In general, 1959 black & white menko cards are scarcer than those printed in color, as the color cards had already eclipsed them in popularity. In fact, we haven't auctioned or sold an example of the card presented here in nearly 12 years! This nice example, one of the three Sadaharu Oh rookie cards in the JCM 43d set, is commonly known as the "batting cage card". For some odd reason, the Japanese text within the black box on the front lists him as "Giants Oh Outfielder"!
Oh's listing as an outfielder on the card indicates that this is one of Oh's earliest rookie year issues. There were several 1959 cards issued of Oh that show him pitching. That makes sense, as he was an extraordinary pitcher in high school, and at the time of the Giants' signing Oh, many were unsure as to whether he would be a pitcher or position player in pro baseball.
As we all know, Oh left pitching behind before making his professional debut. He manned first base exclusively for the Yomiuri Giants from 1959 to his retirement in 1980, except for two games in 1977 in the outfield. Oh did play some outfield in high school, and for a fleeting moment during 1959 spring training, it was thought that he might be put in the outfield so aging Hawaiian Wally Yonamine could be transitioned to first base.
Oh was not an everyday regular in 1959, and Yonamine did play some first base when Oh was not in the lineup, but by 1960, Oh was the everyday first baseman, and Yonamine was once again strictly an outfielder.
We assume that this brief spring flirtation with the idea of playing Oh in the outfield is the source of Oh's being listed on this card as an outfielder. In any case, this unusual positional notation makes the batting cage card a special Oh rookie!
Size: Approximately 1 13/16" x 3"
Condition: Ex+ with a slightly diagonal handcut at the left border.