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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Night Owl and I are Both Collecting 1973

I think my cards look better than his cards.

Night Owl picked up a bunch of 1973s from a card show last weekend, as did I. But while his cards may be more popular than mine, I would argue that my cards are more attractive.

The 1973 Calbee "Crossed Bats" set is probably the first Calbee set ever released. A parallel set with different backs would be issued from 1973 to 1974, but based on the Homerun Card expiration dates, I believe the Crossed Bats set came first.

It's a gorgeous set, too. Despite being issued in 1973, the images are bright and sharp. There are winners and losers in the image department, but when people talk about the beauty of Calbee, they're referring to this set.

I started with just a few cards, but a couple weeks ago I wiped out a large portion of the set. And at last weekend's card show, a couple more dents were added: 
 Cards #1-6 are all of Shigeo Nagashima, and while this isn't the iconic #1, it is semi-iconic #2. I believe card #1 can be had for less than 5000 yen in lower condition.
 Cards #7-12 are all Sadaharu Oh, and that makes this Oh's first Calbee card! So Oh is no more.
 Another Giants player, Isao Shibata, is card #20. He's a semi-star, but it's nice to take him off the list.
 And the last 1973 I picked up is #43, Kazumi Takahashi, a common player who also has #44.

That leaves me needing:

  • 1: Shigeo Nagashima, the key card in the set
  • 31: Katsuya Sugawara, a common card
  • 51: Tabuchi/Enatsu, a highly valuable card for some reason
  • 52: Kenichi Yazawa, a semi-star
  • 57: Masaji Hiramatsu, a semi-star
  • 64-91
I wasn't really sure of the existence of #64-91 until recently, when I studied past Yahoo Japan Auctions listings. I don't even see any current Crossed Bats cards from these numbers actively listed, but nothing indicates that they are short-printed, so I might have just been unlucky thus far. Card #75 (Katsuya Nomura) will probably be the only really expensive card in the remaining lot. I have 58 of 91 cards, or almost 2/3 of the set now! Will I finish is this year? I doubt it, but who knows what I'll find at card shops over the rest of the year.

There is one more card to add to my collection in this post:

This is my second 1979 Home Run Card in my collection. The back shows details for redemption: Two cards and 300 yen will get you an autographed ball (I'm pretty sure it's a facsimile signature), while one home run card gives you a choice of a card album or a signed mascot bat. Again, I'm guessing it's a facsimile signature... but anyone could probably sign for a mascot. The last line indicates that you should request a signature but there are no choices given, so could you choose any player from the Calbee set? Oddly enough, they didn't include an expiration date on the card, so I wonder if they'd still honor a redemption today.

Until next time...


  1. >51: Tabuchi/Enatsu, a highly valuable card for some reason

    Because it's a great and unusual picture.

    The 73 Calbee's have such fantastic photography that's so different than the rest of the years. There's a lot more posed shots than they did later. Only drawback to the set is it has way too many Giants...

    Great job putting this much of the set together and good luck on the rest!

    I'd be willing to bet that the 1979 Home Run card (Dave Hilton?) is worth more than whatever they'd send you as a redemption now - probably one of their current boring card albums.

    1. The photo on 51 is great, but I'm not sure it's $400 great.

      This is now my second Home Run card from '79. I didn't pay too much for it, though!

    2. Yow! $400! Yeah, it's not THAT great. I think I paid $20-ish for it.

    3. $20 is can-do. We'll see what I can get it for in the end.

  2. Do you still have a stateside address to send cards to?

    1. Yes, I do. You can email me if you've got something... and I'll be glad to (slowly) work out a trade.

      And I'm not sure if I answered a previous comment - it looks like I might be home for Christmas this year.

  3. Nice gets! I'm also working on the 73 Calbees (cross bats), I almost have the full run of #1-63 (just missing #1 and a couple commons). I'm not sure why but yeah, I don't have any above #64 either, they might be short printed or its a weird coincidence that neither of us have found them.

    I have 51 and as Dave says the picture is cool!

    1. In a couple months or so, when I start visiting some of the random card shops around Tokyo I rarely get to, I'm going to seriously hunt for those high-numbers.

    2. I look forward to those posts!

      I have bid on the odd higher number card on Yahoo Auctions from time to time but they always sell for over my budget, they are so awesome but so expensive!

  4. Incidentally, I just picked up one of the mascot bats that those Home Run Cards were redeemable for in 1979. The player autographs are real (as are the ones on the balls).

  5. Forget my last comment, I just realized they are facsimile autographs! They look quite real and confusingly there are multiple versions of some players signatures, which is what led me to conclude they were real, but they seem to be printed!

    1. Interesting that they use different signatures. I wonder if those are different years? I still would like to add one or more to my collection eventually.