Thursday, January 29, 2015

Venezuelan import

It wasn't that long ago that I started collecting obscure 70s baseball player Mike Reinbach. He was the first guy from my high school to play in the major leagues, getting a cup of coffee with the Orioles in 1974. He later became a star playing in Japan during the late 70s, and a decade later went out in a Thelma & Louise style blaze of glory, driving his car off a cliff.

He doesn't have many cards on the market. One minor league card. Two or three Japanese cards. An all-time Orioles card. And a Venezuelan sticker.

While I haven't been collecting him long enough to have "white whales" really, I didn't expect I'd ever come across that sticker, at least not so quickly. But I had an eBay saved search, and when one popped up recently, I went for it.
1973-1974 Venezuelan League Sticker MIKE REINBACH # 104
Out of those cards I listed above, this is the earliest. So I'm going to go ahead and consider it his "rookie card" (and yeah, it's a sticker, but I'm considering it a card.)

The seller was in Venezuela and told me he is the original owner, buying the card 41 years ago. So that's pretty cool.

Here's more info paraphrased from the auction page:
Issued during the 1973-1974 Venezuelan Winter League season and following the Topps baseball cards tradition, a set of 241 cards was produced and distributed in Venezuela. These are very rare stickers for the Venezuelan Winter League and as was the case with the Topps stickers, there were issued with albums to be pasted into, and they are all blank backed. Part of the marketing strategy to sell the stickers was to exchange a prize for a completed album, such as a bicycle, sporting goods, or money. Because of this buyback strategy, most of the sets were taken out of circulation and destroyed. The total print run was approximately 7,000, with considerably less thought to exist today.
Player: Mike Reinbach # 104                  Team: Magallanes Navigators
Total size:  90mm x 64mm                      Spanish Text
Distributed by Digallo C.A. only for the Venezuelan Market.

Despite being sent from Venezuela, the card arrived very quickly thanks to FedEx International shipping (The stack of paperwork with it was crazy, including a photocopy of the seller's ID card). All told, the purchase set me back $24. Which isn't cheap for an essentially forgotten player, but again, it's a neat, obscure item.

Very happy to not only add the first Venezuelan card to my collection, but a key need for my Mike Reinbach supercollection. This puts me at 50%, now owning 3 of his 6 known cards, with the PC also bolstered by an autographed index card and a photo negative from the Topps vault, featured last time.


  1. Definitely the white whale of the Reinbach collection. Especially if there were only 7,000 printed, I would bet a good portion of them ended up getting peeled off and stuck somewhere or exchanged.

  2. A most excellent pickup! Perhaps a little pricey, but think about how you could've easily spent that money on an artificially rare Topps short print rather than on something that is truly rare and interesting.

    "Reinbach" wasn't ringing any bells for me until I clicked on the link for your previous post and I saw the 1979 TCMA card, then I said "Hey, I KNOW that dude!" (in my best Jeff Spicoli voice). I've had the entire 1979 TCMA Japanese set for many years, so I was well familiar with the image, even if the name didn't get any traction. BTW, I've always loved that Hanshin Tigers hat design, for whatever that's worth.

  3. What an awesome pickup. Cards like these tell a great story. Congrats!

  4. Hate to break it to you (or maybe this will be good news), but Mike had a LOT more than a few Japanese cards. Here's a more complete list for you to chase:

    1973-74 Venezuelan Stickers #104 Mike Reinbach 104
    1975-76 Calbee #608 Mike Reinbach 608
    1975-76 Calbee #659 Mike Reinbach 659
    1975-76 Calbee #705 Mike Reinbach 705
    1975-76 Calbee #734 Mike Reinbach 734
    1975-76 Calbee #784 Mike Reinbach 784
    1975-76 Calbee #831 Mike Reinbach 831
    1975-76 Calbee #966 Mike Reinbach 966
    1975-76 Calbee #980 Mike Reinbach 980
    1975-76 Calbee #1040 Mike Reinbach 1040
    1975-76 Calbee #1076 Mike Reinbach 1076
    1975-76 Calbee #1116 Mike Reinbach 1116
    1975-76 Calbee #1146 Mike Reinbach 1146
    1975-76 Calbee #1219 Mike Reinbach 1219
    1975 International League All-Stars TCMA #5 Mike Reinbach 5
    1977 Calbee #46 Mike Reinbach 46
    1977 Calbee 200 Home Run Cards #1 Mike Reinbach 1
    1977 Calbee 200 Home Run Cards #14 Mike Reinbach/Hal Breeden 14
    1977 Calbee 200 Home Run Cards #22 Mike Reinbach 22
    1977 Calbee 200 Home Run Cards #36 Mike Reinbach 36
    1977 Calbee Osaka Series #26 Mike Reinbach 26
    1977 Calbee Osaka Series #60 Mike Reinbach 60
    1977 Calbee Osaka Series #87 Mike Reinbach 87
    1977 Calbee Osaka Series #103 Mike Reinbach 103
    1977 Calbee Osaka Series #111 Mike Reinbach 111
    1977 Calbee Pro Series #56 Mike Reinbach 56
    1977 Calbee Pro Series #178 Mike Reinbach 178
    1977 Calbee Pro Series #190 Mike Reinbach 190
    1977 Calbee Pro Series #250 Mike Reinbach 250
    1977 NST Mr. Baseball #57 Mike Reinbach 57
    1979 Calbee April-June Central League Stars #OF6 Mike Reinbach OF6
    1979 Calbee August Best Series #19 Mike Reinbach 19
    1979 Calbee July Best Series #23 Mike Reinbach 23
    1979 Calbee May Best Series #21 Mike Reinbach 21
    1979 Calbee October Best Series #11 Mike Reinbach 11
    1979 Takara Hanshin Tigers #40 Mike Reinbach 40
    1979 TCMA Japanese Pro Baseball #81 Mike Reinbach 81
    1980 Calbee Large #26 Mike Reinbach 26
    1980 Calbee Large #85 Mike Reinbach 85
    1980 Calbee Small #85 Mike Reinbach 85
    1980 Calbee Small #145 Mike Reinbach 145
    1980 Calbee Small #170 Mike Reinbach 170
    1980 Calbee Small #281 Mike Reinbach 281
    1980 Takara Hanshin Tigers #40 Mike Reinbach 40
    1991 Orioles Crown #376 Mike Reinbach 376
    2013 BBM Tigers Legends #84 Mike Reinbach 84

    1. Wow! Seriously? Geez!
      Where'd you get that list from, if you don't mind me asking? In any case, thank you! Yeah, looks like my Reinbach collection is not as super as I thought.
      That's crazy that he has so many Calbee cards.. in the same set, even! 13 cards in one set? That's beyond Trout/Puig levels! Those can't all be regular base cards, can they? At least a few have to be League Leaders or something, right? A google image search for "Calbee Mike Reinbach" brings up zero relevant hits (The only Japanese card that pops up is the TCMA card I already have). So I don't even know what they look like, and they are apparently very rare if there are around 40 different cards in existence and I haven't seen a single one on eBay or in a Google search in the past several months I've been collecting him. So that's a bit frustrating. But cool to know there're more cards of him out there to chase.

    2. I found the 2013 BBM Tigers Legends here, apparently for sale, but the site is all in Japanese, so I'm helpless to try to order it. I wonder if there are any other Reinbachs there? Maybe someday if I'm able to get Zippy Zappy or someone else who speaks Japanese to do a favor for me.

    3. Calbee issued some enormous sets in the 1970s, and that is especially a challenge as cards were usually only available in packs of 1 with a small bag of potato chips. It wasn't until the 1990s that they upped it to 3 cards per pack. So imagine trying to collect a set of over 1000 cards, one bag of chips at a time!

      Most of that information originates with Gary Engel's "Japanese Baseball Card Checklist & Price Guide" books, almost all of which is now available at or in the Inventory Manager at This is how his name is listed on most of his cards in Japanese:


      And Calbee is カルビー

      Drop カルビー ラインバック into the search at and you can see some of the cards.

      Takara (the same company that created Transformers a few years later) issued team sets from 1979-1998 for use in a baseball card game. Takara is タカラ. I didn't see any of his Takara issues on there, but the sets earlier than 1989 are fairly tough to find.

    4. Awesome! Thanks a lot for the info. Very cool to be able to see some of those Calbee cards. Now I just gotta figure out how to get some of them.

  5. Sometimes you just have to go above and beyond to get that oddball, rare stuff. For something as rare as that sounds, $24 is a steal.

  6. Nice going, Gavin.....the Mike Schmidt card from that Venezuelan set is definitely the toughest to find for us Schmidt collectors, it's the biggest white whale! I've only seen one in an online auction in 15 years.