Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2014 Super Star Korean Baseball Series 2

I noticed last week that Super Star Baseball Card, the Korean outfit who had put out a set of baseball cards a couple months back, have announced and released a second set.  The set is labelled "1st Edition" like the earlier set but it is also labelled "Season 2" to differentiate it from the earlier set.  The set once again contains 126 cards in the base set.  They are numbered 1-126 so they are not numbered in continuation of the previous set.

The good news is that it looks like none of the 126 cards are short printed.  There are "All Star" parallels of 54 cards (six per team) and some sort of other parallel for 9 cards (1 per team).  It looks like this mystery parallel could be one of several different types - a parallel design, a parallel design with facsimile autograph, an authentic autograph and a jersey card.  You can see pictures of the cards at Super Star Baseball Card's Facebook page.

Jason has already added the cards to the checklists at Sports Card Forum and Trading Card Database.  From his analysis, it doesn't appear that anyone who appeared in the earlier set shows up in this set.  The set also does not include any foreign players.  Jason has pointed out that each Korean team has 66+ players on their roster (I would assume split between the top team and the "minor league" team) so Super Star could potentially put out two more sets without having any overlap in players or having any foreign players.  I don't pay enough attention to the KBO to know if the 28 players per team included so far are all top team players or not.

The set was apparently released on August 19.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Card Of The Week August 24

Well obviously my hiatus was not quite as long as I thought it would be but there's still going to be a bit of a difference in the posting.  My computer is in our family room on the ground floor of our house but most of my cards are in binders in my office in the basement.  Messing around with the binders is a bit of a strain currently and bringing one or two upstairs for the blog is probably overdoing it right now.  So most of the posts in the next few weeks will probably be heavier on text than pictures of cards.

The Card Of The Week this week is another card dealing with the installation of artificial turf at Korakuen Stadium in the 1975-76 off season.

1975/76 Calbee #406
I was originally going to use this as Card Of The Week last week as a symbol for my back surgery but doing a post last Sunday was really out of the question.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Many New Sets

A bunch of new sets got formal announcements over the last two weeks.  Let's start with the BBM stuff:

- BBM is doing four more team specific box sets.  The first one up is Tigers Fielding, a 24 card set with 23 cards of Tigers players in the field and 1 special card which could be an autograph or jersey card.  It will be released at the end of August.  BBM will follow that up with the Celebration Of The Hawks set which will have 27 cards of Hawks players in this year's red alternate jerseys plus one special card (photo, facsimile autograph or real autograph).  This set will also be released in late August.  Mid September will see Red Sensation, a 28 card box set for the Carp.  It will have 27 regular cards of Carp players plus one special card which could be a foil parallel, a jersey or bat card or some sort of "large format" card that is four times the size of a normal card.  Around the same time, BBM will also be releasing a box set for Orix called something like "March".  It will also have 28 cards in the set with 27 being base cards showing Buffaloes players and the other being an autograph or jersey card.

- BBM will also be releasing Genesis, their high end set, in mid-September.  This is a pack based set with a base set of 120 cards - 9 per team plus a team checklist.  There is a mind-numbing array of parallel, insert, autograph and memorabilia cards available in the packs.  The memorabilia cards include jersey, ball, and patch cards and I think there might be cards that have autographed baseballs embedded in them.

- And if two cheerleader sets this summer wasn't enough for you, BBM will be releasing the unfortunately named "Honeys Flash!!" set in mid-September.  This is a 46 card box set dedicated to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks dance team the Honeys.  There are 44 base cards in the set - 21 of the dancers in their costumes, 21 of the dancers in street clothes, one group photo and I'm not sure what the other card is.  Each box contains 2 special cards - one is an autograph card (either facsimile or real) and the other is some sort of foil version of a photo card maybe?  I'm not sure I'm understanding Google's translation very well.

- Series Three from Calbee will be out on September 15.  Like the two previous Series from Calbee this year, this Series features 84 player cards, 7 per team.  There are also two subsets - a 12 card "Clutch Hitter" (CL) subset featuring a hitter from each team and the ubiquitous four checklist cards.  The player cards plus this two subsets make up the 100 card, non-premium portion of the set.  The standard 24 card (2 per team) "Star" card insert set is also included.  Rounding out the set, there's a 12 card set dedicated to closers that is available (somehow) by mail order plus the two cards that are obtained by redeeming specially inserted "lucky cards" in the packs.  I'm assuming that like the two previous sets this year that these will be 3D cards.  I think (but I'm not positive) that the two cards are of Yuki Nishi of the Buffaloes and Tomoyuki Sugano of the Giants.

Friday, August 22, 2014

SCM Insert Cards Checklist

I'm doing a bit better than I was last weekend so I thought I'd make an attempt to post something about a project I've been working on for a couple months or so.  Since I started picking up the new issues of Sports Card Magazine when they come out I've been getting more and more curious about the cards that BBM prints up solely for use in the magazine.  So I started doing some research with the goal to generate a list (in English) of all the SCM insert cards.

You may be telling yourself "That's not a big deal.  Every issue of SCM includes a list of all the SCM cards so far".  Which is true, but there's several caveats.  The first being that the list is in Japanese, not English.  The second is that there's not much information about the card other than the name of the player(s) depicted on the card.  The third is that there are no card numbers associated with any of the cards listed in the SCM even though almost all the cards I had seen had card numbers.  The final caveat was something I didn't discover until I was halfway through my research - the list in SCM is not complete.  I found at least one instance of there being a card that was obviously from SCM not being in the magazine's list.  So, lots of work to do.

The magazine that we now know as Sports Card Magazine started out as a small magazine (or pamphlet) in the early 1990's that was mostly given away at card shows.  Paul Margiott, one of the pioneers of the hobby, told me that they were "glossy paper, center stapled, color covers, professionally printed."  They contained  "ads, articles, price guides, ‘World Card News’, etc;"  The final issue appears to have been #14, issued with a cover date of "Winter 1996".  This issue had 48 pages. (The quotes from Paul Margiott came from an email conversation he and I had a few months back.  I apologize ahead of time if I misunderstood something he wrote me).

The first newstand issue of Sports Card Magazine was published in October 1996.  As an indication that this was a break from the earlier giveaway issues, this issue was labelled #1.  The next issue was published in March of 1997 and the magazine has been published bi-monthly ever since.*

*Just want to stress that the dates I'm using for the newsstand version are the actual publication dates of the magazine (i.e. the date they hit the newsstand) rather than the cover data of the magazine.

BBM has included cards inserted in every issue of the magazine starting with issue #1.  I have not been able to figure out who the cards with issue #1 were.  Many of the insert cards during the first few years were not baseball related - many were related to wrestling, sumo and boxing, as well as I think at least one race horse.

From what I've put together, there are a total of 341 cards that have been published as inserts to SCM.  However, only 271 of them have actual "SCM Original Numbers".  The rest are unnumbered (or in some cases have the number of the actual version of the card that they are the promo version of).  The first card to have an SCM number on it was this card of Koji Uehara from issue #13 in January of 1999:



And before you ask - this is not the first card included in SCM that was not a promo version of another card.  There were at least two others prior to this.

Now the next frustrating thing in attempting to catalog all of these is that not all the cards in later issues were numbered.  For example, here's a reprint of a 1974 Calbee Sadaharu Oh card that was included (with a reprint of a Shigeo Nagashima 1973 Calbee card) in issue #15 in May of 1999, four months after the above Uehara card:



Back to being unnumbered.  It looks like SCM would skip number the insert cards for the next nine years or so - the last cards that I know for sure were unnumbered were included with issue #68 in March of 2008.

I can't swear to this, but I believe that for a certain period of time, SCM would not number cards that were promos for memorabilia cards (the dreaded "non-memorabilia" cards).  But as far as I can tell, every card included since March of 2008 (which includes promos for memorabilia cards) have been numbered.

I've lumped all the cards into five categories - Original (meaning there's no set that the card is related to - at least not one from when the card was issued), Reprint (reprint of an earlier card), Promo (promo version of a card from a set that is indistinguishable from its original except by text saying it's a promo and/or a color variation in the graphics), Variant (a promo version of a card that differs in picture and/or additional graphics) and Bonus (an original card done in the format of a recent set).

The Uehara card is an example of an Original card while the Oh card is an example of a Reprint (actually it and Nagashima card are the only examples of reprints that I've seen so far - we can nitpick the Atsuya Furuta rookie reprint from SCM #20 - I'd argue that that's a promo version of an insert card from the 2000 BBM set).  I don't currently have a good example of a variant - at least not one that I can show both the original and variant versions of.  Here's an example of a promo card vs the original card for the 2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition:



As you can see, the photos are identical - the only difference is in the color of the graphics (and the inclusion of the SCM logos).

This Michael Nakamura card is a Bonus card for the 2005 BBM Rookie Edition set - it is numbered #120 while the original set ended at #119.



One other thing I want to point out is that BBM has apparently been doing parallels of these cards for a while now, possibly all the way back to issue #1.  I can't claim that every single card has multiple parallels but I have seen facsimile signature parallels as well as foil or laser ones:



There's a lot of interesting cards that BBM has included with SCM.  Many highlight events or awards that BBM has not done anything with in their flagship sets.  There is what I felt a surprising number of bonus cards for the 2007 1st Version set and a couple of the Rookie Edition sets.  There are some interesting inserts like the one with issue #81 in May of 2010 - they are cards of rookies done in the style of the 1991 BBM flagship set - basically Classic before BBM officially did Classic in 2013.

I've put a link to my checklist here so that any updates I make to it will immediately become visible to anyone looking at it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hiatus

I'm going to be going on a brief hiatus for a couple weeks.  I had back surgery done on Wednesday and I suspect that attempting to continue the blog during recovery is going to be difficult.  I'll try to still respond to comments and questions although I won't guarantee that I'll do it in a timely manner.

Hopefully I'll be back blogging by the middle of September.  Take care and I'll see you then.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Years Of OB Team Sets

NPB celebrated the 70th Anniversary of professional baseball in Japan in 2004*.  Since the Giants were the first professional team in Japan, they also celebrated their 70th Anniversary that year.  To commemorate the Giants' anniversary, BBM released a set called (obviously) the Giants 70th Anniversary set.  (They also released a small box set for the 70th Anniversary of professional baseball but the less said about it, the better.)

* Just to be clear, Nippon Professional Baseball as an organization has not been around since 1935.  Professional baseball in Japan was called the Japan Baseball League from 1935 until 1949.  The reorganization into the two league system resulted in the creation of NPB.

The Giants 70th Anniversary set was the first set BBM ever released that was a team specific OB set.  BBM had done team specific sets before that included OB players (the 1999 Seibu Lions team set celebrating their 20th year in Tokorozawa is one example) but this was the first set that featured many more OB players than current players.  The pack based set pretty much established the pattern for many of the OB team sets that would come later.  There was a six card "History Of The Giants" subset, a large subset (75 cards in this case) featuring OB players for the Giants which included players who were still active at the time in both NPB and MLB, and a smaller subset (28 cards in this set) featuring the current year's team.  This particular set was 104 cards, the largest of any of the OB team sets.  Most would be 99 cards with some of the more recent sets dropping to 90 or even as low as 81 cards.

BBM followed up the Giants set with 70th Anniversary sets for the Tigers (in 2005) and Dragons (in 2006).  In 2008, they really got going - pumping out sets to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Hawks, the 40th Anniversary of the acquisition of the Orions by Lotte, the 30th Anniversary of the Lions being acquired by Seibu and the 30th Anniversary of the Whales (now Baystars) moving to Yokohama.  In addition to those pack based sets, BBM also issued box sets celebrating the Lions' 29 years in Fukuoka and the closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium.

2009 saw another six OB team sets.  The 60th Anniversary of the two league system brought 60th Anniversary sets for both the Lions and the Carp as well as a Kintetsu Memorial set (BBM had done a small box set in 2004 to commemorate Kintetsu leaving professional baseball but that was a more traditional BBM team set with only a relative few OB players).  Another set celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Swallows by Yakult.  The 20th Anniversary of Orix buying the Braves from Hankyu was commemorated by a pair of box sets - one was dedicated to Hakyu players before the sale of the team and the other was for the Orix era.  Somewhat significantly, 2009 did NOT see a 75th Anniversary set for the Giants.

BBM dialed things back a bit for 2010 and 2011.  They only issued two OB team sets in 2010.  Five years after the Tigers had celebrated their 70th Anniversary, BBM was back with a 75th Anniversary set.  And for the first time, BBM issued an OB team set that was not tied to an Anniversary (or an event like the closing of a stadium) - the Lions Classic set that showcased the throw back uniforms that the Lions had worn in recent seasons.  The set contained both active players wearing the throw back uniforms and OB players wearing the original uniforms.  BBM did three more sets in 2011, only two of which were actual Anniversary sets - the Dragons 75th and the Marines 20th year in Chiba.  The other set was a tie-in to a promotion that the Orix Buffaloes were doing that commemorated the 1970's era Kintetsu Buffaloes and Hankyu Braves.

After no OB team sets in 2012 (for the first time since 2007), BBM brought them back with a vengeance in 2013.  Three were "traditional" Anniversary sets - the Hawks 75th, the Baystars 20th of having the name and the Fighters 10th of being in Hokkaido.  They also did a small box set featuring the three Nippon Series championships that the Hawks had won during their 25 years in Fukuoka.  Lastly, BBM started a new series of OB team sets called Legend.  The first one was for the Giants and commemorated the two stints Shigeo Nagashima had managing the team (1975-1980, 1993-2001).  The second highlighted the Tigers in the 1980's (when they won their sole Nippon Series championship).

So far 2014 has seen three OB team sets - the latest Legend set that commemorates the Senichi Hoshino era with the Dragons (1987 to 2001 although he didn't manage them that entire stretch) and Anniversary sets for the Eagles (10th) and Orix (25th).  I'm anticipating that there will be a Giants 80th Anniversary set before the end of the year but that remains to be seen.

If you've read this blog for a while then you know that I'm a big fan of the OB teams sets.  I actually own all of these sets and I've written a post on all of them except the Giants and Dragons 70th Anniversary sets.  I thought I'd present a table breaking all the sets down by team with links to the post for the set:

Team Year Set Commemorates Type Of Set
Chiba Lotte Marines 2008 Lotte 40th Anniversary Lotte buying Orions in 1968 Pack
2011 Chiba 20th Anniversary Lotte moving to Chiba from Kawasaki in 1992 Pack
Chunichi Dragons 2006 Dragons 70th Anniversary Dragons 70th Anniversary Pack
2011 Dragons 75th Anniversary Dragons 75th Anniversary Pack
2014 Dragons Legend Senichi Hoshino Mangerial Era (1987-2001) Pack
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 2008 Hawks 70th Anniversary Hawks 70th Anniversary Pack
2013 Hawks 75th Anniversary Hawks 75th Anniversary Pack
2013 Fukuoka Legacy Nippon Series Championships in Fukuoka Box
Hanshin Tigers 2005 Tigers 70th Anniversary Tigers 70th Anniversary Pack
2010 Tigers 75th Anniversary Tigers 75th Anniversary Pack
2013 Tigers Legend 1980's Pack
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 2008 Hiroshima Memorial Closing of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium Box
2009 Carp 60th Anniversary Carp 60th Anniversary Pack
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 2013 Fighters 10 Years in Hokkaido 10th Anniversary of Fighters moving to Sapporo Pack
Orix Buffaloes (including Kintetsu) 2009 Hankyu Memorial Players from before Orix bought Braves in 1988 Box
2009 Orix 20th Anniversary 20th Anniversary of Orix buying Braves Box
2009 Kintetsu Memorial 60th Anniversary of founding of Kintetsu team in 1950 Pack
2011 Legend Of The Bs 1970's era Hankyu and Kintetsu Pack
2014 Orix 25th Anniversary 25th Anniversary of Orix buying Braves Pack
Saitama Seibu Lions 2008 Lions Memorial Players from before Seibu bought the Lions in 1978 Box
2008 Seibu 30th Anniversary 30th Anniversary of Seibu buying the Lions in 1978 (and moving them from Fukuoka to Tokorozawa) Pack
2009 Lions 60th Anniversary Lions 60th Anniversary Pack
2010 Lions Classic Lions throw-back uniforms Pack
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2014 Eagles 10th Anniversary Eagles 10th Anniversary Pack
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary 40th Anniversary of Yakult buying the Swallows in 1969 Pack
Yokohama DeNA Baystars 2008 Yokohama 30th Anniversary 30th Anniversary of then-Whales moving to Yokohama from Kawasaki Pack
2013 Baystars 20th Anniversary 20th Anniversary of Whales changing their name to Baystars Pack
Yomiuri Giants 2004 Giants 70th Anniversary Giants 70th Anniversary Pack
2013 Giants Legend Shigeo Nagashima's stints as manger (1975-1980, 1993-2001) Pack

As you can see from this list, all 12 NPB teams have had at least one OB team set done.  The coverage of a team's history, however, varies greatly from team to team.  While most teams have coverage for their entire history (in theory anyway), for teams are missing large chunks of their history.  The Marines, the Swallows and the Whales all were founded in 1950 but their coverage in the OB teams sets starts in 1969, 1970 and 1978 respectively.  The Fighters have been around nearly 70 years (they started life as the Senators in 1946) but their history prior to 2004 has been ignored.  I'd love to see BBM rectify this for these four teams but I'm not really expecting it to ever happen.

Card Of The Week August 10

Juzo Sanada was a star pitcher for the Taiyo Robins (aka Pacific in 1946 and the Shochiku Robins in 1950-51) in the years immediately following the war (during which he served in the Navy).  He threw two no-hitters and won a Central League record 39 games in 1950, leading the Robins to the inaugural Nippon Series (that they lost to the Mainichi Orions).  He was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1990, a couple of years before he passed away.

As far as I can tell, Sanada has only appeared in three BBM sets - the 2006 Nostalgic Baseball set, the 2012 No-hitters set and the recently released 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition set.  I have a couple cards of him from 1949.  Here's one of them, from the JBR 53 set:


One of the things I really like about this card (other than showing off Sanada's leg kick) is the faces in the crowd behind him.  There's what looks like a couple kids in the front row enjoying themselves and a couple guys behind them that look kind of bored - the one guy is resting his head on his hand and the other appears to be yawning.