1950 was the year that Japan Pro Baseball was divided into two leagues. There were only eight teams in 1949, but the 1950 expansion resulted in an eight team Central League and seven team Pacific League. The Taiyo Whales were
one of four first year teams in the Central League. For an expansion team, their showing was quite respectable, as they finished with a 69-68-1 record, leaving the other three expansion teams of that year in their dust. The card in this lot
was autographed by two stalwarts of the team's pitching rotation, and a young prospect. Rentaro Imanishi (center) had been a two time 20 game winner in the late 1940s. In 1950 he went 10-13, 4.07 for his new club. Hiroshi Katayama
(right) was 14-8, 4.52 in 1950, while Shozo Nakatsu (left), primarily a mop-up man and better hitter than pitcher, went 0-4, with a poor 7.91 ERA. This was to be a high water mark for all three players, as in 1951 Imanishi slid to 2-7, Katayama to 3
-13 and Nakatsu had been converted to the outfield, where he was ultimately not successful. Not surprisingly, the Whales dipped to a 40-64-4 record in 1951. The autographs are signed in blue pen directly over the players' images, with the
names in Japanese printed by the manufacturer just below.
Size: 6 1/4" x 4 1/2"
Condtion: The autographs range in grade from 8 to 9 out of 10. The baseball card has a crease at upper left, and Ex corners. It can be seen on the blank back that the card was originally attached to a display sheet by the manufacturer.