While looking at my collection of BBM cards for the Hawks 75th Anniversary, I saw a card for infielder Clarence Jones.
While you do see foreign players show up on other sets, you don’t see that many African American players from the past showing up on Japanese anniversary sets, unless they were special players.
As I did my research for Clarence Jones, I read about how he was a right fielder and first baseman for the Chicago Cubs (1966-1968).
By 1970, he left to Japan to play for the Nankai Hawks.
But it’s his 1974 year with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in which he made his name known as he hit 38 home runs and won the home run title in the NPB, repeated that feat. in 1975 with 39 home runs and led the Pacific League again in 1976 with 36 home runs.
And by the end of his career in Japan, he amassed 250 home runs in eight seasons. Helped a Mexican League team win a pennant and also became a booking agent for the late comedian, Redd Foxx. While Jones didn’t stay in the entertainment industry too long, his son Richard would eventually pursue a career as an actor.
But where Clarence Jones’ name shows up is his relationship with former MLB player David Justice. Clarence Jones became a roving batting instructor thanks to Hank Aaron, who was the head of the Braves farm team at the time. By 1985, he was promoted to the big leagues by Braves manager Eddie Haas.
While Clarence Jones may not have had a long career in the MLB, he gave it his all in Japan and became one of the most successful foreign players in the NPB.