Sunday, January 12, 2014

Card Of The Week January 12

In Ryan's Blog Bat Around post the other day, he mentioned that there was a Japanese Hall Of Famer named Shigeru Makino who apparently has not appeared on a card since 1981.  I got really curious about why that was - BBM has done a remarkable number of OB sets in the past 15 years and it seemed difficult to believe that a Hall Of Famer would have been left out.

The first thing that strikes you when you look at Shigeru Makino's playing record is how mediocre it is.  He hit .217/.286/.272 with 9 home runs in nine seasons with the Dragons from 1952 to 1959.  He never managed a team.  There's a handful of guys who made it to the Hall Of Fame based on their collegiate careers but usually that's for pre-professional era players.  Why did Makino make the Hall Of Fame?

I took a look at "Japan Baseball Superstars", the book Gary Engel and Rob Fitts published in 2001 that contains write-ups on all Hall Of Fame and Meikyukai members up to 2000 and I got my answer.  After retiring as a player in 1959, Makino became a coach with the Dragons for the 1960 season.  When Tetsuharu Kawakami took over the Giants in 1961, Makino switched teams and became Kawakami's head coach.  The two of them developed a managerial style called "Controlled Baseball" which controlled all aspects of the ball player's behavior, both on and off the field.  This style resulted in 11 Nippon Series championships over the 14 years that the two of them ran the team, including nine consecutive championships from 1965-73 (the "V9" years).  His coaching career is what put him in the Hall Of Fame (which is reflected in his write up at the Hall's web site).

Makino left the Giants when Kawakami stepped down as manager following the 1974 season.  He returned to coach the Giants under Motoshi Fujita from 1981 to 1983.  He passed away in 1984 and was elected to the Hall in 1991.

As Ryan mentioned, Makino's most recent card is from the 1983 NST set.  He does not appear in any of BBM's sets, not even the Giants 70th Anniversary or the Dragons' 70th and 75th Anniversary sets.  I'm not entirely sure how many cards exist for him total.  Glancing through the vintage edition of Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist and Price Guide", I only found five other cards of him - three bromides (2 from the 1956 JBR29 set and 1 from the 1957 JBR19 set), one menko (1957 Marukami JCM28a) and one game card (1967 JGA 137).  The game card is interesting as it shows him as a coach for the Giants.  That set is extremely rare - Engel says that there's only one complete set that's ever been seen.  There may be other Makino cards out there - I may have missed something that was listed in Engel and there's still a lot of uncatalogued cards from the 1950's.  But there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of cards of him.

Fortunately, I picked one up recently - the 1957 Marukami JCM28a card:


Ryan G said...

You mention "Controlled Baseball" and that reminds me of Mr. Baseball, which I talked briefly about on my other blog. When I was pulling the quote, I came across a discussion of how the movie inaccurately (or unfavorably and stereo-typically) portrays Japanese people, especially the idea that team harmony is so important even if it's detrimental to the team. I would say that "Controlled Baseball" was quite successful in its time, but then again the Giants had the best players in the league... but that's a post for someone more knowledgeable than I am.

I wonder if one of the reasons players like Makino and others from the 1950s and before don't appear in card sets is a difficulty in getting licensing rights. Sets like Nostalgic might have been a massive undertaking for BBM. A bit of research shows that (according to a document hosted on deceased celebrities aren't legally protected, but usually licensing rights are acquired.

NPB Card Guy said...

It kind of reminds me of a couple Hall Of Fame pitchers on the 1927 Yankees - Waite Hoyt and Herb Pennock. Were the 1927 Yankees a great team because they had these two Hall Of Fame pitchers or are these two pitchers Hall Of Famers because they were on the 1927 Yankees? Were the 1961-74 Giants a great team because Shigeru Makino was a Hall Of Fame coach or is Makino a Hall Of Fame coach because the 1961-74 Giants were a great team?

I'm going to say Hoyt and Pennock are Hall Of Famers because they were on the 1927 Yankees but I don't know enough about Makino. You'd think any team with Sadaharu Oh and Shigeo Nagashima on it would be pretty successful no matter what though.

You are probably right on BBM having issues in getting the rights for deceased players. It certainly would explain the preponderance of players in their OB sets being from the 70's and later.