Saturday, October 3, 2015

SCM's Non-BBM Baseball Card Listings

I feel like I've been behind in the posts that I've wanted to do.  And with the NPB season wrapping up and about a billion guys announcing their retirement, it's just going to get worse.  With this post, however, I wrap up the last of my little background research projects (at least for now) so maybe I can concentrate on actual posts for the next month or so...

Each issue of Sports Card Magazine contains a "JSCA Official Price Guide".  (JSCA is Japan Sports Card Association.) The guide may be for baseball, wrestling, sumo or soccer cards.  As I've previously mentioned, there's a pattern to the rotation of the checklists.  Of the six SCM issues a year, there are two that are for baseball.  One of these is just for BBM issues and the other is for (obviously) non-BBM issues.  It's the latter that I want to address here.

I've previously described this list as covering "Calbee (all the way back to 1973 except for 1977-79), Lotte, Tomy, and Upper Deck".  That's accurate, but incomplete.  After examining the list in SCM #112, I've learned that the list also contains Q Card, Future Bee, Broccoli, and the recent Epoch box sets (but not the 2000 sticker set or the little cards sold in capsule machines).  The Lotte cards listed are the cards from 1989 and 1990 but not the stickers from the mid 00's.  It also lists the Hideki Matsui home run cards - at least the 1993-2002 ones that covered his home runs in Japan.

What was a little more interesting in the list was that there were several pre-2008 sets that do not appear in Engel.  There's what looks to be a box set for Randy Bass in 2000, a Calbee Dragons team set from 1997, and a couple sets from "Digi-Cube" for the Dragons in 2000 and 2001.

Here's the full list (SCM listed some 2015 sets but I stopped at 2014 as the 2015 listings also contained BBM sets).

Some additional comments:
- Early Calbee is listed by year, rather than set.  So 1975 starts with card #505 of what we generally refer to as the 1974/75 set, etc.
- SCM doesn't want to try to make sense of the 1977-79 Calbee issues either
- I have no idea why SCM decided to start listing Calbee's by series in 2002, stop in 2003 and then go back to it in 2004 (and every year since)
- SCM lists the Epoch sets from 2014 (Carp "First Victory" 40th Anniversary set, Giants V9 set) with the 2015 sets
- This is not a comprehensive list of non-BBM baseball card issues since 1973.  Off the top of my head, they've left out Yamakatsu, Nippon Ham, NST, Takara, Front Runner and Number Magazine as well as any of the collectible card game sets.
- For whatever reason, SCM lists the 2003 Japan National Team set published by BBM here rather than with the BBM sets

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sports Card Magazine #113

Issue 113 of Sports Card Magazine was published last Saturday in Japan and my copy arrived at my house on Tuesday.  As always, there's not a lot that's in English in it but there's some interesting tidbits that can be deciphered.

The main article in the color section is a list of what I think are the results of a poll of the top 50 rookie (or first BBM) cards of the quarter century BBM has been doing cards.  I'd be curious what the parameters of the poll were, as the most recent cards are from 2007.  It's possible that the poll was actually for the most popular players of the past 25 years and SCM simply was showing each player's first BBM card.  Here's the list:

1. Michihiro Ogasawara (1997 #454)
2. Hideki Matsui (1993 #423)
3. Nobuhiko Matsunaka (1997 #478)
4. Atsuya Furuta (1991 #195)
5. Tomoaki Kanemoto (1994 #363)
6. Ichiro Suzuki (1993 #239)
7. Norihiro Nakamura (1995 #376)
8. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1999 #413)
9. Kazuhiro Kiyohara (1991 #257)
10. Daisuke Miura (1994 #124)
11. Kazuo Matsui (1994 #506)
12. Yoshinobu Takahashi (1998 #345)
13. Akira Etoh (1991 #283)
14. Shinya Miyamoto (1995 #553)
14. Motonobu Tanishige (1991 #200)
14. Atsunori Inaba (1995 #554)
17. Masahiro Yamamoto (1991 #67)
17. Alex Ramirez (2001 #339)
17. Hirokazu Ibata (1998 #389)
20. Shinnosuke Abe (2001 #28)
21. Tuffy Rhodes (1996 #456)
21. Takesi Yamasaki (1991 #117)
21. Takuro Ishii (1993 #362)
21. Tomonori Maeda (1991 #14)
25. Hiroki Kokubo (1994 #531)
25. Fumiya Nishiguchi (1995 #526)
27. Kimiyasu Kudoh (1991 56)
28. Kazuhiro Wada (1997 #458)
28. Kenshin Kawakami (1998 #385)
30. Norichika Aoki (2004 1sr Version #308)
30. Yoshitomo Tani (1997 #446)
32. Kenji Johjima (1995 #558)
33. Alex Cabrera (2001 #414)
33. Toshiya Sugiuchi (2002 1st Version #235)
35. Hitoki Iwase (1999 #311)
36. Seiichi Uchikawa (2001 #321)
37. Takahiro Arai (1999 #374)
37. Masahiro Araki (1996 #484)
39. Hiroyuko Nakajima (2001 #426)
40. Kenta Maeda (2007 1st Version #391)
41. Koji Uehara (1999 #329)
41. Kazuya Fukuura (1994 #529)
43. Yu Darvish (2005 1st Version #116)
44. Masanori Ishikawa (2002 1st Version #24)
45. Kosuke Fukudome (1999 #310)
46. Tsuyoshi Nishioka (2003 1st Version #304)
47. Masahiro Tanaka (2007 1st Version #211)
48, Hisashi Iwakuma (2000 #388)
48. Hideaki Wakui (2005 1st Version #37)
50. Kazuyoshi Tatsunami (1991 #288)
50. Tadahito Iguchi (1997 #477)

It's kind of an odd list, because there's any number of popular players who are missing - Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Hayato Sakamoto, Hideo Nomo, Shuichi Murata and Takeya Nakamura immediately come to mind.  So I'm probably missing something here.

Their list of "Best Cards" for the issue is:

Best Card Of This Month:  2015 BBM Fighters Shohei Ohtani autograph 1of1
Best Item Of This Month:  2015 BBM 2nd Version

Hot Card Lists
1. 2013 BBM 1st Version Shohei Ohtani (#183)
2. 2015 BBM 1st Version Hayato Takagi (#188)
3. 2015 BBM 1st Version Yasuaki Yamasaki (#291)
4. 2015 BBM 1st Version Takayoshi Noma (#237)
5. 2015 BBM 1st Version Shun Lin Haru (#111)
6. 2015 BBM 1st Version Kona Takahashi (#131)
7. 2015 BBM 1st Version Tomohiro Anaraku (#156)
8. 2015 BBM 1st Version Shogo Nakamura (#102)
9. 2015 BBM 1st Version Kazuma Okamoto (#186)
10. 2015 BBM 1st Version Daiki Osama (#075)

Autograph & Memorabilia:
1. 2015 BBM Fighters Shohei Ohtani autograph card
2. 2015 BBM Baystars Yasuaki Yamasaki autograph card
3. 2015 BBM 2nd Version Hideaki Wakui autograph card
4. 2015 BBM Giants Undershirt/Bat card for Taishi Ohta, Seiji Kobayashi, Tomoyuki Sugano and Tetsuya Utsumi
5. 2015 BBM Carp Authentic Edition Hiroki Kokubo autograph card
6. 2015 BBM Dancing Heroine Mai(?) Reika autograph card
7. 2015 Epoch Japan Baseball Promotion Association National Record Holders Yutaka Enatsu autograph "booklet" card
8. 2015 BBM Tigers Shintaro Fujinami autograph card
9. 2015 BBM Lions Kona Takahashi autograph card
10. 2015 BBM Dancing Heroine Mai(?) Mayu autograph card

The remainder of the color section consists of ads for new and upcoming releases by BBM - six(!) pages for Genesis, half page ads for Tigers Authentic Edition Batters Version, Fighters Sky High, Buffaloes Autograph Edition and Rookie Edition Premium and full page ads for the 25th Anniversary set, Hippy Hippy Shake (Dragons cheerleader set) and Hanabi (gymnastics set).

The highlights of the "newsprint" section of the magazine include "BBM Dream Card Collection" (which shows a ton of autograph cards), an interview with Dragons cheerleader Rika Honda and four competing box breaks of 2nd Version.  My two favorite articles, however, are a display of all the BBM "flagship" cards of Motonobu Tanishige (SCM included the 1999-01 Preview cards as well as all the ones I showed) and a "Card Shop Navi" article on Quad Sports.  The "New Card List" section contains the checklists for all the sets advertised in the color section and the "old card" checklist and price guide lists soccer cards.

I was a bit disappointed in the insert cards with this issue - there are only six cards and they are all "bonus" cards from the "Ceremonial First Pitch" subset for this year's 2nd Version set.  They are numbered #FP13-18 (along with their SCM numbers) and feature model Nonoka Ono, model/actress Ayame Goriki, singer (and former AKB48 member) Mai Ohshima, actress Ami Inamura, singer Rurika Yokoyama and snowboarder Tomoka Takeuchi.

SCM #347
There was a great Toyota commercial earlier this year that featured people playing baseball in the street.  I was amused to discover that Inamura is the final batter in the commercial:

Warren Cromatie is also in the commercial.

This was the first issue of SCM to have less than 12 cards since issue #102 almost two years ago.  Consequently, the issue was "only" 1620 yen, the cheapest an issue has been since that same issue.  However, that issue was 1000 yen so the price is still a bit inflated.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Card Of The Week September 27

The January 2009 edition of Sports Card Magazine featured three bonus cards for the 2009 BBM Rookie Edition set.  Two of these featured pictures Kazuhiro Kiyohara and Sadaharu Oh from their rookie seasons of 1986 and 1959 respectively.  These cards were essentially promo cards from the "single-player" sets BBM put out commemorating their retirements following the 2008 season - the backs of the cards were ads for the sets.

The third card, however, featured a player who was not taken in the NPB draft the previous fall, but the Kansai Independent Baseball League.  In the seventh round of the league's draft, the Kobe 9 Cruse took a 16 year old female knuckleball pitcher from Kawasaki-kita Senior High School named Eri Yoshida:

SCM #114
Back of SCM #114

Yoshida has gone on to play for a couple independent teams in the US.  She has been a member of the Ishikawa Million Stars in the BC Challenge league for the past three seasons (if this team sounds familiar, it's the team Julio Franco is managing).  She's had additional baseball cards both in the US and in Japan (she's been in at least one of BBM's Real Venus sets) but this was the first.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RIP Katsuhiro Nakamura

Very sad news out of Tokyo today - Hanshin Tigers GM Katsuhiro Nakamura was found dead of an apparent heart attack in his hotel room.  He was 66 years old.

Nakamura was drafted by the Tigers in the second round of the fall 1971 draft out of Waseda University.  He spent 11 seasons with the Tigers from 1972 to 1982.  He managed the Tigers farm team from 1983 to 1987 and was a coach with the ichi-gun team in 1988.  After a year spent as a TV commentator, he returned to the Tigers in 1990 as their manager.  He managed the team for several seasons before he was replaced in the middle of the 1995 season by Taira Fujita, only finishing once over .500 and in the first division (1992).  After another couple seasons doing TV work, he became GM of the then Orix Blue Wave in 2003.  He ended up taking over as manager of the now Orix Buffaloes in 2006 following the death of Akira Ohgi before stepping aside for Terry Collins after the season.  He remained with Orix's front office until 2010, after which he again returned to television.  In August of 2012 he was named Hanshin's GM, the first to ever hold that position for the team.

Here's some baseball cards highlighting his career:

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six #011

1975/76 Calbee #352

1994 BBM Tigers #01

2006 BBM 1st Version #109


Hall Of Famer Yogi Berra passed away this week at the age of 90.  You might be surprised to learn that Yogi Berra had some Japanese baseball cards.  Berra never played for a Japanese team, but he participated in three tours of Japan - the 1953 All Star tour, the 1955 Yankees tour and the 1974 Mets tour.

Rob Fitts (on his blog that is no longer officially on-line but can be seen at the Wayback Machine Internet Archive) listed six Japanese cards of Berra.  Three of these are from 1953 - probably produced as a promotion for the MLB tour.  I don't have any of these cards but they were sold in recent years by Prestige Collectibles Auctions and I've swiped their images here:

1953 Yamakatsu JBR 27

1953 Uncatalogued Bromide

1953 Uncatalogued Color Bromide
The photos look like they were all taken at Yankee Stadium which makes sense - if you wanted to be selling the cards during the tour you probably couldn't use pictures taken DURING the tour.

Rob mentions two other cards from the 1950's.  I think the post I've linked to showed one of them but unfortunately the image did not get archived with the blog post.  The other is a "colorful menko card".  I believe that both of these cards are uncatalogued.

The final Japanese Berra card is the only one that I actually own.  A US serviceman named Ed Broder did a number of home brew Japanese sets in the mid 1970's (Broder's son Rob became famous/infamous for producing unlicensed MLB cards in the late 1980's).  One of his sets commemorates the Mets tour of Japan in late 1974 and includes this card of Berra:

It's hard to tell but this photo (as well as those in the rest of the set) were actually taken during the tour in Japan.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Odd Item

I got a tweet from reader David Saba last week asking me about an odd card he had picked up on Ebay.  It's a 1991 BBM card of Shigetoshi Hasegawa with a gold stamp that says "1 of 1 - The National Sports Collectors Convention - Kids Free":

I had never seen anything like this before.  I asked Larry Fuhrmann about it, figuring if anyone would know if BBM had ever done some sort of promotional item for The National, it would be him.  But Larry's never seen these before either.

I have to say that it doesn't look like the kind of promotional item BBM does in Japan.  Their items usually are new cards with the same picture but different colored graphics - like these Lions promos from 2013.  Or the promos in SCM or Weekly Baseball.  David said there's nothing stamped on the back of the card.

I did a little looking around on Ebay and I found a bunch of 1991 cards with the same stamp being sold by Burbank Sportscards.  David mentioned that he'd seen some being sold by other sellers but I haven't been able to find any.  Burbank Sportscards is currently listing 353 cards and there was only 399 in the original set so assuming there really are only 1 of each of these (and taking into account the Hasegawa card that David bought) that's only leaving 45 cards unaccounted for.  Obviously it doesn't look like these actually got distributed at the National if one seller has possession of 88% of the cards.

My gut feeling is that someone other than BBM picked up a 1991 factory set and thought it would be a good idea to stamp each of them as a promotion for The National.  Since there's no sponsor indicated, it may have been the promoters of the show itself who did it.  I've sent a message to Burbank Sportscards asking for details and I'll update this post with their response if I get one.

Any information anyone has on this would be appreciated.

UPDATE: I got the following response from Burbank Sportscards about the cards:
Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately, I don't know when exactly they were given out, but I do know it was sometime in the mid 2000's. As for the company, I believe it was a company that sponsored the shows.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Card Of The Week September 20

1958 Marukami JCM 31c Type II menko card featuring Osaka Tigers pitchers (from left to right) Shozo Watanabe, Mitsuo Osaki and Hall Of Famer Masaaki Koyama.