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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

1931 Yakyukai Magazine Bromides

 Say hello to the oldest Japanese card in my collection.

In fact, it doesn't get much older than this. Baseball's first professional teams formed in the 1920s, though the first real professional team (which would become the Yomiuri Giants) wouldn't form until 1934. Before that, most baseball was played by high school and college students. The Koshien high school baseball tournament started in 1915, with the spring version starting in 1924. The Tokyo Big6 Baseball League (college) was established in 1925, though college baseball was big for more than 20 years prior.

The first identified bromides in Engel's guide come from 1930, with all pre-war sets consisting of college players or US players from the Japan tours. It's definitely possible that cards were issued before 1930; in fact, I'm pretty sure they have been, but just haven't been cataloged yet. 

And that puts us with this card here:

The card above is identified as JBR 71: 1931 Yakyukai Magazine Sepia Bromides. Cards were included in the February 1932 issue of the magazine inside an envelope, and came blank-backed. The bottom text has the school name, player's surname, and position, from left to right. The card measures 3-3/8" by 5-3/8". Three cards were in the set. The card I have above is Kiyokazu Igawa, from Keio University. The remaining players are Osamu Mihara from Waseda, and Takeo Tabe from Meiji.

Yakyukai Magazine was issued for a very long time - from late 1911 through October 1959, it appears. Only two sets of bromides are listed in the Engel guide from the magazine, however: this one, and one for the January 1934 issue. The image above is the February 1932 cover. I'm not sure why Engel calls this a 1931 card, though while the cover date is February 1932, the magazine was possibly on shelves just before or on New Years.

Finding information on Igawa isn't easy. It appears he might have participated in the Koshien Tournament in the 1920s, and more famously, I think he was partly involved in what translates as the "Apple Incident" on October 22, 1933. While it seems that rivalry has caused problems for a long time, this particular event, involving the throwing of trash, including an apple core, was the impetus for creating specific cheering sections for fans.

To this day, sporting events have "cheering" sections where only that team's fans can enter; for smaller matches such as independent leagues that just means sit on your team's side, while NPB stadium rules basically prohibit entering another team's fan area (if you're wearing a Giants jersey, you aren't allowed in the Tigers fan area, and vice versa), and these fan areas can be fairly well "fenced in" to prohibit infiltrating enemy lines (and keep people from sneaking into more expensive seats). 

Odd note I discovered while preparing this post: the Japanese version of Wikipedia has a page explaining what a strike is in baseball. The page's photo shows Barry Bonds from behind home plate as an umpire calls a strike.


  1. Cool pick up! Neat to see these older bromides. There is nothing quite like going to a Japanese baseball much fun and cheering.

    1. The energy and cheering is great, but I do enjoy going to a game where I can hear the game better. That one Dragons game I went to this summer was surreal - fewer people in the stands meant less background noise from chatter to begin with, but add to that the only cheering was the clapping of those batons, and being in a dome, and it was like watching baseball at the bottom of the ocean.

  2. A magazine card from the 30's? That's pretty darn cool. Can't imagine many of those have survived over the years. And I love the idea of the cheering section reserved for that team's fans. At the Oakland Coliseum, there's a section out in right field that has an awesome group of A's fans that are very vocal... and they have little chants. I'm not sure if it's reserved specifically for just A's fans, but I probably wouldn't want to go into that section wearing the other team's colors.

    1. I think MLB teams are generally spread out enough that the number of visitor fans is much fewer, save for some super-popular teams and perhaps the northeast. I remember the A's had a big cheering section in left field about 10 years ago; did they move to the other side? And Chicago has the bleacher bums, and other teams do have some little fan sections of sorts.

      I think the big thing here is that Japan is small (especially the two Tokyo college leagues) the pro teams are associated with companies more so than cities, and for several teams, there are many fans who can travel to see the games or live "out of town", so there is a bigger percentage of fans at the game for the visiting team. Add to that the "fighting spirit" and loyalty, you need to accommodate for both teams.

      There are very few cards pre-war, that's for sure. And many of them are most likely not player-specific; I have some menko that feature cartoonish baseball characters that are most likely unrelated to any particular team or player. I'd really like to find more vintage Japanese cards for my type collection, actually, but it's not easy by any means.

    2. Not 100% sure if they are the same people... but they're loud and proud Oakland fans.