Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Hall Of Famer Yogi Berra passed away this week at the age of 90.  You might be surprised to learn that Yogi Berra had some Japanese baseball cards.  Berra never played for a Japanese team, but he participated in three tours of Japan - the 1953 All Star tour, the 1955 Yankees tour and the 1974 Mets tour.

Rob Fitts (on his blog that is no longer officially on-line but can be seen at the Wayback Machine Internet Archive) listed six Japanese cards of Berra.  Three of these are from 1953 - probably produced as a promotion for the MLB tour.  I don't have any of these cards but they were sold in recent years by Prestige Collectibles Auctions and I've swiped their images here:

1953 Yamakatsu JBR 27

1953 Uncatalogued Bromide

1953 Uncatalogued Color Bromide
The photos look like they were all taken at Yankee Stadium which makes sense - if you wanted to be selling the cards during the tour you probably couldn't use pictures taken DURING the tour.

Rob mentions two other cards from the 1950's.  I think the post I've linked to showed one of them but unfortunately the image did not get archived with the blog post.  The other is a "colorful menko card".  I believe that both of these cards are uncatalogued.

The final Japanese Berra card is the only one that I actually own.  A US serviceman named Ed Broder did a number of home brew Japanese sets in the mid 1970's (Broder's son Rob became famous/infamous for producing unlicensed MLB cards in the late 1980's).  One of his sets commemorates the Mets tour of Japan in late 1974 and includes this card of Berra:

It's hard to tell but this photo (as well as those in the rest of the set) were actually taken during the tour in Japan.

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