Sunday, June 10, 2018

Card Of The Week June 10

In my post about Bobby Rose I mentioned that he had 153 RBIs in 1999 and that was the second best total for a season in NPB history.  Do you know who had the most RBIs in a season in NPB history?  It's not any of the obvious candidates like Sadaharu Oh, Katsuya Nomura, Hiromitsu Ochiai, Koji Yamamoto or Hiromitsu Kadota.  It's Makoto Kozuru who had  161 RBIs with the Shochiku Robins in 1950. 

1950 is an important year in Japanese baseball history as it was the first year of Nippon Professional Baseball.  The eight team Japanese Baseball League reorganized themselves following the 1949 season into a 15 team organization spread across two leagues - the Central and Pacific Leagues.  Kozuru had a near Triple Crown season that year as he also had 51 home runs to lead the league (the single season record until Katsuya Nomura hit 52 in 1963*) and his .355 batting average was just six points behind Fumio Fujimura's league leading .362. 

*Nomura would only hold the single season record for one year as Sadaharu Oh hit 55 in 1964.  Oh's record stood until Wladimir Balentien hit 60 in 2013 although it was tied by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.

The Robins themselves had an amazing season that year, finishing with a record of 98-35-4 and winning the Central League pennant by nine games over the Chunichi Dragons and an astounding 59 game above the last place Hiroshima Carp (who went 41-96-1 in their inaugural season).  The Robins however were defeated by the Mainichi Orions in the first Nippon Series that year.  The team was unable to continue this success in the following seasons, dropping to last place in 1952 and merging with the Taiyo Whales in 1953.

Here's a menko card of Kozuru from 1950:

This card is from a set that Engel refers to as JCM 117 - the "Animal Back" menko set.  This is so named as the back of each card shows an animal.  This particular card is not in Engel's checklist for the set.  Here's the back of this card which shows a lizard (tokage):

1 comment:

SumoMenkoMan said...

1950s menko are pretty cool. Great artwork and to think most Japanese at this time could barely afford food just a few years earlier.