At this point, we have no way of proving whether this postcard was issued in 1937 or 1938. Why is this important? In either case, this postcard contains the earliest known image on either a baseball card or postcard of Japan Hall of Fame member Michio Nishizawa, who was a rookie in 1937.
We know that the uniforms being worn by the Nagoya team on this postcard were worn only in 1937 and 1938. We see an image of Kaiichi Masu (lower right), who was player/manager of the team in 1937. But that does us no good because he was still on the team in 1938 simply as a player. It is unknown whether 1938 manager Nemoto appears on the postcard because we cannot find any contemporary photos of him! The same can be said for the few players who were on the team in only one of the two years.
In any case, we know that Michio Nishizawa is the player standing at upper left. Nishizawa was only 15 years old when he made his 1937 debut in Japan Pro Baseball! In 1937, Nishizawa played in only five games and was not particularly successful. But at age 16 in 1938, he went 3-4, 2.05 in 12 games and batted .211. His career really took off in 1940 (age 18) when he was a 20 game winner! In 1942 he once pitched a remarkable 28 innings and threw 311 pitches, all in one game.
Nishizawa served in the military for two years during World War II. The injuries he sustained during the war and the toll taken on his arm by all those innings pitched resulted in his being converted to a first baseman. He ultimately became a feared hitter. In 1950, he slugged 46 homers. He was named to the Central League Best Nine Team three times, beating out the immortal Tetsuharu Kawakami in those seasons. Nishizawa retired as an active player following the 1958 season. All in all, it certainly was a Hall of Fame worthy career.
We have never seen another example of this postcard. The early Nishizawa image makes it an extraordinary piece.
Size: 3 1/2” x 5 1/2"
Condition: Good. Unused.