REA November 2001
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on:
Offered are all four 1993 Ichiro Hawaii Winter League cards: both Hilo Stars team set cards of Ichiro, plus both gold facsimile signed insert cards of Ichiro. For those not familiar with these modern rarities, these are, incredibly, fully licensed cards produced in the U.S. featuring Ichiro issued in 1993! In the fall of 1993, Ichiro was one of several Japanese players selected to play in the inaugural season of the Hawaii Winter Baseball League. This league was managed under the auspices of U.S. Major League Baseball, and was intended for players at about the High Class A level. Each Major League team provided several players from their farm systems to take part in the four team league. In addition, about 15-20 Japanese pro players also participated. The HWBL featured many players who would later achieve stardom in the Major Leagues, including Jason Giambi and Ichiro Suzuki. The league was plagued by poor attendance and disbanded after the 1996 season, but during the HWBL’s existence, fully licensed HWBL team sets were produced each year and were sold at the ballparks. As the league had few fans, only 500 sets were printed in 1993 by the licensee, Pacific Sports Promotions. Cards #1 and #5 in the Hilo Stars team set depict a very young Ichiro Suzuki. These blue flecked border beauties are the only known cards of Ichiro in his Hilo Stars uniform. Though the 1993 American Ichiro rookie cards were printed in a quantity of only 500, it should also be noted that a good portion of this very small print run no longer exists. The Hilo Stars set was in such little demand that fewer than 300 sets were actually sold at the stadiums in 1993. The remaining sets sat in the producer’s inventory for several years until his warehouse was robbed. Among the thousands upon thousands of cards stolen were the remaining 1993 Ichiro HWBL cards. Eventually, the thieves were apprehended, but not until they had burned the evidence when they heard the police were closing in on them. This means that at most approximately 300 of card #1 and card #5 have survived to the present day. Even more intriguing are the gold, facsimile signed insert cards of Ichiro from this set. These cards were intended to be insert cards, put randomly into sets at a 1:10 ratio. In anticipation of ultimately selling 2,000 sets, Pacific Sports promotions printed 100 of each of these cards. Approximately 30 of each were inserted into the Hilo Stars sets sold at the ballparks. It is unknown whether more than a few of the never-inserted cards survived. This lot of four cards represents the first time ever the complete set of four 1993 Hawaii League Ichiro cards has been offered at auction. Includes the regular card #1, the gold signature card #1, the regular card #5, and the gold signature card #5. Each of these rare cards has been graded by BGS Near Mint to Mint plus 8.5. Each of these cards individually is a true rarity, together the entire set of four is nearly impossible.
1993 Hawaii Winter League Ichiro Collection (4)
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