Yogi in Japan

Here'a a cool card that I picked up a few weeks ago -- a Japanese Yogi Berra bromide from the mid 1950s.

Yogi toured Japan three times.  The first came in 1953 when the Mainichi Newspaper sponsored Eddie Lopat and a team of all stars for a series of games against Pacific League squads and Japanese all star teams.  The American team included Hall of Famers Bob Lemon, Robin Roberts, Nellie Fox, Eddie Mathews and Enos Slaughter.  Mickey Mantle had planned to make the trip but a knee injury kept him home.  After dropping the first game 5-4 to their hosts, the Mainichi Orions, Lopat's All Stars reeled off eleven straight wins.  Yogi played in all twelve games pounding out 6 HRs and hitting .386. 

Yogi returned to the Land of the Rising Sun two years later with the New York Yankees. Arriving in October 1955, the Bombers cranked out a perfect 15-0-1 record.  Berra once again played in every game; this time hitting .380.

1955 NY Yankees Tour of Japan Program

Berra returned in 1974.  This time as the manager of the New York Mets.  Yogi's Mets got off to a rough start, winning only two of the first nine games.  But seven wins in the second nine games- including a streak of five straight, helped them to a 9-7-2 final record.

Besides the card I just aded to my collection, there are at least five other Japanese Berra cards. Three are bromides from the 1953 tour.  Two of these were recently sold by Prestige Collectible Auctions.  Notice how similar the un-cataloged 1953 card is to my card.  One (not pictured below) is a colorful menko card from the 1950s.  The fourth was issued in 1974 by Ed Broder to commemorate the Mets tour and thus it not really a Japanese-made card.

1953 JBR 27 Yamakatsu B&W Giant B&W Bromide--Yogi Berra
(image from Prestige Collectibles Auctions)

Un-cataloged 1953 Bromide of Berra
(image from Prestige Collectibles Auctions)

1974 Ed Broder JA2 Tour of Japan Yogi Berra

When asked at a sports card show a few years ago about his trips to Japan, Yogi gave the country an enthusiastic thumbs up, "Japan, oh yeah." was all he said.


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  • 12/14/2012 4:51 AM Earl Kilbourn wrote:
    Very cool Rob! The history of Japanese baseball and baseball cards is fascinating. As an avid baseball card collector myself I enjoyed the background info regarding your introduction to Japanese baseball and cards. I have your Banzai Babe Ruth book and really enjoyed reading it, absolutely fascinating and I highly recommend it not only for baseball card collectors and sports fans but also history buffs. Looking forward to future blogs.
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  • 12/14/2012 9:34 PM npbcardguy wrote:
    The pictures of him as a Yankee look like they were taken at Yankee Stadium. It would have been really cool if the pictures on the cards had been taken during the actual Japanese tour, but I guess it would be hard to sell the cards during the tour then
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  • 12/28/2012 6:42 PM RetroSimba wrote:
    This is a fascinating post and a terrific historical baseball Web site. Well done. I do a St. Louis Cardinals history blog: http://retrosimba.com You might like my item on Leron Lee: http://retrosimba.com/2010/12/22/leron-lee-cards-bust-became-star-in-japan/
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