First up from what he sent me were six cards from the 1962 JGA 146 "Tassel Playing Cards" set. This set was basically a set of playing cards that each featured a different player. Each card had a clothe tassel tied off through a hole the upper right hand corner of the card like so:
Here's the other cards from this set that Alex sent me:
Next we have another card of Kohei Sugiyama of the Hawks, this time from the 1959 Marukami JCM 14b set:
Here's three cards from the 1979 Takara Carp set:
This is a 1950 Yamakatsu JBR41 card of Masakazu Kato of the Kintetsu Pearls. Kato only played two years in NPB - he played for Kintetsu's first two seasons in 1950 and 51. His brother Haruo was the team's captain.
This is a bromide of pitcher Takashi Eda of Goldstar which based on the uniform is probably from either 1946 or early 1947. I have another card from the same uncatalogued set of another Goldstar player Isao Tsuji.
I think that these next two cards are also from around 1946-47 based on the fact that they show two members of the Kinki Great Ring which is the name that the team that's now the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks went by those two seasons. They both appear to be uncatalogued. The first card is Hall Of Fame manager Kazuto Tsuruoka (who went by the name Kazuto Yamamoto at the time). The other card I think is Naofumi Yasui who had an 11 year career with the Hawks, Whales and Unions between 1943 and 1955 (he missed two seasons due to the war).
I haven't been able to figure out ANYTHING about this next card. All I can tell you is the player is a right handed pitcher. The text is hard to make out and I can't figure out what uniform the player is wearing either.
I'm mostly stumped by this next card as well. I think that the team is the Kinki Great Ring (it's written out in parentheses in the middle of the text on the bottom of the card. But I'm not sure of the text on either side of the team name. This might be Kiyoharu Sakata who was one of the team's catchers in 1947. The kanji doesn't really match though. If it is Sakata then the card is from 1947 - it was the only year he played for Kinki. I think the card is uncatalogued - Engel's listing for the 1947 JBR 36 "Team Nickname in Parentheses" set lists a card for Sakata that's described as "catcher squatting" but I'm not convinced that this card is that one.
Next up is another catcher that I'm not sure of the identity of. The team at least is obvious and the design of the uniform places the photo from 1948. I can't quite match the player's name however. Only one of the large kanji characters is the player's name - the other two (the two on the bottom) say "catcher". I think this is Shigejiro Kanbayashi because he's the only guy who caught in any games by the Dragons in 1948 who has that kanji in his name - although it's the second kanji for his last name. The card appears to be uncatalogued. Kanbayashi only spent 7 seasons in pro ball from 1947 through 1953 with the Dragons, Flyers and Orions. Between playing several years in the corporate leagues after graduating from Meiji University and (I assume) the war, he didn't debut with the Dragons until he was 30 years old. He became a politician after he retired.
This next card may be from the same uncatalogued set as the last one although they aren't quite the same size. I'm pretty sure that this one is Shoji Kato of the Kyuei Flyers. Kato only played for the Flyers in 1948 so again that helps date the card. Kato entered signed with the Dragons in 1939 out of Chuo University. He had three separate stints with the team - 1939, 1943-44 and 1946-47 - I assume the time between each stint was spent with the military. After playing for the Stars in 1948 he spent the last four years of his career with the Stars. He became coach of the Chuo University baseball team after he retired and tragically passed away of liver cancer in 1958 at the age of 44.
This card is of Hall Of Fame pitcher Takehiko Bessho. The uniform in the photo was worn by the Hawks from 1947 to 1949 but Bessho had left Nankai after 1948 so the card must be from 1947 or 1948. Once again the card appears to be from an uncatalogued set.
Engel lists a couple mid 1950's sets in the bromide section of the guide that are essentially transitions to the "tobacco menko" sets of the late 50's/early 60's. These sets are roughly the same size as the menko (1 3/4 inches wide by 3 inches high) and have menko-ish fronts. On the other hand they are blank backed and lack the typical menko card decorations (random numbers, rock-paper-scissor symbols, etc). I think this next card is from one of these sets although it may be uncatalogued. The player is Masayoshi Miura of the Daiei Stars who only played for the Stars in 1956 - he lead the Pacific League in wins that year with 29, over half of the 57 wins the 7th place (out of 8 teams) Stars had that year. This card could be from the JBR 17 set but Engel lists that set as a 1957 set - not that they couldn't have used a 1956 photo in a 1957 set. The Stars merged with the 8th place Takahashi Unions in 1957 to become the Daiei Unions - Miura followed up his Victory Leader season by leading the PL in losses in 1957 with 21 for the team which finished last in its sole season before merging with the Mainichi Orions.
These next two cards are also "tobacco menko" sized but based on the uniforms shown in the photos they're from a few years earlier than the other "transitional" sets. The Giants uniform was used from 1951-52 and the Dragons uniform was used from 1952-53 so it would place the photos from 1952 obviously. There's no text on the cards but I think the Giants player is Hideo Fujimoto and the Dragons player is Michio Nishizawa, both Hall of Famers.
I'm almost positive that this next card is of Tsutomu Wakamatsu of the then-Yakult Atoms. This is the uniform that Yakult wore between 1971 and 1973 and it looks like the uniform number is "1" which Wakamatsu wore in 1972-73 (and no one wore for the Swallows in 1971). But that's about all I know about this card. It's blank backed and a little large than the standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 card size. It looks like it could have been created by either Mel Bailey or Ed Broder but I know nothing about anything that either of them did that this could be from.
I saved the best two cards for last. Alex sent me not one but TWO cards of Hall Of Famer Victor Starffin. On this first card Starffin is wearing a Pacific uniform which is the name that the team that was later known as the Robins went by in 1946. The photo itself is a recrop of the card that Engel uses as a sample for the 1947 Marutoku B&W bromide set (JBR 73). But the example card has white text as opposed to the black text on this card and this card is a little larger (1 3/4 inches by 2 11/16 inches) than the JBR 73 cards. So I'm guessing that this is from an uncatalogued set from either 1946 or 1947 (JBR 73 shows photos of players in their 1946 uniforms).
The other Starffin card is a little easier. There were several sets issued by Marutoku in 1950 and 1951 that used this design. The sets were issued in different sizes. Of course this particular card is 2 1/8 inches by 3 inches which doesn't match the set description for any of the sets Engel lists although he points out that "checklists for many companion series are unavailable". So my bet is that this is from one of those other sets. The uniform that Starffin is wearing was worn by the Daiei Stars from 1951-54 so I'd go with 1951 as the year of the card.
My thanks to Alex for sending me all these great cards! If anyone recognizes any of the cards I couldn't identify or sees that I'm wrong about something I've written here, please let me know.