Sunday, February 7, 2021

New Menko Discoveries

 


I added a couple of interesting new menko to my collection last week.  These are two cards from a previously unknown set featuring players from the Big Six University league in the late 1940s.  

On the left is Kouzou Goi, a pitcher for Rikkyo University.  He was a star in his university days, and followed that up with a brief four year pro career from 1950 to 1954 with the Kintetsu Pearls (a descendant of today's Buffaloes) in the Pacific League.  Interestingly he split his time as a pitcher and a third baseman, putting in significant time at both as an early version of today's Shohei Ohtani.  Unlike Ohtani though, Goi never really shined in pro ball, posting a lousy 17-31 career record on the mound and a .258 career batting average at the plate.  

The card on the right features Toshinobu Sueyoshi pitching for Waseda University.  Like Goi he was a university star who followed up with a short and not very impressive pro career, turning in three seasons with the Mainichi Orions (a descendant of today's Chiba Lotte Marines) from 1952 to 1954, posting an 8-12 career record (though he did make the All Star team in his first season).  As you can see from the picture, he threw side arm.  

Its actually quite refreshing to find old menko of guys like this who were basically "commons".  Since most of the menko sets from the late 40s/early 50s contained maybe 20 cards tops, their checklists tended to be made up of guys who were future Hall of Famers (or at least Hall of Very Gooders) and you almost never find cards of journeymen pitchers with losing career records.  These guys squeeked into one on the basis of their university days, which is pretty cool. 

It goes without saying that this set is rare, the copies I own of these two cards seem to be the only ones known.  So now we have a checklist of 2, I'm assuming there were more made.  Given the overlap of their university careers, the set would have to date from between 1947 and 1949.  

And as with most sets from this era, I love the artwork on them.

12 comments:

  1. Very cool. Given that there is a 六 on the front Sueyoshi’s card imagine there are at least 4 more out there. Awesome find!

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    1. I noticed those numbers too, I wasn't sure if they were card numbers (1 to 6 or whatever) or just numbers for a game.

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  2. Another amazing find! Great design on both of them, too. It almost looks like you can put Sueyoshi's menko on a record player and give it a spin.

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    1. Yeah, it does look like a record with them grooves on it!

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  3. I know that it would be impossible to give an exact number, but any ideas on how many more unknown menko sets are out there? Seems like you're finding new ones every other week, which leads me to believe that there must be quite a few still out there.

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    1. Tough question, how many unknowns do we know about? Probably not too many but there are definitely some more out there I would say.

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    2. I could easily add 10 or more new sets. I wonder how the makers of the Engel vintage guide determine which new sets to add. They have to be aware of many. I used to think they were waiting to discover many examples from the same set, but lately they have been adding sets of one card.

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    3. That is a good point, I had thought he was just waiting to get enough copies of cards to have a checklist, but as you say there are a few sets listed where they don't even have that.

      I'm putting together (slowly) a list of new menko finds (both uncatalogued sets and cards from catalogued sets that aren't in his checklists) to send him for the next edition.

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    4. I'd like to help with that. I have some in both categories as well.

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    5. Cool, we should coordinate that somehow when we do!

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