I recently stumbled across a pack of Japanese baseball cards which I’d acquired a number of years ago, but which had been misplaced and temporarily forgotten… Since there’s nothing good in the stores and I felt like opening a pack, I decided to tear this bad boy open.
This is a pack of 2005 BBM Touch The Game, which the wrapper declares is a “Premium” set.
Here’s the wrapper (it’s a hanger pack, if you couldn’t tell)
First card is of Shugo Fujii, about whom I know nothing. Wikipedia says he pitched 14 seasons for four teams and was an All-Star twice.
I should point out that the entire border is silver foil; the textured foil turns up as silver in this scan, but the smooth foil shows up as black. In the middle of the photo, also in silver foil, it says this:
bbm baseball cards premium
2005 Touch The Game
followed by this printed in black ink (also right over the player photo):
one of the great players has ever owned.
he will be remembered by supporters for long years to come.
I cannot emphasize enough that I was very careful to type this exactly as it appears on each card.
As for the image at the middle of the card, the player image is glossy and the background is matte, kind of like recent Pro Debut sets.
Next card… Gaijin Alert! It’s John Bale, who I kinda sorta remember pitching for the Orioles. In December, 2000 the O’s traded a minor league catcher – one who had been drafted in the first round in 1997 – to Toronto for John Bale. Any guesses as to who that catching prospect was? The answer comes after the images of this card.
Here’s the back… a bit more traditional
Answer: Jayson Werth, who would go through a couple of organizations before blossoming as an outfielder.
Masahide Kobayashi may be familiar to MLB fans; he pitched in relief for the Indians in 2008 and 2009. Before that he was a top closer in Japan and was on the Silver medal-winning Japanese Olympic baseball team.
Those Chiba Lotte Marines uniforms are really… something. I was about to say that they’d never fly in MLB, but then I remembered the uniforms the Diamondbacks are wearing, and I back away from any such statements.
“Impressive Scene” insert featuring another American, Marc Kroon… Kroon appeared on a few MLB cards in the 1990’s. In Japan, he was a closer and became the first pitcher to hit 100 mph in a game.
Last card, and this is one of those rare instances where a checklist is the best card in the pack.
If you can’t read the text at the top of the card, it says “They also enjoyed interleague game”. BBM clearly needed a better translator.
I had to do some detective work to figure out who the mascots are. The one on the right has a Chiba Lotte Marines hat, and when I googled on Chiba Lotte Marines mascots, I found that the two in the middle are also Marines mascots (I think the three of them are meant to be sea gulls). The one on the left looked familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it/him/her. Since the card references interleague games and the Marines are in the Pacific League, I guessed that the mystery mascot is from the Central League, and a little more research came up with Doala the Koala, a mascot for the Chunichi Dragons.
The checklist is on heavier cardboard than the rest of the pack, as if they’re trying to fool pack feelers. Do they have pack feelers in Japan?
I’d never seen a Japanese checklist before, and I’m guessing most of you haven’t either, so I’ll show you the checklist side.
One other thing came in the pack; this was on top of the back, printed on thick-ish paper. It looks like it could be a contest entry, but I have no clue (not being able to read any of it).
Thoughts on the pack as a whole: I guess I can’t complain about a Japanese pack where I’m familiar with three of the four players included, but I’m not a fan of sets where the cards are more about the design than the photos. If I had an opportunity to get more packs like this I would probably say “No thanks, I’m OK”. But they’re still Japanese cards, so they’ll go into my Japanese binder (but would likely be the first to get bumped if space becomes a issue).