Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Very Proud Banana

Growing up in a neighborhood where I was the only Japanese kid... and one of only a handful of Asian kids... I adjusted to my surroundings and turned into what my relatives in Hawaii referred to as a banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

That's pretty much how I lived my life the first thirty-something years.  Sure... I ate rice with most of my meals at home, ate a Japanese restaurants from time to time, went into San Jose's Japantown on a regular basis, played baseball in a Japanese youth league, and joined a Japanese Boy Scout troop.  But outside of that... I didn't do much to draw extra attention to my ethnicity.  I was very content with being a banana.

Then in my mid 30's, I met a girl who changed that.  She encouraged me to learn about my culture, talk to my parent's about our history, and be proud of my heritage.  This was the same person who encouraged me to collect cards again, so it only made sense that I'd start collecting cards related to Japan and Japanese athletes.

Over the years, I've built a collection that fills up eight binders and a two-row shoebox.  And if I had to guess... I'd say the blogger donations to personal purchase ratio is close to 1:1... which just shows how influential fellow collectors are to my collection.

Today I wanted to show off a few things I've recently added to the Japan PC.  Let's start off with a card produced over a century ago:

1910 Helmar Seals of the US and Coat of Arms
of All Countries of the World 2nd Edition #NNO

I stumbled across this card on eBay and was drawn to the vibrant colors and the mountain that I assume is Mount Fuji.

Unfortunately the card is stamped and stained, but that also helped keep the price down to a few bucks.

On the other hand, the other purchase I made was close to 10x the price and not nearly as cool:

2022 Topps Project 100 #51

I bought this card direct from Topps back in December.  I'm pretty picky about purchasing online exclusive cards, but once again Mount Fuji caught my eye.

Before I show some cards that were donated to my collection by fellow collectors and bloggers, I've been sitting on these two newspapers I picked up in Japantown back in January:

Nichi Bei News 1/1/23

Ready for some trivia?  The article mentioned that in 2022, there were more Japanese-American baseball players and managers in the MLB than in Japan... which was kind of surprising.  But even more surprising was discovering that Christian Yelich and Dave Roberts are part Japanese.  I guess I'll need to add them to the binders.

The other newspaper highlighted the only exciting thing about the 2023 Oakland Athletics:

bayspo 1/20/23

The entire newspaper is in Japanese, so I wasn't able to find out what was mentioned about Shintaro Fujinami, the A's biggest signing in the offseason.

Okay... let's get back to more cardboard.  First up is this graded Paul Kariya that I've been sitting on for over a year:

1995 Bashan #2

Reader X sent me this a long, long, long time ago.  In fact, it's been so long that I don't remember if I received it in 2021 or 2022.  But for those who don't know, Kariya is a fourth generation Japanese-Canadian whose father was born in a World War II internment camp in British Columbia.

Even before I discovered that he was Japanese, I liked Kariya. I had the opportunity to meet with him at one of the Duck's Casino Night in the late 90's and he was very friendly with all of the fans he interacted with.

Xavier has sent me a bunch of Japanese trading cards over the years.  Here are four that stood out from his latest care package:

2022 Topps Chrome 1987 Topps #87BC-2
2022 Topps Chrome Pink Refractor #191

2022 Topps Archives 1988 Topps Big Foil #88BF-2
2022 Topps Archives 1988 Topps Big Foil #88BF-39

When it comes to NPB players crossing the Pacific Ocean and finding success in the MLB, these are three of the greatest.   And these four cards were some of the shiniest in the bunch.

Next up are some cards Dennis over at Too Many Verlanders sent me back in December:

2008 UD USA Baseball Japanese College All-Stars Jersey #JN-12

I'll start off with this sweet looking relic.  I fell in love with this set over a decade ago... and actually built it.  If any other fans of Japanese baseball players can use this for their collection, email me your address and I'll pay it forward.

When this card was produced, Mr. Nemoto was only twenty-one years old with a bright future ahead of him.  According to Baseball Reference, he went on to play seven seasons in the NPB.

Dennis also sent me an eight-pack of Hideo Nomo's for the collection.  Let's start of with some Dufex:

1996 Pinnacle Starburst #54

I know 90's inserts and parallels aren't everyone's cup of tea... but I'm guessing most collectors can appreciate a gorgeous card like this.

Here is Topps' version of Dufex:

1996 Stadium Club Midsummer Matchup #M1

After scanning the card... I feel like it's giving off more Fleer Metal vibes than Pinnacle Dufex.  Regardless, it's a very cool card.

And rounding out the eight pack of Nomo cards from Dennis are these six:

He went 8 for 8 with these in the sense that they were all new to my collectionDennis also sent me cards for a few other collections that I'll eventually write about.  The reason I focused on Japan is because their citizens are celebrating a special holiday today: The Emperor's Birthday.

This annual holiday is celebrated on the birthday of the reigning Emperor where there is a public ceremony held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Moving along, here's one more Nomo:

1998 Topps Super Chrome #15

This card is kind of a mystery.  It was in my box of cards needed to be blogged, but I forgot to label who gave it to me.  I have a strong suspicion that it was part the care package Jim @ cards as i see them gave me last month when he was in town, but I'm not 100% sure.  If you sent it to me, please let me know down in the comment section below.

I am 100% sure that he hooked me up with these three Kurt Suzuki cards:

2014 Topps Update All-Star Access #ASA-BM
2020 Heritage #328
2011 Heritage Chrome Refractor #C33

Kurt Suzuki batted .333 against Justin Verlander in the regular season during his career without a home run.  But he launched one in the 7th inning of Game 2 of the 2019 World Series off of him to break a 2-2 tieTopps did a great job of capturing history on that Heritage card.

The final card I received from Jim is this shiny Yu Darvish:

2022 Topps Pristine Borders #PB-2

This is one of those situations where the scan doesn't do this card any justice.  This refractory insert is really attractive with the Rising Sun popping off of Japan's flag.  It looks like Ohtani and Ichiro both have singles in this set, so I'll be on the lookout for those.

Speaking of flags the final item is an actual Japanese flag that John over at Johnny's Trading Spot sent me last year:

This flag once belonged to his uncle, but unfortunately John wasn't able to give me any specifics.  And sadly I have no idea how old or what the writing on the flag represents.  But it's a fantastic piece of history and looks like something that belongs in a museum.

Thanks again to Xavier, Dennis, Jim, John, and anyone else who has ever contributed to my beloved Japan PC.  Without your support, it would be only a fraction of the size.

Oh... and happy 63rd birthday Emperor Naruhito!

Happy Thursday and sayonara!

Monday, February 20, 2023

Something You'd Find at a Souvenir Store

Last week was a little hectic.  A couple of long work days paired with a trip down to Las Vegas to hang out with my dad.  But it's Monday.  I'm back in the Bay Area.  I've got the whole week off and the goal is to finally ship out care packages.

I'll be spending today and tomorrow putting them together.  I also have a doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow.  My left wrist has been giving me problems for a few weeks and it's time to see what the deal is.

On Wednesday, I'm having two new electrical boxes installed in my ceiling along with four new smoke detectors.  Later in the day, I have a dentist appointment to get my dental implant post installed.  On Thursday I'm hoping to get my taxes done and possibly get an oil change in one of my cars.

But today it's all about cards.  In the spirit of President's Day... here are a pair of cards that were part of a shoebox purchase I made two summers ago.  It was right around the peak of the hobby boom and I set up as a dealer at my buddy's card show.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime.  I won't rehash the story, but if you're interested click here.  

I walked a way with a nice wad of cash in my pocket... and had no plans of forking it over to other dealers.  But I came across a guy with a box filled with 2018 The Bar base and relic cards at a very good price that barely scratched my pay day.

Nineteen months later, I'm finally writing about two Ronald Reagan PC additions from the box:

2018 The Bar Pieces of the Past Mementos Relics #NNO

2018 The Bar Pieces of the Past Antiquity Edition Relics #NNO

Yes.  These look cheesy and something someone made out of my garage (which is probably why I was able to buy stacks and stack of them for about 30¢ each.

The relics appear to be newspaper clippings.  One of them mentions his name, while the other mentions Patty HearstAre these technically a piece of the past?  Yeah.  But I'm guessing most people find these things nothing more than novelties you'd find in a Las Vegas souvenir store.

If you look closely... on the back of the card, it states that you can visit to view the artifact that was used to create this relic card.  It took a little digging, but if you're interested... I think these are the artifacts they are referring to.

There are a few other relics that I may show off in the future for specific holidays or historical events, but we'll see.

Happy President's Day!  I'm off to start building some care packages.  Happy Monday and sayonara!

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Two Six Packs and a Prediction

The whole week I was planning on doing a special Kenner SLU card post for Chris (The Collector) and Jafronius.  But things fell apart after I discovered that I only had four cards featuring today's Super Bowl participants... which seemed a little underwhelming.  

Instead... I figured I'd show off six Kansas City Chiefs and six Philadelphia Eagles from my collection and then use them to help predict the Super Bowl winner.  Now I don't really have a preference in today's game.  If this game took place back in the 80's or 90's, I would have rooted for the Eagles since I was a fan of this guy...

1986 McDonalds Black Tab #12

Randall Cunningham was really fun to watch and I literally spent over an hour digging through boxes looking for his 1987 Topps rookie card, but ended up having to use this card instead.

Now I could have dug up the lone Patrick Mahomes rookie card I own to go up against Randall, but I decided to go vintage instead:

1968 Topps #171

Len was a little bit before my time, but I've heard my dad talk about him.  My parents attended Super Bowl I where Dawson completed one touchdown pass.  At the time my parents were big Green Bay Packers fans, so they were happy to see Dawson and the Chiefs lose.

Earlier in the week, I asked my father who he would be rooting for today and like me... he didn't have a preference.

Here's my oldest Philadelphia Eagles card of a hall of famer:

1968 Topps #162

Honestly didn't know Ditka played for the Eagles, but that's the team name is on this card.

2013 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Auto #FFA-CO

The Nigerian Nightmare is my favorite Kansas City Chief of all-time.  This guy was fun to watch.

1999 Topps Chrome Refractor #147

Donovan McNabb was another guy that was fun to watch.  He's right behind Randall as my all-time favorite Eagle.

1984 Topps #89

This dude intercepted Dave Krieg four times in a single game back in the mid 80's.  Gotta admire greatness... even if it's at the hands of your favorite team.

1986 Topps #275

I'm sure most football fans remember The Minister of Defense for his time with the Eagles... but I followed him much more closely during his time with the Packers.  This has to be one of the greatest free agent signings in franchise history.

1989 Score #258

Like Reggie, Thomas terrorized quarterbacks.  Sadly... like Reggie, Thomas passed away way too early in life.

2014 Five Star Rainbow Autograph #FSA-LM

This is the youngest player in this post.  I actually had several Eagles autographs to choose from (Bill Bergey, Chuck Bednarik, and Harold Carmichael), but decided to pick McCoy.  He's here for any football fans reading this post under the age of thirty.

2000 Bowman Reserve Autographs #TG

Travis Kelce might wind up being the greatest tight end in Kansas City Chiefs franchise history, but if he does... he'll need to pass this guy who some consider to be one of the greatest in NFL history.

2001 Archives Reprint Stadium Seat Relics #AS-SJ

Like Ditka, I didn't realize Jurgensen was an Eagle.  But I really wanted to include this card in the post, because it contains a sliver of wood from Shibe Park... which was once the home of the Athletics.

2016 Panini Classic Material #8

Did you know that there are only four kickers enshrined in Canton Stenerud is one of them.  I wanted to round out this post with a kicker, because in a perfect world... tonight's game will go down to a last second field goal.

As of yesterday, the line was close with the Eagles favored by 1.5 points.  But as promised at the start of the post, I'd let the cards predict the outcome.  The easiest way was to look up each player's AV (Approximate Value) on Football Reference, add up the numbers, and see who has the highest sum.

Here ya go...

Randall Cunningham (137)
Mike Ditka (67)
Donovan McNabb (138)
Reggie White (231)
LeSean McCoy (104)
Sonny Jurgensen (136)
Philadelphia Eagles Total:  813

Len Dawson (143)
Christian Okoye (37)
Deron Cherry (92)
Derrick Thomas (131)
Tony Gonzalez (147)
Jan Stenerud (78)
Kansas City Chiefs Total: 628

It's obviously not scientific... but if you believe the cards, the Eagles will win their 2nd Super Bowl Championship in franchise history.

Here is today's question of the day...

Who is your all-time favorite Chief?  Favorite Eagle?

Happy Super Bowl Sunday and sayonara!