While there's a lot of baseball board games out there, again, Stratomatic comes to mind, there are very few actual baseball "card" games, especially those of the collectible kind.
Once I became a collector, there were two different baseball games I remember collecting and actually playing - Sportsclix, from WizKids, and MLB Showdown, from Wizards of the Coast, the same people who created Magic the Gathering. MLB Showdown came out first, from 2000-2005, with a slight overlap of Sportsclix, which came out 2003-05.
At the height of their popularity, a couple of local gaming shops (both since long gone), held leagues for each of these games. While I enjoyed playing Sportsclix, actually becoming a Sportsclix Coach, or WizKids envoy, who could help adjudicate and run games, I enjoyed MLB Showdown much, much more.
This was a card game I could actually get into. MLB Showdown cards were nice, bright and fairly easy to read, with nice game action shots on the front. It was a hoot to play and the gameplay seemed more realistic, especially when strategy cards came into play, plus you didn't have to click your characters after every at bat.
The only downside, is like other Wizards of the Coast games (can you say "Magic the Gathering") they would come out with multiple sets each year, including Pennant Run and Trading Deadline, as well as those must have strategy cards, such as "Go Up Hacking." In the 2001 printing alone, there were 462 cards in the base set (including 75 strategy cards), 175 in Pennant Run (25 strategy), and 50 "promo" cards.
For our 2001 MLB Showdown season, we held a pack draft. Each player bought four packs of the 2001, 1st Edition, and four packs would be opened at a time, the strategy cards were removed, and the player cards were then spread out on the table. Once you got a look at who was available, the draft began.
I believe I had the third or fourth pick, so I immediately went for Randy Johnson (foil) as my number one pick. It was a wise decision, as he became the ace of my staff. If I remember right, I believe I finished fourth in our nine-team league, but for the life of me, I don't remember any of my other player cards, except for Padre reliever Troy Hoffman, who usually got the job done for me.
Fast forward to 2020, where my collecting interests have since expanded to Japanese baseball cards.
Takara originally produced a 30-player baseball game set for the six-team Central League (from 1978 - 80) but expanded their print run to include each of the 12 teams from the Nippon Baseball League in 1981. Each set included two dice, a playing sheet, a team logo card, as well as a set of instructions, printed in Japanese, of course.
Recently, I found a 1990 Takara Nippon-Ham Fighters set off E-Bay, with Mat Winters, who played five years with the Fighters, showing through the front slot.
These 2-1/8" x 3 - 3/8," rounded-corner cards are okay, with player shots from the chest up, as modeled by Winters. He's decked out in the Fighters' red and yellow striped jerseys, which the team wore from 1982-1992. The players' biographical information can also be found on the front of the card.
One issue I've found, is since it's printed in Japanese, there are no player names, only their uniform numbers are listed. I've noticed a disparity between Gary Engel's Japanese Baseball Card Checklist Price Guide (Vers. 2.1), and the Trading Card Database website checklist. For example, Engel lists the #9 card above as Matt Winters, while the TCDB lists him as Brian Dayett. There's also a few other differences with a few of the other players in this team set.
While I trust Engel's guide implicitly, it does get a bit confusing at times.
As for playing the game istself, Dave, over at Japanese Baseball Cards ran a post on game play a few years ago ( http://japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com/2008/02/takara.html ). However, I'm pretty sure I won't be playing Takara baseball - I don't think the collector in me will allow it.
I've also since found a 1990 Toyo Carp set as well, and am awaiting delivery from Canada.
Stay safe and healthy out there.