Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

New Release: 2014 BBM 80th Anniversary Pitchers Edition

When all you see from a card company is set after set of the same thing, posting about them becomes somewhat monotonous. People talk about Topps doing the same old thing, but when you see 12 sets issued by BBM in one year with essentially the same layout, plus several others following the same formula, you have to wonder.

Of course, I'm talking about BBM team sets. I like their existence and they certainly serve a purpose, but it seems like there isn't much effort put into the design process. Base cards with stats, subset and insert cards with the same picture on the front and back. One 9-card insert set. Autograph cards. Rinse and repeat.

BBM's topical sets follow a basic formula too, though at least with them I can enjoy some of the topics: no-hitters, foreigners, and so on. Their latest release commemorates Japanese professional baseball's 80th anniversary. This set has only pitchers, which implies that there will be a hitters set to follow. 
 The base cards look nice, with lots of room for the photo other than the 8-pointed star-circle with the player's name, jersey number, team, and position. Yes, putting a position on the front of a set with only pitchers might be a bit strange, but at least they're identified as righties or lefties. And for a change, the players are identified by English and Japanese names. The backs have lots of text with a bit of a change to the standard BBM layout. Career total statistics are included, as well as seasonal and career accomplishments, biographical details and a short write-up.
As for player selection, it's a good collection going back to the start of Japanese baseball, though it is heavy on more-recent retirees. Especially of note, both Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka are in the set, pictured with their Japanese teams. For some reason I didn't scan those two, though I do have a copy of each. There are a few foreigners in the set too. On the other hand, Dice-K and Hideo Nomo are two notable players who have gone to the US but are not included in this set. I really want to see Nomo on some more Japanese cards.
 There's one subset which identifies some of the statistical leaders. Some players aren't included in the set due to licensing issues so some of the stat leaders you'd expect to see might not be in the set. The back lists the top 10 in that category. Tanaka appears in the subset for having a 1.000 winning percentage in 2013.
The only insert is a parallel of the statistical leaders subset. It has a sparkly foil coating which doesn't scan well but looks good in person.
Of course, BBM always makes sure there are plenty of autographs in its product. I count 37 subjects, with print runs between 10 and 120 copies each. A majority of the players signed 120 cards. If my math is correct, over 3600 autographed cards made it into packs.

Many of the players can be found in other sets, of course. But it's a nice design, and because I'm assuming there will be at least one more set in this series, I think it'll make for a good, if not complete, collection of Japanese baseball's best. So if the price is right, I'm going to buy a complete set of my own.


  1. I'm a sucker for these BBM historical sets. How many cards in the base set?

    1. Greg - 99 cards, including the 9-card subset.

  2. I'm really excited about this set. It's one of the few OB sets that actually acknowledges that there were players before the 1970's. And it's soooo much better than what BBM did for the 70th Anniversary 10 years ago, it's not even funny.

    Masaichi Kaneda doesn't show up in the OB sets often so it's good to see him in this one. The biggest names I see missing (in addition to Nomo and Matsuzaka) are Yutaka Enatsu and Choji Murata - Murata almost NEVER shows up in an OB set so it's disappointing but not surprising.

    I'm looking forward to the hitters set.

    1. You're right - much better. I think they can do more than two sets, too - pitchers, hitters, teams, seasons... But then, BBM will probably only do two sets and be done with it. I too am ready for the hitters set, and hopefully an Ichiro card!