History of Japanese Baseball Cards
Japanese Baseball Cards 1991-Present
1991 BBM Hideo Nomo RC
BBM transformed the Japanese baseball card industry in 1991 with their first set of 399 cards. Modeled after modern American cards, the set included most of the active players as well as cards of league leaders and a special subset of all-time great players. Like American cards, BBM cards came in packs of ten and in factory sets. BBM also were designated a number of factory sets for the American market, making the set fairly common in the United States. This first set includes the Hideo Nomo and Kazuhiro Sasaki rookie cards. Starting in 1991, BBM also annually issues boxed All-Star and Japan Series sets.
In 1992 and 1993, BBM continued to produce both foil packs and factory sets, but they ended production of factory sets in 1994. the same year, they started placing insert cards in random packs. In 1996, BBM began producing a premium set called Diamond Heroes. These cards are printed on thick stock and tend to have a flasher design. Diamond Heroes sets contain roughly half the cards than the regular BBM sets and sell for roughly twice the price.
Over the years, BBM added more annual sets. By 2010, they usually produced a pre-season set, a regular set, a premium set, individual sets for each team, all star and Japan Series sets, a nostalgic set as well as additional special issue sets. BBM cards are widely collected in both Japan and the United States. The company is responsible for transforming card collecting in Japan into a large business.