Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 Flagship Set Announcements

Information on the first of the 2017 "flagship" sets from BBM and Calbee were released in the last week or so.

- Calbee's Series One will be released in late March (the official release date is March 27 but I would expect to see it available a few days earlier).  The base set has 72 player cards (six per team), 23 "Title Holder" cards and four checklist cards so it'll have 99 cards total.  There's also two insert sets - a six card "Legend" set featuring players who retired at the end of last season and the ubiquitous 24 card (2 per team) "Star" set.  There's also a 12 card boxed set called "Clutch Hitters" that is available through some sort of redemption I think.  The set's checklist is available on-line.

- BBM's 1st Version set will be out in early April.  The main details of the set are pretty much the same as they've been the past couple years - there's 372 cards in the base set - 324 cards for the players and managers (27 per team), the 12 team checklist cards (no word on the theme yet but I'd be happily surprised if it wasn't mascots) and a 36 card "cross set subset" - this year's version is called "CROSS SQUALL" and features a rainbow.  One twist this year is that BBM says that each team will have one card that has a photo variant - I don't know how rare these will be or any other details.  There are three insert sets - a 12 card "HyperNOVA" set featuring a rookie or second year player for each team, a 12 card "Rookie Reprint" featuring the reprint of a BBM rookie card for a player on each team and a 12 card "3D CROSS SQUALL" set.  There's also the usual overwhelming collection of parallels and the usual cornucopia of autograph and memorabilia cards.  The base card design looks VERY much like last year's Stadium Club cards from Topps.

- One other set was announced recently.  I had previously mentioned that an outfit called Hits was doing some sort of team based sets of "Trading mini colored paper" for the Hawks and Baystars.  They have just announced a similar set for the Swallows and features eight players, just like the other two did.  I'll repeat what Ryan said about the other two sets since I believe this set follows the same pattern:  "It...seems that the full regular 8-card set will be in each box, along with two gold foil signatures, or one gold foil and one real signature."  The set will be out on April 22.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Samurai Japan World Baseball Classic Roster

I'm a bit late on this but ten days ago the final roster for Samurai Japan's World Baseball Classic team was announced.  After seeing George's post showing off the Korean team and a post on Not Another Baseball Card Blog for the Canadian team, I thought I should do one for the Japanese team.

First up, the "active" pitching staff:

#10 Yuki Matsui, Eagles

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-02
 #11 Tomoyuki Sugano, Giants

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-03
 #12 Ryo Akiyoshi, Swallows

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-04
 #14 Takahiro Norimoto, Eagles

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-05
 #15 Naoki Miyanishi, Fighters

2016 BBM Fighters #F12

#17 Shintaro Fujinami, Tigers

2016 BBM 1st Version #221
 #19 Hirotoshi Masui, Fighters

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-08
 #20 Ayumu Ishikawa, Marines

2016 BBM 1st Version #057
 #30 Shota Takeda, Hawks

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-14
 #34 Toshiya Okada, Dragons

2016 BBM Dragons #D11
 #35 Kazuhisa Makita, Lions

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-15
#41 Kodai Senga, Hawks

2016 BBM 2nd Version #337
 #66 Yoshihisa Hirano, Buffaloes

2016 BBM 1st Version #111

Next up the "designated" pitchers pool (no uniform numbers):

Kenta Ishida, Baystars

2016 BBM 1st Version #300
 Yuta Iwasada, Tigers

2016 BBM 2nd Version #361
 Tatsushi Masuda, Lions

2016 BBM 1st Version #084
 Masahiko Morifuku, Giants

2016 BBM 2nd Version #374
 Yusuke Nomura, Carp

2016 BBM 1st Version #248
 Daichi Ohsera, Carp

2016 BBM 1st Version #246
 Hirokazu Sawamura, Giants

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-06
Yasuaki Yamasaki, Baystars

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-11
The catchers:

#22 Seiji Kobayashi, Giants

2016 BBM 1st Version #200
 #27 Shota Ohno, Fighters

2016 BBM 1st Version #038
 #37 Motohiro Shima, Eagles

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-19
The infielders:

#3 Nobuhiro Matsuda, Hawks

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-22
#4 Ryosuke Kikuchi, Carp

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-23
 #6 Hayato Sakamoto, Giants

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-25
 #13 Sho Nakata, Fighters

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-27
 #23 Tetsuto Yamada, Swallows

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-28
The outfielders:

#1 Seiichi Uchikawa, Hawks

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #W09R110
 #7 Norichika Aoki, Astros

2009 Konami WBC Heroes #109
 #8 Ryosuke Hirata, Dragons

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-33
 #25 Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Baystars

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-35
#51 Seiya Suzuki, Carp

2016 BBM 1st Version #263
 #55 Shogo Akiyama, Lions

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-36
I wanted to show the players in their Samurai Japan uniforms if possible.  Just over half the players (18 of 35) appeared in the 2016 Calbee Samurai Japan set so that worked out well.  Only two of the other players had ever played for Team Japan so I used a 2016 card for the rest of them.

The Giants have the most players on the team with 5.  The Carp, Fighters and Hawks each have 4 while the Baystars, Eagles and Lions each have 3 and the Dragons, Swallows and Tigers each have 2.  The Marines and Buffaloes each have only one player on the team and there is only one MLB player on the roster.

Card Of The Week February 19

75 years ago today President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 which lead to the relocation and internment of around 120,000 people of Japanese descent who were mostly living on the US west coast at the time, roughly two thirds of whom were American citizens.  Among the internees were a handful of nisei who would go on to play baseball in Japan after the war.  I haven't been able to determine a definitive list but I know that three members of the Carp in the 1950's were former internees - Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama was interred at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona while the brothers Kenso and Kenshi "Harvey" Zenimura were at nearby Gila River (along with their father Kenichi Zenimura, the "Father Of Japanese American Baseball").

I don't know if there are any cards for either of the Zenimuras (Kenzo only played in 10 games in 1953 while Kenshi played in 375 games between 1953 and 1956) but there are many menko and bromide cards of Hirayama who played with the Carp from 1955 to 1964.  Here's a card of him from the 1958 "Who Am I?" JCM 54 set:

Many of the nisei who played in Japan in the 1950's such as Wally Yonamine were from Hawaii and were not subject to internment.

Kenso Zeminura and Hirayama are both still alive and attended one of the Masanori Murakami book tour events in Fresno, California in 2015.  Among the things I have become a broken record about (and there's an analogy that shows how old I am) is that I would love for BBM to do cards for these guys and many of the other Americans who played in Japan in the 50's.  They have never done so.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Card Of The Week February 12

I came across this oversized (3 12 inches by 5 1/2 inches) bromide card of Tetsuharu Kawakami a little while back when I was doing research for my post on the Giants uniforms.  As far as I can tell the card is uncatalogued.  Assuming that the colors are correct (which is a big assumption given some of the hand colored bromides of the era) the uniform is from 1950 so I assume the card is from 1950 or 1951.

My scanner clipped a bit of the white border on the right side of the card.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


The Can-Am League's schedule is official now and Shikoku Island League All Stars will NOT be touring the league again this summer.  Instead the Yeoncheon Miracle, an independent team from Korea, will be spending three weeks in June playing each of the six Can-Am League teams.  The Cuban National Team will be returning as well to balance the schedule.

I don't know for sure why the Shikoku Island League All Stars are not returning but I suspect it has something to do with not wanting to blow a hole in the middle of their season again - the league went on hiatus for a month or so while the All Stars were in North America.

I'm disappointed because it was a lot of fun going up to New Jersey the last two summers to see the team, get some autographs and have a chance to hang out with my friend Chuck.  I'm also disappointed because I was hoping that a certain recent pickup by the Kochi Fighting Dogs was going to make the team.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More Memories Of Uniform - Japan National Team Edition

This will be a bit different from all the other uniform posts.  There have been a variety of "Japan National Teams" over the years made up of professionals or amateurs (and in some cases both).  The coverage of these teams on baseball cards has been pretty sporadic at least up until the past 20 years or so.  What I'm going to do is simply show what I've got and not worry about what I know about but don't have cards from (like the 1934 All Nippon team).

The History Of Uniform and the Professional Baseball Uniforms Encyclopedia 1936-2013 both have some coverage of this topic.

There was some sort of team or teams in 1949.  I think the teams were split up between East and West as there's a patch on the left sleeve with an "E" or a "W" on it.  This maybe the uniform worn in the games against the San Francisco Seals during their tour that fall.

~1950 Uncataloged Bromide
The following uniform was apparently worn in 1951, 1953 and 1956.  I assume it was to play against visiting MLB teams but that's just a guess on my part.  HOU indicates that the letters "CBL" appeared on the left sleeve in the 1953 version of the uniform so I guess that means this photo is not from 1953.  I see the numbers "51" and "55" on the back of the card so maybe the photo is from 1951.  That's Masaichi Kaneda standing - not sure who the kneeling player is.

2009 BBM Masaichi Kaneda Ultimate Southpaw #19
Skipping ahead a few years...

The nest Japan National Team I have any cards for is the 2000 Olympic team.  This was the first Olympics to use professionals for baseball and both Upper Deck and Calbee had cards for the team.  There doesn't appear to be a home and away version of the uniform but that may be do to the photo selection.

2001 Calbee Japan National Team #J-05
The 2001 Baseball World Cup uniforms looked a little different and there's definitely a home and away version:

2001 BBM Japan National Team #44

2001 BBM Japan National Team #2
The 2003 Asia Baseball Championship was held in November that year and was a qualifier for the 2004 Olympics.  The uniform design had some slight changes from the 2001 BBWC design.

2003 BBM Japan National Team #07

2003 BBM Japan National Team #21
 This was the same uniform worn in the 2004 Olympics although there were no cards made for that team (at least none that I'm aware of).

The 2006 World Baseball Classic team rolled out a completely different look:

2006 Upper Deck WBC Box Set #33

2006 Upper Deck SP Authentic Future Watch #WBC-60
The 2007 Collegiate All-Star team wore a different uniform as well:

2008 Upper Deck USA National Teams Box Set #JN-17
For the 2008 Olympics, the National team went back to the same (or very similar) uniforms as were worn in the 2004 Olympics:

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN18

2008 BBM Japan National Team #JPN25
The Collegiate National Team wore similar uniforms that season:

2008 BBM Japan Collegiate National Team #CN02

2008 BBM Japan Collegiate National Team #CN20
The 2009 World Baseball Classic team unveiled yet another new look:

2009 Bowman Draft Picks WBC #BDPW34

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC #W09S001
And then another new look for the 2013 WBC:

2013 Topps Tribute WBC #19

2013 Topps Tribute WBC #82
The 2013 Collegiate National Team wore similar uniforms to those of the WBC team:

2013 Panini USA Baseball Box Set Japanese All-Stars #17
In November 2013 the national team was dubbed "Samurai Japan" and new uniforms were rolled out for all levels of the team both professional and amateur.  This has been the uniform worn for all international events the past few years including friendlies against MLB, Europe, China, the Netherlands and Mexico as well as the Premier 12:

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-23

2016 Calbee Samurai Japan #SJ-02
The 2017 World Baseball Classic team will wear uniforms that are very similar to the Samurai Japan uniforms from the past few years.