Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Bevy of New BBM Releases

I mentioned a few weeks back that there was a bunch of upcoming BBM sets that they had not yet mentioned on their website.  They have been doing some catch up in the last week or so, listing six new sets.  Here are the details:

- This year's 1st Version set will apparently be the smallest 1st Version set ever.  The base set will only have 372 cards in it.  The big change is that there will be essentailly no subsets at all.  There will be 324 player cards (27 per team), 12 team checklists (I'm hoping that they are not mascot cards but I'm expecting that they will be) and (after a one year absence) 36 cards for a cross set subset (called "Cross Plasma" this year).  There will also be two 12 card insert sets called "Allrounders" and "Lightning" and the usual plethora of parallels and autograph cards.  The set will be released in mid-April.

- The theme for BBM's annual Icons box set this year is "Ace".  The set will contain 36 cards in its base set that I'm assuming include three pitchers from each team.  The box set will also contain (as usual) one "special" card that could be a parallel or autographed card.  It will be released in late March.

- BBM announced two team specific box sets to be released in late March.  There's Giant Step for the Giants and Horizon for the Fighters.  Both sets contain 28 cards - 27 cards for the base set and one "special" card.  The "special" card for Horizon could be a parallel, an autograph card or a memorabilia card but it's not clear if Giant Step's "special" card is anything other than a parallel.

- BBM also announced the first two of their pack based team sets for the year.  They're starting out this year with the two last place teams from last season - the Swallows and the Eagles.  The base sets for both teams have 81 cards.  The Swallows set has 18 insert cards split into two nine card "Shining Swallows" sets - a silver version and a gold version (I don't think they are parallels of each other - BBM lists both sets separately and the sample cards are quite different).  The Eagles set has two inset sets - a nine card "Shining Shooting Star" set and a three card "Milestone Card" set.  Both sets will include random parallels and autograph cards.  Both sets will be out in late March.

BBM still has not released information on the Tigers 80th Anniversary set or the Buffaloes and Hawks team sets.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Card Of The Week March 1

It didn't occur to me until the other day but with Norihiro Nakamura retiring a few weeks back, there's now a new active home run leader in NPB.  Nakamura had been the active leader with 404 home runs.  I was a bit surprised to discover that the new active leader is Michihiro Ogasawara of the Dragons with 378 home runs.  Nobuhiko Matsunaka of the Hawks is second with 352 and Shinnosuke Abe of the Giants (who was the player I expected to be the active leader) is third with 346.  Both Ogasawara and Matsunaka have been playing very sparingly the last few years due to injury and age and it's not out of the question that Abe could be the active leader by the end of 2015, especially now that he's moved to first base full time.

Here's a card of Ogasawara from back when he was just starting out with the Fighters (1999 Calbee #239 gold signature parallel):

Here's the active home run leader boardt from NPB's website - I think it's kind of odd that they still list Takashi Yamasaki and Kenta Kurihara even though they both retired at the end of 2013 and they have the 2014 totals for everyone.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

2000 BBM Giants Victory Road Set

I did a post the other day about a promo card for a set that BBM did for the Giants that was distributed to subscribers of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in 1999.  I don't know a whole lot about that particular set but I do have a similar set that BBM did in 2000.

This set was distributed to the newspaper subscribers in six four card packs that were labelled Series I, Series II, etc up to Series IV.  Each pack for each Series contained the same four cards (i.e, Series I contained cards 01-04, Series II contained 05-08, etc) although there was the possibility of parallel cards.

Like the 1999 set, the 2000 set was only Giants players.  Series I through III and V and VI contained the "regular" cards in the set.  One card in each Series had two possible parallel versions - a "blue silver" version (one in every three packs) and a "gold" version (one in every 10 packs).



Series IV contained four cards using a different design than the rest of the set, although each of the players in the Series (Akira Etoh, Hideki Matsui, Yoshinobu Takahashi and Koji Uehara) had "regular" player cards in the rest of the set.  There is a parallel "blue silver" version of each of these four cards (1 in every 100 packs).

I picked this set up in unopened packs off of Yahoo! Japan Auctions a few years back but I didn't get any of the parallels though.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kickstarter Campaign for Masanori Murakami Book Tour

Rob Fitts' latest book "Mashi:  The Unfulfilled Baseball Dreams of Masanori Murakami, the First Japanese Major Leaguer" will be published on April 1st this year (and is available for pre-order at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble).  Rob is planning a lecture tour this summer with Murakami to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Murakami's only full MLB season.  He's started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to cover Murakami's travel expenses.  There are some great "thank you" gifts available for different levels of pledges starting as low as $5.  Check out the campaign's webpage for all the details.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Card Of The Week February 22

I picked up a kind of odd item off of Ebay recently.  In 1999 BBM did a team set for the Yomiuri Giants that was distributed to subscribers of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.  The set was apparently distributed in three card packs for six different series.  Each series had three "regular" cards and three "special" cards.  Engel describes the "special" cards as a parallel of the regular cards but this is not the case - the "regular" cards and the "special" cards have completely different checklists and don't include the same players.

The card I got off Ebay appears to be some sort of promotional item for the set.  It's of Daisuke Motoki and has information about Series 4 for the set.  It shows the front of the three "regular" cards from Series 4 - Domingo Martinez, Toshihisa Nishi and Koji Uehara.  Motoki is one of the "special" cards for Series 4 (along with Yoshinobu Takahashi and Masaki Saitoh) so I actually wondered for a little bit if this was the "special" card.  The fact that it is oversized (roughly 8 inches by 5 1/2 inches) kind of dissuaded me from that along with the fact that it has no card number (Motoki's card is #S12).  Then I found the real "special" card on Yahoo! Japan Auctions.  I wonder if this was some sort of advertisement for the set inserted into the newspaper.

One thing I found interesting is that the back has an advertisement for another BBM set - the Shigeo Nagashima tribute set called "Mr. Giants".

New Non-BBM Stuff

I've seen announcements about seven upcoming BBM sets in various places around the net but since they haven't listed them on their website yet I will instead just catch up on the non-BBM releases that have been announced.

- Front Runner Trading Cards (Frontier International) is apparently renaming their "Rookies & Young Stars" team box sets this year as "Heroes & Rookies" (with a new "HR" logo on the cards).  Given that it was a hard sell on some of the players being "young stars", this makes a lot more sense.  (Not that there's any need for the set name to be literally true.)  The first two of these sets are for the Lions and the Buffaloes.  The sets are smaller than in the past - I think there are only 18 cards in each base set.  Each box will contain the base set plus one of a bewildering variety of autograph cards - including ones that have two or three signatures on them.  Both sets will be out in late March and have an MSRP of 9990 yen (~$84).

- The Tigers are gearing up to celebrate their 80th Anniversary this year (BBM will be doing an 80th Anniversary set).  But 2015 is also the 30th Anniversary of the first (and so far only) Nippon Series championship for the Tigers and Epoch is doing a box set to celebrate the milestone.  Each box will contain 52 cards - 45 cards for the base set, five parallel cards and two autograph cards.  Some of the autograph cards feature two or three signatures.  The set will be released in early March.

- Details (and checklist) for Calbee Series One were released last week.  It looks like the base set (player cards plus subset/non-premium insert sets) has actually grown a little from the 100 per Series last year to 103 this year (at least for the first Series).  Once again there will be 84 player cards (seven per team) which will include several players returning to NPB from MLB (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Kensuke Tanaka) and at least one player who switch teams over the winter (Yoshihisa Naruse).  There will be three subsets (or non-premium insert sets):  a 12 card (one for each team) "Exciting Scene" set, three "Legend Retirement Player" cards (for Atsunori Inaba, Makoto Kaneko and Tomoya Satozaki) and four checklist cards (which appear to have a theme of the 2014 post season).  The ubiquitous Star (premium) insert set is back which will have (as usual) 24 cards - two for each team.  There is also a 24 card "Title Holder" set that is available as some sort of mail in premium (the 24 cards are not divided evenly between the teams) and a "lucky card" of Tomoyuki Sugano - I think it's a 3D style card.  I believe that he "lucky card" is available as a redemption from a special card found in the packs.  As usual, the cards will be distributed with potato chip bags and will hit the stores on March 23.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

More Memories Of Uniform - Marines Edition

I was a little disappointed in the scope of BBM's Memories Of Uniforms set a few months back.  I felt that they could have given a somewhat better range of uniforms for each team.  I've decided to do a series of posts for each team that shows as many uniforms as I can find that did not make the BBM set.  I'm using two sources for this - my increasingly well worn copy of History Of Uniform and a mook called something like Professional Baseball Uniforms Encyclopedia 1936-2013.

My plan is to do the current teams in alphabetical order then hit the defunct teams.  I hope to do this relatively quickly but I fear this will drag out for a year or so like so many of my previous projects have.

First up is the Chiba Lotte Marines.  The Marines entered professional baseball in Japan in 1950 as the Mainichi Orions.  They played their home games in Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo.  Following the 1957 season, the Orions and the Daiei Unions merged to become the Daimai Orions.  They moved into a new ballpark (Tokyo Stadium) in 1962 and the team was renamed the Tokyo Orions before the 1964 season.  After 1968, Lotte bought the team and renamed them the Lotte Orions.  Tokyo Stadium went bankrupt in the early 70's which prompted an existential crisis for the team that nearly resulted in them merging with the Toei Flyers.  The team moved to Sendai for a number of year, then back to Kanto, replacing the Whales in Kawasaki when Taiyo moved to Yokohama in 1978.  The team moved from Kawasaki to Chiba in time for the 1992 season and was renamed again the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The selection of uniforms in BBM's Memories of Uniform for the Marines was pretty weak.  There are no cards for the pre-Lotte team and only one card showing a Lotte Orion uniform (the away uniform used from 1973 - 1991).  Also included were the away uniform from 1992-1994 and the home uniform from 1995 to the present.  The other uniforms were an alternate uniform used from 2005-07 and two throwback uniforms - the 1973-1991 Lotte home uniform used in 2008 and the 1992-94 Marines home uniform used in 2011.

The Mainichi home uniforms were white with pinstripes and an old English style "M" on the left breast.  The only real change in the eight years they used this uniform is that there was a red, white and blue patch that appeared on the left sleeve in 1951 and 1952 that celebrated the team's victory in the first Nippon Series in 1950.

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baesball #085

The Mainichi away uniform changed a couple of times however.  The initial away uniform in 1950 was gray with "Mainichi" across the front and a star patch on the left sleeve.  This is the best shot of it that I could find in the cards I have:

1950 JBR2 Shosei Go

They changed the text on the front to say "Orions" in the 1951-55 version of the away uniform.  Like the home uniform, the away uniform featured a patch for the 1950 Nippon Series championship in 1951 and 1952, which can be seen in this shot:

2009 BBM Legend Players #087 (Kaoru Betto)
The text changed again, this time to "Tokyo" in the away uniforms used for the final two seasons of the Mainichi era, 1956-57.  The red, white and blue left sleeve patch reappeared although this time it just said "Orions".

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #040
Following the merger with Daiei the home uniforms remained white with pinstripes but they now had "Orions" across the front.  This card shows the home uniform but the color of the text is not correct - it was black not red.

1958 JCM 54 "Who Am I?" Menko (Shoichi Ono)
The away uniforms now had "Daimai" across the front.

1958 JCM 68 (Kihachi Enomoto)
The above uniforms were used in 1958 and 1959.  In 1960, the team modified the home uniform to include the number on the pants at the top of the left leg.  They also introduced an interlocking "D" and "M" hat that was only used this season.  The away uniform was grey with white pinstripes and said "Tokyo" across the front.  I have been unable to find any examples of the away uniform but here's two for the home version:

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #094

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #214
They removed the uniform number from the pants after the 1960 season and moved it to the front of the jersey.  The home uniform was otherwise pretty much the same but the away uniform went back to solid grey with "Tokyo" across the front.  The hat logo changed to something looking kind of like an old English "D" for 1961, an "O" for 1962-64 and a "T" and "O" for 1965.  Here's a couple examples of each of the hats with two shots of the home uniform and one of the away:

2006 BBM Nostalgic Stars #092

2009 Epoch All Japan Baseball Foundation 15th Anniversary #62

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #249
The Orions introduced some color into their uniforms in 1966, changing the text on the uniforms to red.  The hat logo changed to a solid red "T".  Unfortunately I don't have color photos of either the home or away uniforms and the pictures I do have don't show the cap:

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #369

2007 BBM Draft Story #001
The uniforms changed again for the 1967-68 seasons.  For the first time, the home uniform did not feature pinstripes.  The text on the front of the uniform was still red but it was a smaller font and the number on the front was now in blue or black.  The hat logo changed to a white "T".  Unfortunately I do not have any cards showing this uniform.

The uniforms used during the first four years of the Lotte era were very similar to those of the final two Tokyo Orions seasons.  The text on the front of the uniforms remained red and the home uniform remained pinstripe free.  The biggest changes were that both the home and away uniforms now said "Lotte" across the front (with "Orions" on the left sleeve) and the numbers were removed from the front of the uniform.  The home and away uniforms were essentially identical except for the color.  The hat logo changed to an interlocking "L" and "O" design.

2002 BBM All Time Heroes #185

2002 BBM All Time Heroes #227

1973 brought the final Lotte Orions uniform - a design used until 1992.  Again the home and away uniforms were virtually identical except for color.  The player's name was added to the back of the uniform at this time.  Here's the home uniform (the away uniform was in the set):

1991 BBM #192
The name change in 1992 brought major changes to the uniform.  The front of both the home and away uniforms now said "Marines" in pink.  The home uniforms featured "Chiba" on the left sleeve while the away uniforms had "Lotte".  The hat logo changed to a fairly simple design with "CLM".  Here's the home uniform (the away uniform was in the set):

1994 BBM #236

The home uniform the Marines adopted in 1995 is the same one being used today.  It's very similar to the original Mainichi uniform, white with pinstripes and an "M" in black on the left breast.  The biggest change is the inclusion of the uniform number on the the front of the jersey on the right side.  (This card was included in the set).  The away uniform also did away with the pink text and simply said "Marines" on the front with the number on the left side.

1997 BBM #208
The Marines introduced an alternate black away jersey in 2000.  It's the same design as the regular jersey but with the black and grey inverted:

2000 BBM Late Series #568
I'm not entirely sure but I think that a black jersey became the standard away jersey starting in 2005.  This uniform featured red piping on the front and a red bill on the cap:

2005 BBM Marines #M030
The away jersey changed again in 2010 to the one now in use:

2010 BBM 2nd Version #708
The Marines have used a large number of alternate uniforms over the years.  I was not able to track them all down (most significantly I was unable to find a card showing the 1998 sleeveless jersey) but I was able to find the 2003-04 alternate (3rd) visitors jersey, the 2005-07 alternate home uniform, the 2008-09 home and away alternates and the 2010 "3rd" jersey.  I'm not positive but I think a bunch of the post-2004 alternates were used for interleague.

2003 BBM 2nd Version #718

2011 BBM Marines 20th Anniversary #86

2008 BBM 2nd Version #642

2009 BBM 2nd Version #602

2010 BBM 2nd Version #709