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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

2020 BBM Retirement Set (Farewell Ballplayers)

By my count, by the time this publishes, BBM will have issued nine baseball card sets for the 2020 card year. The first two came out before the New Year: the retro-themed Time Travel 1985, and the ultra-premium Glory. In January, BBM released its annual set honoring players who called it quits after the prior season.
Each 7000-yen box comes with a 36-card complete set and one autograph. And that's really all the release contains.
The base cards use the same basic design as always; the diamond in the center basically translates as "Regret at Departing Ballplayer". Several of the cards depict the players retirement ceremonies, holding flowers or being tossed into the air. I love this image of Tanaka; hands-down it's the best in the set.
Thirty-two of the 36 players in the base set have autographed cards as well, with print runs ranging from 10 to 120 copies. Totaling them up reveals that 3000 sets were made.
There is a somewhat interesting story in this set with Shintaro Yokota. He was drafted out of high school by the Tigers in 2013, and spent 2014 and 2015 with the minor league team. After a very good spring training in 2016, he made the opening day roster, but struggled in the regular season and by the end of June he was back with the ni-gun team.

He again was practicing with the big club during 2017 Spring Training, but left due to recurring headaches. Eventually it was discovered that he had a brain tumor, but after surgery the cancer was in remission. He wasn't able to play successfully after that due to vision problems from the tumor, though he spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons training with the team.

He announced his retirement on September 22nd, and a ceremony was planned following the September 26 game. After three seasons off the field, he played center field for the ni-gun team as a defensive replacement, throwing out a runner at the plate in the eighth inning. So, after six seasons, Yokota hung up his cleats.

Yokota only played in 38 games, all in 2016, for the Hanshin Tigers top ballclub, batting .190.

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