There are only two known examples of this card, and this is the first example that Prestige Collectibles has had the pleasure of offering. The Morinaga Standups cards were originally imported to the U.S. by American servicemen in the late 1960s. As such, they have been widely known to American baseball card collectors longer than nearly any other Japanese issue. These large size cards with their higher photo quality than American cards of the era and unique, easel type standup feature, have always been quite popular on both sides of the Pacific. However, what was unknown to collectors until recent years, is that there are five cards that were missing from the sets imported from Japan nearly 50 years ago. These five cards are even rarer than the four almost non-existent Kabaya-Leaf cards of the same era, with the Murayama card being one of the two scarcest. This card would be a special addition to any Morinaga Standups collection.
Minoru Murayama, the "Man of Flames", was a brilliant right handed pitcher whose spectacular career will always be eclipsed by the memory of his being the loser in the greatest "mano a mano" battle in Japan baseball history. No Emperor of Japan had never witnessed a pro baseball game in person prior to 1959. When it was announced that the Emperor and his wife would attend a forthcoming Giants-Tigers game, that game received the greatest advance billing ever for a Japanese sporting event. In the bottom of the 9th, rookie reliever Murayama, who had pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning, faced Japan's Golden Boy, Shigeo Nagashima with the score tied. Tension mounted with each pitch. On a 2-2 count, Nagashima hit an inside delivery into the left field stands. This game ending "Sayonara" home run is considered to be the greatest event in Japan sports history.
Despite this early career setback, Murayama's rhythmic, controlled "Zatopek" pitching style carried him to three Sawamura (Japan Cy Young) awards, ERAs of 1.20 or lower in three seasons, and induction into the Japan Hall of Fame.
Size: 3 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Condition: Near Mint. The standup easel has never been used, but the bottom portion of the easel is no longer securely attached to the back of the card.