.  There's a number of different autograph cards available including autographed parallels of the base set cards and "booklet" cards featuring multiple player autographs on baseballs.

Monday, August 15, 2016

RIP Yasumitsu Toyoda

Hall Of Famer Yasumitsu Toyoda passed away yesterday at age 81.  Toyoda was signed by the Nishitetsu Lions out of high school (in Ibaraki) in 1953 and was the Pacific League Rookie Of The Year that season.  He spent 10 years with the Lions, making six Best 9 teams at shortstop and winning two batting crowns.  He moved to the then-Kokutetsu Swallows in 1963 and played for them for seven seasons (during which time the team name changed first to the Sankei Swallows and then the Sankei Atoms).  He made the All Star team 9 times - 7 times with the Lions and twice with Kokutetsu.  He was a player-coach with the Lions in 1962 and with the Atoms in 1968 and 1969.  He also coached with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1972.  Since he hung up the uniform he had been a TV and radio commentator as well as an author.  He was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2006.

I have a couple cards of him from his playing days but most of the cards I have for him are OB cards that have been issued in the past 16 years.

1959 Marusho JCM 39

1964 Marukami JCM 14g

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #434

2008 BBM Lions Memorial #34

2013 Epoch JPBA Rookie Of The Year #21

Sunday, August 14, 2016

1994 Calbee Hokkaido

Sean did a post a few weeks back talking about a 1994 Calbee Hideki Matsui card he had recently picked up.  He mentioned in the post that Calbee actually did two separate sets in 1994 - the "regular" set (which appears to have been issued in four series of 36 cards each for a total of 144 cards) and a regional set that was only issued in Hokkaido and has come to be known as (naturally) the Hokkaido set.

Sean mentioned that the 1994 regular set is hard to find and the regional set is even more scarce.  While that may be true, I was fortunate enough to get a large number of the Hokkaido cards.  Several years ago there was a a seller on Ebay who had a number of unopened packs that I picked up.  I ended up with 29 of the 39 cards in the set (along with a couple doubles).

The most significant thing about the 1994 Calbee Hokkaido set is that it includes the first Calbee cards of Ichiro Suzuki.  It looks like the set was originally only 36 cards (which would have been the same size as each of the Series from the regular set) which did not include Ichiro but then they later issued three cards of him (numbered C-37 to C-39) to take the set to 39 cards.  Unfortunately, I did not get any of the Ichiro cards in the packs that I bought off Ebay (although I do have a reprint of #C-37 that Calbee issued in 2001).

The set itself includes most of the major stars of NPB at the time - Hideki Matsui (3 cards), Koji Akiyama, Hideo Nomo, Hideki Irabu, Hiromitsu Ochiai, Atsuya Furuta, Kazuhiro Kiyohara, Kimiyasu Kudoh, Tatsunori Hara, Masumi Kuwata, Masaki Saito and Tsuyoshi Shinjyo are all in the set along with Shigeo Nagashima who was managing the Giants at the time.

The design of the set was a throwback of sorts for Calbee.  For the previous five years (1990-94), Calbee's designs had moved away from the simple "full bleed photo with Japanese text" design that they had mostly used from 1973 to 1989.  The 1990 set either featured a bottom border with the player's name and uniform number (for the first Series) or the player's name in English (for the remainder of the set).  The 1991 set also featured the player's name in English while the 1992-94 sets had actual graphics drawn on the card.  This set, however, featured no graphics on the front and no English text on the front or the back (the first time since the first Series in 1989 and the last time until this year that the "regular" Calbee cards in a set would no have any English on them).

There was at least one occasion where Calbee used the same picture for a player in both the regular set and the Hokkaido set.  I'll use this to illustrate the difference in the card design:

1994 Calbee #15 (left) and Calbee Hokkaido #C-26 (right)
The backs of the cards were multi-colored and featured a head shot of the player.  This is the first time that Calbee had card backs like this - pretty much every thing before this was monochrome.  This has obviously become a standard for them in the years since (and was undoubtedly influenced by BBM doing it for their 1993 set).

Back of #C-31 (Takahiro Ikeyama)

Here's some of the other cards from the set.  I was lucky enough to pull several of the more valuable cards from the set so I'll take the opportunity to show off:

#C-1 (Hideki Matsui)

#C-20 (Hideki Matsui)

#C-25 (Hideo Nomo)

#C-23 (Tsuyoshi Shinjyo)

#C-5 (Tomonori Maeda)
Engel states that the Ichiro and Nomo cards are commonly counterfeited.  Since I pulled the Nomo from a pack I'm feeling pretty good about its authenticity.

The Calbee Collector website has a little more information about the set.

Card Of The Week August 14

The Chunichi Dragons have been having a very poor season so far this year and last week their manager, Motonobu Tanishige, resigned after being asked to step down.  He is being replaced on an interim basis by head coach Shigekazu Mori.  Rumor has it that Dragons ni-gun Michihiro Ogasawara is the front runner to replace Tanishige on a permanent basis.

Mori has coached for the Dragons since 2004 with the exception of 2012-13 when he was a sports commentator.  It looks like Hiromitsu Ochiai brought him in when he became manager in 2004 and Mori resigned when Ochiai was let go after the 2011 season.  Ochiai then brought him back when he took over as GM in 2014.

Mori spent 10 years as a pitcher with the Seibu Lions from 1979 to 1988 and another 11 years as a coach for them.  He had a couple two year stints coaching with the Fighters and Baystars before joining the Dragons.

Here's the only card I have of him wearing a Dragons uniform - from the 2007 BBM Dragons set (#D003):