The 1933 DeLong set is one of the more popular issues for pre-war gum card collectors. The 1930s set features a really cool look with mostly black and white pictures of players against colorful backgrounds. If nothing else, they stand apart from other issues because of the aesthetics of the cards.
While the Goudey sets were unmistakably king in the 1930s, sets like the 1933 DeLong issue have long been held in high regard by collectors. One of the complexities with the set, however, is the checklist. The release had a total of only 24 cards and that meant stars were sure to be missing from it. Plenty of big names, including Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane and Jimmie Foxx were included. But the set is also missing some really important players.
Sure, 24 cards is not much. But even despite that low count, some of those who aren’t included are simply head-scratchers. About the only conclusion that can be drawn for their lack of a presence in the set is that they were due some sort of contractual issues.
Here are five Hall of Fame players missing from the popular set.
Ruth is the no-brainer of no-brainers here. He was featured heavily in Goudey’s 1933 set with a total of four cards before disappearing from their 1934 set altogether.
At the time, Ruth’s career was certainly winding down. Still, by 1933, Ruth was still a pretty good hitter. He had 34 home runs that year 104 runs batted in. Furthering that point, he led the majors with 114 walks and would be named as an All-Star. The rest of his career, of course, needs little in the way of introduction.
Ruth, to many, is the top baseball player of all time. There’s no doubt his inclusion would have done wonders for the DeLong set.
Dizzy Dean was one of baseball’s best pitchers in the 1930s. And while Goudey thought enough of him to include him in their 1933 set, DeLong either did not or could not.
Dean missing here is certainly more understandable than a player like Ruth. In 1932, the year before this set was issued, he was a somewhat pedestrian 18-15 with a 3.30 ERA, which would actually be one of his higher marks of his career. But he also showed tremendous promise, leading the majors in strikeouts (191) and in shutouts (four). His 286 innings pitched were also a league best.
The hurler had a short career and unfortunately did not wind up in as many sets as he probably should have. His omission here is even more disappointing when considered in that regard.
Another amazing pitcher left out on the outside looking in was Carl Hubbell.
With 253 career wins Hubbell’s name is mentioned in the same breath as all-time greats, such as Walter Johnson, Cy Young, or Christy Mathewson. But he was not only one of the best pitchers of his era but also one of the best overall players.
That fact is evidenced by his two Most Valuable Player Awards. His first one, ironically, came in 1933 when this set was produced. That made his omission even more startling in hindsight. In 1933, he would lead the league in wins, ERA, and shutouts.
Hubbell was found in other sets that year but collectors won’t find him in the DeLong set.
Back to position players, Mel Ott is another notable player missed.
By 1933, Ott had become one of the game’s top power hitters. He clubbed a career-high 42 home runs in 1929 and his career 511 long balls remain one of the highest totals in major league history.
Beyond that, Ott was proving to be more than just a home run hitter. And after his 1932 season, it is difficult to understand why he did not make it into the DeLong set. In 1932, he led the league in home runs (38), walks (100), and on-base percentage (.424). After finishing with that kind of season, you’d expect to see him here.
Ott, though, like the others, is missing in action.
Cobb is certainly a big enough name to be in the set. The issue, of course, is that his playing career had ended five years earlier after the 1928 season.
So if Cobb hadn’t even been an active player, why is he an omission? The fact is that many players were often featured on cards even after their careers had ended. In the early 1930s in particular, Cobb appeared in other gum card sets. He is found in both the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set as well as the 1930s U.S. Caramel card set, for example — the same time this set was released.
I can understand Cobb not being included in the set more than others on this list. However, given what other gum card sets were doing at the same time, it wouldn’t have been a shock to see him in DeLong’s set, too.
Not including any of the above players means the 1933 DeLong set is a little more affordable for collectors today, but it would be a lot more fun to at least have the chance to chase some of them.