Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

Want Lists are located here. NPB Baseball Want List is located here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Calbee Through the Years: 1977 Calbee

Calbee's late-1975 to 1976 issue was numbered as one gigantic set, released in several series. The 1977 release is a contrast to that, and the start of a three year run where each set stands independently. The nine different 1977 card sets are numbered independent of other sets, though they sometimes have their own series. There are two additional unique sets. In total, 933 cards were issued by Calbee in 1977. See below for details.
 The first set, similar to the 1975-76 issue, has a grey back with small stars around the border on most of the cards (#1-144). My sample above comes from the fourth series, cards 145-216; this series has a weed border instead of stars.

  • Cards 1-72 are "Famous Scenes" cards. Sample images I've seen from this series show some interesting game-time images.
  • #73-109 are "Path to Stardom" cards. Cards from this series (might all) have an inset photo on the front.
  • #110-144 are "Camp Series" using Spring Training images
  • #145-216 are "Open War Series" cards. Some cards have interesting images of players from multiple teams.

The next set is titled Pro Series, because the top line of the back of the card says "'77 Pro Baseball Card"; there are 251 cards #1-251 in this set. It can also be split into series types:
  • All Sadaharu Oh cards have the following text on the front (in Japanese): Sadaharu Oh, one leg batting technique
  • Cards 1-72 have two lines of text on the front, the top line reading "Pennant Race Beginning Special Collection". The ad box on the back is inside the weed border.
  • Cards 73-179 also has two lines of text on the front; the top line says "Aim to capture the pennant". The ad box on the back is outside the weed border, as you see in my card above.
  • Cards 180-251 have the same style of front as #73-179, but don't have ads on the back.

The Giants Series set has 108 cards, issued in three 36-card series. This set is identified by the top line on the back, which says "'77 Giants Player Card". Backs have a weed border design. The first series has two lines of text on the front, like you see on my card above, and "Giants Pleasant Attack" on the back just above the Giants logo. The second and third series have fronts without text. The second series is labeled "Ganbare Giants" on the back and the third is called "Giants vs. Tigers". 
A 96-card series (numbered 1-96) was issued for Sadaharu Oh, commemorating his 756th home run. These are titled "19 Year Road to Glorious Number 756" or "Congratulations #756" on the top of the back. Cards 1-60 list all of Oh's home runs, as you can see in my sample card above, and have no border. The rest of the cards have the weed border.

Two local series seem to be pretty rare. First is the Nagoya Series, numbered 1-36. Each card in this series has the Japanese character for "Na" (名-) before the card number, weed borders, and an ad box below the weed border.

The other local series that is fairly hard to come by is the Osaka Series, numbered 1-144 and issued in 4 36-card series. Cards from the first two series (#1-72) have text on the front, while cards 73-144 have no text on the front. The cards have backs similar to different sets, but have the Japanese character for "Oo" (大-) on the back before the card number.

The Go Go Series is another Giants-only set, separately numbered #1-36 and identified on the back with "GO-GO" in English (the top line reads "Japan Recapture GO-GO Series"). The borders are small baseballs, like the Japan Series card below.
The Japan Series set of 45 cards (#1-45) are identified by "'77 Japan Championship Series" text at the top and the baseball border on the back. The fronts identify details about the game the photo was taken at; as you might expect this set is a recap of the Japan Championship Series.

The Hanshin Tigers hit 200 home runs as a team in 1977, and the 200 Home Runs Series commemorates that achievement with a 36 card set, #1-36. Fronts have no text; backs have baseball borders and the text "Destructive Power Threat from 200 Batters" at the top.

Two unique sets were issued in 1977. The second series of the Giants Series set included some "Craft Cards" which are unnumbered and have a different design. The fronts have the "Gambare Giants" text as found on the Giants Series set. The cards can be folded into a stand-up position, and the blue text on the backs give instructions on how to do that. There are 18 different cards for 11 players, as some players have multiple cards.

The oddest set from 1977 is the Stickers set. These are blank backed and have white backgrounds with a cut-out player image that can be used as a sticker. The player's name, position, and team name in parentheses are in a line of black text below the photo. Three teams appear in the set: Carp (2 players), Giants (15 cards for 13 players), and Tigers (8 players).
As usual, Calbee included Homerun prize cards using images from the Pro Series and grey-backed sets. Instructions of how to redeem the card for a prize is on the back, with expiration dates of 3/30/1977, 6/30/1977, 9/30/1977, and 3/31/1978.

Prizes include:

  • A green card holder picturing Shigeo Nagashima, with a schedule for the first half of the season on the inside covers
  • A red card holder with Sadaharu Oh, mentioning his 756th home run
  • A standing desk calendar with two months per page, each page including one player photo.


  1. Nice job making sense of a difficult subject. I was amused/surprised when I discovered that SCM #100's Calbee checklists didn't include the 1977-79 sets. You've tackled something they didn't want to touch.

  2. Thanks! I noticed the missing years in SCM but given the complexity of the issues it doesn't surprise me. Actually, 1977 has several subsets, but is easily checklisted. Between Engel and the Japanese source and my own samples it worked out to be fairly easy to summarize. I am having a real difficult time finding affordable examples from some of the sets, though.

    1978 is going to be the real challenge...