Friday, April 6, 2018

Japanese Menko Cards Pt 1 The Circles

Hello again. I'm back after taking a mini break from the hobby.

I need to catch up and post about one of the best mailers I've ever received. It came from Ryan aka SumoMenkoMan who authors the very interesting blog of (nearly) the same name. The envelope was totally unexpected and quite welcome. As you'd expect it contained Japanese menko cards, lots of 'em. So many that I thought it best to make two posts about them.

In this post I'll showcase the round ones. Identifying baseball menko sets isn't hard if you have the right tools, Gary Engel's guide for example. Ryan himself has info on his blog mostly geared towards sumo rather than baseball menko. He's written a guide to those btw.

ID-ing players on these cards is more problematical, at least for me. But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying them. I'm posting these from smallest to largest grouped (I think) by set. Scanning limits your ability to show the precise sizes and tends to cut off the edges of these but no matter, I'll plow ahead.

Of course the first one I stick up here I can't identify as to the exact set. That figures. The various elements match several different cataloged sets but none precisely. But it looks to be from the late 40s. I'm sure Ryan or one of the other menko experts that frequent the blogs can set me straight.

Whiffed on this one as well. Can't find a set that has a design quite like that..and no set in the guides shows a card with a number with that many digits. I feel like his face is familiar but I'm drawing a blank. 


Finally, a couple that I can identify. These next two are from the 1949 ten card JRM2 Starburst set. This batter is Hiroshi Oshita. I like this one a lot. Great little details in the catcher and ump. Oshita is a Hall of Famer.

This next guy I also recognize. He is Henry "Bozo" Wakabayashi. He's a Japanese baseball Hall of Famer and has a compelling story.

here is a JRM 14 from 1950ish. I thought I had deciphered the Kanji as Matsumoto but that doesn't appear to be the case.

The next five as bigger (obviously) and are from sets in the circa 1948 JRM 1 family. There are differences in sizes and small details but they all have the same basic design. In some the team name is in parenthesis.

The next three are JRM 26 Pinwheel menko. First up, Masayasu Kaneda.

Michio Nishizawa turned pro at 15 and excelled as both a pitcher and as a first baseman/outfielder.

Finally here is Hideo Fujimoto. This is one of two cards I had in my collection albeit in slightly different sizes.

I had a version of this next card as well. This is a JRM 20 of Bozo Wakabayashi seen above in another card. He was a two time Japanese League MVP.

This final card in today's post was easy to identify as it is the same card Engel uses in his set description. It's a large size JRM 37 from 1958. The player on top is Michio Nishizawa but the others are listed as 'unknown' Chunichi Dragons.

That wraps up the circular versions of the menkos I received from Ryan. Wonderful, colorful cards aren't they? I love 'em.

Next time (when I return from a short trip to San Antonio, I'll post the rectangular ones. Those may be even sweeter.

どうもありがとうございます Ryan.


  1. These are awesome!

    I picked up the Hideo Fujimoto a few years ago. Only reason I knew it was him was because it's encased by either BGS or PSA.

  2. Ryan is quickly building a legend as one of the most generous people in this stuff, as usual, from him.

  3. Whoop! I'm less familiar with the baseball menko so I figured they would fit better in your collection. I think I researched them once upon a time. Engel's guide is in sore need of an update. Lots of baseball menko that I have come across not catalogued in there. Glad you like them!

  4. Those are some beauties, nice pick ups!

  5. I am trying to identify some menko baaeball cards. I am fairly sure they are from the 60's but not a whole lot of info online I can find. Would be happy to send pics

    1. Send the pics. I'll take a look. SumoMenkoMan would be a good source..see above comment for his info.

  6. Replies
    1. Hey Don...I forgot to add my email:

      commishbob at gmail dot com

  7. Outstanding blog thank you for sharing important information.

  8. Ok im late to the scene, but the names (some you identified correctly but will still mention them order) are


    So nakanishi played for nishitetsu and is a hall of famer, he was a star slugger and won the homerun crown several times

    Kozuru is another hall of famer, he hit 51 homeruns in one season for the robins and later played for hiroshima

    Fujimura is another hall of famer, also a koshien winner. He was a two way player for the tigers

    Aota is also in the hall of fame, he was a great slugger

    Hibino was a catcher for hankyu

    Yamamoto is a hofer too, played and managed nankai, he went by tsuroka at one stage, his wifes surname