The 1933 Goudey set launched what eventually became the standard by which baseball cards were issued. They were a kids product so why wouldn’t they be packaged with gum? Bubble gum and baseball cards went together like peanut butter and jelly. Kids chased multiple Babe Ruth cards, yelled when a Lou Gehrig popped out of a pack and in the Midwest, dug Dizzy Dean. Over time, those cards, along with a few others, became highly sought after–and expensive–in high grade. You can’t touch a really decent looking Ruth for less than $1,500. All is not lost, though, if you’re looking for Hall of Fame relics, respectable in grade and price.
Here are five all-time greats on 1933 Goudey cards that might work within your budget and give your collection a little Cooperstown quality. Click the player’s name to see his cards on eBay.
1) Carl Hubbell: Make no mistake, this was a superstar. If you were transported back to 1933, you might find his name mentioned almost as often as that of the Babe. He won 24 straight games at the height of his career in the 1930s. In the ’34 All-Star Game, he struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin–all would wind up in the Hall. A nine-time All-Star, Hubbell’s screwball kept hitters guessing from 1928-1943. He has two cards in the ’33 Goudey set, #230 and 234. The former is a horizontal action image and other shows a capless Carl relaxing. Both are unique. Either one is worthy of your investment, which won’t be as much as you’d think.
2) Charlie Gehringer: He hit .320 over his long career with the Detroit Tigers (1924-1942) and it’s the offense that most fans think about when it comes to “The Mechanical Man”. He was also one of the best fielding second basemen of the century. When the spotlight got brighter, Gehringer got better. It’s hard to call him underrated, but his cards are still reasonably affordable and when you learn what he was all about, you’ll be glad you own at least one.
3) Rogers Hornsby: This guy hit .358–for his career. Only Ty Cobb was better. He hit .400 or better three times. A different era, yes, but Hornsby’s greatness has never been in dispute. His career was in a weird spiral by the time his two 1933 Goudey cards hit the market. Not always easy to get along with, he was a player manager with the St. Louis Browns for the last half of the year and played sparingly until the end of his career, despite still having superior hitting skills. Had he played in a big market during his prime, his cards would be worth more than they are. Hornsby is pictured as a manager and on another of those beautiful horizontal cards making a play in the field.
4) Bill Terry: This old Giant had a lot of pride. As a senior citizen, still signing autographs through the mail during the 1970s, he would autograph index cards “Wm H. “Bill” Terry”. Eighty-two years ago, he hit .401 and no National League hitter has done it since. His career averaage was .341. A standout playing career was followed by a managerial stint. He did both in ’33, leading the Giants to a World Series championship after starting in the first-ever All-Star Game. Simply one of the game’s all-time legends. Shop smart and you can buy a nice ‘5’ for less than $200.
5) Hack Wilson: The ultimate shooting star, Hack Wilson was dead before the age of 50. His playing career–and his life–cut short by alcoholism and fighting, Wilson was one of the game’s most feared hitters during his brief prime. You almost have to have a baseball card of a guy who once hit 56 home runs and drove in 191 in a season, don’t you? Live ball or not, that’s raking.
Not only are you buying a Hall of Famer’s cards (although some would debate the selection), you’re buying a conversation piece, especially if you’re around Cubs fans. You can often buy a VG-EX model for around $160 but this is often a tough card to find for sale.