Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ed Broder Sets

In the card collecting hobby parlance, a "broder" is an unlicensed card.  The name somewhat unfairly comes from the Broders, a father and son duo who were famous/infamous for publishing unlicensed cards in the 1970's through the 1990's.  Ed Broder, the father, had put out a number of "collectors" sets during the 1970's featuring mostly retired players (an All Time Mets team set, a set for the 1962 Mets, Stars of the 1950's, etc) that in many ways resembled the kinds of cards being issued by TCMA around the same time.  Rob Broder, the son, is the one who published unlicensed sets of major leagues in the 1980's and 1990's.

Ed Border served in the Air Force for a number of years and was stationed in Japan from 1971 to 1977.  He published six sets of cards that featured NPB players between 1974 and 1976.  Like his cards of MLB players, these card sets were unlicensed by NPB.  However, as Gary Engel points out in his "Checklist and Price Guide", "most pre-1975 Japanese cards of all types are unlicensed".  Indeed Masanori Murakami told me last summer that he had never seen the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf card of himself until Rob Fitts gave him one a few days earlier.  "They have to ask permission now" he said, implying that the card manufacturers never did during his playing days.  Quoting again from Engel: "So, despite the stigma sometimes attached to his American issues, Mr. Broder's Japanese player issues are highly collectable".

As I mentioned previously Broder published six sets of NPB cards - two in 1974, two in 1975 and two in 1976.  I'm not positive about this, but I think that the first set he published was a 20 card set for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (which Engel has labeled as "JA3").  The cards in the set featured borderless black and white photos with no text on the front.  The backs had the players name (in both English and Japanese), number and position (in Japanese) with the Carp logo and Japanese name.  The cards were a little larger than the standard size (2 1/4" by 4") and were unnumbered other than the uniform number.  The set included two cards of the Carp manager (Katsuya Morinaga), cards of the main players on the Carp at the time - Sachio Kinugasa, Yoshiro Sotokoba, Koji Yamamoto, cards of the two Americans playing on the team - Jim Hicks and Mickey McGuire - and a card for Joe Lutz, an American coaching with the team.  The set also included a card showing all three Americans.  The following season Lutz would become the first American not of Japanese descent to manage a team in Japan when he replaced Morinaga.

Here's some example cards:

#14 Yoshihiro Sotokoba

#8 Koji Yamamoto

#28 Sachio Kinugasa

Back of Kinugasa's card

The Americans (left to right Hicks, Lutz and McGuire)
Broder's second set for 1974 is probably the most interesting of his sets.  In late October of 1974, the New York Mets arrived in Japan for an 18 game tour against the Yomiuri Giants and various combinations of NPB stars.  Broder produced a 20 card set for the tour that Engel labeled as "JA2".  Like the Carp cards, the fronts of the cards were borderless black and white photos with no text.  The biggest difference with these cards were that they were smaller than the standard card size (1 7/8" x 3") and had no Japanese text on the back.  The set include nine cards for the Mets (Manager Yogi Berra, Wayne Garrett, Ron Hodges, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Felix Millan, John Milner, Tom Seaver and George Theodore), eight cards for the Giants (Tsuneo Horiuchi, Kazumasa Kono, Shigeo Nagashima, Sadaharu Oh, Shitoshi Sekimoto, Toshimitsu Suetsugu, Kazumi Takahashi and Yoshimasa Takahashi) and three cards showing groups of players - one with Joe Torre and Kazuyoshi Yamamoto of the Carp, one with Yamamoto and Tetsuharu Kawakami of the Giants and one with Sachio Kinugasa, Torre, Milner and Ed Kranepool.  There are two really interesting things about this tour to me - one is that Shigeo Nagashima played in it despite the fact that he had already retired (and he hit .444 for the Series as well) and the other is that Joe Torre played for the Mets despite the fact that he had only been traded to the Mets from the Cardinals about 10 days before the team left for Japan (he was traded on October 13th and the Mets left on October 24th).  Millan and Garrett would go on to play for Japanese teams later in the 1970's.

Some examples from this set:

Wayne Garrett

Shigeo Nagashima

Back of Nagashima's card

Kazuyoshi Yamamoto and Joe Torre

Ed Kranepool, John Milner, Sachio Kinugasa and Joe Torre
Broder's next set is a 50 card set known as "Japan Top Star" ("JA4") that he issued in 1975.  These cards were the same size as the Mets Tour cards and featured similar backs, although these cards were actually numbered (1-57 with no #'s 16, 25, 29, 52, 53, 55 and 56).  Once again the fronts were a borderless black and white photo with no text.  Despite this being listed as a 1975 set, the cards depict the players with their 1974 teams.  This set features the top stars of NPB (as you would expect from the name) including Oh, Nagashima, Kinugasa, Koji Yamamoto, Tsutomu Wakamatsu, Senichi Hoshino, Kenichi Yazawa, Koichi Tabuchi, Yutaka Enatsu, Isao Harimoto and Hiromitsu Kadota.  There's a large number of Americans included in the set - Gene Martin, John Sipin, Joe Lutz, Bob Taylor, Roger Repoz, Don Buford, Matty Alou, Clarence Jones, Ron Lolich, Wes Parker, Clete Boyer, and Don Blasingame.  I think this set contains the only Japanese cards for Parker and Lolich and this and the Carp set contain the only ones for Lutz.  Unfortunately I do not have any cards from this set to show off.

The next 1975 set was a blank backed set that Engel has classified as "JA5".  These cards were the same size as the two previous sets and featured a borderless black and white photo on the front but the player's name also appeared on the front.  The players in this set are depicted with the 1975 teams and include Oh, Wakamatsu, Yazawa, Koji Yamamoto, Yutaka Fukumoto and one of the earliest cards of Choji Murata.  Westerners in the set include Gail Hopkins, Bobby Marcano, Gene Martin, Richie Scheinblum, John Sipin and Bernie Williams.  I have a little more than half of this set:

Broder's next set was a 40 card set that was pretty much identical to JA5.  The set is known as "JA6" and features players with their 1976 teams.  The players in the set were again a mix of the top Japanese players (Oh, Kinugasa, Koji Yamamoto, Tabuchi, Fukumoto, Keishi Suzuki) and most of the Western players (Clete Boyer, Hal Breeden, Gail Hopkins, Garry Jestadt, Jim Lefebvre, Bobby Marcano, Richie Scheinblum, John Sipin, Bernie Williams and Ron Woods).  The set also includes a card of Dragons manager Wally Yonamine and Orions manager Masaichi Kaneda.  I don't have any cards from this set either.

Broder's final Japanese set was a 12 card set for the Giants ("JA7").  These cards were blank backed and had similar fronts to the previous two sets but were large (2 2/8" x 3 15/16").  The twelve players included were Shozo Doi, Isao Harimoto, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Dave Johnson, Kazumasa Kono, Shigeo Nagashima, Hisao Niura, Sadaharu Oh, Isao Shibata, Toshimitsu Suetsugu, Shigeru Takeda and Takashi Yoshida.  Once again I don't have any cards rom this set.

Broder would sell these sets via mail order.  He placed ads in hobby publications offering the sets for sale.  Someone (and I wish I remember who) sent me a copy of ad he ran in the May 31st, 1976 issue of Sports Collectors Digest:

The three sets he's selling are JA6, JA5 and JA7.  The Clete Boyer card shown in the ad is from the JA6 set.

You'll note that he's also selling two publications.  The first is the "1976 Japanese Fan Handbook".  I believe that this is the first edition of Wayne Grazyck's annual guide.  The second is a booklet entitled "Americans In Japan".  I was able to pick up a copy of this off Ebay a while back.  It's a fascinating little 30-ish page book put together by Broder and Mel Bailey that lists all the Western players, coaches and managers in Japan from 1950 to 1976.  The book is illustrated with many back and white photos, many of which were used in Broder's sets (and in fact are the actual cards with the text on the front).  Some of the other photos are reproductions of menko and Kabaya-Leaf cards (Bailey imported both menko cards and the Kabaya-Leaf cards to the US in the 1960's).


Page 19
UPDATE - I neglect to mention some of my source material for this post.  Ralph Pearce was kind enough to share part of an unpublished interview he did with Ed Broder a few years back.  The background information on the Mets tour of Japan came from Robert Obojski's book "The Rise Of Japanese Baseball Power".


Fuji said...

These are awesome! Thanks for sharing these. Before today... I had never seen these before... and I've never been so excited about going out and tracking down some Broders for my collection.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Excellent write up and thanks for sharing! I've seen a few of the sets come up for auction, but I have never jumped on them. Wish I would have.....

Tony Burbs said...

Fascinating delve! I have always been struck by the Broder sets and wasn't very aware of the Japanese sets. Just goes to show you, collect-ability and value are not always hand in hand.

Jason Presley said...

Have you identified the player listed as "Takahashi" in both the JA5 & JA6 sets?

NPB Card Guy said...

Wow - I didn't notice that he wasn't identified in the checklist. I don't know who that is - I don't have either card so I can't even narrow down which team it is. Looking over the possibilities from Baseball-Reference (which I'm guessing that you've already done), it could be Hiroshi (Nippon-Ham), Naoki (Nippon-Ham), or Yoshimasa (Yomiuri). Yoshimasa was in JA2 so it's probably him. It'd be cool if it was Hiroshi as he was one of the other guys Nankai sent to the US with Masanori Murakami in 1964 and he doesn't have many cards.

Ralph said...

Nice article and thanks for the mention. Wasn't Ed also involved in the 1987 Playball Japan set? Btw, Mel also imported the 1964 Fujiya Gum cards (JG3), which Engel lists as 10 cards, though were sold as 9 card sets (think one Nagashima was sp), as well as the 1964 Morinaga Stand-ups, which Engel lists as 14+ cards, but were sold as 11 card sets (sometimes 12 with Mizuhara sp). Sorry to sidetrack here, but I always felt there was a validity/integrity to collecting sets as they were imported/distributed that Engel and others often overlook.

NPB Card Guy said...

He was involved in both the 1987 Playball Japan set and the 1979 TCMA set. I need to sit down sometime and do a post on both Mel Bailey and Bud Ackerman (a post that will largely be drawn from your old "The Japanese Baseball Enthusiast" newsletters).

Anonymous said...

I can help you out immensely with these sets. Please email me at

Unknown said...

Hi Ed

I would love to hear from you.
What are you doing these days?

Jimmy Williams

NPB Card Guy said...

Hi Mr. Williams - I'm sorry but I am not Ed Broder and I don't have any contact information for him. I'd love to interview him myself if I could.

Kenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I have a 1975 Top Stars set if you would like some pics...

Jimmy W.

Jason Duncan said...

Do we have a complete checklist of the 1960s PCL set? Also any of the Japanese sets have any impossible cards to find? I may be able to help. I have been in contact with Ed recently and he cannot remember on some things. I do know he produces a low amount of 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers team set of 12 in 1975. Fortunately I ended up with a few sets from my Ed Broder buy out. Thanks in advance.

NPB Card Guy said...

I don't really know anything about his non-Japanese card sets. I'd recommend checking out the Trading Card Database and seeing what they have listed.

AFAIK there are no super scarce cards from any of his Japanese sets. According to Engel, the Mets set and JA4 are the most commons sets, followed by the Carp set and JA5. JA6 and JA7 are the rarest of the six sets.