Hey, I Know That Dude! 1979 TCMA Masanuri Murakami

I’ve been neglecting the Japanese cards lately, so let’s kick it back in beginning with a name from the 1960’s which many of you are familiar with….
1979 TCMA Japanese Masanori MurakamiMasanori Murakami was the first Japanese-born player in the Major Leagues, having pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 1964 and 1965. He made his Major League debut at Shea Stadium, pitching a scoreless inning against the Mets. Over his brief MLB career, he pitched 89.1 innings and had a 5-1 record with a 3.43 ERA, 0.985 WHIP and 9 unofficial saves. He returned to Japan in 1966 and pitched for the Nankai Hawks, Hanshin Tigers and Nippon Ham Fighters.

When I first became aware of Japanese baseball, I didn’t know what to make of “Nippon Ham Fighters”, and I wasn’t aware that the teams were named after their corporate owners… So rather than the “Fighters” owned by Nippon Ham, I thought they were the “Ham Fighters” of Nippon.

…Hey, I was a kid.  I liked to think that a Ham Fighter was some sort of Japanese warrior… Samurai, Ronin, Shogun, Ham Fighter.

My parents owned a couple of James Clavell novels with names like “Shogun” and “Noble House”, and even though I never read any of them, I wouldn’t be surprised if I that played some role in the misunderstanding.

Part of me is still a tiny bit disappointed that I was wrong about the name.

Murakami did make it on to a 1965 Topps card… one that, I’m slightly ashamed to say, I don’t own.

…Yet.

1965 Topps #282 - Rookie Stars/Dick Estelle RC (Rookie Card)/Masanori Murakami RC (Rookie Card) [Good to VG‑EX] - Courtesy of COMC.com

1965 Topps #282 – Rookie Stars/Dick Estelle RC (Rookie Card)/Masanori Murakami RC (Rookie Card) [Good to VG‑EX] – Courtesy of COMC.com

4 thoughts on “Hey, I Know That Dude! 1979 TCMA Masanuri Murakami

  1. A. That 1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball set is very, very high on my want list. I’ve bid on several… but they all jump out of my price range.

    B. It took me awhile to figure out that the Japanese teams were based on corporate names too ;-)

    C. That 1965 Topps card is awesome. One of my favorite cards in my Japanese athlete PC. The OPC version is in my top 10 want list.

    • I was fortunate enough to get the TCMA set within a couple of years of its initial release, so I didn’t have to break my budget to get it. I’ll definitely be sharing more cards from that set in the future, but it’ll probably be more “gaijin” than Japanese players.

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