As I've mentioned frequently here, a major source of frustration for the player collector (and probably for the type-card collector as well) is the lack of documentation for certain areas of the hobby. An excellent example of this problem are the team-issued cards given away at the ballparks in Japan. Most teams have been issuing cards, often multiple sets a year, for decades now, but these represented a major gap in contemporary price guides and checklist catalogs. Gary Engel has included a few in his books, but mainly just Orix BlueWave sets due to the inclusion of Ichiro. When I asked him about it he explained that his interests tended more toward the vintage areas of the Japanese hobby, and that with all the still-undocumented vintage issues he still had to cover, and not having the resources of the likes of Sports Collectors Digest in its prime, he didn't have the time to spare to modern team-issued sets. Given how much effort it has taken me to simply compile and translate checklists for mainstream sets each year, I understand his point completely.
However, as my interest tend more toward modern cards, I intend to do what I can to help fill in some of those gaps over the next couple of years. Already I've learned of several sets issued yearly by the Kintetsu/Orix Buffaloes, and in my last couple of KuboTEN shipments from Japan, I've added several Tuffy Rhodes cards to my collection. The assortment below represents only a smattering of sets from a single team. I don't know that all the teams issue their own cards every year, but I know it's more than just the Buffaloes, so this might help give an idea of the scale of this chase. I'll need to figure a way to name the sets, and I also hope to dig up some details on exactly how and when they were distributed. I've found a lot of them by searching for the term "lucky card" or "ラッキーカード". This term seems to cover a wide variety of contest cards, redemption cards or instant-win cards that might be found in a variety of products.
I know that this season, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars have a series of cards being given away at games to their B*Spirit team fan club.
In auction listings I've seen for lots or complete sets on Yahoo! Auctions, I know that there are at least two more sets the Buffaloes issued in 1999. Given that it was the team's 50th anniversary, it is perhaps not surprising that they might want to go all out for the fans.
I know there is one more card for Tuffy in the lower of these two sets from 2000, showing him from the opposite angle. I also know of at least one more set design for 2000.
I know of at least three Buffaloes sets from 2002, but so far I've not been able to pick up any.
I know of at least one more set from 2003 that features the players' names vertically along the left edge on the front in white on a red background, and their uniform number in red in the lower right corner. I just missed a lot that had all three, but managed to catch these two by themselves.
As one would expect, by 2008 the quality of the team-issued cards had improved. Card stock for these is on-par with what BBM uses in its yearly sets, if a bit less glossy. Similar to the market in the U.S. for oddball sets, the more recent cards don't really sell for much, despite being appreciably more rare than the typical BBM or Calbee issue, but the farther back you go, the pricier they get, especially if you manage to find complete sets.
For more in-depth information on these sets in Japan, see the second post in this series:
2 hours ago