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

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

608 Down, One To Go

A quick post with two quick scans!

After searching several shops in Tokyo and Nagoya, my 1994 BBM set had stalled with two cards remaining. But lucky me - one of those cards was listed on YJA this month!

1994 BBM is one card away from completion - a combo card towards the end of the set. I'm certainly happy to be so close to finishing this set!

I'm not sure why Haru was so hard to find. In the end, it cost me a whopping 50 yen (about 50 cents) plus shipping (about 75 cents more), though someone else had it listed for much more than that.

Until next time...

Friday, March 22, 2019

Farewell 51


Ichiro's Japanese career started back when I was in high school. And while I was in college and not paying attention, he snuck across the Pacific Ocean and made a big splash in Seattle.
I returned to the hobby to be introduced to him and Albert Pujols. Both would eventually become players I highly respected not just for their performance but also for their dedication to their craft.
In person, I saw him play twice, both with the Mariners, before I came to Japan. And while newer stars like Darvish, Tanaka, and Ohtani have been mentioned by my students, the most common favorite player I hear over here is Ichiro.
And while I've been here, I've managed to pick up some pretty amazing Ichiro cards. I have two copies of his BBM rookie card - one for my player collection and another for my 1993 set. I have the rest of his regular issue BBM cards, as well. What I don't have are his Calbee cards, sadly. I've found bobbleheads, figurines, hand fans, and I even picked up a game model Mariners jersey several years ago after he defected to New York.
Just this week, I managed to complete my Ichiro collection. It's not the best cut, but I am very happy to finally add this to my collection. It's fitting that my collection would be complete at the same time his career is.
Ichiro didn't get to go out with a bang - no final trot around the bases, or even beating out an infield hit. But he did get to finish in the same place he started. I wish I could have been at that game.

Ichiro spent nine seasons in Japan, all with the Blue Wave, before coming to Japan in 2001. In Japan, he batted .353, with 1278 hits, 118 home runs, 529 RBI, and 199 stolen bases. His MLB batting average, over about 18 seasons, was .311, with 3089 hits, 117 home runs, 780 RBI, and 509 stolen bases.

With the NPB, he was a seven-time All Star, in the US, ten times. He won the Pacific League MVP three times, and won the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in 2001. He won seven Golden Glove awards here in Japan, ten in the US.

He holds the following MLB records: 262 hits in a single season, 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, most hits by a Japanese-born player, most hits in interleague play, and most hits in a season by a rookie.
Combined between the two major leagues, Ichiro has 4367 hits, which makes him the professional all-time hits leader. In the MLB alone, over his 18 seasons, he places 22nd.

As a side note, we could also discuss Sadaharu Oh and Josh Gibson as major league home run kings at this point. But we won't.

He had great speed. His 509 stolen bases ties him for 35th all time. Tack on 199 more from the NPB, and he's at number 11. He had a great arm and his Golden Glove awards in both leagues attest to his prowess in the field.

Ichiro didn't just play well, though. He really opened the door to Japanese players, and showed that you don't have to hit home runs to be a star. I can't wait to find the next Ichiro, if there is one.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Ghosting

Long time no see - nearly a month. Once again I've found myself to be quite busy. I'm living on the road during the week, and while I have a comfortable apartment, it makes handling my cards, scans, and posts challenging.

I actually haven't been that busy at work, but I can't just bring my laptop into the office and whip up a post or two. And it's not that easy to transport a laptop back and forth every weekend just to write a few posts... if I have time.

In a couple of my discussion classes this week, we talked about ghosting. And it seems that I have a horrible habit of ghosting - on this blog and via emails and other communication. It's not that I want to break off our relationship, it's just that I have too many things going on sometimes!

So today I'm forcing out a post... not because I have to, but because I want to. I just wish I had a few more extra hours in the day...

Today's card is appropriate, as I waited for quite some time for this one.
This black autograph of Molly McGrath from 2018 Allen & Ginter took forever to get here. I'm not sure what Molly was doing, and I'm sure as a sportscaster she's busy traveling to sporting events.

I got a good deal on the redemption card, and I just had to wait for Topps to finally get the cards back and forward this one on to me. The one good thing about redemption cards is that Topps will ship them to Japan for free!

I've never seen McGrath on TV... or anywhere other than A&G, since she doesn't do baseball. But maybe some day she'll do some meaningful broadcasting? She's from San Francisco, though - my home town!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Unknown Bromides

A couple weeks ago, I took an overnight trip to Nagoya. I got a late start, putting me in town around 1 p.m. But that was fine, since I was spending that whole day just going from card shop to card shop. My first stop was CAPS, a former Mint shop that will be closing down in the next few months. They're slowly clearing out a lot of their singles, though apparently they plan to keep some sort of online business going.

I picked up a lot of good cards there, but most importantly and confusing were these bromides. I can't identify them. I can't tell you much about them, but if you know anything to add to them, let me know!

Note: the measurements are being made with my iPhone app, so they might not be very accurate.
 This card is about 9 cm wide and 13 cm long. There are no markings or borders at all, and the back is white. I have no clue about the player, though it is obviously a Yomiuri Giants player.
 This is Michio Nishizawa, who is pictured with the Dragons. He played with them his entire career, though I'm guessing this card was issued sometime from 1947-1958 (his final season). Nishizawa started as a pitcher, even throwing a no-hitter, but eventually left the mound and developed into a pretty good hitter. He went on to manage the team for a few years, compiling an over-.500 winning percentage. He's in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame and his number, 15, has been retired by Chunichi. This card has a white or off-white back. You can see the border and the horizontal, white text on the front. It measures about 8 cm by 10 cm.
 Makoto Kozuru is another Dragons player who is now in the Hall of Fame. He played with the Dragons from 1942-1943, and 1946-1947. Like Nishizawa, this card has a white back. The image is colorized, with a green background, red shoes, and yellow socks. I believe it's about 7 cm by 11 or 12 cm.
Finally, this colorized card has a yellow border, though it doesn't show up well in my scan. The text at the bottom looks more like type, where the other cards have text that looks handwritten. It has a tan back, and is printed on thinner stock than the others. It measures about 9 cm by 14 cm. The player featured is Michinori Tsubouchi, another Dragons player. He was with the team from 1949-1951 as a player, though also managed the team through 1954, and again from 1965-1967. He, too, is in the Hall of Fame.

I wasn't able to identify the cards looking through Engel's guide, but I might have missed something. Regardless, they're neat cards, and given their sizes, are probably prize cards from various sets. And at least three of the four are hall of famers!

And I got one more big bromide, but it's so big I couldn't scan it. That one has Shigeru Chiba, who is also in the Hall of Fame, so I'm at least four for five.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2019 BBM Time Travel 1979

BBM's first 2019 set was released in late 2018. American card collectors might understand this concept, since manufacturers rushed to release the first sets with the prior year's stats as quickly as possible. I remember finding cards with prior-year statistics before Christmas in the 1990s. Of course, a lot of that changed around 2006 or so, when the MLB started setting some rules on card releases.

These days, the year's first release is a flagship - 2019 Topps came out recently, and 2019 Donruss will be out soon. Some manufacturers (Leaf, mainly) seem to issue some sets into the next year; there are still some "release-pending" 2018 issues six months into 2019.

But in Japan, BBM issues its first 2019 sets long before its flagship. Both this set and Glory came out before New Years, the annual retirement set came out this month, and Rookie Edition is either out now or will be out very soon. In fact, a couple of BBM's team sets might be released before the flagship First Version.

Time Travel focuses on a particular year in the past; if you haven't guessed from the title, the 2019 set goes back 40 years to 1979. This is BBM's only "throwback" set.

I really look forward to this set every year, mainly because of the throwback design and the inclusion of some pop culture references. It's a nice replacement for the Historic Collection sets BBM used to do. And it must be pretty popular, as it is always a bit difficult finding a full set at a reasonable price.
 Base cards use a brown card stock with very little gloss. Backs use just one color, similar to menko cards of the era. The regular cards are #1-72.
 Six players who retired in 1979 are featured in the first subset (#73-78).
 The next eight cards are titled 1979 Retrospective (#79-86).
 I'm sure you can guess the topic of "Born in 1979", card #87-92.
 The final four cards look at society in 1979. While pop culture is featured, this NEC computer got its own card as well.

Moving on to inserts, we get to the Title Holders series.

There really isn't much difference between the Central League Title Holders and Pacific League Title Holders sets. Each set has nine cards, and both have parallel versions #/30.
The only premium insert in this release are autographs. Those are #/90 or less. I don't have a copy of one yet for my collection, so the above photo is a promotional image from BBM.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Neat-Oh!

From time to time, cards and/or sets don't properly get added to my lists. As accurate as I try to be, my type collection is missing plenty of listings, I'm sure, and I know my inventory isn't always accurate. 

One set that isn't quite right is BBM's 2000 O-N box set. The set was originally sold for 30,000 yen, which is about $300. Each set came with a 54-card set, and actually, there were two versions. You can read about the two versions, and NPBCardGuy's adventures with the set, here.

And you might recognize this card from his post:
This is #ON-B26. It comes from the Basic set. This card was sent to me by NPBCardGuy, and it's my first and only card from the set. I now need to chase down a regular base card of the basic and limited versions of the set... or just get the whole set. However I might do that.

Thanks, NPBCardGuy!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Being a Team Player

Every card in my type collection is technically equal. My 1989 Topps base card is just as important to finishing my collection as a 1/1 Babe Ruth autograph. In fact, since I focus most on base cards, followed by inserts, I would argue that the '89 Topps nickel box single is more important. 

But nickel box singles are a dime a dozen. And mainstream cards aren't so hard to find; even "rare" parallels and inserts can be found online somewhere. It's the regional and team issues that I find most challenging to locate. And in Japan, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of them are uncatalogued. 

So these team issues are more exciting to find, even if they are "equal" to the base cards.
 This is 2017 BayStars B*Spirit. B*Spirit is the BayStars fan club. Most team issues in Japan are issued through the fan clubs, though some teams (including the Eagles and BayStars in 2018) issue their own regular sets, and other teams (especially the Giants) distribute cards as stadium giveaways.

The card has an interesting holographic foil coating, which showed up in my scan. Each card has four different photos, and the season slogan can be found on the back.
 The 2018 B*Spirit set only has two photos, but both are full-bleed images. And this year has statistics. The front of Yamasaki's card commemorates three years of 20 saves per season.
 Team Venus is the name of the Yomiuri Giants cheerleading squad. I don't know who exactly issued this set or how it was distributed, but thanks to Anna's signature including the year, we can see that it was issued in 2015. The back has a bunch of little facts, like what she recommends at Tokyo Dome and her catchphrase. It seems to be a requirement that every celebrity, mascot, and performer in Japan must have their own catchphrase.

The final three cards were issued by the Swallows in 2008. They are parallels, as noted below.
 The base card is similar to most trading cards. It reminds me a lot of the cardstock Hits uses for its idol cards and oddball sets. And Hits has issued a few Swallows sets recently that make me believe they were the printers. Base cards have Y prefixes in their card number.
 Holofoil parallels have a busy coating on the front similar to the BayStars card at the top of this post; you can probably make out the pattern in the scan. Holofoil parallels have Ys prefixes.
 Finally, I have this black printed signature - it's a facsimile signature. These have YsS prefixes.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Back to the NPB

Yesterday's post didn't even begin to show you all of the MLB cards I got at the card show last month. But I don't want to bore you with simple inserts that I don't have a story for. Heck, I rarely have a story for most of the cards I get.

But I found some NPB cards, too. Other than the newest sets and recent parallels, finding NPB cards I need is getting much more difficult. My NPB type collection is much more complete; my MLB collection is under 30% while NPB is over 50%. For both, it's the hits, rare parallels, and oddballs that remain. NPB just has fewer of the former two.

It doesn't mean I get shut out when I go card hunting.
 Royal Purple was a rare (#/50) insert found in a few 2018 pack-based team sets released by BBM. I was happy to get these two, from the Carp and Fighters team sets, especially at reasonable prices.
 The annual Icons box set comes with a few rare inserts of its own. The die-cut and printed autograph sets eventually end up becoming affordable, and it was this show that such a thing happened.
 Rookie parallels! I've said it before, but Japanese shops and dealers often assign premiums to rookie cards, even if the player is a flop. Luckily these parallels were priced properly.
 There's only one autograph in this lot, and you're looking at it. I'm probably going to have to start hunting for hits to continue making progress on my type collection.
 I added a few foil signatures, though. And here are both versions from the Pacific League Rookies set.
 2018 Epoch Lions Seasons Achievements regular and parallel. Epoch issued a ton of higher-priced sets this year in addition to the budget team issues. I do miss the full-set box issues, though.
 One single die-cut insert from the 2017 Rakuten Golden Eagles team-issued set. Depending on how things go this year, I would really like to visit Sendai and try to pick up some cards from this annual release that I haven't come across.
 How did I miss a regular insert card from a regular BBM pack-based team set on my first go-round? It's the Giants, so there you go. I'm sure the parallels of this card look awesome, but this foilboard regular insert doesn't look that great.
 I found this promo card flipping through a big box of cards!
 And this insert was nearby. I got all of the three Giants cards above at the shop near Ueno Station, and this Kiyohara was the priciest of all the cards I got there. Even so, it was cheaper than "book" price, so I was certainly happy with the cost.
 I mentioned oddballs are tough to find. Around 1998-2001, there were some sets issued by manufacturers other than BBM and Calbee for individual teams or the entire NPB. Power League and Upper Deck's sets aren't impossible to find, but they're certainly less common than the Big Two.
And don't get me started on the game cards. Baseball Heroes (above) and Owner's League are tough issues to track down. I believe there are still half a dozen cards I need for Owner's League, and there must be a couple dozen Baseball Heroes singles I don't have as well. And that's just for my type collection. Tanishige and Rami-chan both appear on several cards in both series, and I haven't made much headway there in quite a while.

I'm really happy with my finds last month, and I'm not even finished yet! Until next time...