Back in 2012 I went to The National and I bought a number of packs of Japanese baseball cards. Since packs of BBM baseball cards are not the kind of things one runs into at Target (or even hobby shops), I decided to spread the wealth around and only open packs on “special occasions” when the time felt right… much like bottles of fine wine.
I didn’t expect to stretch things out over 8 years, but it’s not unusual for me to have so many things going on hobby-wise that I would forget about that box of packs sitting on the table.
I did mention the whole “special occasion” thing, right? Because today *is* a special occasion… it’s the 9th anniversary of this blog!
As they used to sing on Sesame Street….
NINE! NINE! NINE! NINE!
LET’S SING A SONG OF NINE!
HOW MANY IS NINE?
Come to learn your numbers, stay for the slapstick involving nine coconut custard pies!
So this last pack is from 2004 BBM Baseball 2nd Version. BBM puts out two “flagshippy” sets a year, but instead of series they have “versions” with different designs. Here’s a card from 2004 BBM first version, a pack I opened four years ago:
…But that’s 1st Version and this is 2nd Version. The only thing similar about them is the wrapper… and here’s the 2004 BBM 2nd Version wrapper, front and back:
First card is a nice-looking one… Ryosuke Sawai
Sawai played a total of 90 games in NPB and it looks like his NPB career was already over when this card came out. Sorry, Ryosuke.
Here’s the back of Sawai’s card.
OK, next card… Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Wikipedia says that he pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
I’m pretty sure that Hiroyuki Kobayashi is not related to the Kobayashi Maru.
…That, I say, that’s a Star Trek joke, son!
Check this next card out… Masa Yamamoto pitched 29 seasons – not a typo, TWENTY-NINE – seasons in NPB and with the Chunichi Dragons. He was 49 years old during his last season and holds NPB records for the oldest pitcher to start a game, win a game and strike out a batter.
I’m pretty sure that Masa Yamamoto is not related to Space Cruiser Yamamoto.
…That, I say, that’s an Anime joke, son!
It’s also a Star Blazers reference, if you’re of the proper age group and nationality.
Moving on… Tsuyoshi Johbe pitched 6 seasons for the Yomiuri Giants. I can’t find much more about him than that.
Side note: It wasn’t until the day after I opened this pack and was scanning the cards that I realized that the green-bordered cards are for Central League teams, and the yellow-bordered ones went with Pacific League teams.
Koichi Ogata played 22 seasons with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. Just twenty-two? What a slacker. He was an All-Star and won five consecutive Golden Gloves.
It’s Gaijin time! It took me a minute to remember him (and it didn’t help that his first name is misspelled as “Jarrod” on this card) but Jerrod Riggan pitched 36 games for my New York Mets in 2001, and he also pitched for the Indians. I’ll blame part of my faulty memory on the fact that I apparently don’t have any of his small number of Mets cards. I should make an attempt to get Mets cards of some of these guys who weren’t widely represented… but that’s getting off-topic.
Riggan pitched 2 seasons for the Hanshin Tigers, came back stateside and put in another couple of years in the Mets organization before retiring.
Another former Met! Pete Walker played in 144 games over 8 seasons in the Majors and is currently the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. He apparently didn’t adapt to Japan well, or perhaps he was fighting off an injury, because he ended up with a 6.80 ERA over 10 games for the Baystars.
Last card… Atsushi Fujimoto, who played 13 seasons for the Tigers and Swallows and played for Japan in the 2004 Olympics
And that’s the pack! For those of you who enjoy the Japanese cards, that’s going to be it for a while. I would like to get more in the future, but right now I’m putting most acquisitions on hold while I spend some much-needed time organizing my collection.
For those who don’t enjoy the Japanese cards… good news! I don’t have any more to show you!
It’s just as well that I get this 9th anniversary post out of the way… after all you know what happened to 9.
7 8 9!
Don’t recognize most of those guys, but wanted to say Happy Blog Anniversary! Congrats on making it to 9 years, here’s to another 9!
Congrats on nine years, good sir! Always love seeing Japanese cards, and these posts really make me wish I had more of them in my collection.
Thanks, Nick! There’s always something we wished we had more of, otherwise we wouldn’t be collectors.
Sweet Fujimoto. I chased his cards when I was first getting into Japanese baseball cards, because we share the same last name. As for Star Blazers… I loved that cartoon. I can still sing the song…
We’re off to outer space. We’re leaving Mother Earth… to save the human race. Our Star Blazers!
P.S. Lol. Got so caught up on SB… almost forgot to say Happy anniversary!
I’d be curious to see the original Japanese version of Star Blazers… or even to watch the American version again. I was a snarky teen at the time, maybe I’d be more appreciative of it now.
I love seeing some NPB cards. I’ve actually started collecting some over the years, especially the BBM and Calbee cards. Every once in a while I find a good deal on a Takara team set from the ’80s and ’90s.
I remember Jerrod Riggan from his brief Indians stint back in the early 2000s. And Masa Yamamoto had a career parallel to Jamie Moyer.
When I get back to picking up more Japanese cards I’ll make sure to check for Tamara sets… I admit I don’t have any
Maybe there’s a future MLB player coming to the USA from Japan in cards shown. Happy 9th anniversary! Looking forward to more blogs.
I should probably look back at some of my older packs to make sure there isn’t anyone in those who came over since I opened them!
…and thanks, Joe!
Congratulations on your 9th Anniversary!
20 years of collecting Japanese cards and I still think about the Kobayashi Maru every time I see that surname…
Masa Yamamoto was actually about two months over 50 when he made his final appearance in NPB. Both he and Ogata played in the US in the 1980’s as part of the agreements that various NPB teams made with MLB and independent minor league teams in those days. Yamamoto was with the Vero Beach Dodgers in 1988 and Ogata was with the independent Peninsula Pilots of the Carolina League in 1989. Yamamoto’s baseball cards from Star’s Vero Beach and Florida State League All Star sets that year predate his earliest Japanese cards by a year. Unfortunately Ogata was not in the 1989 Peninsula set.
And not to ruin the joke but I guess I am – it’s Space Cruiser Yamato, not Yamamoto. No relation to Yamato Maeda of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars…
Thanks for the additional info on Yamamoto and Ogata… the sources I have are often pretty sketchy on details.
I hang my head in shame on the Yamato/Yamamoto confusion. I was so careful to get the “Space Cruiser” part right that I completely whiffed on the key part! 😀
TBH I used to confuse the two as well