1933 Goudey

Goudey’s 1933 Big League Gum set initiated a Golden Age for collectibles. The cards' most recognizable feature is their 2-3/8" by 2-7/8" size (much bigger than their predecessors' considerably narrower dimensions), as well as colorful, artistic illustrations that set a modern standard in terms of eye-appeal. The issue consisted of 239 cards, with a 240th entry – the remarkably scarce Napoleon Lajoie #106 - produced in 1934 in response to consumer outcry and mailed to fans only upon request. Prominent among the 1933 series' content is an abundance of Hall of Famers. Highlights include four different Ruth portrayals, with #144 double-printed and thus found in packs at twice the rate of lesser figures. There are three cards of Joe Cronin (#s 63, 109 and 189) and two of Jimmy Foxx (#s 29 and 154), as well as two each of Hornsby, Hubbell and other luminaries. The 1933 Goudey cards were printed on ten different press sheets containing 24 cards apiece, and the subjects found on the first two of those sheets ("Low Numbers") are a bit scarcer than the issue's other entries. Goudey's 1933 cards were also printed on thicker cardboard stock than their tobacco card predecessors, with that thickness establishing the template for modern day cards.

Those who didn't actually live through it have difficulty imagining the mood in America during the post-Depression era. The time of the flappers gave way to a period of bread lines. What must have been a giddy feeling of 1920s prosperity, transformed reluctantly into an atmosphere of worry and desperation. The populace, accustomed to immediate gratification accompanied by the prospect of more in the offing, was now more receptive to small doses of pleasure, and sought distraction, however fleeting, from the overriding concerns of the day.

Whether by coincidence or not, the early 1930s posed the ideal environment for a positive change in the established configuration of gum and candy trading cards. Gum cards of the 1920s generally emulated their tobacco counterparts in size and format. Discreet and unimposing, those items (known in the industry as the "E"-card genre) afforded a limited opportunity for creativity in design; thus, collectors were comfortable with, but rarely dazzled by, the offerings that accompanied the confections of the day.

Into this sedate and demonstrably precedentdriven marketing environment, Goudey Gum Company of Boston launched its revolutionary "Big League Gum." For the first time, a packaged product (supposedly having undergone significant improvements in its own right) was threatened with being overshadowed by the gimmick with which it was distributed. Goudey's 1933 baseball cards enjoyed a highly auspicious debut and for reasons that immediately become apparent to anyone viewing the items, initiated a Golden Age for collectibles of their kind.

The new gum cards' most immediately recognizable and eye-catching feature is their size. Enlarged to 2 3/8" by 2 7/8" (much bigger than their predecessors' considerably narrower dimensions) Goudeys come well-equipped to display the magnificently colorful, artistic illustrations of ballplayers that quickly set a modern standard in terms of eye-appeal. The cards' physical enlargement also enabled the presentation of much more information on the backs. Previously, size constraints allowed just one or two lines of descriptive text, a limitation reinforced by the necessity of leaving room for the requisite advertising.

Goudey's 1933 cards were printed on thicker cardboard stock, too. Where tobacco and candy cards of the past, with their thin cardstock canvases, carried a delicate feel, the gum cards introduced an intriguing mode of substance; the cards were somehow sturdier, with more heft, than those that had come before. A pack for a penny was now an investment in a viable and not-inconsequential bundle containing a high-quality picture card and a serious slab of chewing gum, both neatly packaged within an attention-grabbing wrapper. This was a great deal ... especially in the throes of tough economic times.

Composition - The 1933 issue, strictly speaking, accounted for 239 cards. (A 240th entry - #106, produced in 1934 in response to consumer outcries - is another story altogether!) Most prominent among the series' content is an abundance of Hall of Famers, with multiple depictions of key personnel. It must have been a no-brainer for those Goudey employees charged with selecting athletes for inclusion to go heavy on Babe Ruth. Sure enough, there are four different Ruth portrayals, and one of those (#144) was double-printed and therefore, found in packs at twice the rate of lesser figures. There are three cards of Joe Cronin (#s 63, 109 and 189) and two of Jimmy Foxx (#s 29 and 154), as well as two each of Hornsby, Hubbell and other luminaries.

Redundancy isn't always a bad thing. It should be pointed out that Goudey quite sincerely sought to "give the customers what they want." The result of this intent was not only numerous star cards, but different ones of the most desired figures. (In one pack, for example, a buyer might find a no-nonsense portrait of Mel Ott, and in another, there could be a view of Ott's fearsome batting posture.) In those years before the widespread distribution of color photographs, these highly visual morsels were certainly received with great enthusiasm!

Key Features and Rarities - The 1933 Goudey cards were printed on ten different press sheets containing 24 cards apiece, and the subjects found on the first two of those sheets (the "Low Numbers") are a bit scarcer than the issue's other entries. In practice (again, excepting the anomaly posed by #106 Lajoie), realities governing differences in the popularity levels among individual players brought about a previously unheard of circumstance - demand scarcity - that had nothing to do with production numbers. Collectors naturally hungered for Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig portrayals; they were, and obviously still are, much more likely to pursue those depictions than ones featuring such athletes as George Uhle and Ed Brandt.

As an aside, it should be noted that 1933 Goudey included a number of minor leaguers too. We wonder how much success a New York youngster, seeking to obtain a Goudey card of Bill Dickey or Tony Lazzeri, would have had with only the likes of the New Orleans Pelicans' Eddie Moore and Dan Howley (the Toronto Maple Leafs' manager) in his for-trade portfolio.

Bottome Line - Sure, cards had been packaged with candy in the past. But, with its fabulous combination of larger size, creatively rendered and dramatically colorful images, and unbelievably powerful player selection, 1933 Goudey is almost indisputably acknowledged as the first meaningful gum card release. To many, on an emotional level, they're the first baseball cards, period.

Ironically, Goudey's subsequent products failed to fully capitalize on the groundwork laid by the spectacular and (apparently) inimitable 1933s. The concept's expression suffered abbreviation in 1934, and became distracted in 1935. The company's string of innovations had ceased altogether by the time the onset of World War II rendered such concerns frivolous. Nevertheless, the legacy of the 1933s remains intact, instantly recognizable to the viewer of almost any subsequent production.


1 Benny Bengough
2 Dazzy Vance
3 Hugh Critz
4 Heinie Schuble
5 Babe Herman
6 Jimmy Dykes (Age Is 26 In Bio)
6 Jimmy Dykes (Age Is 36 In Bio)
7 Ted Lyons
8 Roy Johnson
9 Dave Harris
10 Glenn Myatt
11 Billy Rogell
12 George Pipgras
13 Lafayette Thompson
14 Henry Johnson
15 Victor Sorrell
16 George Blaeholder
17 Watson Clark
18 Muddy Ruel
19 Bill Dickey
20 Bill Terry
21 Phil Collins
22 Pie Traynor
23 Ki Ki Cuyler
24 Horace Ford
25 Paul Waner
26 Chalmer Cissell
27 George Connally
28 Dick Bartell
29 Jimmy Foxx
30 Frank Hogan
31 Tony Lazzeri
32 Bud Clancy
33 Ralph Kress
34 Bob O'Farrell
35 Al Simmons
36 Tommy Thevenow
37 Jimmy Wilson
38 Fred Brickell
39 Mark Koenig
40 Taylor Douthit
41 Gus Mancuso
42 Eddie Collins
43 Lew Fonseca
44 Jim Bottomley
45 Larry Benton
46 Ethan Allen
47 Heinie Manush
48 Marty McManus
49 Frank Frisch
50 Ed Brandt
51 Charlie Grimm
52 Andy Cohen
53 Babe Ruth
54 Ray Kremer
55 Pat Malone
56 Charlie Ruffing
57 Earl Clark
58 Lefty O'Doul
59 Bing Miller
60 Waite Hoyt
61 Max Bishop
62 Pepper Martin
63 Joe Cronin
64 Burleigh Grimes
65 Milton Gaston
66 George Grantham
67 Guy Bush
68 Horace Lisenbee
69 Randy Moore
70 Pete Scott
71 Robert J. Burke
72 Owen Carroll
73 Jesse Haines
74 Eppa Rixey
75 Willie Kamm
76 Mickey Cochrane
77 Adam Comorosky
78 Jack Quinn
79 Red Faber
80 Clyde Manion
81 Sam Jones
82 Dibrell Williams
83 Pete Jablonowski
84 Glenn Spencer
85 Heinie Sand
86 Phil Todt
87 Frank O'Rourke
88 Russell Rollings
89 Tris Speaker
90 Jess Petty
91 Tom Zachary
92 Lou Gehrig
93 John Welch
94 Bill Walker
95 Alvin Crowder
96 Willis Hudlin
97 Joe Morrissey
98 Walter Berger
99 Tony Cuccinello
100 George Uhle
101 Richard Coffman
102 Travis C. Jackson
103 Earle Combs
104 Fred Marberry
105 Bernie Friberg
106 Napoleon Lajoie
107 Heinie Manush
108 Joe Kuhel
109 Joe Cronin
110 Goose Goslin
111 Monte Weaver
112 Fred Schulte
113 Oswald Bluege
114 Luke Sewell
115 Cliff Heathcote
116 Eddie Morgan
117 Rabbit Maranville
118 Val Picinich
119 Rogers Hornsby
120 Carl Reynolds
121 Walter Stewart
122 Alvin Crowder
123 Jack Russell
124 Earl Whitehill
125 Bill Terry
126 Joe Moore
127 Mel Ott
128 Chuck Klein
129 Harold Schumacher
130 Fred Fitzsimmons
131 Fred Frankhouse
132 Jim Elliott
133 Fred Lindstrom
134 Sam Rice
135 Woody English
136 Flint Rhem
137 Red Lucas
138 Herb Pennock
139 Ben Cantwell
140 Bump Hadley
141 Ray Benge
142 Paul Richards
143 Glenn Wright
144 Babe Ruth
145 George Walberg
146 Walter Stewart
147 Leo Durocher
148 Eddie Farrell
149 Babe Ruth
150 Ray Kolp
151 Jake Flowers
152 Zack Taylor
153 Buddy Myer
154 Jimmy Foxx
155 Joe Judge
156 Danny Macfayden
157 Sam Byrd
158 Moe Berg
159 Oswald Bluege
160 Lou Gehrig
161 Al Spohrer
162 Leo Mangum
163 Luke Sewell
164 Lloyd Waner
165 Joe Sewell
166 Sam West
167 Jack Russell
168 Goose Goslin
169 Al Thomas
170 Harry McCurdy
171 Charley Jamieson
172 Billy Hargrave
173 Roscoe Holm
174 Curley Ogden
175 Dan Howley
176 John Ogden
177 Walter French
178 Jackie Warner
179 Fred Leach
180 Eddie Moore
181 Babe Ruth
182 Andy High
183 George Walberg
184 Charley Berry
185 Bob Smith
186 John Schulte
187 Heinie Manush
188 Rogers Hornsby
189 Joe Cronin
190 Fred Schulte
191 Ben Chapman
192 Walter Brown
193 Lynford Lary
194 Earl Averill
195 Evar Swanson
196 Leroy Mahaffey
197 Rick Ferrell
198 Jack Burns
199 Tom Bridges
200 Bill Hallahan
201 Ernie Orsatti
202 Gabby Hartnett
203 Lonnie Warneke
204 Jackson Stephenson
205 Heinie Meine
206 Gus Suhr
207 Mel Ott
208 Bernie James
209 Adolfo Luque
210 Virgil Davis
211 Hack Wilson
212 Billy Urbanski
213 Earl Adams
214 John Kerr
215 Russell Van Atta
216 Vernon Gomez
217 Frank Crosetti
218 Wesley Ferrell
219 Mule Haas
220 Lefty Grove
221 Dale Alexander
222 Charley Gehringer
223 Dizzy Dean
224 Frank Demaree
225 Bill Jurges
226 Charley Root
227 Bill Herman
228 Tony Piet
229 Floyd Vaughan
230 Carl Hubbell
231 Joe Moore
232 Lefty O'Doul
233 Johnny Vergez
234 Carl Hubbell
235 Fred Fitzsimmons
236 George Davis
237 Gus Mancuso
238 Hugh Critz
239 Leroy Parmelee
240 Harold Schumacher