Friday, March 22, 2019

1973/74 Calbee "Exciting Game Series"

The last of the 10 series that Calbee issued their 1973/74 set in appears to labeled something along the lines of "Exciting Game Series".  There were 72 cards issued in this series which were numbered 297 to 368.

As the name of the series implies, many (but not all) of the cards in this set highlight particular games late in the 1973 season as well as the post season.  Actually the count is 44 cards, just over 60%.  I only own nine of these cards but I was able to use the 1973 Calbee Book to do a little analysis.  I was curious about which games were commemorated on cards.

I discovered a couple odd things.  The first is that while there's 44 cards, there's only six games that are commemorated on the cards.  So each card is actually highlighting an event from each game.  The other odd thing is that the cards aren't in any particular order.  The games occurred over a two week stretch at the end of October of 1973 but there are cards for later games with numbers lower than earlier games.  The cards for particular games aren't necessarily all grouped together in the checklist either.

Here's a summary for each game and a list of the cards for it.  I'll show any cards I have from this series with the appropriate game.

October 20 - Dragons vs Tigers at Nagoya Stadium.  The Dragons won this game 4-2.  I think the significance of the game is that it knocked the Tigers out of first place just before the end of the season.  There are seven cards for this game - cards 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 333 and 334.  I have two of these.  Card #332 shows Kenichi Yazawa getting an RBI hit in the third inning.

Card #333 shows Tatsuhiko Kimata of the Dragons rounding the bases after homering off of Yutaka Enatsu in the fourth inning.

October 22 - Giants vs Tigers at Koshien.  The Giants won this game 9-0 to clinch their ninth straight Central League title.  This game was commemorated 40 years later by BBM in the second release of their "Greatest Games" series of box sets.  Completely coincidentally this also happens to be the day Ichiro Suzuki was born.  There are 10 cards for this game - cards 335, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344 and 345.  I only have one card for this game - #339 - which shows Koichi Tabuchi batting in the fifth inning (I think):

October 23 - Hawks vs Braves at Nishinomiya Stadium.  The Pacific League introduced a split-season format in 1973 with a best of 5 playoff series between the champions of each half season (unless a team won both halves in which case there would be no playoff).  Nankai won the first half that season, beating Lotte out by two games but the Hawks had a losing record in the second half of the season.  Hankyu had nearly a .700 winning percentage and finished 13 games ahead of the third place Hawks (and four games ahead of the second place Orions).  October 23 was Game Four of the Pacific League playoffs and Nankai came into the game up two games to one.  The Braves held off elimination, however, with a 13-1 drubbing of their Kansai rivals.  There are only three cards for this game - cards 346, 347 and 348.  I don't have any of these cards.

October 24 - Hawks vs Braves at Nishinomiya Stadium.  This game was scoreless into the ninth inning before Nankai put two runs on the board on solo home runs from Willie Smith and Yoshinori Hirose.  Hankyu scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on a solo home run of their own off the bast of Hidetaka Togin but it wasn't enough.  Nankai beat the Braves 2-1 to win their first Pacific League title since 1966.  It would 26 years before the franchise won another pennant.  This was the final pennant won by Nankai.  There are seven cards for this game - cards 349, 350, 351, 352, 355, 356 and 357.  I have three of these.  Card #349 shows Yutaka Fukumoto stealing a base (or at least making a stolen base attempt).  I think that's Hawks second baseman Teruhide Sakurai taking the throw with shortstop Yoshiyuki Sano coming over from the left.

Card #355 shows player-manager Katsuya Nomura and relief pitcher Takenori Emoto embracing after the Hawks recorded the final out.  That's third baseman Mitsuru Fujiwara (#7) coming in from the right with the Hawk fans storming the field from the left.

Card #356 shows Nomura getting the traditional do-age from his teammates.

October 31 - Hawks vs Giants at Korakuen Stadium.  The 1973 Nippon Series started on October 27th in Osaka with the Hawks beating the Giants 4-3.  The Giants evened the Series with a 3-2 extra innings win in Game Two.  After an off day for travel, the Giants went up 2 games to 1 in the Series with another 3-2 victory in Game Three.  Game Four was played on October 31 and Yomiuri beat Nankai 6-2 to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead.  There are five cards for this game - cards 326, 353, 354, 366 and 367.  I don't have any of these cards.

November 1 - Hawks vs Giants at Korakuen Stadium.  The Giants wrapped up their ninth straight Nippon Series championship by defeating the Hawks in Game Five 5-1.  This game has the most cards with 12 - cards 305, 310, 325, 327, 336, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 363 and 364.  I have three of them.  Card #336 shows Nomura batting in the seventh inning (at least that's what I think the card says although it doesn't appear from this that he actually batted in that inning).  The card says he flew out to Giants left fielder Shigeru Takada which he did in the sixth inning.

I think card #359 is showing Giants second baseman Shozo Doi on his knees after making a fine defensive play late in the game.  I say it's late in the game because the player behind him is shortstop Takeshi Ueda who didn't enter the game until the seventh or eighth inning.  (Or it's Ueda on his knees with Doi standing behind him.)

Card #360 shows Giants pitcher Tsuneo Horiuchi (#18) coming into the game in relief with two outs in the top of the seventh with the Giants up 3-1.  The Hawks had a runner on but Horiuchi was able to retire Yoshihiro Aiba to preserve the two run lead.  The Giants scored two more runs in the bottom of the seventh to put the game out of reach for good.  This was Horiuchi's third appearance in the five games.  He had won Game Two in relief and pitched a complete game two days later while winning Game Three - a game in which he also hit two home runs.  He ended up being the MVP of the Series.  I think that's Doi tossing him the ball.  Nankai coach Takeshi Koba is visible in the foreground.  He moved onto the Carp after this game and became their manager in 1975, leading them to their first ever Central League pennant that season.  He'd go on to win three Nippon Series championships with Hiroshima and was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1999.  I'm not sure who the guy on the mound is - it's probably Giants starting pitcher Makoto Kurata but I suppose it could be manager Tetsuharu Kawakami or the pitching coach.

Ryan has images of the front and back of card #327 on his post about the 1973/74 Calbee set.  The card shows Giants center fielder Toshirō Yanagida stealing second.  I think the Hawks fielder is Sakurai.

Calbee would expand on this concept of commemorating specific games for the 1974/75 set.  I plan on doing a post about them at some point in the near future but I don't have nearly as much information on either the cards or the games.

1 comment:

Sean said...

Great post. I have a few cards from that series and they have some of the best in action photos of any Calbee cards, I was planning on doing a post about them too!