Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tatsunori Hara's first Calbee card is a Sadaharu Oh card.


I've been AWOL from the blog for the past few weeks.  October is kind of "hell month" for me at work so its been hard to squeeze time in for blogging.

Despite that, the flow of card purchases by me has continued more or less at its normal pace.  One card I picked up this month was the above, #354 from the 1981 Calbee set.  It is basically Sadaharu Oh's regular card.  His name is the one in pink lettering on the lower right of the photo, and the text on the back just gives some general biographical information about him, unconnected to the photo.

This card is really neat though.  From left to right you have Motoshi Fujita, Sadaharu Oh and Tatsunori Hara.  Those three guys have three big things in common:

1) They were all star players for the Giants;

2) They all became managers of the Giants after their playing days (Hara is in fact their current manager)

3) They all ended up in the Hall of Fame.

I'm not sure but I think the photo was probably taken during the 1981 Japan Series, which the Giants won (Fujita was the manager, Oh was assistant manager that year and would take over as regular manager the following season).

A second, and more important, neat thing about it specifically relates to Tatsunori Hara, the guy on the right.  1981 was his first year in pro ball and he was THE hot rookie that year.  He was supposed to be the Giants' next Shigeo Nagashima or Sadaharu Oh. His playing career, which ended in 1995, didn't quite live up to that hype, though he did bang out 382 career home runs and was one of the better players in NPB throughout the 1980s.

The thing is though, Tatsunori Hara doesn't have a card of his own in the 1981 Calbee set.  His first "solo" appearance on a card came in the 1982 Calbee set, which is generally regarded as his rookie (he appears on a few cards in that set, my old Sports Card Magazine designates the first one, card #51, as his true "rookie card").  

His cameo appearance on my 1981 Calbee card though seems to be his first appearance in a Calbee set.  Which leads me to the question: what is this card?  I guess its not a "rookie card" since its not his card, its Sadaharu Oh's. But at the same time, Hara is pretty prominently featured on there so its a bit more than just a card of some other player where he coincidentally appears in the background or something, like Ryne Sandberg's cameo on Reggie Smith's 1983 Topps card:

Also, Sandberg of course had a card of his own in the 1983 Topps set, so the question of whether his appearance on the Smith meant something special didn't really come up.  

So this card falls into a weird limbo in terms of what the hobby might designate it as since I don't think there is a precedent for this.  Its definitely not a true rookie card, but also definitely not nothing either.  "Pre" rookie card?  No, thats not right.  I can't really decide what to call it.  Anyway, its neat.


  1. Very cool. I think I have this card and I hadn't realized that was Hara.

    I'm frequently amused at cameo appearances of guys who aren't in BBM's OB sets but should be. Senichi Hoshino doesn't have a card in BBM's Dragons 75th Anniversary set but is clearly visible on a couple of the "Team History" cards. Likewise Warren Cromartie is missing from the "All Star Game Memories 80's" set but he's on Yoshiharu Wakana's card.

    1. That is interesting about Hoshino and Cromartie being snuck into those sets as cameos, I guess that might be a strategy if they can't get them to sign a contract!

      I think Calbee sets from the 70s in particular are loaded with cameos since the cards often featured scenes from a game rather than specific players (Koichi Tabuchi is on a crazy number). When I finally finish my 75-76-77 set one thing I'll do is try to catalogue all the player cameos.

    2. Yeah, I have a bunch of cards from that set showing at bats from All Stars with either Tabuchi or Katsuya Nomura catching. My favorite 70's cameo though is this Shigeo Nagashima card from 1977 with Masaichi Kaneda. I don't know how many times a Lotte player (or manager) showed up on a Calbee card in the 70's but it wasn't much.

    3. That card with Kaneda is awesome, its a real shame they didn't put Lotten into their sets from the 70s, it deprived us of a lot of potential classic cards.

  2. Not sure how I completely missed the Reggie Smith "Sandberg" rookie card. It's one of my all-time favorite sets... and I love 80's rookie card. Thanks for opening my eyes to it. By the way... October might just be my least favorite month in regards to work. I guess we'll both be celebrating in a few days when he enter the 11th month.

    1. I love the 83 set too. Back when I was collecting in the early 90s I remember getting that Reggie Smith and, not being able to afford the Sandberg, considering it an adequate substitute in my collection!

  3. Welcome back. Great post (as always)