30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mystery Men

As a player and team collector, I typically buy cards of specific players who I enjoy collecting.  But every now and then, I'll add a card to my collection of a guy I've never seen or heard of.  Ryan over at Japanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko sent me a package with a few cards featuring guys who are complete mysteries to me.

First up is this die-cut sumo wrestler...

I have no idea who this is, since I don't read Japanese.  But that doesn't matter, because this card is sweet!  If you're a fan of Topps Laser products from the mid 90's, then you'd love this card too.

The next mystery man is this Japanese baseball player that kinda reminded me of the Japanese soldier on Gilligan's Island:

It seems like a lot of Japanese men wore the circular spectacles back in the day.  I wonder if this guy was a coach or something.  And is Chub Nipon the same thing as Chubu Nippon?  It doesn't matter.  This Menko disc is awesome and a welcome addition to my Japanese baseball card collection.

The mystery continues with another Japanese baseball player...

Based on the photo, I can see that it's a Hiroshima Carps player probably from the 60's or 70's.  I tried to find the card on the internet, but couldn't find another copy.  Whoever it is... it's another fantastic vintage Japanese card.

The final mystery man is a boxer...

I'll be honest... I'm having difficulty figuring out if this guy is even Japanese.  Maybe this is a famous American boxer.  Either way I'm happy, because it represent my first Japanese boxing card.

Ryan also sent me a bunch of famous guys too...

Here's a Recollection buyback of The Kid from this year's Topps.  I own a bunch of Carter cards featuring him with the Montreal Expos, so it's kind of nice to add a New York Mets card to the binder.

In addition to the Carter, he sent me four additional buybacks:

I obviously heard of Jerry Reuss and Al Cowens.  I kinda remember Littell or at least I've seen his name on cards before.  Never heard of Nelson Briles, but he's not exactly a mystery man.  Thanks to Wikipedia and Baseball Reference, I discovered he's a 2x World Series Champion and a Santa Clara University alumni.

Here's another guy who's not a mystery.  In fact, he's probably the most recognizable guy in the area of martial arts...

This is the fifth Bruce Lee Japanese card I've added to my collection and all of them were from Ryan.  

And if those cards weren't generous enough... he also threw in a bunch of unopened packs:

2016/17 BBM Fast Break 1st/2nd Half

1997 Takara Basscolle '97

I'll be busting a pack of each of these and showing them off over on A Pack to be Named Later sometime in the near future.  The rest will be added to my unopened Japanese pack collection.

Thank you Ryan for this awesome care package!  I will definitely get something shipped out to you before you head off to Germany this summer.  Until then...

Happy Sunday and sayonara!


  1. It looks to me like your mystery boxer might be a kickboxer by the name of Toshio Fujiwara. My phone translator app was able to pull that much from your scan of the back of the card.

    1. That is a Toshio Fujiwara....an "early" MMA fighter from Japan.

  2. Great stuff from Ryan, especially the menko. Looking forward to seeing what's in the packs.

    I laughed about the Japanese soldier from Gilligan's Island, not least of which is because he has a reason for wearing the thick round glasses - he's not Asian! Vito Scotti was a character actor who appeared in a lot of TV shows and movies, from "The Godfather" to "Love, American Style". He even appeared on two other episodes of Gilligan's Island playing Dr. Boris Balinkoff, the mad scientist from another nearby island.

  3. No, Nelson Briles certainly isn't a mystery man, and seeing his 1967 Topps card stamped is PAINFUL.

  4. Glad you liked the cards Fuji and hope they all fit in your collection somewhere! That die-cut card is of Yokozuna Wakanohana, one of the famous Yokozuna (Grand-Champions) brothers of the late 1990s/early 2000s. His younger brother, Takanohana, was a little more successful, but they helped carry the popularity of the sport during the time.

  5. It's not quite as painful to me to see Nellie's '67 buyback, I'll trade you a few other buybacks for it if you'd be up for it. Email at QAPLAGCA at yahoo dot com

  6. I am tempted to pick up some Menko cards-I find them fascinating-artwork is pretty great too.

  7. The guy on the round menko is Shoji Kato who did indeed play for Chubu Nippon, the team that is now the Chunichi Dragons. The card is from 1947.

    The 70's menko card is Hall Of Famer Koji Yamamoto. Yamamoto was the manager of the 2013 Japanese WBC team. The card is from around 1973.

  8. Awesome detective work guys. Thanks to Raz, SumoMenkoMan, and NPB Card Guy... I've figured out all four of the mystery men in this post.

    Raz & SumoMenkoMan - Thanks. Didn't realize there was MMA before the Royce Gracie years. Look forward to doing some research on Mr. Fujiwara.

    Mark Hoyle - I know, right? Love the artwork on those vintage discs.

    shlabotnikreport - i remember watching something on tv about Mr. Scotti and laughed when I realized he wasn't Asian. Now that I think about it... I vaguely remember him playing the mad scientist too.

    night owl - i probably should know Mr. Briles, since i started getting into baseball in the mid 70's... but it looks like he was just wrapping up his career by then. who knows, maybe i watched him pitch against the A's at some point.

    SumoMenkoMan - Dude that package was awesome! Makes me wonder why companies don't do diecut cards like the Yokozuna card. Like Mr. Fujiwara, I'll be doing some research on him as soon as my schedule clears up a little.

    GCA - Sorry bud. Normally I'd have no issues helping you out, but this time I'd feel bad trading a card that was gifted to me.

    B Man - totally agree. i have a few sitting in my collection. most of them were donated to me by the two Ryans.

    NPB - Thanks! You came through with the final two mystery men. Wow the Shoji is from 1947? That's awesome! Look forward to researching him and Mr. Yamamoto.