Completed insert set – 2002 Topps East Meets West

22 05 2016

I have a card of Jalen Rose and Glen Rice from a set called “East Meets West”.  This is not that set – but it goes by the same name.

Info about the set:

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Set description:  East Meets West was an interesting set that was inserted into series 1 of 2002 Topps.  It was a reaction to the increasing number of Japanese players signing to MLB contracts – following the lead of Hideo Nomo and Ichiro.  And Masanori Murakami from a far earlier day.  The set is based on Masanori Murakami’s dual player Topps rookie card from 1965.  Murakami stays put on the right side of the card while other Japanese-born ballplayers like Nomo are on to the left side.

Set composition:  8 cards, 1:24 (2002 Topps series 1)

Hall of Famers:  None in Cooperstown.  But Kaz Sasaki and Hideo Nomo have both been inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

How I put the set together:

  • 3 cards from my series 1 hobby box
  • 3 cards from Sportlots
  • 2 from Beckett

Thoughts on the set:  Today, the idea of retro designs has become a little more played out than it used to be, and it would have been better if it came on some sort of anniversary of Murakami’s card.  Like in 2005 – 40 years after the card.  Or 2004 – 40 years after his debut.  Also, I’m not sure why Ichiro wasn’t included.

But it’s still a cool set.  At the time, the Japanese influx was very much a new thing in baseball.  And while there’s no Ichiro, there’s the original guy in this wave – Hideo Nomo.

Card that completed my set: #EW-HI – Hideki Irabu / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Irabu

I got this in a Beckett Marketplace purchase last September.

Best card (my opinion): #EW-HN – Hideo Nomo / Masanori Murakami

2002 Topps East West Nomo Murakami

Can’t beat 2 originals.  Murakami was the first Japanese player to perform in MLB, but the 2nd player didn’t come for another 30 years.  It was Nomo who paved the way for Nippon League players to come to the states.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but Murakami is kind of like Moses Fleetwood Walker, whereas Nomo is akin to Jackie Robinson.

All that said, this is clearly the best card in the set.

My favorite Reds card:  There are none.  The Reds signed Aroldis Chapman a few years back, but have generally been pretty quiet as far as signing foreign-born players.

Here’s a scan of the full set.

2002 Topps East West complete

Any other tidbits:  The current players replace Dick Estelle on the left side of the card.  Estelle was a fellow Giants rookie with Murakami in 1964.  Like Murakami, he also only lasted into 1965.  For his career, he went 1-2 with a 3.23 ERA.

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