Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Awesome night card, pt. 256: the coolest night card I own

I am still recovering from my daughter's big birthday bash from yesterday -- it's shocking when you get older how anything slightly out of the ordinary can exhaust you.

So I've got just one card for you tonight, but it's a really, really good one.

This item arrived from my buddy Dave along with the more modern day cards that I showed earlier. This card is definitely not modern, which is perfectly OK with me. In fact, Dave listed all of the categories where this card fits into my collection. It's:

-- Vintage
-- Oddball
-- Foreign
-- Designed like the '59 Topps set
-- A night card


As the PSA label says up top, this card is from the 1967 Kabaya Leaf set. According to Japanese Baseball Cards, this was the first attempt by a Japanese card manufacturer to make an American-style card set. Apparently, these cards were imported to the U.S. and sold through the mail until the early 1970s, and the cards are hard to find in Japan now.

Thanks to some help from Zippy Zappy, I know that the PSA label misspelled the first name of the player on the card. He's Tatsumi Yamanaka. He was a pitcher on the Chunichi Dragons, a team whose script writing, and sometimes its uniforms, resembles the Dodgers. Yamanaka was periodically the staff ace in the '60s until he retired in 1970.

That's the back of the card (you probably have noticed that it is not slabbed -- more on that in a bit). Obviously I have little idea what it says on the back outside of the card number and listings for ERA and winning percentage. There seems to be more statistical columns on the back than American collectors were used to in the 1960s.

I'm not sure how many cards are in the set, other than it's over 400. The card is slightly shorter and not as wide as your average 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 American card.

My favorite part of the card -- of course -- is its fantastic front. Centered between two stadium lights beaming in the background, Yamanaka shows you the ball -- a classic, always pleasing pose.

This is not my first Japanese card -- nor my first Japanese night card -- but it is definitely my best.

All right, now for the part where I almost ruined the card.

As you know, I don't have much need for graded cards, and that's particularly so for a night card that is slated for my night card binder. There is an open slot for night card No. 54 and you better believe I'm adding this awesome rectangle.

I have no patience for using pliers and screwdrivers and prying the card out. I feel like I'm going to cut myself up. As I've demonstrated before, I like to make a racket and use a hammer.

Well, the hammer routine bit me a little.

The front of the card -- while finally free of its tomb -- now features a crease in the top left corner of the card. It's nothing I care about much, which is all that matters. I'm not sure how it happened because I have a technique down and I'm pretty careful not to hit the card when I use the hammer.

Personally, I'm going to blame the penny sleeve that was also in the slab, you can see the groove on the top part of the sleeve. Penny sleeve and card? That seems like an extra tight fit to me. I don't understand why you would place a card in a penny sleeve that you were going to slab, but then I don't understand grading for the most part.

But I've spent too much time on what is a minor detail.

The important thing is the card is free, it is headed to my night card binder, and, man, is it the coolest thing ever.


Awesome night card: Tatsumi Yamanaka, 1967 Kabaya-Leaf, #54
Does it make the binder?: Hai.


  1. As a Chunichi Dragons guy, I approve of this post. Glad I could help :).

  2. Sweet, I wanna free a card with a hammer now.

  3. I have a Larkin card (and 2 original A&G fish cards) that are slabbed that I want to break free...but tales like this scare me.

  4. That's from a very rare set, N.O. A good friend of mine's father was involved in either the creation or importation of these cards from Japan in '67 (where he was stationed with the air force). Thanks for breaking it from its plastic prison!

  5. Cool card. I have 7 cards that I have imprisoned in the graded cases which I too despise. I am going to try the hammer thing soon.

  6. You can file this under things you don't care about and probably don't want to know: That was one of the newly redesigned PSA cases, which are harder to crack open by design since the fraudsters had figured out how to open the old cases, slip in a different card, and reseal it. PSA only uses the "penny sleeve" like material for unusual, undersized cards like this. It keeps them from bumping around against the sides of the case.

  7. One of my favorite sets. If I see one cheap, I grab it. I've got, I dunno, maybe 10 of them now (not this one, though). Half are slabbed and half are not. I figure, one of these days, I'm either going to have to free the slabbed or slab the free. I'm rooting for freedom. But I'm not prepared to make such a huge life decision just yet.

  8. That card *is* fantastic. It's a shame that the card suffered an injury during the jailbreak, but all parties are better off for it.

  9. No pliers, screwdriver, or hammer for me. All mine are unsealed by using a Dremel. No chance to hurt the cards and power tools are fun.

  10. Wow. That card is super duper awesome!