Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blog....ON! 2014 Baseball Card Collecting Season has Begun

 The blog is back!  As always happens in about November I tend to put my baseball card collection to the side when the season ends and distract myself over the winter months with other pursuits.  This naturally spills over into blogging about baseball cards, hence the lack of recent posts.

In about February each year though I start to get a bit antsy about things.  Sometimes in Japan you get these days in February when the climate plays tricks on you - throwing you the odd sunny day with a daytime high of about 15 degrees.  Spring weather.  It throws my internal clock completely off and makes me think of springtime activities, which ever since childhood has meant baseball.

Being too old to play baseball anymore (except maybe in a beer softball league, but there aren`t any around here that I know of), that naturally leads me to the next best thing which is my baseball card collection.

This is all just a roundabout way of saying that I have officially kicked off my 2014 collecting campaign.

 This is several weeks early for the 2014 Calbee baseball cards, which I am eagerly awaiting the appearance of on my local convenience store shelves (or stores I should say, there are about 7 convenience stores within walking distance of my place.  As I am fond of saying, we live in a very convenient location).  So for now I am satisfied to dust off my sets from years past and see what I need.

I have never actually succesfully completed a Calbee set.  I think the only sets I have ever actually completed in my life were some Topps and Donruss sets from 1989 and 1990.  Except for those I have a ton of 90-95% complete sets that I could never be bothered finishing.

The closest I am to finishing a Calbee set would be the 2009 one, which is pictured at the top of this post.  I only need 22 more of the regular cards to complete it, plus about 30 of the subset cards and inserts.  I am going to make an honest try at finishing that this year.

This 600 card box here has all my other Calbee sets from 2008 - 2013 (minus the 2009 set).   If you can do the math you will realize that means I have just over 100 cards each from those years, well fewer than half of each set.  I will try to work on those too.

One thing that I hope to avoid this year is what happened to me last year when trying to piece together the 2013 set.  When series 1 came out all of the convenience stores in my area had bags of them.  Then when series 2 came out they had them for about 2 weeks and then - poof!  They vanished.  Not just from one convenience store but from every one of them.  Even the ones near my work, which had also carried the series 1 cards, stopped carrying them.  And series 3?  I never saw a bag of them in any of my convenience stores.  The only place that I could get them at was at the big Max Value supermarket, which I hardly ever go to.  As a consequence, while I put together a lot of my 2013 series 1 set bag by bag, I only got about 4 or 5 bags of Series 2 and a grand total of 1 bag of series 3.  Much to my shame, I had to turn to Yahoo Auctions to satisfy my need for those series, which to my mind constitutes a form of cheating (though I do it all the time).

 I don`t know if that was the same in other parts of Japan or only a Nagoya thing.  In general it seems like Series 1 Calbees are usually a lot easier to find than the higher series, which is an interesting echo of how things worked in North America back in the 50s and 60s when Topps would cut down the print runs with each series as the season wore on and interest waned.  I hope Calbee doesn`t do that this year, I really enjoy being able to buy a bag of baseball card ships whenever I want to, even in September or October!

Anyway, the 2014 collecting (and blogging) year has officially begun!!


  1. I didn't see much of series 2 last year in the convenience stores, but my local Lawson 100 had series 3 for quite a while and I always saw bags at the supermarkets. However, the analogy to the 50s and 60s might be true.

  2. That is interesting, I guess the distribution works in different ways in different cities and maybe I just got unlucky with the Series 2 and 3.

    The analogy to the 50s and 60s is something I`ve been curious about for a while. I`ve bought a few lots of Calbees on Yahoo Auctions from various years and they almost always have a ton of the early series cards and noticably less of the higher series.

  3. Trying to put together a Calbee set bag by bag, wouldn't that work out to something like 10 bags of chips a week over the course of a season (and that's not allowing for duplicates)? Good god, man, think of your health (or does the local food bank get 'em?). JK, of course.

    Nice to see you posting again, Sean.

  4. Yeah, its crazy isn`t it? I was glad when they switched to two cards per bag a few years ago, before that it was even tougher.

    I actually never get anywhere near to completing a set solely through buying chips, I usually go through a max of 2-3 bags per week (they are quite small bags but I get sick of them pretty quick). The rest I get mostly online from Yahoo Auctions.

  5. I found that my coworkers can help me finish off a bag or two a day. I've never tried to build a set but I have gone on a few binge buys. The chips aren't bad, although they can get old quite quick. Having two cards per pack makes me more likely to buy more packs. A clever marketing ploy for the casual collector!

  6. Sadly my co-workers (and my wife) never touch the chips! One thing I desperately wish they would do is mix the flavors up a bit instead of forcing you to eat bag after bag of plain chips! Throw a little Sour Cream n Onion or BBQ into the mix and I would probably buy way more.

    I have gone on binges twice. The first time I tried to collect a set was back in 2004 when they just had 1 per pack. I came nowhere near to finishing it at the time but I can remember coming home from the grocery store with 4-5 bags at a time that summer and my wife getting a bit annoyed at all the chip bags taking up space in the cupboard.

    The second time was in 2011 when Don Quixote had a big clear out sale of series 1 bags, I guess in order to make way for series 2 that were about to come out. I think they were 48 yen each or something, about half the usual price. So I binged on those for about 2 weeks while they had them and put together a lot of the series 1 set from bags that year. The problem was that I had so many excess bags of chips that I couldn`t justify buying more, so when series 2 came out I basically just skipped them. So my 2011 Calbee set has a pretty big gap in the middle!

  7. The guys working at the Mint Yokohama store were sorting a big stack of the just released Series One cards when I stopped by there last March. I was wondering what they had done with all the chips.

    As hard as it is to complete a Calbee set now, when there's 300 cards in the set and two-card packs, imagine what it must have been like in the mid-1970's. when the sets were over a thousand cards and each pack only had one card.

  8. I know the answer to that one. I visited a Mint in Fukuoka a couple of years ago and they had stacks of 24-bag cases of Calbee yakyuu chips piled by the door for only 400 yen each. I thought I had stumbled onto the deal of a lifetime until I realized they were filled with bags with the cards removed.

    It must have been crazy in the 70s. I read once that there is only one person in the world to have succesfully collected all the Calbee baseball cards from 1973 to present, and it has taken him the full 40 years to do it. That has to rank as one of the most impressive baseball card collecting feats ever.