Sunday, February 7, 2016

Four New Sets From Four Different Companies

A couple new sets have been announced recently from a couple different companies.

- BBM is releasing their annual Rookie Edition set next week.  This is a pack based set that has 129 cards in the base set - 117 cards for the 2016 draft picks, two cards that show all the draft picks and 12 "Then & Now" cards.  There are two insert sets - a 12 card "Next Generation" set and a two card "Rookie Of The Year" set.  There will also be facsimile parallel versions of the draft pick cards and the usual assorted autographed cards - all apparently of OB players.

- Epoch is releasing yet another ultra high end set in conjunction with the OB Club.  This one is called "Sayanora Home Run" and it's being sold in boxes of five cards for 16,200 yen (~$130).  Each box contains five cards - 2 cards from the base set, a "hologram" signed card (that I think is a parallel to the base set) and two autographed cards.  There are 27 cards in the base set.  The set appears to celebrate famous walk-off home runs, including Yutaka Enatsu's that ended the extra inning no-hitter he threw in 1973.  The set will be out on March 19th.

- There is an odd set for the Fighters that is being released by a company that I think is called AI.  It features nine members of the Fighters in street clothes rather than their uniforms.  It's a pack based set with 57 cards in the base set, 18 "special" cards and two "rare" cards - I don't think that in this case the "special" cards are necessarily autograph or memorabilia cards.  The set will be released on April 23rd.

- The latest KBO set was released last month.  It's called the 2015-16 Gold Version set and looks very similar to last year's Blue Edition.  I haven't seen an English translation of the set information but it looks like there's a total of 327 possible cards in the set although only about 100 or so are not short prints.  There are 10 extremely rare (1 of 1) "Super Book" cards that feature both an autograph and a piece of memorabila (patch?) for a player.  There are 14 die cut "Players Choice Award" cards that feature autographs.  There are 40 different memorabilia cards - 10 patch cards, 10 dual jersey cards (jerseys from two different players on the card) and 20 jersey cards - along with 100 autograph cards.  There are 18 cards that I think are some sort of "Record Holder" cards that I think are short printed.  Each card is numbered to either 60, 200 or 500.  There are 45 "Top Ranker" (essentially Leader) cards and 50 "normal" cards (which have a "gold" parallel version).  The set is available via Gmarket.  I used this listing to gather the information shared here (which may not be 100% accurate).

Card Of The Week February 7

Kenta Maeda has an elaborate stretching routine that he does both before games and between innings.  It's called the MaeKen Taiso:



It is well known enough that it gets copied by mascots:




as well as other players like Hayato Sakamoto (at an All Star game at Seibu Dome):




It has also made a baseball card at least once:

2014 Calbee #228
It will be interesting to see if Maeda will still do the stretching between innings now that he's with the Dodgers.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Card Of The Week January 31

Hey everybody, let's hike up our pants...



Kimiyasu Kudoh has gotten into the spirit of things:

1988 JBR 22

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spring Training In Arizona



There has been a lot of speculation over the last few years about when Shohei Ohtani will be coming to North America.  I can answer that question - he's coming this week!  Of course, he's going back to Japan a couple weeks later...

Last spring, the Fighters announced that they would be holding the first part of their 2016 Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.  This is not the first time that an NPB team has trained in the US although I can't remember that last time it happened.

Details have been released over the last month on the Fighters website including a schedule of events and a list of players attending the camp.  The Fighters will be at the Padres facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex from February 1st to the 15th.  They will play intrasquad games on the 6th and 14th and games against KBO teams on the 8th (Lotte Giants), 10th (Lotte again) and 13th (NC Dinos).  There are workouts scheduled for all other days except the 5th and 11th.  I think workouts will start around 9:45 each day (including the days that there are games).  As far as I know, all events are open to the public although there is probably an admission charge to the big stadium for the games against the KBO teams.

I've translated the roster of the players and coaches the Fighters are sending to Peoria.  This obviously is a great opportunity to get autographs of Japanese players.



As you may have guessed from the Fighters' opponents in their spring training games, there are several KBO teams training in Arizona as well.  From what I've been able to figure out from looking at MyKBO.net, team websites and asking questions on the MyKBO.net forum on Facebook, there are six KBO teams training in Arizona (and they are already there as they started in mid-January).  The Lotte Giants are using the Mariners facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex.  The LG Twins are at the Dodger's facilities at the Camelback Ranch in Glendale.  The KIA Tigers are using the Diamondbacks spring training quarters at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.  The Nexen Heroes are Surprise but I don't know if they are using the Royals or the Rangers facilities (both are at the same stadium complex).  The KT Wiz and NC Dinos are both training in the Tucson area (everyone else is in the greater Phoenix area).  NC is at Reid Park but I haven't been able to figure out where KT is training.  All the teams will be there through at least the first week of February - you can see details for each team's schedule here.

The SK Wyverns are currently training in Florida but I do not know any details of where they are.  NC and KT are doing the second part of their spring training in the Los Angeles area but I don't know where they will be doing that or what the time frame for it is.

On a personal note, I will be in Arizona for work in early February and I'm hoping to make it over to Peoria to see the Fighters as well as check out some of the KBO teams at their training.  So hopefully there will be some future posts with pictures.

UPDATE - there's an article in a local paper giving details about the Fighters' training schedule.  I will quibble with one thing they say - this is not the first time in 30 years a Japanese team has trained in the US as the Swallows used to train in Yuma until the late 1990's.  (H/T NPB Reddit)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Card Of The Week January 24

Spent the day digging out from a record snow fall.  Makes me think of warm places like this:

2004 BBM Tigers #T95
Not sure of where or when this is - I figure it's somewhere in Arizona during the 1980's.

UPDATE - I'd be willing to bet that this is Tempe Diablo Stadium which is currently the spring training home of the Angels.

Friday, January 22, 2016

More Memories Of Uniform - Fighters Edition

I really hadn't intended to take a six month break from doing these posts but life and work have been keeping me pretty busy lately (and 22 retiring players that I felt were worth doing posts on kept me pretty busy as well).  I'll try to get back to doing these somewhat regularly (although they are quite time consuming).

The team that is now the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters was founded after the war as the Senators.  It was founded by Saburo Yokozawa who had managed a pre-war team called the Tokyo Senators from 1936-37 but this team is not considered a continuation of that team (technically that team is now the Saitama Seibu Lions but officially that team is simply defunct).  The team played the 1946 season as the Senators, then was sold to Tokyu who renamed the team the Tokyu Flyers.  There was a brief merger in 1948 with the Daiei club which resulted in another name change (the Kyuei Flyers) for that season before Daiei "unmerged" with them to buy the Kinsei Stars and the team name reverted to the Tokyu Flyers.  The team was sold to Toei in 1954 and renamed the Toei Stars.  In 1973 the team was sold to the Nittaku Home real estate company and renamed the Nittaku Home Flyers.  Nittaku Home would only own the team that one year, selling out to Nippon-Ham at the end of the season.  The new name for the team starting in 1974 was the Nippon-Ham Fighters.  After sharing first Korakuen Stadium and later the Tokyo Dome with the Yomiuri Giants for 40 years, the team moved to Sapporo in 2004 and changed their name to the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

As I did for the earlier posts I am using The History Of Uniform and Professional Baseball Uniforms Encyclopedia 1936-2013 as my primary sources as well as Yakyu Baka's Uniform posts.

1946

2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Batters Edition #09

1947 (2 different)

1947 JBR 36


1948

1948-49 (2 different)

1949 (3 different)

2005 BBM Glorious Stars #015

~1949 Uncatalogued Bromide

1950 (2 different)

1950 JBR 9

1951-53 Home

1951-53 Away

1953-60 Home

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #097

1953-60 Away

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #107

1961-67 Home

1967 Kabaya-Leaf #409

1961-67 Away

2006 BBM Nostalgic Baseball #056

1967 Away Alternate

1968 Home

1968 Away

2007 BBM Draft Story #021

1969-71 Home

2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #T-03

1969-71 Away

1972 Home

2014 BBM Classic #090

1972 Away

2008 BBM Back To The 70's #054

1973 Home

2013 Epoch Rookie Of The Year #29

1973 Away

1973 Alternate (7 different)

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #097

1974 Home

2008 BBM Back To The 70's #020

1974 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #098

1974-78 Home

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #099

1974-78 Away

1977 Calbee #148

1979-81 Home

1980 Calbee #215

1979-81 Away

2008 BBM Back To The 70's #055

1982-87 Home

1983 Calbee #253

1982-87 Away

1983 Calbee #560

1988-92 Home

1990 Calbee #23

1988-92 Away

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #100

1993-2003 Home

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #101

1993-2003 Away

1997 BBM #75

2004-10 Home

2007 BBM 2nd Version #513

2004-10 Away

2006 BBM 2nd Version #511

2004-10 Spring Training

2004 BBM 1st Version #150

2005 Throwback

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #102
2007 Hokkaido

2014 BBM WE LOVE HOKKAIDO #08

2008 Hokkaido

2014 BBM WE LOVE HOKKAIDO #06

2009 Hokkaido

2014 BBM WE LOVE HOKKAIDO #18

2010 Hokkaido

2014 BBM WE LOVE HOKKAIDO #21

2011- Home

2014 BBM 2nd Version #535

2011- Away

2013 BBM 2nd Version #561

2011- Spring Training

2012 BBM 1st Version #050

2012 Alternate

2013 Hokkaido

2014 BBM WE LOVE HOKKAIDO #01

2014 Hokkaido

2014 Throwback

2015 BBM Memories Of Uniform #105

2015 Hokkaido

2016 BBM The Ballpark Stories #105
2015 Throwback

Notes:

This one was a bit of a challenge as BBM has only done one OB team set for the Fighters and it was to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their move to Hokkaido so it wasn't anything near comprehensive.  I had been hoping for a 70th Anniversary set last year but it didn't happen.  BBM has had a handful of OB cards that depict players from the 1947-53 Tokyu and Kyuei Flyers but most of them don't show off the uniform very well so I didn't use them.

There are some subtle differences between uniforms that might not be obvious (or visible).  For example, the 1979-81 uniforms differ from the 1974-78 uniforms in that they have belts and the player's name on the back.  The 1982-87 uniforms only differ from the 1988-92 uniforms because of the hats - HOU treats 1982-92 as one uniform but PBUE splits them into two (which is what I went with).

I have only four cards showing members of the Nittaku Home Flyers and two of them are in this post.  The other two commemorate Naoki Takahashi's no-hitter and show the home uniform.

One interesting tidbit of trivia - the 1946 team wore "hand-me-down" uniforms from the 1936 Hankyu team.

This is the only team so far that I've seen have a "spring training" uniform identified in PBUE.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Hall Of Fame Class

The new Hall Of Fame inductees were announced today.  Former Giants pitcher Masaki Saitoh and former Lions, Hawks, Giants and Baystars pitcher Kimiyasu Kudoh were both elected in the "Players Division" vote.  Orions star from the 1950's and 60's Kihachi Enomoto was elected in the "Expert Division" while the "Special Selection" Committee elected two executives - Takizo Matsumoto and Masataka Yamanaka.

By the way Jim Allen recently wrote a post on Enomoto and why he deserved to be elected.

Here are some cards of the new inductees.  I've done posts previously for Kudoh (when he retired) and Enomoto (when he passed away).

Masaki Saitoh

1987 Takara Giants #41

2001 BBM #30

Kimiyasu Kudoh

1982 Takara Lions #47

2009 BBM Baystars #YB28

Kihachi Enomoto

1958 JCM 68

2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Batters Edition #80

Masatake Yamanaka


I want to point out here that Yamanaka never played professional baseball but the 48 wins he earned pitching for Hosei in the late 1960's is the career record for the Tokyo Big Six league and he was included in BBM's 2011 Legend Of The Tokyo Big Six set.  I'm pretty confident in saying that this is the only baseball card he has ever had.

2011 BBM Legend Of The Tokyo Big Six #105