Warren Cromartie was a regular outfielder for the Montreal Expos from 1977 to 1983. He left Montreal as a free agent but didn't receive any offers he liked from MLB teams so he ended up signing a contract with the Yomiuri Giants. He spent the next seven seasons with the team, hitting .321 with 171 home runs over that time. He won the Central League MVP in 1989, was selected to the All-Star team three times (1985, 1989, 1990) and made the postseason Best 9 team three times as well (1986, 1987 and 1989). He also led the league in batting in 1989 with a .378 average. He returned to MLB in 1991 and spent one season with the Kansas City Royals.
Cromartie had many cards during his career in Japan. Despite apparently not having any cards in his first year in Japan (1984), he had more than 30 Calbee cards between 1985 and 1990. He was also in each of the Takara team sets for the Giants over the same period of time. There's a couple other sets I know of that he appeared in including the 1987 Amada Heat-Sensitive Giants set, the 1987 Play Ball set and the 1988 JBR 22 bromide set. It is somewhat surprising to me however that he does not appear in the Lotte sets from 1989 and 1990.
|1985 Calbee #70|
|1986 Calbee #201|
|1987 Amada Heat-Sensitive Giants|
|1989 Takara Giants #49|
|1990 Takara Giants #49|
The photo on the JBR 22 card was likely swiped from a Calbee card.
He's appeared in very few Japanese cards since his retirement however. He's in only three BBM sets that I know of - the "Nostalgic Stars" subset in the 1994 set, the 2008 "Back To The 80's" set and the 2013 "Legendary Foreigners" set (2 cards).
|1994 BBM #541|
|2009 BBM Back To The 80's #010|
|2013 BBM Legendary Foreigners #30|
|2000 BBM 20th Century Best 9 #114|
Thanks to John E. Gibson of the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast I had the opportunity to reach out to Mr. Cromartie a few months back. John was kind enough to forward some questions I had to him. John warned me that it was likely that Mr. Cromartie would probably not respond as he was very busy but, to the surprise of both of us, he sent back answers to my questions. I tried to get some follow up questions answered as well but John did not get a reply back from Mr. Cromartie.
I specifically asked him why he had not appeared in many of the retired player sets. The gist of his reply was that he had never been contacted by BBM for ANY retired player sets, including the ones he had appeared in! "I must be honest," he wrote, "I have not seen any of these retired player baseball cards so if you see any please let me know. Obviously they have them without my approval." He added that "All they need to do is ask me directly."
I fear that I've not explained what the sets were adequately and that he has seen the cards. I included scans of the cards in my follow up expecting him to reply "Oh - THOSE cards! Well, why didn't you say so?" I find it much easier to believe that I asked a confusing question than BBM has published cards of a player without his permission. One piece of evidence that he did not know about the cards however - there's no autographed card for him in the 2013 Legendary Foreigners set.
I want to express my gratitude to Warren Cromartie for taking the time to answer my questions and to John for acting as an intermediary between us.