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Friday, December 7, 2012

NPB Oddballs: A Return to Nagoya A-BITS

I returned to Nagoya in November to "finish" sightseeing and make the local card shop rounds. I discovered A-BITS the first time I visited, but a lack of funds kept me from really exploring the shop. This time, I came back with a good number of cards.
 Let's start with Lotte. Lotte is a Korean-owned candy company with a large presence in Japan. They own the Chiba Lotte Marines and have a theme park in Seoul, Lotte World. They issued actual cards once, probably to try to move in on the market Calbee was dominating at the time. Lotte's 1989 issue looks similar to Calbee cards in style, with borderless fronts with just a little text and a vertical back. The card above is from 1990. Cards were included with gum, similar to Topps.
 Q-Card is another elusive oddball set that was sold in packs and as team sets. Cards are printed on credit card-like plastic, and there is a gold foil stamped number in the upper-left corner.
 Cards are unnumbered, but are generally checklisted by team due to the uniform number appearing on the front.
 BBM issues a signature parallel in some form - sometimes silver, sometimes gold, other times black. Sometimes there are multiple versions. Silver could be more limited than gold one year, and then the relative rarities are switched the next. This card is from 1995.
 This Super Arm insert was part of BBM's 2004 Historic Collection set. Each Historic Collection set has some sort of focus, and the 2004 set was called Golden Arm.
 Now, a few Dragons team issue cards. This is the 2012 issue.
 The card has a scratch-off back. I guess if you received three of the same symbol you won a present.
 2008. That's a good photo on the front.
 Again the card has scratch-off backs, though without putting any effort into it I don't know how one would win.
 2007, with a very nice simple design.
 Scratch-off again.
 The Dragons 2005 issue is titled Road to Victory.
 The earlier cards are more card-like on the back, with biographical information on the back. I think blood type is part of that.
 The 2003 team issue is fairly plain.
 Like the 2005 cards, the 2003 issue includes a lot of biographical information. The photo is replaced with a large amount of space devoted to the player's name.
 Back to BBM Historic. This is a sepia parallel from 2003's Slugger set. Only a few of the cards in the set received the sepia treatment, including Tuffy Rhodes.
 BBM's premium issue for the past several years had been Touch The Game. The checklist cards in the set are printed on thicker card stock, and each year has a different topic for photos. The 2006 set uses plays at the plate.
 I don't know what happened to the runner here!
 No, no, no! Barrell into him! All three of these cards are headed to PATP eventually.
 I started my Japanese awards collection at this shop when I came across a BBM subset with members of the 400 home run club. I bought most of the cards.
 I also saw a subset with retired jersey numbers. Almost all the retired numbers are in this set, as teams don't retire jerseys as often as MLB teams do. So that gave me a good start.
 Last, BBM included stadium cards in their 1992 set for at least a few stadiums. It doesn't look like all the stadiums were included, but I found four. Now, how will I ever find photos of the other stadiums? It will take some card hunting for sure.
 Let's look at more BBM Historic Collection cards. Here is the base card from 2004 Golden Arms.
 Here is a base card from 2003 Sluggers. Note the black-and-white (instead of sepia) photo.
 2001's set was titled All Time Heroes.
 While in 2000, the set had not yet been titled Historic Collection, and instead was just Century's Best Nine.
 Touch The Game base cards are pretty nice. Here's 2011.
 Jason needed a 2008 Tuffy so this is for him.
And we'll finish with 2007.

The owners of the store are very nice! They recognized me from my visit about six weeks earlier, though I guess they don't get many foreigners. I started a point card (hopefully I'll be able to finish it on a subsequent visit) and they were kind enough to award me with a 500 yen coupon for my next visit. I plan on returning to Nagoya once the baseball season resumes so I can catch a Dragons game.


  1. The Nagoya Dome is pretty cool. I caught a game there before and had a blast.

    Great looking Tuffy Rhodes cards.

  2. There were nine stadiums included in the 1992 BBM set, cards 101-109.

  3. Actually BBM did cards for all 11 stadiums in use in 1992. The other two cards were numbers 482 & 483. The 1992 set was broken into two series so the first nine were in Series One and the others were in Series Two.

    The new "Historic Collection" set for this year - something like "Great Numbers" - also has a subset for retired numbers. The only difference between the players in that subset and the one from the 2001 set is that Keishi Suzuki's uniform number is not really recognized as retired any more (since Kintetsu no longer has a team) and the Lions retired Kazuhisa Inao's #24.

  4. What was the deal with all the plastic cards in that region? I think there were plastic card sets in Japan, Korea and Taiwan in 1990.

  5. Spiegel: good to hear. I hear some mixed reviews on a lot of the NPB stadiums.

    Jason/NPB Card Guy: thanks for the info on the stadium cards. I'll be sure to check for them next time I have an opportunity. I'd like to find cards featuring all the past and present stadiums, though that could be quite difficult. Hiroshima's old stadium was on a recent Carp history set, and I bought it with that in mind.

    NPB Card Guy: I just saw the new Historic Collection in stores this weekend. I picked up a few cards from the set for my collection, including Inao's retired subset card. I'll have pictures eventually - I'm only a month behind on my card store reports!

    Jason: I guess the proliferation of phone cards, credit cards, and other plastic membership cards made the concept appealing - a card that is very difficult to damage? I'm not sure what the cost differential is, but I'm sure plastic cards are still pretty cheap.