Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Takashi Toritani

Back on September 8th Takashi Toritani of the Tigers became the fourth Japanese player to reach 2000 hits this season.  Toritani was the Tigers fourth round draft pick out of Waseda University back in the fall 2003 draft.  He's been with the Tigers ever since, having taken over the starting shortstop position from Atsushi Fujimoto in 2005.  He's made the All Star team seven times (2005-06, 2012-15, 2017) and been named to the Best 9 team six times (2008, 2010, 2011, 2013-15).  He's also won four Golden Gloves (2011, 2013-15).  He has played in two Nippon Series (2005, 2014), both in losing efforts for the Tigers.  He's played for the Japan National team once for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.  He made an attempt to come to MLB following the 2014 season but while he did attracted some interest, he didn't get a deal that he was happy with and he stayed in Japan.

Here's a sampling of cards from though out his career:

2004 BBM 1st Version #213

2005 BBM Nippon Series #41

2007 BBM Tigers #T067

2010 Calbee #025

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big 6 #084

2012 BBM All Stars #A58

2015 Tigers Original Player Card #13

2017 BBM 2nd Version #546

The first card he ever appeared on was #40 in the 2004 BBM Rookie Edition set which I don't have.

RIP Dave Hilton

Former Yakult Swallow and Hanshin Tiger infielder Dave Hilton passed away this past weekend at the age of 67.  Hilton had played for the Padres as well as in the Blue Jays organization before joining the Swallows in 1978 and helping them to their first ever Nippon Series Championship.  His numbers dropped in 1979 and Yakult let him go at the end of the season.  He joined the Hanshin Tigers for 1980 and was the center of controversy when Hanshin fans were upset that manager Don Blasingame was starting Hilton at second base instead of popular rookie Akinobu Okada.  Hilton ended up getting released by the Tigers after only 18 games and he returned to the US, signing a deal with the Pirates to play with their AAA team in Portland, OR.  He retired as a player following the 1982 season.  He managed at the minor league level a couple of times and eventually founded a youth baseball school in Scottsdale, Arizona.

One of the interesting tidbits of trivia about him is that Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has credited seeing Hilton hit a double at Jingu Stadium as the inspiration for him to become a novelist.

Hilton's 1973 Topps rookie card also has Ron Cey and Hall Of Famer Mike Schmidt on it so it's a bit pricey.

Hilton's NPB cards aren't quite as valuable.  He had a number of cards in the Takara, Calbee and Yamakatsu sets from when he was in Japan although most of his cards appear to be from 1979.  TradingCardDB only lists Takara cards for him for 1978 and 1980 although the 1978 Calbee set is poorly checklisted and it wouldn't surprise me to discover that he has a couple 1978 Calbee cards.  The only cards I have for him in this time period are his TCMA card and Yamakatsu card:

1979 TCMA #18

1979 Yamakatsu JY8 #16
He's appeared in two of BBM's OB sets in recent years - the 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary set and the 2013 Deep Impact (Legendary Foreigners Vol. 2) set:

2009 BBM Yakult 40th Anniversary #42

2013 BBM Deep Impact #05
I used Hilton's Baseball-Reference Bullpen biography as a primary source for this post.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dennis Sarfate

Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate broke the NPB single season record for saves a couple weeks back when he notched his 46th save this season, breaking the record of 45 held jointly by Hitoki Iwase and Kyuji Fujikawa.  He has since extended the record to 51.  Now that the Hawks have clinched he's going to take some time off but he'll get some more chances to add to the record starting this coming weekend.

I don't do retrospectives on gaijin players very often so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do one on Sarfate.  He originally came to Japan in 2011 to join the Carp.  After two years in Hiroshima he moved to the Saitama Seibu Lions for one season.  He then moved to Fukuoka in 2014 and has been there ever since.  He's been a closer every season except for 2012 when he was the set up man for Kam Mickolio with the Carp.  Here's a card of his from each year he's been in NPB:

2011 Bandai Owners League 02 #128

2012 Front Runner Carp Starting Lineup #11

2013 BBM 2nd Version #577

2014 BBM 2nd Version #506

2015 BBM Hawks #H32

2016 Calbee #150

2017 BBM 1st Version #039

Card Of The Week September 17

From time to time over the years Calbee offers cards that are only available as part of some sort of mail in redemption process.  A couple of times the cards available have been oversized cards.  The first time they offered the oversized cards was in 1973 and I don't have any of those cards (they are extremely scarce).  They did it again in 1990 and 1991 and I have a couple examples of those.

The 1990 Calbee Big cards were issued in two series.  The first series contained 16 cards while the second series contained 28.  The cards in both series were 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches.  The photos on the first series cards had a border and also had the player's name in English, the team logo and the player's uniform number.  The backs of the card had the usual information that Calbee was putting on the backs of the cards at the time:

The cards also came with a little frame that could be folded to display the card like a picture frame:

The fronts of the second series cards (which I don't have) simply showed a full bleed photo of the player along with a facsimile autograph.  The backs were blank.  According to Engel (where I'm getting most of the background information for these cards from) the cards were issued with a plastic holder of some sort.

At 3 3/16 inches by 4 19/32 inches the 1991 cards were slightly smaller in size than those of the previous year.  The fronts had a full bleed photo of the player along with the player's name in English - very similar to the design of the regular Calbee cards that year.  There were 24 cards in the set and each card had player info on the back that was similar to the info on the back of the regular cards.  These cards were also issued with a plastic holder.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Trade With Ralph

As I mentioned yesterday I made a trade with Ralph Pearce in August.  I sent him 60 or 70 of KBO cards and he sent me around 25 vintage Japanese cards.  Once again I think I got the better part of the deal - Ralph was very generous in what he sent me.  It took me a couple of days to figure out what everything was and there's a couple that I still haven't quite figured out.

Ralph sent me a bunch of old menko cards plus some more recent Lotte and Calbee cards (well, "recent" is kind of relative as the cards are from between 1975 and 1990).  I'll start with the more "recent" stuff:

1975/76 Calbee #345 (John Sipin)

1987 Calbee #280 (Hiromi Makihara)

1989 Calbee #1989 (Kimiyasu Kudoh)

1989 Calbee #30 (Hiromi Makihara)

1989 Lotte #45 (Hiroshi Yugamidani)

1990 Lotte #112

1990 Lotte #72

1990 Lotte #68

1990 Lotte #94
The bulk of the menko cards were from the sets known as "tobacco" menko due to their resemblance to the American tobacco sets from the early 1900's, especially the T206 set.

1957 Yamakatsu JCM 27 Tatsuro Hirooka & Tetsuharu Kawakami

1957 Yamakatsu JCM 27 Kazuhisa Inao

1958 Yamakatsu JCM 33e Tadashi Sugiura & Katsuya Nomura

1959 Marusho JCM 38b Kazuhisa Inao

1959 Marusho JCM 38b Motoshi Fujita

1959 Marusho JCM 38b Yoji Tamadukuri

1959 Marusho JCM 39 Masuho Maeda

1960 Marukami JCM 14c Yoshimi Moritaki

1961 Marusan JCM 12c Minoru Kakimoto

1962 Marukami JCM 14e Mamoru Zaitsu

1962 Doyusha JCM 55 Shigeo Nagashima
I'm not positive I've identified all of these cards correctly.  The Tamadukuri card is not listed as being part of JCM 38b in Engel but it's the only set that it appears to fit into.  I'm a bit amused that the card with Sugiuchi and Nomura on it doesn't identify the player on the far right.

There was also a round menko card that I was able to easily identify:

1950 JRM 14 Kaoru Bettoh
The remaining cards were a bit more of a challenge.  First up is this rectangular menko card of a Stars player.  This appears to be from an uncataloged set.  I eventually figured out it was of Makoto Kozuru ("figure out" is making it sound harder than it was - his name's in the lower right of the card) which made it easy to figure out when the card was made as Kozuru only played for the Stars in 1949:

Next up are two round blank backed menko cards that I think are from the same uncataloged set.  Both players are from the San Francisco Seals.  The Seals did a tour of Japan in late 1949 that was valuable in helping baseball reestablish its popularity in Japan after the war.  There were a number of menko and bromide sets that were issued to commemorate the tour.  I don't know who either of these players are although Ralph mentioned that one of them might be Lefty O'Doul which would be really cool.

The final card is a bit frustrating.  It's a 1960 Tachibana Seika card showing a Dragons player.  But there's nothing on the card to identify the player so I have no idea who it is.  There was a bit when I was thinking it could be Don Newcombe who played for the Dragons in 1962 but the time frame is off (and if it was Newcombe I'd be sending the card back to Ralph because that would be just a little TOO generous - Engel has a value of $2500 for the 1962 Tachibana Seika Newcombe card).  That "8" in the upper right of the card is a point value that could be used to redeem prizes.

So thanks Ralph!  I had a lot of fun identifying the cards.  It was a great way to spend time when I was recovering from my back surgery.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trade With Dan

I made trades with two other collectors back in August and naturally I got both of their trade packages in the mail the day before I went in for surgery so I've been understandably slow at getting these new cards "ingested" into my collection.  I'll do a post on my trade with Ralph Pearce in the next few days - today I want to concentrate on the cards I got from Dan Skrezyna of Korean Cardboard.

Dan was amazingly generous to me.  I sent him three parallel cards that he was looking for from the Forever Ace set from last year.  He sent me a whopping 45 cards back!  Here's what he sent me:

One of the more impossible sets that I'm trying to complete is the "99 Korea-Japan Super Games" subset from the 2000 Teleca set.  Dan sent me this card of Dong-Soo Kim of the LG Twins.  I'm pretty sure that the pitcher is Hideki Okajima of the Yomiuri Giants (he's the only left handed pitcher from the Giants who was on the Japan roster) and the photo is from the game on November 9th, 1999 in Fukuoka Dome.

2000 Teleca #KJ38
The first of the Superstar Baseball sets put out in 2014 had 126 cards in it but 54 of those cards were short prints.  I've got the complete "non-short print" set of 72 cards but I've been trying to pick up all the short prints as well when I can.  Dan sent me two of the ones I needed:

2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-068 (Dae-Hyun Chung)

2014 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC01-081 (Jung-Bae Park)
The remaining 42 cards that Dan sent me was the bulk of the "All Star" subset from last winters' Black Edition set.  The subset doesn't actually reflect last year's All Star games rosters but instead showcases League Leaders in several statistical categories.  The subset has the top 10 finishers in "ERA & Win" and "AVG" and the top 5 finishers in Saves, Holds, Home Runs, Hits and Stolen Bases.  Note that since the set (like all the other "Superstar Baseball" sets) does not include foreign players, it's really the top 5 or 10 Korean finishers in each category.  Several players placed in multiple categories so there's only 37 players represented in the 42 cards I have.  For example, Hyoung-Woo Choi of Samsung has a card in the AVG, Home Run and Hits categories.  I'm not going to show all 42 cards but here's an example from each category:

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-019-AS (Won-Jun Jang)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-031-AS (Chang-Min Lim)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-034-AS (Bo-Geun Lee)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-039-AS (Hyoung-Woo Lee)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-051-AS (Bum-Ho Lee)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-055-AS (Tae-Gyun Kim)

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-061-AS (Dae-Hyung Lee)
So thanks for the trade Dan and let me know if I owe you anything more!