Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: So Taguchi 2003 Topps Kanebo

Topps goes to Japan, albeit briefly. 

I am headed up to Seattle this weekend to catch the Cardinals in person for the first time in a very long time. In every Cardinals game I've seen live, my favorite player (Jim Edmonds at the time) was always missing due to various maladies. My only attempt to see the Cards in Seattle ended up being So Taguchi's major league debut as he took Jimmy's rightful place in center field for the game. As you might imagine, this was of great local interest to the Mariners crowd, already abuzz with Ichiromania (it was the worldwide hits leader's second MLB season). Taguchi was a former NPB teammate of Ichiro's, but I had no idea who he was. All I knew was that it was bold for someone to make their big league debut wearing #99, and right in front of my section more or less.

Kanebo Gum manufactured Japanese baseball cards in the '90s and early '00s, and for a couple of years teamed up with Topps to reproduce some of their MLB cards with Japanese text on the back. Both the 2002 and (supposedly rarer) 2003 sets use the 2002 design, and while the stats on this 2003 release do not reflect Taguchi's first MLB season, they did at least scrub the "2002" banner from the front of the card. Taguchi's 2002 Topps card (the English language version) also has his full NPB stats on the back, but this one comes complete with Japanese characters. I still need to track down all of the other Cardinals from both Topps Kanebo sets, but it just made the most sense to start with Gooch.

Continuing the tradition of me not getting to see my favorite players, Adam Wainwright is not scheduled to pitch this weekend. Hopefully neither Matt Carpenter nor Matt Holliday get into a ferry-related accident or eat any bad sushi while they're in Seattle.

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