1934 Tour of Japan Sets

‘It’s In The Details’

Title Tour of Japan
Year 1934
Size Various
Images Black and White/Sepia
Type Miscellaneous
Number in Set

1934 Tour of Japan Overview

ea78daf629927da0d35ce822824ea778.jpgIn the fall of 1934, an American baseball team headlined by Babe Ruth made a scheduled trip to Japan to play in a series of exhibitions. This wasn’t a weekend trip like it might be today. Back then, this was a month-long stay where the team toured Japan, playing a total of 18 games in various cities. The U.S. team was called the All Americans and they had a logo resembling the U.S. flag in the shape of a shield that was worn on their uniforms and accessories. You can see a picture of the Jimmie Foxx’s uniform (which was auctioned off) here.

Ruth was clearly the highlight but he was flanked by a team of Hall of Famers and stars. In addition to Ruth, the team featured eventual Cooperstown inductees Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Charlie Gehringer, and Earl Averill, among other big names. Moe Berg was also on the team, which was interesting as he would later become a U.S. spy.

As you would expect with such talent, the Americans weren’t really challenged. The U.S. won every game, usually in blowouts. But to help promote the games, at least three baseball card sets were produced.

These weren’t the first cards produced around a tour of American players in Japan. In 1931, the rare Yuasa and Company Tour of Japan cards featuring Americans was manufactured.

JBR 48

Termed today as JBR 48, this set included a total of 20 cards. Ten players were Americans and ten were Japanese players.

Any card is desirable, obviously, as these cards are not easy to find. But the release was highlighted by Ruth, Foxx, Gomez, and Connie Mack, who accompanied the team on the trip. Mack’s card was slightly unique as others featured players in uniforms and his pictured him in a suit.

JBR 72 Babe Ruth Bromides

This issue is called the Babe Ruth Bromides. It includes a total of eight cards, which are approximately the size of a postcard. The cards are sepia (as opposed to the JBR 48 issue, which was black and white) and each one features Ruth.

Two cards are particularly desirable – one featuring Ruth with teammate Lou Gehrig and a second featuring Ruth with Japanese star Jiro Kuji. As I wrote, I believe Kuji is the unidentified Japanese catcher in the 1932 Sanella/Astra Margarine set as he and Ruth were somewhat joined to the hip in the American/Japanese baseball relations.

Maruzen Tour

This is the rarest of the three sets. It includes 16 cards and was distributed in eight-card packs.

The checklist is similar to the JBR 48 set but also includes a second Ruth card and a card of Gehrig. Japanese star Jiro Kuji is also included here. More on him in a bit.

More information on these sets is provided in great detail by noted Japanese baseball card expert, Rob Fitts.

1934 Tour of Japan Checklists

Maruzen Tour Set

Series A

  1. Charlie Berry
  2. Masao Date
  3. Lou Gehrig
  4. Lefty Gomez
  5. Nobuo Kura
  6. Connie Mack
  7. Babe Ruth
  8. Earl Whitehill

Series B

  1. Moe Berg
  2. Clint Brown
  3. Masao Date
  4. Jimmie Foxx
  5. Jiro Kuji
  6. Lefty O’Doul
  7. Bobo Newsom
  8. Babe Ruth

JBR 48

  1. Moe Berg
  2. Charlie Berry
  3. Clint Brown
  4. Jimmie Foxx
  5. Lefty Gomez
  6. Jiro Kuji
  7. Shuichi Kikuya
  8. Nobuo Kura
  9. Connie Mack (portrait/non-action)
  10. Naotaka Makino
  11. Osamu Mihara
  12. Tamaki Miyawaki
  13. Shigeru Mizuhara
  14. Bobo Newsom
  15. Lefty O’Doul
  16. Babe Ruth
  17. Mamoru Sugitaya
  18. Earl Whitehill
  19. Kumeyasu Yajima
  20. Minoru Yamashita

JBR 72 Babe Ruth Bromides

  1. Ruth Arm Back
  2. Ruth Clap
  3. Ruth Fielding
  4. Ruth Mid Swing
  5. Ruth 1/2 Portrait
  6. Ruth 3/4 Portrait
  7. Ruth with Jiro Kuji
  8. Ruth with Lou Gehrig

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