Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Florida Project

In 1975, the Yomiuri Giants did part of their spring training as guests of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida, USA.  This would be the fourth time that the Giants visited the Sunshine State, having been guests of the Dodgers previously in 1961, 1967 and 1971, and they would return again in 1981.  What sets 1975 apart from the other visits is that it is documented on baseball cards.

I've posted about this before but there is a 24-ish 22 card subset in the 1974/75 Calbee set that features photos of Giants players taken in Vero Beach.  The cards start with number 693 and go to 714 either 715 or 716 UPDATE - finally saw card #716 and while it's of Oh, it's not from this subset UPDATE TO THE UPDATE - also saw card #715 and it's not from Florida either.  I only had three of these cards when I did the original post but I've added a few over the years - most recently as part of a big order from COMC - so I now have 12 cards which is roughly half the subset.  I'm not sure how serious I am about trying to complete this subset but I thought I'd do an updated post showing the cards I have so far.

According to the back of each card, the Giants were in Vero Beach from March 1st to March 17th.  This first card shows the team jogging on the warning track of a ballpark.  I'd originally assumed that this was Holman Stadium in Vero Beach but I'm not so sure anymore.  Holman appears to have had a berm in the outfield behind a wire fence as opposed to the more traditional fence with advertising.  Also note the flags flying on the left side of the photo - there's a US flag along with a Canadian flag.  Either this is Vero Beach and the Giants are playing the Expos or this is actually Daytona City Island Ballpark (now Jackie Robinson Ballpark), spring training home for the Montreal Expos during much of the 1970's (it certainly resembles the outfield wall in the background of a bunch of 1977 Expos cards):

1974/75 Calbee #693

This next card shows another group shot of the team, this time lined up along the first baseline.  It looks to me that this is at the same ballpark as the other card but the flag on the right flagpole doesn't look like a Canadian one - it's probably the Japan flag:

1974/75 Calbee #694

This next card is my favorite one in the subset, showing Sadaharu Oh in the batting cage with a bunch of Atlanta Braves players watching him hit.  Given the stands in the background, I suspect this photo was taken at West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium, the spring training home for the Braves at the time:

1974/75 Calbee #695

1975 was Shigeo Nagashima's first year as Giants manager.  Here he is with pitcher Shoji Sadaoka:

1974/75 Calbee #696

Here's another Sadaharu Oh card:

1974/75 Calbee #700

Toshimitsu Suetsugu batting:

1974/75 Calbee #701

Another great shot of Oh in the batting cage:

1974/75 Calbee #702

This next card shows Giants pitcher Kazumi Takahashi pitching against an unnamed Montreal Expos batter.  Once again I suspect that this was taken at the ballpark in Daytona, especially since the ad on the outfield wall behind Takahashi has the Expos logo on it:

1974/75 Calbee #703

Masaru Tomita batting in a game.  I suspect that this photo was actually taken at Holman Stadium in Vero Beach:

1974/75 Calbee #705

Officially this is a card of Kazumasa Kono who's the player catching the ball but that's Takeshi Ueda (#2) behind him with I think Tomita to the left of Ueda - I'm assuming this is infield practice and Tomita's the only other infielder with a uniform number in the 20's (#25).  I have no idea who the Dodger's coach wearing #75 is - if anyone knows, please let me know:

1974/75 Calbee #710

Another card featuring Nagashima - there are seven total in the subset:

1974/75 Calbee #711

The final card is another one of Oh in a batting cage - there are sixfive cards of Oh in the subset:

1974/75 Calbee #712

That's all the Calbee cards I have depicting the Giants doing spring training in Vero Beach (or elsewhere in Florida) but I should mention that there are also cards (stickers) in the 1975 NST "Mr Baseball" set that show scenes of the Giants in the US.  It's not clear how many of them there are, however, and I only have two that I know for sure fall into this category.  The first is this card showing Nagashima with Expos manager Gene Mauch:

1975 NST #189

I should mention that Mauch is not identified in the sticker album - the text for this card implies that it's Walt Alston.  Engel identifies two similar cards in the set - one showing Nagashima with Stan Wasiak who would have been the manager of the Dodger's Triple-A Albuquerque team in 1975 (#188) and the other showing him with someone who might be Royals manager Jack McKeon (#190).  Unfortunately I have neither of these cards.

What I do have is a card I've shown several times in the past showing Giants pitcher Tsuneo Horiuchi pitching to Ron Cey of the Dodgers:

1975 NST #224

As I said, I'm not sure how seriously I'm collecting these cards but I do find them endlessly interesting.  


Sean said...

I remember your first post about these from 9 years ago inspired me to start collecting this series (though I haven't mentioned it on my blog). I've got most of them (picked up that Oh card with the Braves players watching after you posted about it a while back), but not quite all (have to double check which ones I'm missing).

Its a very cool subset, I'm particularly fond of the cards with Expos players visible in them (that NST card with Gene Mauch I hadn't been aware of until seeing this post).

Nick Vossbrink said...

This is super cool. Love the NPB cards that intersect with MLB.

Jason Presley said...

I tried looking into the coaching staff of the 1975 Dodgers, but no resource showed or listed anyone wearing #75, I suspect it may have been one of their minor league managers or coaches just wearing the high number for spring training.

NPB Card Guy said...

@Sean - I'm not absolutely positive that it's Mauch but Kevin Glew, who is the guru of Canadian Baseball on Twitter thinks it is, so that's good enough for me.

@Nick - Exactly - I'm fascinated by the intersection of MLB and NPB. Sadly there aren't anywhere enough cards that illustrate it, probably due to licensing issues.

@Jason - I asked Night Owl Cards about it on Twitter and he didn't know who it was either. I agree that it's likely a minor league coach or possibly some former player in camp as a special coach just for spring training. Would be wild to discover it's Pee Wee Reese or someone like that.

Jason Presley said...

I recently sent a fresh batch of random Japanese cards to COMC, just to get them out of the house and because COMC had that throwback submission deal for .35 each, and the first few have begun to trickle into the system. I send I think all of my 1991 & 1992 BBM cards, along with a smattering late 90s Calbees and probably some random other stuff. An extra TTG Tuffy Rhodes is listed now.

When pricing these cards, I was surprised at how much the other sellers were charging. I know you've found some good deals recently for older cards, but it is nuts how many commons from the 90s-00s are listed at $3-5 each. What's somewhat amusing is that almost all of the Japanese Tuffy Rhodes cards on COMC are cards I submitted from my dupes years ago. Someone bought them all at my discount prices and has now been sitting on them since at hugely inflated prices. I guess it's good for me, though. I'm happy to sell mine for $1.00 if someone wants to try and flip them for $5, have at it.

NPB Card Guy said...

I'm constantly baffled at the prices people are putting on Japanese cards on COMC and Ebay. More power to them if they can get that amount for them but I wouldn't be expecting it.