Friday, April 5, 2013

Sadaharu Oh 1960 Menko

I have an interest in Japanese baseball cards, particularly Menko cards. (Menko are the cards that were originally used in children's card games.) I have a small but growing collection of this type of card. I know very little myself but I rely on Gary Engel's great reference book in addition to a couple of well done online resources.

The uncut sheet above I found on a vendor's table at an antique mall some years ago and the proprietor knew almost nothing about it. He sold it to me for a couple of bucks as I recall. I put it away in my storage box with other Japanese cards and didn't think much about it. The other day I was pulling stuff from that box and when I looked again at this strip of 'cards' I spied what I realized was a familiar face on the 'card' at the bottom left corner of the strip. The player in the yellow circle appeared to me to be Sadaharu Oh, legendary slugger of Japanese baseball fame! I've wanted to find an original, playing era issued Oh card for a reasonable price for a long time. Had I had one all along? If so why hadn't I recognized this sooner?

I wasn't sure but the cap appeared to be a Tokyo Giants one and the pose looked like that of a left handed batter. What threw me off was that fact that the card also featured a player that was obviously a right-handed pitcher. I had always assumed that they were the same player and I had never examined it much further.

Pulling Engle's book off the shelf I quickly discovered that what I had was most certainly an original Oh Menko card. This is one half of a complete set in uncut form from 1960. Engle dates the set based on uniforms of the ball players and the television shows represented by the cards on the right. He lists the card in question as Sadaharu Of/Pitcher. It does indeed show two different players, one being O!. The dude with the glasses, second card from the top left, is Japanese Hall of Famer Tadashi Sugiura.

Engle lists the set value at $45 but there is this exact uncut sheet avaulable right now on eBay for $10.

Here is the back. I'm really excited that I discovered the Oh card. One more thing knocked off my collectibles 'bucket list'!!

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