The Taro Card! How Fictional NHL Player Taro Tsujimoto Received His Own Hockey Trading Card

For a general manager of a professional sports team, a Tarot Card could be a great tool when it comes to predicting the best player to draft.

For fans of the Buffalo Sabres, however, a Taro card is worth a lot more.

The player is Taro Tsujimoto and he had the amazing fortune of being drafted in the 11th round (183rd overall) by the Sabres in the NHL’s 1974 Amateur Draft.

The only thing preventing Taro from eventually hoisting a Stanley Cup? Taro Tsujimoto did not exist.

The rise from fiction to Buffalo lore was a strange one.

You see, back in 1974, the NHL Draft was performed over the telephone (the kind that plugged into a jack in the wall and had a cord and everything).

Frustrated with the painstakingly long process and politicking, Sabres General Manager Punch Imlach (yes, that’s his real name), formulated his own protest by selecting the fictional Taro Tsujimoto.

The NHL eventually invalidated the pick after realizing that they had been duped. But by then, Taro Tsujimoto was already a hero in Buffalo.

Tsujimoto jerseys began appearing in the stands. When the team played poorly, the fans would rain down chants of “We want Taro!” on the hapless players.

As the Sabre’s mediocre play continued throughout the years, many fans began to speculate about the potential “Curse of Taro.” As of 2023, the Stanley Cup has yet to call Buffalo its home.

The trading card brand Score – along with its new owner Panini – jumped on the Taro Tsujimoto bandwagon in 2011 by including the fictional Japanese player in its 2010-11 Rookie and Traded series.

The “Rookie and Traded” was a 99-card subset within Score’s 659 2010-11 base set. And at card No. 659 was none other than Taro.

For a fictional player, the Taro card is worth a lot more than that of many real players. In fact, the Taro card currently has an estimated hobbyDB value of $120!

And it doesn’t end there, you’ll also find a Sabres’ Tsujimoto jersey on Tsujimoto’s hobbyDB subject page! See it here, including the now fabled card!

Do you own a Taro Card? Can you think of any other fictional players that have received a real trading card?

Tell us in the comments below!

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