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  #51  
Old 06-03-2018, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rgpete View Post
My understanding that there are two Japanese Hall of Fames the Meikyukai the Golden Players Club and the Yakyu Dendo the Japanese Hall of Fame
That's right. My focus is on the Yakyu Dendo. A complete list of its members is here. The Meikyukai is only for players. (Here is the membership list.) Membership in the Meikyuaki is determined by whether or not a player has reached certain statistical milestones (ex 2000 hits), provided that they were born between 1926 and 1988. The Yakyu Dendo has its own problems (basically the same ones as the American hall of fame), but the hard in/out line on the basis of these particular milestones doesn't make sense to me. Ted Williams didn't get 3000 hits (the American version of this milestone), but he did have 2600 hits plus 2000 walks.

The exception to the hard in/out line is actually the last guy that I posted: Ochiai. He hit the necessary milestones, but decided that he didn't want to be inducted.
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  #52  
Old 06-03-2018, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by nat View Post
That's right. My focus is on the Yakyu Dendo. A complete list of its members is here. The Meikyukai is only for players. (Here is the membership list.) Membership in the Meikyuaki is determined by whether or not a player has reached certain statistical milestones (ex 2000 hits), provided that they were born between 1926 and 1988. The Yakyu Dendo has its own problems (basically the same ones as the American hall of fame), but the hard in/out line on the basis of these particular milestones doesn't make sense to me. Ted Williams didn't get 3000 hits (the American version of this milestone), but he did have 2600 hits plus 2000 walks.

The exception to the hard in/out line is actually the last guy that I posted: Ochiai. He hit the necessary milestones, but decided that he didn't want to be inducted.
Thank You for explaining the differences between the two Hall of Fames
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  #53  
Old 06-03-2018, 10:15 PM
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Default Tatsuro Hiroka

Tatsuro Hiroka played from 1954 to 1966 for the Giants, primarily at short stop. Frankly there's not much to say about this guy. He had a hell of a year as a rookie, but for his career he was offensively just sort of "meh". Given that he's in the hall of fame, I assume that he was a great defensive player, although defensive statistics for Japanese baseball in the 1950s either don't exist or I was unable to find them in a cursory internet search (or both). His one mark of real success for which documentation is available is as a manager. In 1976 Hiroka took over managing the Swallows and in two years they won the Japan Series. After leaving the Swallows he took over managing the Lions with whom he captured three pennants and two championships over four seasons. And then he was fired. Tough line of work. After leaving the Lions he moved into the front office, eventually becoming general manager of the Marines.


In some ways Hiroka reminds me of Dave Concepcion; they were both light-hitting shortstops for powerhouse teams. Of course there are ways in which the two are disanalogous too; Hiroka's career was quite short, and he missed he heart of the Giants' great runs. He won the Japan Series four times as a player (and lost it four other times), so obvious he played for a great team, but he retired just as the O-N Cannon was gearing up for its historic run in the late 60s and early 70s. Concepcion is not in the hall of fame. He has his supporters, but it's hard to imagine him even having an argument for the hall if he had played only 13 seasons. I suspect that Hiroka's induction was something of a life-time achievement award. He was a player on a successful team, he had a successful (if short) managing career, and then he became an executive. I'm not sure that I'd put someone in the hall of fame for that, but it sounds like a pretty good life in baseball.
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  #54  
Old 06-05-2018, 10:33 PM
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Default Hisashi Yamada

Hisashi Yamada spent 20 years pitching for the Hankyu Braves, 1969 to 1988. Despite Japan's abbreviated seasons, he recorded very respectable amounts of innings pitched (peaking at 270 in 1971) and a very nice 3865 for his career. Given the sheer volume of his workload, it's no surprise that he had a large number of decisions. In a league where 200 wins is a hall-of-fame-worthy accomplishment, Yamada managed 284 wins. He was not merely a complier, though, Yamada also performed at an incredible level at his peak. He won three consecutive MVP awards. (I wonder if Japan has the same bias against pitchers winning the MVP award as MLB does? If so, this is an even more astonishing accomplishment.) Perhaps his longevity is due, in part, to having an easy submarine motion. You can see him pitching here. You should watch the video, it ends with a dramatic match-up between Yamada and Sadaharu Oh. It's hard to get the velocity expected of professional pitchers when throwing underhand, but if you can manage it it's a great way to relieve stress on your shoulder.

Incidentally, I've always had a soft spot for guys with a delivery like this. Years ago I was a big fan of Jeff Innis, and now I always like seeing Darren O'Day warming up.

The card is from the 1984 Calbee set. It's another one of the under-sized cards that Calbee produced in the 80s. Was there are reason that they made them so small? To package them with smaller bags of chips? Because it's cheaper? One interesting thing (to an American who doesn't know about these things) about this card is that it lists his last name (山田) before his first name (久志). This is, of course, common with Korean names, I didn't know that they do it this way in Japan as well.
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Last edited by nat; 06-05-2018 at 10:39 PM.
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  #55  
Old 06-07-2018, 10:22 PM
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Default Michinori Tsubouchi

Michinori Tsubouchi began his career in 1936 - the first year of professional Japanese baseball - and he retired after the 1951 season. In the early years Japan had split seasons - spring and fall. During the split seasons Tsubouchi played for Dai Tokyo and the Tokyo Lions (with whom he remained after they switched to a single baseball seasons each year). He spent the early 1940s playing for Asai, and then played for the Stars and Dragons in the late 40s.

He was a contact hitter and a speedy leadoff-style batter. He struck out just 299 times in his career (in 6301 plate appearances), against 546 walks. While speed was his game, power was not. He had only a single season in which he made it into double-digits in home runs (barely: he hit 10) and hit an average of only two per year. On the surface his offensive statistics appear to be anemic, but early Japanese ball was a very low offense affair. In 1941 (to pick one season from his career at random) the league as a whole had a .201 batting average, a .299 on base percentage, and a .248 slugging percentage.* There were 26000 plate appearances that year, and yet the league managed only 549 doubles, 108 triples, and 100 home runs. In that context Tsubouchi's 237/343/294 line, with 10 doubles, a triple, and two home runs, looks pretty good. He made the first best nine in 1946.

As for this card: I have only a guess as to what it is, and I'm not even sure that it's Tsubouchi. The seller that I bought it from listed it as Tsubouchi, and I've bought plenty of things from him with no problems, so I'm inclined to take his word for it. But I really don't know how he knows who it is. There is no writing on the card at all (besides the number 4 stamped on the back). You can't tell which team the player is on, and his face is hard to make out. Basically all you can tell about him is that he's wearing the number 1. My best guess is that it's a JBR 37 card, from the 1949 "Marusei Home Run Batter" set. Engel says that these cards usually, but not always, have text specifying the team and player. Here's his description of the Tsubouchi card from this set: "RHB, knees up, #1". Not much to go on. I don't know what 'knees up' means, but he is a RHB wearing #1, and it's possible that this is one of the JBR 37 cards without text on it. That's my best guess. If anyone has any better ideas, please let me know. I also might message the seller and ask how he knows that this is Tsubouchi.

*An aside about on-base percentage and slugging percentage: it's very rare for someone to have a slugging percentage lower than their on-base percentage. Since any hit contributes to both, and any extra-base hit contributes a lot more to slugging than to on-base percentage, in order to pull this off you need to be a batter who takes lots of walks but who has no power at all. Brett Butler was the first guy that I thought of, and sure enough he pulled it off a few times, but it's pretty unusual. Tsubouchi's entire league did this. Curious to see if it's ever happened in MLB, I looked through the dead ball years, and found only one season. In 1918 the AL had an OBP of 324 and a SLG of 323. I'm pretty sure that's the only time an entire league in the US has done it. So the 1941 JPBL was like the dead ball era, except much more extreme.
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  #56  
Old 06-08-2018, 03:44 PM
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Default 1948 Tetsuara Kawakami and Noboru Aota

Thought I’d share a lttle old school round Menko. A two for one HOFer card ! My “collection” is more of a type set, with an occasional complete set, usually of older die cut or round menko. Love the schoolboy drawing illustrations. Color works for me.

This particular disc is from 1948 and is part of the JRM 26 “Pinwheel” set. This disc is 3 1/2 inches in diameter, with all others in the set being 2 3/4. Like most other round menko, the disc is blank backed. The set is fairly common, with between 100 and 249 copies of each player disc assumed to be available.

The Engel Chcklist is invaluable for a guy like me. I am terrible at languages and I rely on the guide to identify a card and player.

P S... how can you have a slugging percentage lower than your on base percentage? Breaking my brain on that one!
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Last edited by drmondobueno; 06-08-2018 at 04:51 PM.
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  #57  
Old 06-08-2018, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat View Post

The card is from the 1984 Calbee set. It's another one of the under-sized cards that Calbee produced in the 80s. Was there are reason that they made them so small? To package them with smaller bags of chips? Because it's cheaper? One interesting thing (to an American who doesn't know about these things) about this card is that it lists his last name (山田) before his first name (久志). This is, of course, common with Korean names, I didn't know that they do it this way in Japan as well.
My own theory is that there is a parallel to how Topps transitioned from its big size cards to the modern, smaller sized ones in 1957 when it no longer faced competition from Bowman.

In the 70s Calbee had some competition, mainly from Yamakatsu which also produced sets. In 1979 Yamakatsu started making small cards and in 1980 left the market, which freed Calbee from competition (and showed them that small sets were feasible) from 1980 on. It wasn’t until Lotte and BBM entered the market that they went back to bigger card sizes.
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Last edited by seanofjapan; 06-08-2018 at 06:49 PM.
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  #58  
Old 06-09-2018, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat View Post
Michinori Tsubouchi began his career in 1936 - the first year of professional Japanese baseball - and he retired after the 1951 season. In the early years Japan had split seasons - spring and fall. During the split seasons Tsubouchi played for Dai Tokyo and the Tokyo Lions (with whom he remained after they switched to a single baseball seasons each year). He spent the early 1940s playing for Asai, and then played for the Stars and Dragons in the late 40s.

He was a contact hitter and a speedy leadoff-style batter. He struck out just 299 times in his career (in 6301 plate appearances), against 546 walks. While speed was his game, power was not. He had only a single season in which he made it into double-digits in home runs (barely: he hit 10) and hit an average of only two per year. On the surface his offensive statistics appear to be anemic, but early Japanese ball was a very low offense affair. In 1941 (to pick one season from his career at random) the league as a whole had a .201 batting average, a .299 on base percentage, and a .248 slugging percentage.* There were 26000 plate appearances that year, and yet the league managed only 549 doubles, 108 triples, and 100 home runs. In that context Tsubouchi's 237/343/294 line, with 10 doubles, a triple, and two home runs, looks pretty good. He made the first best nine in 1946.

As for this card: I have only a guess as to what it is, and I'm not even sure that it's Tsubouchi. The seller that I bought it from listed it as Tsubouchi, and I've bought plenty of things from him with no problems, so I'm inclined to take his word for it. But I really don't know how he knows who it is. There is no writing on the card at all (besides the number 4 stamped on the back). You can't tell which team the player is on, and his face is hard to make out. Basically all you can tell about him is that he's wearing the number 1. My best guess is that it's a JBR 37 card, from the 1949 "Marusei Home Run Batter" set. Engel says that these cards usually, but not always, have text specifying the team and player. Here's his description of the Tsubouchi card from this set: "RHB, knees up, #1". Not much to go on. I don't know what 'knees up' means, but he is a RHB wearing #1, and it's possible that this is one of the JBR 37 cards without text on it. That's my best guess. If anyone has any better ideas, please let me know. I also might message the seller and ask how he knows that this is Tsubouchi.

*An aside about on-base percentage and slugging percentage: it's very rare for someone to have a slugging percentage lower than their on-base percentage. Since any hit contributes to both, and any extra-base hit contributes a lot more to slugging than to on-base percentage, in order to pull this off you need to be a batter who takes lots of walks but who has no power at all. Brett Butler was the first guy that I thought of, and sure enough he pulled it off a few times, but it's pretty unusual. Tsubouchi's entire league did this. Curious to see if it's ever happened in MLB, I looked through the dead ball years, and found only one season. In 1918 the AL had an OBP of 324 and a SLG of 323. I'm pretty sure that's the only time an entire league in the US has done it. So the 1941 JPBL was like the dead ball era, except much more extreme.

Nat,

Concerning the JBR37, my thoughts on trying to specify a card in a bromide set is to first, measure the card. I usually place the card in a semirigid holder to flatten and protect the card. I then measure the card and compare that to the set definitions I am considering. I do not pretend to be an expert but at least the use of research clues provided by the Engle guide is reasonable. Another comment: knees up, to me, may mean the photo shows the player only from knees up.

I suspect the card may be from the JBR 74 or 75 set. Measuring may help define the card as the JBR 37 and 74/75 sets have a slight difference in their sizes.
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  #59  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:05 PM
Chuck9788 Chuck9788 is online now
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Wow! This is a spectacular collection interest.

Curious if there are any cards of Victor Starffin?

Starffin (1916-1957) was an ethnic Russian baseball player in Japan and the first professional pitcher in Japan to win three hundred games. With 83 career shutouts, he ranks number one all-time in Japanese professional baseball. In 1960, he became the first player elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1940, as xenophobia increased in Japan, Starffin was forced to change his name to Suda Hiroshi. Later, during World War II, wartime paranoia resulted in Starffin being placed in a detention camp at Karuizawa with diplomats and other foreign residents.

1957, Starffin was killed in a traffic accident when the car he was driving was struck by a tram in Setagaya, Tokyo. The exact circumstances of the incident are debated to this day, with speculation ranging from a simple accident to suicide or drunk driving.

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  #60  
Old 06-09-2018, 09:13 PM
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Default Pinwheels and bromide speculation

Thanks Keith. I think the pinwheel menkos are really attractive cards. Some of them are really common, but I've never seen that particular one before. Perhaps the rarity varies within the set. I just bought my first Kawakami card, so I'll have a write-up about him once it arrives from Japan.

Regarding my "Tsubouchi" card. Turns out it is slightly too large to be JBR 37. It measures 2 and 1/8th by 2 and 3/8th inches. That's within the margin of error for JBR 74 (approximately 2 and 3/16ths by 2 and 5/16ths). JBR 75 is listed as approx. 2 1/16th by 2 3/16ths, although I imagine late 40s Japanese baseball card production wasn't exactly a precisions affair.

I guess it could be the JBR 74 "full body" card - but the fact that there's no writing on the back tells pretty strongly against it.

The 75 card description is given as "RHB full body, end of swing, legs crossed", which is fine except that his legs aren't crossed. It also doesn't have any writing on the card (despite the description given for the JBR 75 set), on the other hand the example card that Engel provides also doesn't have any writing on it. So one possibility is an uncatalogued JBR 75 card; and Engel explicitly says that his list is incomplete. He says that he suspects the set has about 500 cards in it, but that he's catalogued only 209. So an uncatalogued JBR 75 card that was cut a little large sounds like a possibility.

And for anyone who is interested, I found a nice quick history of Japanese baseball here.
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