Sunday, April 29, 2018

Card Of The Week April 29

I mentioned the other day that Kent Hadley was a significant player who was left out of not only the recent Hawks 80th Anniversary set by BBM but also their 70th and 75th Anniversary sets for the team as well.  It turns out that Hadley actually has never had a modern Japanese baseball card at all - he's never shown up in any BBM or Epoch card set as far as I can tell.

Hadley had played professionally in the Detroit Tigers organization and in the majors with the Kansas City A's and New York Yankees before signing with the Nankai Hawks in 1962.  (Most notably he was included in the trade that sent Roger Maris from Kansas City to New York.)  He made a splash in his debut with the Hawks as he became the fourth player and first foreigner to homer in his first at bat in NPB.  He spent six seasons with the Hawks, hitting .260 with 131 home runs and 396 RBIs.  His best season was 1963 when he hit .295 with 30 home runs and 84 RBIs and became the first foreign player elected to start in the All Star game.  He helped the Hawks win the 1964 Nippon Series over the Hanshin Tigers with a walk-off home run to win Game Four.  Amazingly he had a second walk-off Nippon Series home run when his two run shot beat the Yomiuri Giants in  Game Five of the 1966 Series.  He was the first foreign player to hit over 100 home runs in Japan.  Nankai released him after the 1967 season and he retired from baseball.  He spent the rest of his life running an insurance business in his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho.  He passed away in 2005.

As I mentioned before, he has not had any "modern" Japanese baseball cards but I know of a couple from when he was a player.  He appears in the Marukami "Bat On Right" menko sets from 1963 (JCM 14f) and 1964 (JCM 14g), the 1964 Marusan menko set (JCM 11) and the 1967 Kabaya-Leaf set.  There may be others but this is all I could find (or are listed over at  I have the two Marukami cards:

1963 Marukami JCM 14f

1964 Marukami JCM 14g
I used SABR's biography of Hadley as a resource for this post - it's a really detailed portrait of him and well worth a read.


Sean said...

Its kind of crazy that given the sheer size of those commemorative sets BBM makes they would leave out a player of such stature. Very interesting.

NPB Card Guy said...

One thing that I'd like to learn more about is how BBM and Epoch make deals with retired players to appear on their cards - especially how they make deals with the estates of players who've passed away. Perhaps BBM hasn't been able to contact Hadley's family to get the rights to use his image.

On the other hand since Hadley's passed away, BBM may not be that interested in including him because he can't sign any cards for them. Although it's not unusual for a BBM OB set to include cards of players who've passed away.

Sean said...

That is an interesting point.

Actually I am doing some research on an issue which that raises. My understanding is that the card companies don't negotiate contracts with individual players, but rather with the teams for the rights to produce cards with player images on them. The players give the right to the team in their player contracts. This is a bit different from MLB where it is the player's unions rather than the teams that have that right). But I think this wasn't always the case and probably at some point in the past (as in MLB) the card companies did have contracts with individual players, I just don't know when this started.

There was a lawsuit over this in the Tokyo District Court in 2006 in which a group of 34 players (including Koji Uehara) sued their teams over the granting of licenses to card companies to produce cards with their images, though the court ruled against them.

I'm planning on doing an English translation of the court's judgment, but it is almost 50 pages long so its too big of a project for me right now (not as part of my blog, but part of my day job!) Its kind of interesting though.

NPB Card Guy said...

Hmm, interesting. I'm not sure how things happen now. I know that if you look at say the Yamakatsu cards from the 70's you see a copyright line from the team. I had always guessed that a change happened around 1985 because that's when Calbee finally started including cards of Lotte players - I figured whatever licensing agreement Calbee had with NPB forced them to include Lotte. But that's purely speculation on my part.

I have two data points that indicate to me that the card companies did NOT have contracts with individual players. When I met Masanori Murakami a few years back he mentioned that the card companies didn't have to ask for permission to make cards while he was a player. He had actually had no idea that there were baseball cards being made of him. Likewise Warren Cromartie mentioned in his autobiography that he had not realized that the Yomiuri Giants were selling merchandise with his picture on it until he happened to see it in their store.

IIRC Topps still does contracts with individual players. The other companies that did cards in the past had contracts with the union. I'm not sure what Panini does now.

I'd be interested in finding out more out how the licensing is done in Japan. As you've probably noticed, most (if not all) of the "flagship" sets for the past 25-30 years have the same number of cards for each team. I've wondered if this is a function of the licensing agreement with either NPB or the player's association (JPBPA).

I keep telling myself I need to try to contact some former foreign players and ask them some questions about baseball cards - both the ones issued when they played in Japan and the ones in OB sets. Maybe sometime soon I'll actually do it.