Sunday, March 12, 2017

C.A.: 1991 BBM Hideo Nomo (base card)

(Hey, kids, we've arrived at my least favorite day of the whole year! Daylight Savings Time kicks in, we lose an hour, during one of the busiest sports weekends of the year! Where is the petition for me to sign? It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 252nd in a series):

I couldn't tell you off the top of my head how many rookie cards Hideo Nomo owns from U.S.-made card brands. Fourteen? Fifteen? Twenty?

It's pretty ridiculous to me that a player would have a double-digit number of rookie cards. I grew up during the time when a player was given one rookie card and that was it.

But beyond Nomo's U.S. rookie cards, he has even more rookie cards than that!

Nomo pitched professionally in Japan for five years, from 1990-94 in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. And there are cards issued of him from that time period.

In general, Nomo's Japanese rookie cards are considered to be 1991 BBM and Calbee cards. The card above is Nomo's 1991 BBM base card. True to the 1990s, it's just one of the Nomo cards in the '91 BBM set. He has six other cards in the league leaders subset. Because of course.

He also owns a card in the 1990 Takara set, which I believe is a team set. (Most of my information for this write-up came from this post from the authoritative Japanese Baseball Cards blog). So, depending on how you define your rookie cards, the '90 Takara card could be Nomo's Japanese rookie card, or his pre-rookie card, or you could discount the whole thing and go with his almost two-dozen U.S. rookie cards.

Nomo defines rookie card abundance and confusion perhaps better than any baseball player.

But anyway, I received this card from Billy of the long-ago West Virginia Cards blog and much-more current Twitter site (P.S.: he recently pulled a Mike Trout autographed card out of 2017 Heritage). I don't consider this a Dodger card and it won't go in my Dodger binders, but it's a must-have for someone who enjoys Hideo Nomo cards so much.

It features Nomo in his very familiar exaggerated pitching motion but in a Kintetsu Buffaloes uniform. Here is the card back:

I need Zippy Zappy in here to translate.

The card itself is happy enough, probably not as well-made as his U.S. rookie cards. It's also smaller, both by width and height, than an average U.S. baseball card from the '90s.

BBM cards are still going strong, but the 1991 set was its first one. It's considered the first Japanese set to model itself after U.S. baseball cards. So the design is very familiar even in the U.S. and often replicated. It's pretty cool that Nomo's rookie card is in BBM's "rookie set."

That is if you consider it Nomo's rookie card.

He has so many.


  1. Such a neat card. I've always been struck by the fact that two of the most heralded rookie pitchers in in my time as a fan were Dodgers with unique pitching motions.

  2. Very cool, thanks for sharing! When eBay was in it's infancy, it was eye-opening to me just how die-hard Asian collectors were of the Asian players here. I remember selling a Beckett Future Stars with Nomo on the cover to a Japanese collector that paid to have a money order sent to my home the next day, and also paid for expedited shipping.

  3. The top left part begins with Nomo Hideo and is just personal information, followed by professional accolades (up to that point).

    Nomo Hideo [Pitcher]
    1968/8/31 DOB, Pitches Right Handed & Bats Right Handed, Blood Type: B
    185 cm (height), 89 kg (weight), Seijyokou (Osaka) <- High School
    MVP: Once, Most Wins: Once, Best ERA: Once
    Most Strike Outs: Once, Sawamura Award: One, Rookie of the Year

    As for the did you know part,

    Pitched a perfect game in high school. Pitched as a shakaijin for the Shin-Nippon-TeKai, and as an ace for the All Japan team in the Seoul Olympics where he played a key role. In his first year as a professional (baseball player) in 1990 he took home eight different crowns including the MVP and Rookie of the Year. Recorded double-digit strikeout digits per game for 21 games, including five games that were consecutive, while recording an average strikeout ratio of 10.99 and also recording a new NPB record for most SO's in a single season by a rookie (previously held by then-Hanshin Tigers pitcher Yutaka Enatsu in 1967). Also tied for second most games pitched with 17. Adachi (with the Tokyu in 1962) holds the record.

    Sorry that some things a little jumbled. This was all I could do off the top of my head. I tried to look into who Adachi was but I couldn't find it within two clicks of Nomo's Japanese Wikipedia page so I'll have to get back to you on that.

    1. "Blood type"? ... Fantastic.

      Thanks, ZZ!

    2. Yeah, Blood Type is one of pieces of personal info the Japanese make public. Comes in handy when you have an emergency and you're a celebrity so everybody knows your blood type.

  4. Love this card. It inspired me to start collecting Japanese baseball cards. I consider it his true Japanese rookie card, but I'd love to one day own the 1990 Takara.

  5. NIce addition. Yeah Rookie cards. I've gotten to the point where I just don't care that much about "rookie cards" anymore. Unless it is an undisputed vintage rookie card, or 1970s to 1980s RC. Even then many of them are disputed. OK maybe I do care some about Rookie cards.

  6. West Virginia Cards blog, now there is a blast from the past.

  7. I love Japanese cards. Around 1993, I think, my brother had a business trip and brought back a pack of BBM and I was, more or less, hooked (like everything else, he thought they were too expensive; I recall him saying something about a glass of orange juice costing him $200--not Yen...dollars). I bought a bunch of the '91 packs off eBay a few years back and there was one Nomo or another in pretty much every pack (that's how many cards he had in the set). When I'm really flush, I'll buy a box of the current year (OK. I've only been that flush twice). Can't read 'em, don't understand 'em, but they're cool as heck. BUT... I would have thought the first Japanese set modeled after American baseball cards would be the '67 Kabaya-Leaf. Heck, that set even used the '59 Topps design for half of the cards (the other half looking a little like a cross between '59 Topps football and '63 Topps baseball.