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  #11  
Old 05-09-2018, 11:24 AM
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Default Bessho and Nakanishi

First, I'd like to start by recommending Sean's blog. It was one of the first things that I encountered when I started getting interested in Japanese cards.

Second, do you folks read kanji? I took Japanese in high school years and years ago, but (1) it's pretty rusty at this point, and (2) I never did learn to read kanji. One of the most challenging things about collecting these cards has been trying to figure out who is on them. (Sometimes sellers will tell you, sometimes not. Often they just provide the last name.) I've been doing it through a combination of drawing kanji in google translate, checking baseball-reference to see if the player that I'm looking for was on the team he's shown with on the card, and checking Engel's book (which sometimes only lists last names). It's slow going, especially the google translate bit.

Third, here's another card. Same set as the first two. Bessho is again on the left, next to him is Futoshi Nakanishi. I get the feeling that after they took the picture of Bessho with Inao the photographer just grabbed Nakanishi for another shot. Nakanishi played 1952 to 1969 with the Lions. He was a third baseman who, when he was young, looked like he was going to be one of the best ever. A slugging percentage over .600 for a 20 year old is pretty impressive. He led the league in home runs for four straight years. When this card was issued he was at the top of his game, a hugely successful slugging third baseman, his team had just won the Japan series, and he had just gotten married - to his manager's daughter. But it wasn't to last. In 1959 he suffered the first of a string of injuries from which he never recovered. He never played a full season again, although he did take over managing his team when he was just 29.
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File Type: jpg Nakanishi and Bessho back small.jpg (46.3 KB, 260 views)
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  #12  
Old 05-09-2018, 02:15 PM
Rickyy Rickyy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanofjapan View Post
Hi,

Thanks!

If you register on Sports Card Forum (https://www.sportscardforum.com/private.php) some of the complete Calbee checklists from the 70s are available there, the guy who does Clyde's Stale cards did all the work on those a while ago (https://clydes-stalecards.blogspot.jp/)

And yeah, the sets from the mid-70s are huge. I'm working on the 1975-76 Calbee set right now and it has 1472 cards! And some series of it were only issued in single cities (two series in Hiroshima, one in Nagoya) so they are extremely hard to find, (kind of like if part of the 1972 Topps set was only sold in Cleveland and another only sold in Denver). Its got to be one of the most difficult sets in the world to put together (though fortunately prices don't reflect this for the most part).
domo arigato for the information Sean! I will check it out.

Ricky Y
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  #13  
Old 05-09-2018, 02:16 PM
Rickyy Rickyy is offline
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Originally Posted by nat View Post
First, I'd like to start by recommending Sean's blog. It was one of the first things that I encountered when I started getting interested in Japanese cards.

Second, do you folks read kanji? I took Japanese in high school years and years ago, but (1) it's pretty rusty at this point, and (2) I never did learn to read kanji. One of the most challenging things about collecting these cards has been trying to figure out who is on them. (Sometimes sellers will tell you, sometimes not. Often they just provide the last name.) I've been doing it through a combination of drawing kanji in google translate, checking baseball-reference to see if the player that I'm looking for was on the team he's shown with on the card, and checking Engel's book (which sometimes only lists last names). It's slow going, especially the google translate bit.

Third, here's another card. Same set as the first two. Bessho is again on the left, next to him is Futoshi Nakanishi. I get the feeling that after they took the picture of Bessho with Inao the photographer just grabbed Nakanishi for another shot. Nakanishi played 1952 to 1969 with the Lions. He was a third baseman who, when he was young, looked like he was going to be one of the best ever. A slugging percentage over .600 for a 20 year old is pretty impressive. He led the league in home runs for four straight years. When this card was issued he was at the top of his game, a hugely successful slugging third baseman, his team had just won the Japan series, and he had just gotten married - to his manager's daughter. But it wasn't to last. In 1959 he suffered the first of a string of injuries from which he never recovered. He never played a full season again, although he did take over managing his team when he was just 29.
I can understand a little... if you have any that need translating I maybe able to help!

Ricky Y
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  #14  
Old 05-09-2018, 07:55 PM
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Default Takao Kajimoto

Moving on from menko cards for a while. This is a bromide. Bromides were sold as baseball cards, one at a time. It's printed on thin stock, and is, maddeningly, very slightly too large to fit into a binder page. The set is catalogued as JBR 16, and Engel says that it is fairly rare: only double digits of each card known to exist. The backs are blank, but mine has a stamp on it. Google translate tells me that the stamp says "one piece", which doesn't make any sense, so anyone with more insight is welcome to fill me in.

The player is Takao Kajimoto, who has got to be unique in that he both (1) is a pitcher in the hall of fame and (2) has a losing record for his career. Just barely, I grant, but 254-255 is still a losing record. He played for the Hankyu Braves from 1954 to 1973. He did win the pennant at one point, but, as you might expect, the Braves were pretty bad for much of his career. He was a 12-time all star, and the first Japanese pitcher to clear 2000 strike outs.
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File Type: jpg stamp small.jpg (65.0 KB, 250 views)
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  #15  
Old 05-09-2018, 08:18 PM
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Default Masaki Saito

And now, as Monty Python would say, for something completely different.

In 1991 Baseball Magazine decided to issue American-style baseball cards. Their sets would be of a design and composition familiar to Americans, and sold in packs, like American cards. They were (and are) a hit.

I'm not usually a fan of shiny modern cards - check out my avatar for my favorite era of American cards - but there's no way to get around it for modern players. Kids just don't play menko like they used to. This is a Masaki Saito from the 1993 BBM set. Unlike the earlier cards that I've posted, these are very very very common. This one cost me $1. Saito was a first-round draft pick, pitching for the Giants from 1984 to 2001. He was inducted into the hall of fame in 2016. He began his career as a reliever/swing-man, but over time transitioned into one of the great pitchers of the 1990s. He won the Sawamura award three times, tying a record. (The Sawamura award is given to the best pitcher in the league, although they reserve the right to not award it in any given year if they think that no one is up to their standards that year - which has happened a couple times.) He was also, apparently, a very good fielder, winning several gold gloves. You wouldn't think that pitcher fielding matters a whole lot, but ask the 2006 Tigers about that.

Just looking at his career numbers, Saito looks like an odd hall of fame choice. 2300 innings isn't much. Roy Halladay, who will probably get elected but who is an interesting test-case for short-career pitchers in America, got up to 2700 innings. I suspect that I need to spend more time with Japanese record books to get a better feel for the context. Maybe in the modern Japanese game 2300 innings isn't so bad.
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File Type: jpg saito back.jpg (72.5 KB, 245 views)
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  #16  
Old 05-09-2018, 08:26 PM
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Sean McGinty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat View Post
First, I'd like to start by recommending Sean's blog. It was one of the first things that I encountered when I started getting interested in Japanese cards.

Second, do you folks read kanji? I took Japanese in high school years and years ago, but (1) it's pretty rusty at this point, and (2) I never did learn to read kanji. One of the most challenging things about collecting these cards has been trying to figure out who is on them. (Sometimes sellers will tell you, sometimes not. Often they just provide the last name.) I've been doing it through a combination of drawing kanji in google translate, checking baseball-reference to see if the player that I'm looking for was on the team he's shown with on the card, and checking Engel's book (which sometimes only lists last names). It's slow going, especially the google translate bit.

Third, here's another card. Same set as the first two. Bessho is again on the left, next to him is Futoshi Nakanishi. I get the feeling that after they took the picture of Bessho with Inao the photographer just grabbed Nakanishi for another shot. Nakanishi played 1952 to 1969 with the Lions. He was a third baseman who, when he was young, looked like he was going to be one of the best ever. A slugging percentage over .600 for a 20 year old is pretty impressive. He led the league in home runs for four straight years. When this card was issued he was at the top of his game, a hugely successful slugging third baseman, his team had just won the Japan series, and he had just gotten married - to his manager's daughter. But it wasn't to last. In 1959 he suffered the first of a string of injuries from which he never recovered. He never played a full season again, although he did take over managing his team when he was just 29.
Thanks!

I can read kanji, but I've lived here for almost 20 years and it took some work.

With player name recognition it is best to concentrate on the learning the kanji in last names since (with some exceptions) they tend to use more common ones (中、山、西 etc) while first names are way more idiosyncratic and use a lot of obscure ones with weird readings. I can definitely help with reading names if anyone has questions about them.

One potential shortcut which I have found helpful (sometimes I don't know how to read the kanji on a player's name since they have multiple readings) is to use the Japanese wikipedia page which has the list of players for each team. So if you get a card of a player from the Hawks for example (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/福岡ソフトバンクホークスの選手一覧 ) , you can scroll through and look for the kanji (easiest way is to just look for the first kanji in the name), click on the player's name when you find it, then click over to the English Wikipedia page and you've found your guy!
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  #17  
Old 05-09-2018, 10:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat View Post
I suspect that I need to spend more time with Japanese record books to get a better feel for the context. Maybe in the modern Japanese game 2300 innings isn't so bad.
One thing with career stats is that owing to the shorter season Japanese stars usually have lower totals in comparison with their American counterparts (which makes Sadaharu Oh's career home run total so insane). So 2,000 hits is the de facto standard for HOF consideration rather than 3,000, etc. Not sure if that was the case with Saito, he had a sort of Sandy Koufax like period of brief but exceptional dominance in the late 80s-early 90s.
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  #18  
Old 05-10-2018, 08:30 AM
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Nat:
As posted above, I'd definitely recommend Sean's blog site, as well as Dave's blog site here:
http://japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com/

Both Sean and Jeff Alcorn can certainly translate for you. Jeff is a good friend who is one of the "pioneers" of Japanese baseball card collecting here in the U.S. His knowledge is vast and highly recommended.

Collecting Japanese baseball cards is a lot of fun, both in the hunt and history. Picking up Gary Engel's books are a definite must (although better used as a history guide and checklist instead of card valuation prices). Robert Klevens is also a great resource and owns Prestige Collectibles and is also a member here on the forum.

I started collecting Japanese baseball cards in 1980 when a mutual friend brought back some 1978 Yamakatsu cards for me from Japan (I have since finished the set).
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  #19  
Old 05-10-2018, 01:51 PM
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Default Koji Akiyama

Koji Akiyama played outfield for the Lions and the Hawks over a 20 year career. He surpassed 2000 career hits as well as 400 home runs. He also spent one season, very early in his career, with the San Jose Bees, at the time an unaffiliated class A team. He was a flashy and dramatic player, doing, among other things, a backflip onto home plate after hitting a key home run in the Japan Series. He was also fast, turning in three 30-30 seasons. Superficially his statistics look like those of a young Jose Canseco, but this probably sells him short. For one thing, he was always better at getting on base than Canseco was.

The Lions were the dominant team of the late 80s and early 90s. The won the pennant many times. After an off year at age 31 (albeit one in which he still slugged >.500) he was traded to the Daiei Hawks.

Edited to add: I have Engel's book on vintage cards. It's really good as a guide and checklist, but you're right, the prices are... not helpful. I know about Prestige Collectables, but haven't bid in any of their auctions. I'll look into the next one.
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File Type: jpg kohji akiyama.jpg (35.5 KB, 233 views)
File Type: jpg k akiyama back.jpg (77.5 KB, 231 views)

Last edited by nat; 05-10-2018 at 01:54 PM.
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  #20  
Old 05-10-2018, 11:58 PM
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Akiyama is great, he was also the best manager in NPB (IMO) for several years, though for some reason he retired quite young. I lived in Fukuoka when he was the Hawks manager (taking over after Sadaharu Oh retired) and watching his teams play was the most exciting time I've ever had as a baseball fan as they were constantly dominating the PL and won the Japan Series in his final season.

He also arguably had the best hair of any player to ever take the field.

I'm not a BBM collector but I have to admit to liking the colorful designs of that 1993 set.
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Last edited by seanofjapan; 05-10-2018 at 11:59 PM.
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