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1934 Goudey Baseball Cards: Happy 75th to an Enigma

Think you can’t chase a mainstream 1930s baseball card set without a big bankroll? Think again.

1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig It turns 75 years old this year, as friendly and fickle as ever.  The 1934 Goudey baseball card set has three of the best pre-War bubble gum cards among its 96 subjects.

It doesn’t have Babe Ruth.

It has 24 scarce high numbers.

It has two Lou Gehrig cards.  It’s got Hank Greenberg’s rookie card.

Getting a handle on this set isn’t easy, but it’s an invitation to a truly vintage card set from another era that’s manageable in time and budget. Consisting of just 96 cards, the set is known by its catalog file of R320. Measuring 2 3/8 x 2 7/8, the cards are in many respects more attractive than the 1933 Goudey set.

The 1934 Goudey set was built around Lou Gehrig, who signed a deal with the company to become the face and voice just a year after its splashy 1933 debut. Gehrig’s comments adorn each card including, somewhat awkwardly, his own. Gehrig’s image appears on most of the cards in the set with a “Lou Gehrig says…” phrase driving traffic to the Gehrig analysis on the back. There are a handful of cards, however, that feature “Chuck Klein says…” with the Philadelphia slugger offering his comments.

The Gehrig cards in the set are the only two which typically sell for over $1000 in 1934 Goudey Foxx #1 mid-grade. Together with the #1 Jimmy Foxx, they comprise the bulk of the value of the set, which is comprised of only a handful of Hall of Famers and many whose names escape baseball fans today. There are 24 high number cards which are more difficult to find and will also take up a collector’s time and money. On a budget, though, such obstacles can be overcome and it’s not unreasonable to buy a decent-looking set for around $5000. Spread over a couple of years buying one or two cards at a time, it’s really not a daunting task. A complete set in VG-EX grade sold at auction last month for $5363. A graded set in roughly the same shape, brought nearly $7000 in 2006. Another, in slightly better condition, went for $7637 last year. Collectors are starting to wake up to the set’s relative value, though. Upper Deck’s move to bring Goudey’s name and classic designs to the modern card market hasn’t hurt either.

Holding the 1934 set’s value down, of course, is the lack of a Ruth card. He appears in Goudey’s premium set in ’34, but after four cards in ’33, the Babe is AWOL. It could have had something to do with Gehrig’s role as the set’s spokesman. The two weren’t always best of friends and it would have seemed awkward to have Gehrig waxing poetic about a teammate with which he didn’t see eye to eye. Ruth isn’t the only 1930s star missing, though.

In fact, after the first 37 cards in the 1934 Goudey set, the quality of the players presented drops off considerably with only the second Gehrig,  Greenberg, Ki Ki Cuyler and Red Rolfe holding much star power. The final card in the set, Jim DeShong, also holds value in higher grade. Card #s 4, 24, 48, 76, 79 and 95 are among the challenges for those putting together a high grade set.

Among the 19 Hall of Famers in the 1934 Goudey baseball set are Mickey Cochrane, Dizzy Dean, Charlie Gehringer, Frankie Frisch and Carl Hubbell, who may not be considered a household name today but commanded mega star attention in the mid-1930s. In fact, pitchers Dean, Hubbell and Lefty Grove are among the set’s second tier of valuable cards.

The 1934 Goudey checklist is below and you can see cards for sale and auction on eBay here.

1934 Goudey checklist:
1. Jimmie Foxx
2. Mickey Cochrane
3. Charlie Grimm
4. Woody English
5. Ed Brandt
6. Dizzy Dean
7. Leo Durocher
8. Tony Piet
9. Ben Chapman
10. Chuck Klein
11. Paul Waner
12. Carl Hubbell
13. Frank Frisch
14. Willie Kamm
15. Alvin Crowder
16. Joe Kuhel
17. Hugh Kritz
18. Heinie Manush
19. Lefty Grove
20. Frank Hogan
21. Bill Terry
22. Floyd Vaughan
23. Charley Gehringer
24. Ray Benge
25. Roger Cramer
26. Gerald Walker
27. Luke Appling
28. Ed Coleman
29. Larry French
30. Julius Solters
31. Baxter Jordan
32. John (Blondy) Ryan
33. Frank (Don) Hurst
34. Charles (Chick) Hafey
35. Ernie Lombardi
36. Walter (Huck) Betts
37. Lou Gehrig
38. Oral Hildebrand
39. Fred Walker
40. John Stone
41. George Earnshaw
42. John Allen
43. Dick Porter
44. Tom Bridges
45. Oscar Melillo
46. Joe Stripp
47. John Frederick
48. James (Tex) Carleton
49. Sam Leslie
50. Walter Beck
51. Jim (Rip) Collins
52. Herman Bell
53. George Watkins
54. Wesley Schulmerich
55. Ed Holley
56. Mark Koenig
57. Bill Swift
58. Earl Grace
59. Joe Mowry
60. Lynn Nelson
61. Lou Gehrig
62. Henry Greenberg
63. Minter Hayes
64. Frank Grube
65. Cliff Bolton
66. Mel Harder
67. Bob Weiland
68. Bob Johnson
69. John Marcum
70. Ervin (Pete) Fox
71. Lyle Tinning
72. Arndt Jorgens
73. Ed Wells
74. Bob Boken
75. Bill Werber
76. Hal Trotsky
77. Joe Vosmik
78. Frank (Pinkey) Higgins
79. Eddie Durham
80. Marty McManus
81. Bob Brown
82. Bill Hallahan
83. Jim Mooney
84. Paul Derringer
85. Adam Comorosky
86. Lloyd Johnson
87. George Darrow
88. Homer Peel
89. Linus Frey
90. Ki-Ki Cuyler
91. Dolph Camilli
92. Steve Larkin
93. Fred Ostermueller
94. Red Rolfe
95. Myril Hoag
96. Jim DeShong
About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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  1. [...] others.  Goudey issued a smaller set, without Ruth but advertised by Gehrig the next year.  The 1934 Goudey baseball set is much more affordable if slightly less power-packed.  Goudey also produced other, less popular [...]

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