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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Calbee Through the Years: 1979

Okay, let's finish off the impossible decade while I'm still sane.

The 1979 Calbee set was the last in a line of very confusing issues. With just a few exceptions, the 1980 set would mark the beginning of very uniform distribution and clearly-understood checklists. And with just a few exceptions, there aren't random obscure issues to hunt down. Post 1979 Calbee is pretty predictable.

But 1979's issues are once again confusing. A total of 12 series have been identified, totaling at least 404 cards. All cards have pure fronts - no text, no border, no design. All backs are pink, and except for a few series, "'79 Pro Baseball Card" runs across the top in Japanese. The last line of all cards except for Home Run cards has the Calbee company name in Japanese. Like the 1978 set, cards issued in 1979 generally don't have card numbers. However, there is some uniformity in the series that helps identify set size and a numbering scheme of sorts can be developed for many of them.
 Considered the first series, the Basic Series of 48 cards can be listed by the large uniform number found at the top of each card back. There are multiple players for some numbers. This series is distinguished by the address found at the bottom bullet point and the baseball at center-left next to Japanese text that says "Which stars will you choose!"
 Results from the voting encouraged in the Basic Series can be seen in the April Best Series (48 cards). This time, the number at the top center (34位) indicates that player's voting rank overall. April voting must have been very low; this series more than any other has a lot of ties resulting in several players sharing card numbers. For example, there are two card #44, but no #45. The month can be seen on the same line, left side, as the voting rank (4月). The number on the right side (25, above) indicates the total number of votes that player received.

Note that anything at the team banner point and below can vary. Some cards have sketches possibly done by kids, or charts. Note the request for votes again on this card beneath the team banner.
 The May Best Series (48 cards) uses an identical layout to the April Best Series. Note the month change (5月). I also see a lot more votes being submitted in time for this series. The text on this card is a write-up, but again the middle/bottom text can vary. Also of note, there were 48 cards issued, but players ranked over #40 weren't given card numbers (ranking position). This continues on for the remaining Best Series sets.
 Instead of issuing a Best Series in June, two Stars sets were issued a ranking by position. Above is the April-June Central League Stars set (27 cards). Note the team logo in the upper-left corner, the April and June notation on the third line (4月~6月), the league name on the fifth line (セントラル・リーグ), the ranking (1位 above) and vote total (13,407 above). The Stars series cards have a line beneath all of this information with a dot in the center, followed by lots of text or a drawing (see below).
 Hmm. I thought I had an April-June Pacific League Stars card (21 cards in that set), but reading that line of text I see I have another Central League card here. I'll have to find a replacement at the card shops or April show. However, this card provides a good example of the drawings many card backs have.
 Calbee went back to the monthly Best series with this July Best Series set (48 cards). Backs can contain text like you see above, a drawing, or a table showing vote totals.

 I don't have an example of the next series yet either due to a collecting error on my part. That would be the August Best Series. Again, there are 48 cards, with 8 unnumbered cards.

Also missing from my collection is the Red Helmet Aiming Series (24 cards). This series features all Carp members; backs have the Carp logo at the upper left followed by a V2 inscription. I believe I have seen one of these at a card show, but it is pretty rare so they don't come cheap. Cards are numbered by jersey number, though some players appear multiple times in the set.
 Following the Red Helmet set, the October Best Series (48 cards) returns to the standard layout, this time noting the vote totals for October (10月).

The tenth series of the year is the 24-card Central League Champion Series. In place of the team logo in the upper-left corner on the back, a very obvious V2 logo commemorates the Carp's second straight Central League championship. As you now might expect, all of the players featured are members of the Carp. Again, the player's jersey number is prominently featured on the back, but again there are multiple cards for some players as well as five "team" picture cards with no single identified player. This is the other "tough" series from 1979, and I have yet to see a card in person.
 Engel calls this the Hozonban-Title Holders Series (25 cards). These cards differ from other 1979 issues with the trophy logo found on the front. The backs also have a ball/bat border, with a prominent "'79 Title Holder" inscription at the top. The "Hozoban" part of the set title refers to the highlighted text in the top border which says Hozonban (保存版) - Preservation Version, or Save Edition, or something similar. This is also found on the set below.
 Using an alternating solid and outline star border, the '79 Nippon Series series (23 cards) has a large logo at the top stating as such along with the Hiroshima Carp and Kintetsu Buffaloes flags. Players from both teams appear on the cards, and multiple players can be featured. Note that my example card is the only one which has two identified players on the back. All other cards have one or none, so numbering is mostly nonexistent.
While it doesn't stand alone as a unique series, Home Run Cards were again issued in 1979. These have pink ink like the rest of the series' backs, but are easily identified by the "Home Run Card" text on the top line and the ball/three crossed bats drawing on the right side. Prize choices on my card are either a deluxe card album or signed mascot bat. The green stamps (and circle next to the deluxe card album note) show that this card was redeemed.

The album apparently comes in four different colors, though I believe the pictures are the same. The 1979 album has Sadaharu Oh batting, with a catcher wearing red gear, while another Giants player seems to be standing right next to him. The rest of the album covers (inside and out) have two photos each with rounded corners. The inside images are of Shigeru Kobayashi of the Tigers pitching. This album has a banner above the catcher that says "Baseball Card Album" in Japanese.

I haven't seen the bat and I don't know what it looks like, other than it's a small signed bat.

Note that I left the prize information out of the 1978 post last week, but I have updated it with that information. 

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