Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Japanese Baseball - Kaoru Betto

Here's another Japanese baseball postcard from around 1950.  Kaoru Betto was born on August 23, 1920 and graduated from Keio University. He served in World War II and then worked at a couple of other jobs before becoming a professional baseball player at 28. Betto played for the Osaka Tigers for two years (1948 and '49) and then for the Mainichi Orions for seven years. He won the Nippon Most Valuable Player Award and led the Mainichi Orions to the first Japanese Series Championship. Along the way, he married a beauty queen. Betto retired as an active player in 1957, although he continued to manage teams after that. He retired from baseball all together in 1979 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988. Betto died of heart failure in 1999.

Kaoru Betto achieved secondary fame more recently, because "The Dude" in the movie the Big Lebowski wore a t-shirt bearing his likeness. The t-shirt, along with the movie, achieved cult status. I need to watch the movie again to figure out why. Actually, Jeff Bridges (the Dude) also wore this t-shirt in an earlier movie, Fisher King.

If you want to find out more about Japanese baseball, visit Rob's Japanese Cards or Japanese Baseball Cards, which has lots of links to other Japanese baseball sites. You may also want to look at a previous post on Shigeru Sugishita.

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