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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Calbee By Years: 1973-74 Calbee (Flag Backs)

After the success of their first pro baseball card release in the summer of 1973, Calbee put together a second, larger set that was issued in late 1973 through 1974. (*)
 The fronts are essentially identical to the bat-back set; in fact, cards 1-91 duplicate the fronts of the first issue with only a few exceptions. A borderless color photo fills the entire card; Japanese text on the front indicates the player or event. There are some variations in the set; Gary Engel's guide lists three cards with reverse negative fronts, two with the text on the front changing color, and one card with a back variation. These variations don't seem to carry a premium in his guide. However, Sports Card Magazine assigns a premium to later versions for several cards.
Due to Calbee's simple designs and a lack of dates on the backs of cards, it can be very difficult for beginners to determine which year they have. Similar to the bat-backs, backs are done in royal blue. However, this set uses a team logo flag near the top, whereas the other issue uses a crossed-bats design at the top. Text at the top includes the card number in a blue circle and the words "Pro Yakyu [Baseball] Card" in Japanese at the top. Additional text gives detail about the player or situation. Calbee provided hiragana for every character written in kanji or katakana, which makes it much easier for me to read (though I still don't have enough vocabulary knowledge to translate it).

There are 368 cards in the set, plus the additional six variations mentioned above. The cards measure 2-3/8" by 3-1/8", the same as the bat-back issue. Average card values range from $15-20 for commons, up to $700 for the biggest names; however, one should expect to find most cards much cheaper than that in Japan as the extreme premium seems to only exist in US markets.

Just like the other set, several stars have multiple cards in the set; first-card holder Shigeo Nagashima has a total of 14 cards in the set by my count, not counting any appearances on the playoff cards. Sadaharu Oh has at least 16. Other major stars have up to six or more cards in the set. Cards 305, 310, 323, and 325-368 deal with late-season games, playoff games and the Japan Series from the 1973 season.

The card above (#327) shows game action and the back lists information from the November 1st Japan Series game between the Giants and the Hawks. The Giants beat the Hawks 5-1 in the game.

Homerun cards have "homerun" printed in blue ink, in Japanese, at the top, between two baseballs. Redemption dates, according to Engel's guide, are 12/31/73 and 3/31/74.

The cards were (apparently) issued in 10 series, and thus a new series could have been released about once a month. However, cards 210-296 might have been released only in central and/or western markets, and feature teams that play in cities in central and western Japan (Carp, Buffaloes, etc). It is clear that many cards were produced on two separate printers, and variations (listed below) occurred due to this.

Variations are seen as such (with known card numbers):
  • reverse negative photos on front (#115)
  • horizontal photos are rotated 180 degrees relative to the vertical backs (#104?, 141, 206?)
  • text variations on the front - changing in the wording of the actual text (#207)
  • color variations for the text on the front (white or black) (#153)
  • some cards have different photos from the bat-back set - this seems to be cards 3, 9, 54-62.
  • card 59 has three different photo variations
  • some cards may have had changes to the photos from the bat-back set (the level of zoom may have changed, giving more or less background on the card)
  • the backs have variations - at least one card (Sadaharu Oh) is seen with one of two different team flags, while other cards have comment variations (#366, Taiyo Whales cards before card #201)
(*) While the bat-backed 1973 set might have come first, it seems more likely now that both back versions were released at the same time, and the bat backs are more of a variation or parallel than an independent set.

Checklist (sorry about the formatting errors; I'll try to fix this in the future):
1 Sadaharu Oh
2 Sadaharu Oh
3 Sadaharu Oh
4 Sadaharu Oh
5 Sadaharu Oh
6 Sadaharu Oh
7 Sadaharu Oh
8 Sadaharu Oh
9 Sadaharu Oh
10 Sadaharu Oh
11 Sadaharu Oh
12 Sadaharu Oh
13 Tsuneo Horiuchi
14 Tsuneo Horiuchi
15 Tsuneo Horiuchi
16 Kazumi Takahashi
17 Kazumi Takahashi
18 Isao Shibata
19 Masaaki Mori
20 Isao Shibata
21 Shigeru Takada
22 Shigeru Takada
23 Shozo Doi
24 Shozo Doi
25 Masaaki Mori
26 Masaaki Mori
27 Takashi Yoshida
28 Yukinobu Kuroe
29 Shitoshi Sekimoto
30 Shitoshi Sekimoto
31 Katsuya Sugawara
32 Katsuya Sugawara
33 Masahiro Yanagida
34 Shozo Doi
35 Shigeru Takada
36 Shigeru Takada
37 Isao Shibata/Toshimitsu Suetsugu
38 Yukinobu Kuroe/Shozo Doi
39 Tsuneo Horiuchi
40 Yukinobu Kuroe
41 Toshimitsu Suetsugu
42 Takashi Yoshida
43 Kazumi Takahashi
44 Kazumi Takahashi
45 Tsuneo Horiuchi
46 Masaaki Mori
47 Takashi Yoshida
48 Tsuneo Horiuchi
49 Masaaki Mori
50 Takashi Yoshida
51 Koichi Tabuchi/Yutaka Enatsu
52 Kenichi Yazawa
53 Tatsuhiko Kimata
54 Akira Ejiri
55 Makoto Matsubara
56 Masaji Matsubara
57 Masaji Hiramatsu
58 Kazuyoshi Yamamoto
59 Yoshiro Sotokoba
60 Sachio Kinugasa
61 Koji Yamamoto
62 Toshiyuki Mimura
63 Mitsuo Inaba
64 Tatsuhiko Kimata
65 Mitsuo Inaba
66 Kenichi Yazawa
67 Kenichi Yazawa
68 Morimichi Takagi
69 Tatsuhiko Kimata
70 Mitsuo Inaba
71 Morimichi Takagi
72 Yukihara Shibuya
73 Koichi Tabuchi
74 Takenori Emoto
75 Katsuya Nomura
76 Taira Fujita
77 Teruhide Sakurai
78 Hiromitsu Kadota
79 Shinichi Yamauchi
80 Koichi Tabuchi
81 Katsuya Nomura
82 Taira Fujita
83 Hiromitsu Kadota
84 Teruhide Sakurai
85 Shinichi Yamauchi
86 Takenori Emoto
87 Yutaka Fukumoto
88 Atsushi Nagaike
89 Hisashi Tamada
90 Hideji Kato
91 Tadayoshi Okuma
92 Jiro Ueda
93 Toshiyuki Mimura
94 Osamu Higashio
95 Masahiro Doi
96 Taira Fujita
97 Sachio Kinugasa
98 Hajime Kato
99 Keishi Suzuki
100 Yutaka Enatsu
101 Koji Yamamoto
102 Mitsuo Motoi
103 Toru Ogawa
104 Yoshihiro Ikeda105 Yoshiro Sotokoba
106 Masashi Takenouchi
107 Koichi Tabuchi
108 Koji Yamamoto
109 Masayoshi Higashida
110 Jiro Ueda
111 Toshiyuki Mimura
112 Osamu Higashio
113 Jiro Ueda114 Koji Yamamoto
115 Masashi Takenouchi116 Koichi Tabuchi
117 Mitsuo Motoi
118 Yoshihiro Ikeda
119 Hajime Kato
120 Taira Fujita
121 Osamu Higashio
122 Koichi Tabuchi
123 Hajime Kato
124 Yutaka Enatsu
125 Masayoshi Higashida/Toshiyuki Mimura
126 Toshiyuki Mimura
127 Yoshiro Sotokoba
128 Koji Yamamoto
129 Sohachi Aniya
130 Sohachi Aniya
131 Sohachi Aniya
132 Yoshiro Sotokoba
133 Koji Yamamoto
134 Kazuyoshi Yamamoto
135 Kazuyoshi Yamamoto
136 Sachio Kinugasa
137 Sadaharu Oh
138 Sadaharu Oh
139 Sadaharu Oh
140 Sadaharu Oh
141 Sadaharu Oh142 Sadaharu Oh
143 Sadaharu Oh
144 Sadaharu Oh
145 Sadaharu Oh146 Sadaharu Oh
147 Shigeo Nagashima
148 Shigeo Nagashima
149 Shigeo Nagashima
150 Shigeo Nagashima
151 Shigeo Nagashima
152 Shigeo Nagashima
153 Shigeo Nagashima
154 Shigeru Takada
155 Shigeru Takada
156 Shigeru Takada
157 Shigeru Takada
158 Tsuneo Horiuchi
159 Tsuneo Horiuchi
160 Tsuneo Horiuchi
161 Tsuneo Horiuchi
162 Kazumi Takahashi
163 Kazumi Takahashi
164 Kazumi Takahashi
165 Kazumi Takahashi
166 Isao Shibata
167 Isao Shibata
168 Isao Shibata169 Isao Shibata
170 Shozo Doi
171 Shozo Doi
172 Shozo Doi
173 Shozo Doi
174 Toshimitsu Suetsugu
175 Toshimitsu Suetsugu
176 Yukinobu Kuroe
177 Yukinobu Kuroe
178 Masahiro Yanagida
179 Masahiro Yanagida
180 Shitoshi Sekimoto
181 Shitoshi Sekimoto
182 Takashi Yoshida183 Takashi Yoshida
184 Masaaki Mori
185 Masaaki Mori
186 Koji Ano
187 Shigeo Nagashima
188 Sadaharu Oh/Koichi Tabuchi
189 Kazumi Takahashi/Takashi Yoshida
190 Tsuneo Horiuchi/Masaaki Mori
191 Masaaki Mori/Shigeo Nagashima
192 Hiromu Matsuoka
193 Takashi Arakawa
194 Akihiko Oya
195 Tsutomu Wakamatsu
196 Tsutomu Wakamatsu
197 Masaji Hiramatsu
198 Makoto Matsubara
199 Akira Ejiri200 Hiroaki Takeuchi
201 Ritsuo Yamashita
202 Yutaka Enatsu
203 Koichi Tabuchi
204 Jiro Ueda
205 Taira Fujita
206 Yoshihiro Ikeda207 Isao Harimoto208 Katsuo Osugi
209 Mikio Sendo
210 Wally Yonamine
211 Wally Yonamine
212 Morimichi Takagi
213 Morimichi Takagi
214 Tatsuhiko Kimata
215 Tatsuhiko Kimata
216 Mitsuo Inaba
217 Yukiharu Shibuya
218 Yukiharu Shibuya
219 Yasunori Oshima
220 Yasunori Oshima
221 Kenichi Yazawa
222 Kenichi Yazawa
223 Senichi Hoshino
224 Senichi Hoshino
225 Yukitsura Matsumoto
226 Yukitsura Matsumoto
227 Kinji Shimatani
228 Kinji Shimatani
229 Hiroaki Inoue
230 Hiroaki Inoue
231 Jimmy Williams
232 Shozo Eto
233 Shozo Eto
234 Osamu Hirose
235 Masato Osumi
236 Yukio Iida
237 Sadaharu Oh
238 Shigeo Nagashima239 Katsuya Nomura
240 Katsuya Nomura
241 Teruhide Sakurai
242 Koichi Tabuchi
243 Shinichi Yamauchi
244 Shinichi Yamauchi
245 Takenori Emoto
246 Yutaka Enatsu
247 Hiromitsu Kadota
248 Hiromitsu Kadota
249 Atsushi Nagaike
250 Atsushi Nagaike
251 Hisashi Yamada
252 Tadayoshi Okuma
253 Yutaka Fukumoto
254 Yutaka Fukumoto
255 Hideji Kato
256 Hideji Kato
257 Masahiro Doi
258 Jiro Ueda
259 Taira Fujita
260 Yoshihiro Ikeda
261 Kazuhisa Inao
262 Kazuhisa Inao
263 Mitsuo Motoi
264 Masashi Takenouchi
265 Masashi Takenouchi
266 Masayoshi Higashida
267 Osamu Higashio
268 Osamu Higashio
269 Hajime Kato
270 Akira Tanaka
271 Akira Tanaka
272 Shigeo Ishii
273 Shojiro Kikukawa
274 Kunio Fukutani
275 Don Buford
276 Don Buford
277 Kunio Fukutani
278 Shinnosuke Kataoka
279 Kaoru Betto
280 Kaoru Betto
281 Kazushi Saeki
282 Kazushi Saeki
283 Motoyasu Kaneshiro
284 Sohachi Aniya
285 Yoshiro Sotokoba
286 Koji Yamamoto
287 Toshiyuki Mimura
288 Kazumi Takahashi
289 Kazuyoshi Yamamoto
290 Mickey McGuire
291 Shiro Mizunuma
292 Masaji Nishizawa
293 Masaji Nishizawa
294 Yasuhiro Kunisada
295 Shizuo Shiraishi
296 Jitsuo Mizutani
297 Sadaharu Oh
298 Kazumi Takahashi
299 Koichi Tabuchi
300 Yutaka Enatsu
301 Senichi Hoshino
302 Kinji Shimatani
303 Masaji Hiramatsu
304 Makoto Matsubara
305 Giants-Hawks
306 Tsutomu Wakamatsu
307 Hiroshi Matsuoka
308 Kazushi Saeki
309 Koji Yamamoto
310 Giants-Hawks
311 Toshiyuki Mimura
312 Katsuya Nomura
313 Hiromitsu Kadota
314 Hideji Kato
315 Atsushi Nagaike
316 Isao Harimoto
317 Satoshi Niimi
318 Katsuo Osugi
319 Osamu Higashio
320 Masashi Takenouchi
321 Mitsuo Motoi
322 Akira Tanaka
323 Japan Series
324 Masahiro Doi
325 Japan Series
326 Japan Series
327 Japan Series
328 Dragons-Tigers
329 Dragons-Tigers
330 Dragons-Tigers
331 Dragons-Tigers
332 Dragons-Tigers
333 Dragons-Tigers
334 Dragons-Tigers
335 Tigers-Giants
336 Japan Series
337 Tigers-Giants
338 Tigers-Giants
339 Tigers-Giants
340 Tigers-Giants
341 Tigers-Giants
342 Tigers-Giants
343 Tigers-Giants
344 Tigers-Giants
345 Tigers-Giants
346 Braves-Hawks
347 Braves-Hawks
348 Braves-Hawks
349 Braves-Hawks
350 Braves-Hawks
351 Braves-Hawks
352 Braves-Hawks
353 Japan Series
354 Japan Series
355 Braves-Hawks
356 Braves-Hawks
357 Braves-Hawks
358 Japan Series
359 Japan Series
360 Japan Series
361 Japan Series
362 Japan Series
363 Japan Series
364 Japan Series
365 Japan Series
366 Japan Series
367 Japan Series
368 Japan Series


  1. Great stuff. I really wish Engel or someone would have a break down of the early Calbee's by series - it would be interesting to know how the cards were originally issued.

    One thing - the Central League didn't have a playoff system until 2007 so those Dragons-Tigers and Tigers-Giants cards are from regular season games. The 1973 CL race went down to the wire so those might have been important late season games (like the one on October 22 that BBM commemorated with Vol 2 of the "Greatest Games" series earlier this year). 1973 was the first year the Pacific League did their crazy split season format so those Braves-Hawks cards are likely from the PL playoffs.

    There's a boatload of these cards highlighting particular regular season games in the 1974/75 set.

    1. Thanks for your comments, and the email link! I've updated the post with additional information that I hope is a correct interpretation.

      Ahh, I didn't pay much attention to what leagues the teams were on those later cards; one of my co-workers is a baseball fan and we were discussing the Climax Series and I mentioned a little bit about what you just said.

      The more I research this particular set and examine the intricacies of variations, set composition, and such, the more my speculation leads me to a few more ideas about how this set was possibly distributed. I'm curious if Engel's latest version of the guide mentions anything about series in the 1973/1973-74 sets.

  2. The latest Engel guide says that the 1973 set was issued in two series and the 1973/74 set was issued in 10.

    1. Then it seems I was on the right track in a sort, at least for the post I made yesterday (which I'm going to pull back). I really need to get a copy of that guide soon.