Saturday, February 25, 2017

1964 Sadaharu Oh Morinaga Top Star

A couple of years back I was able to knock off a 'white whale' of sorts when I picked up a Sadaharu Oh Menko card. Once I'd done that the Japanese homer champ sort of fell off my radar, but not my eBay 'Followed Searches' list. I'd check from time to time but nothing came up that was both interesting and affordable. Then I saw this.

A few weeks back the colorful and fascinating Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko blog a Sumo card from the 1964 Morinaga Top Star series was featured. Sumomenkoman (I have no idea what his actual name is) mentioned the fact that Oh has a card in one of the two different varieties of the baseball version of the set. The Top Star cards are either die-cut (JG 1) or not (JG 2). This Oh card is part of the latter category. I went to eBay and found one with a decent opening bid and I placed one myself figuring I'd lose out.

But I won and this showed up yesterday. It's an oversize card issued by the still prosperous Morinaga & Company confectionery company of Tokyo. They've been in business since 1899. There isn't a whole lot of info on these on the web but they seem to be popular items on auction sites. Here is a bit of background from one of them:

From Heritage Auction:
1964 MORINAGA "TOP STARS". In 1964, there were actually two distinct baseball card issues created by Morinaga. Substantially more common (though quite scarce in its own right) was the production known [...] as "JG 1."  It was a die-cut affair, providing admirers the ability to fashion stand-up figures.  However, Morinaga also made a non die-cut variety (JG 2).  Currently, there are eleven different confirmed [that # is debatable, see below]...... They measure 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" and include vital information on the reverse. 
A look at the back shows minimal type that includes the player's vitals. The die-cut version have instructions for making the card a 'stand-up'.

Gary Engel's Japanese Baseball Card checklist/price guide lists the set as JF 2 rather than JG 2 and I'd tend to go along with his designations. He's an expert on cards such as these. I scanned his checklist out of my copy of the book. 12 baseball players are included here as opposed to the auction site's statement that there are 11. .

For perspective I scanned the Oh with a random modern Topps card.

I rarely go after graded cards and when I do there is always a debate going on in my head as to whether or not I should break them 'free' of their plastic prison. I think in this case (no pun intended...or was there?) I'm going to leave Mr. Oh alone. At least for now. I'd rather not risk damaging the card. I've had a few close calls. But either way this is a most welcome addition.


  1. What a cool unique card! Had never seen or heard of these before.

  2. That's a tremendous get! Congratulations!

  3. that is fantastic! never seen one before. congrats on the great addition!

  4. Cool card! There is also a sumo version of those that are pretty tough to find. I've only been able to catalog 5 in the sumo set.

  5. Hi Bob. Great card! It's Kevin Glew from SMR magazine. I wondered if there is a way of getting in touch with you to obtain a scan of the 1964 Morinaga Sadaharu Oh (above) to use with my upcoming article about Oh in the magazine. If you could let me know, that would be great. My email address is

    Thanks in advance.