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

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Baseball Menko Madness: More Uncut Sheets! More Uncatalogued Cards! More Research!

 The first sheet is uncatalogued, yet again. There's a reason for that, though: the fronts depict random players on each team, most likely. The text on the front is the team name.

  • Hanshin / Giants
  • Hankyu / Taiyo
  • Chunichi / Nankai
  • Kinsei / Kyuei
Kinsei was a tricky one for a long time while I was researching this post. And then I decided to look before the establishment of the NPB, and came across the Gold Stars, AKA Kinsei Stars (1947-48). The Stars would eventually become today's Chiba Lotte Marines.

And Kyuei fell into place soon after. This team would soon become the Toei Flyers, and eventually the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. They were only called Kyuei Flyers for one year: 1948.

Therefore, this menko must be from 1948! All eight teams were members of the Japanese Baseball League, which existed from 1936 to 1949, before it became the NPB in 1950. During the 1948 season, there were eight teams, so all teams are represented here. And oddly enough, all eight teams that made it to the 1948 season (several teams in the league did not) still exist today (though with different owners in most cases). Again, that's pretty interesting, since several teams folded or merged in the 1950s.

I guess after all that I should talk about the back. Some crazy topless guy with long hair looks about ready to slap someone across the face. A batter is about to swing inside a baseball. A janken symbol is on the lower-left with a math equation at the bottom.

This second uncut sheet is not quite JCM 23. These, 1960 Playing Card Backs, aren't assigned a catalog number, but I've catalogued them as JCM 23b. My uncut sheet includes four TV stars in addition to four baseball players, showing that baseball and entertainment menkos were packaged and even printed together. Engel's guide recognizes this fact; some uncut sheets from this set have eight baseball players while others have four and four, as you see here.

Backs can't be used to identify the fronts, as it depends on the printing. And if you look at my example above, two pairs of cards share backs.

As for the baseball players, the top card is Eiji Bando with an unknown pitcher, next is Tadashi Sugiura with an unknown Hawks player, followed by Toru Mori (both images), and at the bottom is most likely two unknown Orions players (unless it's Sadaharu Oh with a pitcher; the image isn't that good).


  1. Awesome menko! That topless guy is Tarzan doing his famous yell. I'm hoping Engel gets a new book out soon with a bunch of updates. Lots of uncatalogued stuff out there that should be properly IDed and checklisted. Cool finds for sure.

    1. Tarzan, huh? To be honest, every time I look at that card I think it's an angry woman at first.

      I agree that Engel should get a new version out soon. Hopefully he includes more partial sets, too.