The 1933-34 Goudey Sport Kings set includes 48 cards of athletes and sports legends from various sports. Of most interest to American collectors are the baseball cards (Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Carl Hubbell) and the three football cards of Red Grange, Knute Rockne, and Jim Thorpe.
The set is not collected by everyone and some of the sports in it are considered to be quite minor by comparison to the baseball cards. As I cover here in greater detail, there’s a lot more than baseball in the set. But it is one of the more important multi-sport sets for its inclusion of all of those sports as well as other legendary athletes. And since it includes such a hodgepodge of subjects, it’s a remarkable set with plenty of big names across a wide range of athletics.
Unsurprisingly, the cards have a similar size/design of the popular 1933 Goudey baseball card set and are printed on a similar, if not same, thicker-style of cardstock. However, they are much more scarce than that issue and it’s clear that not nearly as many were of these were printed.
In addition to the famous athletes already mentioned, the set boasts plenty of other recognizable names, including boxer Jack Dempsey, track and field star Babe Didrikson, tennis’ Bill Tilden, and golf’s Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. A few hockey players exist as well, including stars Howie Morenz and Ace Bailey. One of the more expensive cards in the set is that of famous female athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Her name was misspelled as Didrickson on the card but that doesn’t stop it from starting around $400-$600 in low-grade condition.
Another interesting aspect of the set is that it includes a father/son duo. Featured in the 48-card issue are cyclists Bobby Walthour, Jr. and Bobby Walthour, Sr. In addition, all kinds of other sports are here, including wrestling, skating, and even swimming, with the legendary Duke Kahanamoku, who popularized the sport of surfing.
The most expensive card in the set is easily that of Babe Ruth. But Jim Thorpe and Ty Cobb are also heavy hitters as well. The Ruth card typically starts around $2,000-$3,000 in low-grade condition.
One Set Spanning Two Years
Almost all references to this set list it as a 1933 issue. However, the set actually spanned two years with printing in 1934.
Cards numbered 1-24 have a 1933 copyright while cards 25-48 have a 1934 copyright. The 1934 cards are not rare, per se, but they are less common than the 1933 issues.
Most confusion surrounding the set has come from all of the cards having sequential numbering. The 1934 cards pick up with No. 25, making for the creation of one large set. However, while the one set concept may hold true, this is essentially two separate series’.
While plenty of other cards in the set are valuable, baseball is a primary focus for collectors.
As mentioned, the Ruth card is the most valuable one in the set. Even low-grade examples are expensive. But the card of Cobb is also a pricey one. Cobb’s cards in low-grade condition usually start around $800-$1,000. The unique thing about his card is that it is actually a post-career card. Cobb’s career ended a few years before production of this set.
The third baseball card in the set is one featuring pitcher Carl Hubbell. Even as a Hall of Famer, Hubbell’s name does not come close to being in the same conversation as Ruth and Cobb. Nevertheless, he was a dominant pitcher of his era and, as I explained here, there was good reason for him to be included.
Still, Hubbell’s cards are worth much less than those of Ruth and Cobb. You can get Hubbell cards from this set starting around $200-$250.
First Pro Basketball Cards
Also noteworthy is that the set includes some of the few pre-war basketball cards. While basketball didn’t start to gain major popularity until the 1940s, some pre-war basketball cards do exist and the most well-known ones are probably found in this set.
The basketball cards, in fact, are often called the first ones featuring professional players.
This set included four basketball players – Nat Holman, Ed Wachter, Joe Lapchick, and Eddie Burke. Three of the four basketball players included (Holman, Wachter, and Lapchick) were Hall of Famers. Lapchick’s card is interesting because it features a rather awful typo with his name spelled as ‘Lopchick’.
The basketball cards in terms of the pricing have a bit of a premium attached them. Even in low-grade condition, it’s difficult to find them under $75.