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Monday, March 17, 2014

Calbee By Year: 1975-1976 Calbee

The 1975-1976 Calbee set is the largest Calbee issue, with 1472 cards. It's identified as JC 4, and for all technical purposes, it is one large release issued over several series. 
 Most card fronts look the same as the rest of the cards from the 1970s, borderless with color photos and text at the bottom. However, #325-396 have magenta borders, seen above. Also, 400-464 contains several special cards with some front design differences.
All of the card backs contain alternating grey and white stars around the borders, with baseballs in the corners... except cards 1-36, which have no star border and have flags for both leagues. Cards 1257-1436 have a shaded box at the bottom of the card back with the name of one of Calbee's food products.

Gary Engel's guide states that there are 40 different series; here are the series I am aware of.

1975-issued Cards (7 series)

  • 1-36: 1975 All-Star Game
  • 37-72: First Place Battle Dragons Edition (possibly regionally-issued)
  • 73-144: First Place Battle (some cards have "Do Your Best" in Japanese - "Ganbarre")
  • 145-180: First Place Battle Carp Edition
  • 181-288: First Place Battle (several cards have "Ganbarre" or Japan Series notations)
  • 289-324 (version A): Star History (dual-photo cards)
  • 289-324 (version B): Japan Series - most (all?) of the cards are Carp players, as it was the team's first championship. This series is apparently also known as "Red Helmet Corps Assault" in Japanese.

1976-issued Cards (19+ series)

  • 325-360: Pennant Race Stars (magenta borders)
  • 361-396: Spring Training (magenta borders, photos from spring training)
  • 397-464: Regular Series - some awards notations on cards, and some multi-player and team cards
  • 465-536: Opening Day. At least one card features a ceremonial first pitch #535 has sumo wrestler Yokozuna Wajima.
  • 537-608: April
  • 609-644: Red Helmet Offense and Defense (Hiroshima Carp)
  • 645-716: Clash! Middle Game Series (May/June)
  • 717-788: Cocoroyoshingeki Series (Comfortable Advance? It doesn't translate well.)
  • 789-824: Sadaharu Oh 700 Home Runs
  • 825-860: Cocoroyoshingeki
  • 861-932: All Star Game Participants
  • 933-1004: Lead Battle (Pennant Race)
  • 1005-1040: Clash! Carp/Giants/Tigers
  • 1041-1112: V1 Series/1976 Series mix
  • 1113-1148: Clash! Lead Battle (I'm unsure about this series, but it seems to be mixed in with the next one.)
  • 1113-1220: V1 Series/1976 Series mix [I am really unsure about the labeling of this and the prior two series. It seems that all three should be one series.
  • 1221-1256: V1 Yomiuri Giants
  • 1257-1292: 1976 Japan Series
  • 1293-1328: 1976 Glory (Awards/Achievements)
  • 1329-1436: Unknown Series
As you can see from the lists above, I can account for 26 series. The last group of cards is not identified on the Japanese source, and Engel's guide doesn't actually list the series breakdown for 1976. Of course, additional "series" could be counted in the regular series with the awards and team cards, for example.

Homerun prize cards were randomly inserted in packs, containing the same front as a regular card, but with a unique back. The top line has a year printed on it (1974, 1975, and 1976 Homerun cards are basically identical). There are no team flags on the back and a date is printed near the bottom of the back; "Calbee" is printed in Japanese at the bottom.

The prizes include (at least) three different card holders (binders) and a baseball rule book. All prizes feature Sadaharu Oh.
  • One of the card holders has a closeup picture of Oh over a very wide shot of Korakuen Stadium. Other players are on the back and inside covers.
  • The second version has several photos of Oh with "Baseball Album (or Allum, sic)" in script and katakana on the front, a celebratory photo on the back, and lots of text on the inside covers.
  • The third version has Oh's flamingo step on the front, a wide shot of Korakuen Stadium from behind home plate on the back, and team logos on the inside covers. 
  • The baseball rule book also has a photo of Sadaharu Oh on the cover, with red text at the top that says "'76 Pro Baseball" in Japanese.


  1. Is it possible that the Carp cards are "Red Helmet" (Akaheru)? I know that the Carp were called the "Red Helmet" team by 1978 but I don't know when they started calling them that.

  2. The text on the cards is (in Romanji) "akaheru" or "akahelu" - I suppose the literal translation failed me here big time. I hadn't heard of Red Helmet before, or if I did it never stuck with me. Another one of those "I know nothing!" moments...

    I went back to Nakano today and picked up a few more old Calbees, though, that I need to inventory and scan, and post about. I am pretty tired, though, so I'm just posting about another Calbee find I got today.