Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Calbee Does America, Part 2

The weather was absolutely beautiful in Chicago this weekend.  With that in mind, the wife and I did what any other self-respecting, newly-married couple would do with the gift of sunshine and nearly 70 degree temperatures in the middle of February:  we walked around inside of Bed, Bath and Beyond in search of household odds and ends.  That is what you're supposed to do on such an occasion, right?

While this might seem like a pretty lame way to spend a weather unicorn of weekend, it wasn't all bad.  The snack section of the store truly lives up to the "Beyond" label:

The exotic food section found in most BB&B's will keep me coming without complaint.  After all. their shelves are stocked with snacks and beverages from all over the world, including the above bag of Calbee Shrimp Chips from Japan.  Shrimp and snack chips might sound like odd bedfellows and they may even sound absolutely disgusting, but I just can't get enough of them.  Although, I do have an inordinate amount of love for anything seafood.

The last time I ended up with a bag of these delicacies, I couldn't help but think about baseball cards.  I mean, Calbee is a major baseball card manufacturer in their native land, including cards in many of their snack food products.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said for their Americanized lines.  As a replacement, I decided to do a series "what if" cards, featuring Japanese imports who have played for the Cubs, in the style of classic Calbee designs.  Yes, this is how I spend my free time.

Well, since then, the Cubs have signed themselves another one; so, this seems like a swell time to add an update:

(Scan of original courtesy of Japanese Baseball Cards)

Koji Uehara, the veteran lefty reliever, signed with the World Series Champions this offseason, as part of an organizational rebuilding of the bullpen.  To commemorate the signing, I've created this tribute, in the style of the 1995 edition of Calbee cards.  For reference, I've included an Ichiro from the very same set.

Based on teams, this set had different, rotating sets of colors for the nameplates and bottom border. Also, the originals were slightly smaller and narrower than a standard card, with rounded corners.
I've opted to blow my custom up to the normal 2.5"x 3.5" dimensions, with pointed corners, mostly because I'm OCD, even when it comes to my fake cards.

Alas, I couldn't halt my update project here.  While reviewing my previous post, I couldn't help but notice that I missed a player during my previous series.  I am a little embarrassed (I am the Cubs roster history nut, after all), but I suppose I shouldn't blame myself too much for accidentally forgetting about a guy who who only made it into six games in 2009.

So Taguchi was a minor league depth signing who the Cubs rewarded with a September call-up, so as to have some extra veteran presence for the stretch run.  Of course, the Northsiders failed to make the playoffs and So was released after the disappointing season, never to play in the Majors again (he did go back to play in Japan again, however).

With that in mind, it was quite difficult to locate a usable picture for the above custom; the sliding shot I ended up with was the only one I could track down.  Luckily, it worked quite well with the 2006 Calbee Starcard insert design:

(Scan courtesy of Ryan from This Card is Cool)

For reference here is an original card from the same insert set.   The thing about Calbee cards, unlike their main rival BBM,  is that their "flagship" design traditionally changes very little, year to year.  Of course, there are aberrations, but they usually opt for a minimalist norm.  So, in order to find an unique template for So's custom, I had to broaden my horizons a touch.

Lastly, two custom cards didn't fell like quite enough content for a dedicated blog post, at least in my opinion.  However, with Koji and So taken care of, that officially covered all of the Cubs players of Japanese origins.  Therefore, I had to fudge the rules a little bit, opting for a short-term Cubs hurler who had spent several years in Japan before coming Stateside

(Scan of original courtesy of  Getting Back into Baseball Cards... In Japan)

Chang Yong-Lim, aka "Mr. Zero" is a Korean pitcher who received a brief (6 game, 5IP) trial with the rebuilding Cubs in 2013.  Previous to that, Chang had been a superstar closer in Japan with Yakult and a workhorse stater in his native South Korea for Samsung.  After his ill-fated cuppacoffee in the MLB, the reliever opted to return to the Korean Baseball Organization for a few more seasons, retiring after the 2016 campaign.

Much like the 1995 Calbee cards that Koji demonstrated, the 1994 edition were also originally of a smaller size with rounded corners, as Hideki Matsui has kindly volunteered to demonstrate.  Again, I went with the standard-size and characteristics for my custom... because reasons.  Also, the nameplates changed colors based on team, so I chose the color that, in my eyes, worked best with Mr. Lim's image.

I've also developed a taste for these melon creamy sodas 

With that, I can put a period on my "update" set of Cubbie Calbee customs.  Looking back at them now, there are a couple minor tweaks and changes I wouldn't mind make; with that being said, I am satisfied with how they have turned out.  What do you think?  Please feel free to leave any thoughts or suggestions in the comments section below!

So, yea.  It's February, the weather is unabashedly sunny, the temperature has rocketed up into the high 60's and I spent my weekend wandering around indoors, in a cavernous Bed, Bath and Beyond, buying Japanese snack food.  I then followed up that expedition by staying inside and Photoshopping fantasy baseball cards, in the dark, for a few hours.  I think I'm doing this wrong.

The Calbee Shrimp Chips made me do it.


  1. BB&B is a dangerous place to go to with a wife. At least in my experience. Don't have any criticisms of your customs. They look good.

  2. Awesome job on the customs... especially the Taguchi. And those creamy melon drinks are dangerous. I've been banned from having them in my house, because we drink way too many.

  3. Chang-Yong Lim is actually still pitching in the KBO with Kia and has started some games this season. He mostly pitched relief last year.