Tuesday, February 20, 2024

More menkos from COMC!

 I have some more lovely menkos to share today. A few of these are cards I got in my last COMC order and forgot to include in my Japanese post, but I got most of them in a 2022 COMC order. 

This is a 1948 Blue Baseball Back Menko of Takeshi Doigaki I bought for $3.00 in 2022. It was my first Japanese card. 

I love the catcher's mask, blue background, and colorful lettering. Doigaki was an excellent hitter, batting .283 in his twelve-year career. In 1946 he was third in batting with a .325 mark, two points ahead of his Osaka Tiger teammate Fumio Fujimura who was highlighted in my last Japanese card post, and was also tied for third in RBIs with 70 - one ahead of Fujimura. He also hit .328 (fourth in the league) with 16 home runs for Osaka in 1949, and .322 (fifth in the league) with 15 home runs for the Mainichi Orions in 1950.

Round menko are really cute looking. This is a 1948 menko of Noboru Aota I got for $2.18. Aota was a power-hitting outfielder for the Tokyo Kyojin, Hankyu Braves, Yomiuri Giants, Taiyo-Shochiku Robins, and Taiyo Whales in a career that listed from 1942 to 1959. He was with the Yomiuri Giants in 1948, when this card was made, and spent his best seasons with them. He hit .306 with a league-leading 25 home runs in 1948 -  many home runs as his former team, the Hankyu Braves, hit. Over the next three years he hit .275/28/102, .332/33/134, and .312/32/105. He hit 265 career home runs.

(I'm not sure where my copy of this card is currently located, so here's the COMC picture. I'm working on organizing my collection currently.)

This is a 1949 "Fan Round Menko" of Hiroshi Nakahara, who pitched with Hanshin in 1943 and with the Nankai Hawks from 1948 to 1955. He was a fairly reliable spot starter and reliever, winning 66 games and losing 51 for the Hawks over his eight seasons with them. His best seasons were 1948 (13-7, 2.28) and 1952 (11-5, 2.82). 

Epic striped background.

These are 1959 Doyusha Card Game cards. I spent $8 on the Roberto Barbon on the left - the most I've spent on a Japanese card - but it was worth every penny. Barbon was born in Cuba, and was a shortstop in the Dodgers system before signing with the Hankyu Braves in 1955. He actually signed with Hankyu through Abe Saperstein, who had owned several Negro League teams and was the founder and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters. Saperstein had an an arrangement with the Hanyku Braves; other black players who played for Hanyku through his intercession are Larry Raines (Cleveland Indians 1957-58),  pitcher Jimmie Newberry (Negro Leagues 1943-48), pitcher Jonas Gaines (Negro Leagues 1937-48), and third baseman John Britton (Negro Leagues 1942 to 1948). 

Barbon became the first gaijin to compile 1,000 hits and the last to steal 50 bases, He played for Hankyu until 1964 and with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1965; for his Japanese career he hit .241 with 33 homers and 308 stolen bases in 1353 games. According to IMDB he even acted in a few Japanese movies in the 1960s. 

After his career ended Barbon married a local woman and stayed with the Hanyku Braves as a coach and interpreter. In recent years he was the Orix Buffaloes.

He died just last March, one day short of 90 years old. 

For a fuller account read: https://japanball.com/articles-features/japanese-baseball-historical-profiles/roberto-barbon-japans-first-latin-ballplayer/

The other guy I got a 1959 Doyusha of, Tetsuya Yoneda, was no slouch either. An incredibly durable pitcher, he won 350 games, lost 285, and struck out 3388 batters in 949 games in a career spanning from 1956 to 1977. His first nineteen seasons were spent with the Hanyku Braves, and in nine of those he was a teammate of Barbon. He won 10 games or more in nineteen consecutive seasons.

He holds the career record for most hits and runs allowed. 

On the left is a 1958 Marusho Two Bat Menko I bought last May of Toru Mori. Mori was a 5'8" 209 lb. outfielder from Manchuria with some power; he hit .247 with 23 homers as a rookie in 1958, .282 with 31 homers the next year, and for his career hit .251 with 189 homers in 1177 games. He played with the Chunichi Dragons from 1958 to 1961, the Taiyo Whales from 1962 to 1965, and the Tokyo Orions from 1966 to 1968. 

On the right is a 1958 Doyusha I got in a time travel trade from Matt of Diamond Jesters of Nankai Hawks first baseman Shigeo Hasegawa. Hasegawa was solid as semi-regular from 1956 to 1963; he never cleared 400 at-bats, but hit .269 with a little power. In 1958, his best season, he hit .277 with 16 homers in 387 at-bats. 

These are from my last COMC order. Left is a 1949 Starburst Roud Menko of second baseman Shigeru Chiba, who hit .284 with 96 homers and 913 walks in 1512 games from 1938 to 1956. He spent his whole career with the Tokyo Kyojin/Yomiuri Giants. 

The card on the right is not actually a menko - it is a 1949 Team Emblem Karuta of Juzo Sanada. In 1950 Sanada won 39 games for the Shochiku Robins; for his career he had a record of 178-128. He had some incredibly hard-working seasons early in his career: in 1946 he was 25-26, completed 43 games, and pitched 464.2 innings, while in 1947 he was 23-21, completed 42 games, and pitched 424 innings. 

In addition to his stupendous work-loads he was also a third baseman and pitch hitter. 1950, the year he won 39 games, he appeared in an additional twelve games as a pinch-hitter, and overall hit .314 with two homers and 36 RBIs. He hit .255 for his career, and he spent his last year, 1956, exclusively as a third-baseman - pinch-hitter. 

So - thank you COMC and Matt for the menkos!


  1. Love vintage Menko! So colorful!

  2. I love the round menko. Hope you find the Nakahara card.

  3. Good reminder to thank you for pointing me out to that menko blog. That blogger confirmed that the menko I have is legit, though it is a generic ballplayer.

    Oh - and congratulations and welcome!!!

  4. Those are interesting cards. I really like the colorful backgrounds and letters featured on them.

  5. Those are fantastic pick ups. I'm a big fan of Barbon's and was sad when he passed away.