30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Embracing My Heritage

I've made my fair share of mistakes in life.  I mean, who hasn't?  But in hindsight, there aren't a lot of life-altering regrets.  Sure... I could nitpick and say I regret buying a bunch of Mike Greenwell rookie cards or tell you about how I regret not studying harder in middle school.  But honestly... those are just things I have accepted as part of life.  We live and learn.

One thing I would probably change is embracing my Japanese heritage much earlier in life.  Hopefully this doesn't offend anyone, but my family called me a "banana" for years because I was yellow on the outside and white on the inside.  I didn't start going out of my way to learn about the Japanese culture until my 30's.  I'm really glad I did though, because it eventually led to my interest in Japanese trading cards.

Last month, Ryan who runs the blogJapanese Sumo Wrestling Cards and Menko, sent me a flat rate box for the holidays.  Inside was this HUGE addition to my Japanese PC:

I didn't have to be in touch with my Japanese heritage to know who is featured on this beautiful vintage baseball card.  That's Sadaharu Oh!  He's one of the greatest Japanese baseball players of all-time and is best known for hitting 868 home runs.

Of course, I wanted to know more about this card, so I searched Google images and eventually found a post written by The Commish which informed me that this card is a 1973 Menko.

Ryan included this really cool, vintage sumo card album:



Inside of the album were these four trading cards:

Just like the Oh, I had no idea what these were.  However last year, I purchased the greatest, most informative book on Japanese sumo wrestling cards around:

His book helped me identify the four sumo cards.  Here's the excerpt from the book:

Looks like Topps wasn't the only card company to produce minis in 1975.  As you can see, Ryan includes a checklist and an informative writeup that discusses the history behind the set.  This book is truly amazing.  There are hundreds of sets listed and thousands of color photos.  If you are interested in purchasing a copy, click here.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

One vintage Japanese card I wasn't able to identify was this:

I'm pretty sure it's a Menko, but I don't recognize the wrestler.  I also assume that he's not a sumo wrestler, which is why I didn't bother to look for this card in Ryan's book.  Any ideas?  Anyone?

If the vintage, Japanese cards weren't enough... he also sent me a nice stack of packs.  Some were unopened.  Others were packs he had opened and reviewed on his blog and at A Pack to Be Named Later.

Here's a rundown of the opened packs:

2017 BBM Infinity

1997 Bandai K-1 Round One

2016 BBM Masterpiece

1998 Bandai WCW/NWO

1997 BBM Sparkling Fighters

Last year, Ryan moved to Germany and has already started to familiarize himself with their trading cards.  Here's a pack of 2017 Topps Star Wars Rogue One (Germany Edition) cards:

Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I love anything Star Wars related... so these are really cool additions to the collection.

Before I wrap things up with the remaining German trading cards, I wanted to show off these delicious treats he included in the box:

These aren't you everyday, run-of-the-mill chocolate covered cookies.  I was blown away by the quality of chocolate used.  I'm kind of a chocolate snob and this was some of the creamiest chocolate I've eaten in awhile.

Okay.  Now for the grand finale.  Last August, showed off his Neil Armstrong rookie card from the 1967 Heinerle set.  I was super excited to see that he donated a few duplicates to my collection:

One card really stood out:

1967 Henerle #110

I'm sure a lot of you saw Billy's favorite non-sports cards last week.  One of these days, I am going to borrow his idea and make my own list.  When I do, this card will definitely be featured.  Here's a closer look:

If you're not familiar with this famous photo, it was taken on August 23rd, 1966 from the Lunar Orbiter and depicts the first photo of Earth from the moon's orbit.  Is that a beautiful sight or what?

Thank you Ryan for the delicious treats and awesome trading cards!  I guess I need to start tracking down some Yuta and Lairds for your collection.

Happy Sunday and sayonara!


  1. That one card you're not sure of almost looks like Terry Funk when he was NWA Champion. The NWA belt looked like that and Terry did spend a lot of time in Japan..

  2. Cool! I think that it is great you are finding ways to further embrace your heritage and combine it with your hobby. I think as we get older we tend to appreciate where we come from more because much like yourself I have a background that I really never knew about and probably wouldn't have appreciated much as a child/teenager but as I have gotten older have researched it a bit and hope my kids embrace their heritage from a younger age.

  3. I'm like you Fuji. Growing up, I tried to be vanilla but worked only in my mind. Wish I, too, had starred earlier researching my heritage.

  4. There are a lot of us "white-on-the-outside" folks who wouldn't mind having a Sadaharu Oh card!

  5. Cool pick ups. My guess on the wrestler. Billy Robinson or Jack Brisco

  6. Oh nice. I just got my first Japanese cards recently as well (a handful of 75-76 Calbees also including a couple Ohs). I also feel you on the embracing heritage thing. I only started going to Obon and everything as I approached 30 as well. I've been happy to see that my kids love it already (they even danced for the first time last summer) and it's been fun to see that side of their identity manifest so strongly so much younger than it did with me.

  7. Great stuff! As you know collect is at it's best when there is a personal connection. Love the Oh card!
    The wrestler in question is Jack Brisco, a 1974 Menko from the All Pro Wrestling set.

  8. Baseball Nut hit it on the head...that is Jack Brisco from the 1974 Set. I’m glad everything arrived okay.

  9. Nice Oh. I probably would've ended up being a banana too if I hadn't gone to Japan when I did. I'm forever thankful to my folks for that experience.

  10. With the unknown wrestling card, I am wondering if that is David Von Erich. He had similar hair, did wrestle in Japan and would have been in his early 20s in the late 1970s. I have to double check, but I may be interested in trading for the 1997 BBM Sparkling Fighters Bas Rutten if it is up for trade.

  11. Nabbing a Sadaharu Oh Menko was a goal I had for years. Menkos are so much fun.

    Ryan really killed it with that box!

  12. Fantastic post! If there ever was a Oscar for Blog Posts this would be on the list-I thank you for having the courage to open up on this post-and man o man what a package!

  13. That Oh is really nice. I have a bunch of modern Japanese cards that I really enjoy, I need to dabble a bit with some older cards.

  14. mike matson - that's the name that popped into my head too. turns out, it's jack brisco

    forestrydave - that's great that you're encouraging your children to embrace their heritage. my parents tried, but sadly i wasn't hearing it.

    al kawamoto - never too late to start, right?

    tlc - thanks!

    night owl - yeah, i think it's a card collectors of any ethnicity can embrace

    mark hoyle - nailed it. it's been confirmed. jack brisco

    nick vossbrink - the obon was the one thing i actually attended on an annual basis. loved playing the games and eating the food. are you in the bay area? if so, which obon do you attend?

    baseball nut -thank you for confirming that. i don't remember mr. brisco. but i sure love the card. and you're right... a personal connection always makes things more special.

    sumomenkoman - thank you for the awesome package. my friend and i at the last cookies on monday.

    zippy zappy - my parents always talked about taking me to japan for a vacation, but it never happened. i'm glad they've had the opportunity to go a few times and reach out to distant relatives. maybe one day I'll make it out there myself.

    corky - turns out it's jack brisco. as for the rutten... no need to trade. email me your address and i'll PWE it to you. i'm sure ryan won't have any problems with me sharing the generosity

    commishbob - he truly did. and he crossed off a major want with that oh.

    brady - lol. thanks buddy. appreciate the kind words. serramonte is less than 2 weeks away!

    snorting bull - i don't have a lot of vintage japanese stuff either... and 99% of the stuff i do have is from fellow bloggers.

    1. I grew up in the Bay Area. Started going to San José Obon when I was in my early 20s (had previously only been to one on Kauai) and have been going every year since (I'm turning 40 this year). I've also gone to Mountain View and Palo Alto (I *really* like Palo Alto's) but San José’s is sort of the main event. I moved to New Jersey 5 years ago but have been lucky to be able to go back to the Bay Area for summers still.

      Also FWIW my Sadaharu Oh (and other Calbees) post went up earlier this week. https://njwv.wordpress.com/2018/01/16/first-calbees-巨人/