24 March 2013

Tiny, Tuffy and Taiwanese Cards: Part II

        Thanks to the greatness that is the Internet, NPB Card Guy went on vacation to Japan and I got souvenirs!  He'd asked me before he left if there was any thing special (aside from the elusive 1994 Chiba Lotte Marines menko set) he could look track down for me, so I just said anything from my Tuffy Rhodes want list.  Well, somewhere in the dozen or so card shops he hit while in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, he and Ryan (from This Card is Cool and Chaos and Kanji) tracked down 13 hits from my list!  Thanks guys!

        One of the older finds was this gem from from the 1997 Takara Pro Baseball Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes set.  I was really starting to think I would have to break down and buy a full set for this card, so this is a great score, and I'm really glad I don't have the rest of the set cluttering up the place.
1997 Takara Pro Baseball Game Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes
     Next up is one I really should have been able to get my self.  A couple of years ago, I opened something like four boxes of 2000 Epoch Pro-Baseball Stickers.  It was a dual purpose thing, first that I'd discovered Kuboten.com and started buying stuff from Yahoo! Auctions Japan, and these just were too cheap to pass up, but secondly because there were two Tuffy stickers in the set, a base sticker and this "The Leading Players" insert.  In four boxes, I managed to land the base sticker, but didn't pull the insert.

2000 Epoch Pro-Baseball Sticker The Leading Players #12LP
      Somehow I've gone the last four years without having picked up any of Tuffy's cards from the 2000 Konami Field of Nine set.  Actually when I look over my Tuffy Rhodes want list, it seems Konami cards represent the biggest gaps in my collection.  Field of Nine was Konami's entrance into the trading card game market, which they would abandon a few years later in favor of their Baseball Heroes series that were tied to their arcade games.  Somewhat surprisingly Tuffy didn't appear until card #351 (or officially FON00T-351) in the first series.  I didn't really capture it in the scans, because I cropped a bit too closely, but the corners are slightly rounded, as are most of Konami's cards (and most CCG/TCG cards in general seem to be) .  As nice as rounded corners can be for maintaining good condition, the black border pretty much cancels that out.  As with almost any card set with a black border, lots of Field of Nine cards suffer from chipping around the edges.  This particular card, however, is in very good condition.
2000 Konami Field of Nine Series 1, #FON00T-351
     I would have expected this card to turn up much sooner, but better late than never.  This 2001 Upper Deck Victory Japan card is from the last year Upper Deck issued regular sets in Japan.  For whatever reason, Upper Deck's Japanese Victory sets were slightly smaller than usual, measuring the same 2.25" x 3.25" Calbee uses, and also employing the rounded corners.  I have to say, I think rounded corners are a great idea for sports cards, and I don't understand why they aren't employed more often.
2001 Upper Deck Victory Japan #070
    The next great addition is a very nice insert from Konami's 2003 Prime Nine Title Holder insert set.  I had no idea what this card looked like as Gary Engel's Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide did not have a sample image.  As it turns out, it is a very nice looking card.  Silver foil for the player and team name at the top, and for the trim and company name at the bottom, and all the yellow part behind the photo is refractive foil.  It is more impressive in person than it looks in the scan.  The cards also have a full color, glossy back, featuring the complete photo and the details necessary to use the card in the game.
2003 Konami Prime Nine Title Holder #PN03T1-TI012
     Filling one of the more basic gaps in my collection is this 2003 Calbee Series 3 card showcasing Tuffy's membership on the 2003 Pacific League All Star team.  According to Gary Engel's book, rather than making the All Star cards an insert set, Calbee just dedicated the entirety of Series 3 to the All Stars.  In previous years, the All Star cards were numbered along with the rest of the base set.  In 1999 and 2000, there was just a red star around the card number on the front, and a banner on the back denoting the players' All-Star status.  In 2001 that was changed to a gold box on the front and a gold banner on the back.  In 2002, Calbee made no reference to the All Star game at all.
2003 Calbee Series 3 (All-Star Game) #AS-50
    Next is the standard version of the 2004 Calbee 2003 Player of Glory insert set.  I already had the gold signature version, and this is basically identical, only without the facsimile foil autograph on the front.  The set features Calbee's familiar "kira" or sparkly effect.  There is also a third version with a black background that is more scarce than the two I now own.  The photo here is sort of at odds with what the set seems to represent.  Tuffy had a great 2003 season, hitting 51 home runs (marking the second time in his career he topped 50, and the fourth time he topped 40), but he accomplished that with the Buffaloes.  By the end of 2003, with 8 years of service in Nippon Pro Baseball, Tuffy had gained his domestic free agent status and for roster purposes, was no longer considered a "foreigner".  With both of those accomplishments under his belt, Tuffy hit the market and signed with the Yomiuri Giants who only a year previous had lost Hideki Matsui to international free agency and the New York Yankees.  Tuffy was brought in to help fill the power void left by Matsui, and did not disappoint.  In 2004, he put up his fifth 40 HR season, notching 45 long balls.  Along the way he crossed the major milestone of 300 home runs in Japan during that 2004 season.
2004 Calbee 2003 Player of Glory #G-26
     The 2005 season did not go as well as 2004, and Tuffy only managed 101 games.  Despite that, he still hit 27 home runs, but he wasn't available for the playoff run.  In Japan, injury is no excuse for non-performance.  If you get hurt, that's your problem, and how dare you not be in the lineup every day.  By all accounts, the Giants management considered 2005 a failure for Rhodes, and he would not return to the team.  Somehow in my few years of collecting his cards, I was very short on cards from 2005.  This card is from the annual pack-issued team set for Yomiuri.
2005 BBM Yomiuri Giants #G058
     This is one of very few base cards I had not tracked down.  I'm very glad to have these 2005 cards checked off my list.  This is from the 2005 Calbee set.  I'm not sure what the series break down was for 2005, so this is either late in Series 1 or early in Series 2.
2005 Calbee #134
     His impressive power showing in 2004 earned Tuffy Best 9 honors for the Central League, making him one of relatively few players to accomplish that in both leagues.  I'm pretty sure the Best 9 inserts were included in Series 1 packs.
2005 Calbee 2004 Best 9 #B-19
     2005 saw the return of the Title Holder series to Calbee's lineup.  In 2004, Calbee had trotted out a few new insert sets, and I think Player of Glory took the place of Title Holder for a season.  There are three versions of this set.  Below is the normal version, featuring the familiar refractive lattice pattern.  There is also a apparently a kira version that is just plain old sparkly, and there is also a version with the lattice pattern and a gold facsimile signature.  As I didn't have any of those versions, adding this one to the collection is very nice indeed.
2005 Calbee 2004 Title Holder #T-08
    One of Tuffy's latest cards comes in the form of this retrospective set from BBM honoring the top foreign players to lace up spikes in Nippon Pro Baseball.  Tuffy is included with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, the team with which he is most commonly associated.  Tuffy hadn't had a new card since 2009, so this was a nice treat.  There is also a parallel of this card featuring a silver foil facsimile signature.
2013 BBM Foreign Legends #53
     The list wraps up with another card that doesn't scan well due to the highly reflective background, this is from the Foreign Leaders insert set to the recent BBM Foreign Legends set.  As of the release of the set, Tuffy was the all time foreign leader in home runs and RBI.  That spot in the RBI list will very likely be claimed by Alex Ramirez in the first month of the 2013 NPB season, assuming the BayStars can get anyone on base in front of him.

2013 BBM Foreign Legends Foreign Leaders #FL6

     There was one last card of Tuffy in the batch from my Japanese baseball card blogging compadres, and nice though it is, it is one I already had.  That said, it is still a nice enough card to display, though the silver foil trim doesn't stand out as well in the scan as it does in person.  The combination of white background and matte finish really makes the foil pop.  Since this a duplicate, it's up for trade if anyone is interested.

     Thank you very much, guys!  So far, this has been the best Japanese vacation I haven't taken.


  1. I'm glad NPB Card Guy mentioned that Tuffy was in the Epoch stickers set. I had forgotten all about it but he had just recently glanced at your want list, and one of the stores we visited had a whole ton of stickers from that set. Only after getting home did I realize there are other "inserts" in that release as well that I probably need to check for my collection. I think I included the Touch The Game Tuffy as an extra since I picked it up for myself and didn't need it. Or maybe NPB Card Guy sent it... I'm not sure on that one anyway.

  2. The 2005 Calbee Rhodes is from Series 2. I can show my work if you'd like but you may want to just trust my geekiness in understanding the card numbering system used by Calbee and BBM...

    It's kind of odd how random Engel is with the Calbee listings - sometimes they are broken down by series and sometimes they're not.