Stars of the 1933 DeLong Baseball Card Set

Bruce Amspacher
Mar 5, 2002

The DeLong Gum Company was a Boston-based firm that issued a 24-card baseball set in 1933. Whoever selected the players that appeared on the cards definitely had an eye for quality, as 15 of the 24 major leaguers went on to become Hall-of-Famers. The cards were made in a 2" by 3" format, featuring black-and-white player photos against a color background of a tiny ballpark.

The reverses of the DeLong cards do not carry a player bio; instead, there are tips on how to play the game. These tips weren't written by a noted player or coach as you might expect, but by Austen Lake, an editor at the Boston Transcript.

Here is a look at some of the all-time greats from this short but challenging set.

Jimmy Foxx: Foxx actually spelled his name J-I-M-M-I-E, but it was spelled "Jimmy" on the DeLong card, so that's how it is listed in the SMR for this series. Foxx was one of the greatest power hitters of all time, second only to Babe Ruth in career homers when he retired. He was also tied for second for most home runs in a season (58) before Maris, Sosa, and McGwire came along to push him down the list a little. The world of baseball records would have been changed forever if it weren't for rain, as Foxx had two home runs washed off the slate in his 58-homer year. He also hit .364 with 169 RBI in that remarkable season of 1932. After being traded from Philadelphia to the Boston Red Sox in 1936, Foxx put together another wondrous year in 1938, with 50 homers, 175 RBI, and a .349 average. He won three MVP awards, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951.

Al Simmons: By any name Simmons was a great player, and that includes his real one, which was Alois Szymanski. In his second year in the majors Simmons hit .387, smacked out an incredible 253 hits, and silenced the critics who said that his habit of "stepping into the bucket" when he swung would kill his career. After hitting .392 in 1927, Simmons had an "off year" as he fell to .351. Then he went on a rampage. In the Philadelphia Athletics' pennant-winning seasons of 1929-31 Simmons hit .365, .381, and .390 while winning two batting titles. After the 1932 season he was traded (!) because the Athletics were squeezed for cash due to the Great Depression. Simmons finished his 20-year career with a .334 lifetime average and over 2,900 hits. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.

Bill Terry: Who is the last National League player to hit .400? It's Bill Terry, who turned the feat in 1931 in a year when the league as a whole hit an amazing .303! Is there a pitcher in the house? Terry hit over .300 in eleven different seasons and retired with a career batting average of .341. He is perhaps the most famous for asking: "Is Brooklyn still in the league?" He posed that question while he was the player-manager of the New York Giants in 1934. The question came back to haunt him as the Dodgers knocked his Giants out of the pennant race in the final days of the season. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954.

Pie Traynor: This Hall of Famer was, like Bill Terry, a player-manager near the end of his illustrious career. For years Traynor was regarded as the greatest third baseman to ever play the game, but along came Mike Schmidt and that argument died in the dust. In his 17 years as a player he compiled a .320 lifetime batting average, a remarkable stat for a man who never won a batting crown. Traynor was regarded as the slickest-fielding third sacker of his day, and he must have been fast as well, as he smashed 164 triples in his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1948.

Rabbit Maranville: There aren't many lifetime .258 hitters in the Hall of Fame unless they were pitchers or became great umpires or baseball executives. The exception is Rabbit Maranville, who made it in on his glove and his love for the game. He was a member of the "Miracle Braves" of 1914, a team that came from last place in July to win the pennant and sweep the World Series. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954.

Lou Gehrig: What needs to be said?

Goose Goslin: Leon "Goose" Goslin was sort of like Reggie Jackson in one way: wherever he went to play, the league pennant seemed to follow. As a Washington Senator he helped his team win two pennants in the 1920s. After being traded to the St. Louis Browns, he wound up back in Washington in 1933 just in time for the third, and last, pennant in the history of the franchise. Goslin then took off for Detroit, where the Tigers won two consecutive pennants (1934-35), the first ones since 1909. With a lifetime average of .316 and over 1,600 RBI, Goslin was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968.

The other Hall of Fame players from the 1933 DeLong set are Charlie Gehringer, Mickey Cochrane, Kiki Cuyler, Freddie Lindstrom, Lefty Gomez, Chick Hafey, Chuck Klein, and the ultra-great Lefty Grove.