An Introduction to Nonsense, Really
The R321 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 cards are popular with collectors for any number of reasons. They are easily identifiable as they were the only 1930s Goudey baseball issue featuring four players on a card.
The cards are also unique because the backs included puzzle pieces to create larger black and white pictures of individual players or teams. While there are 114 front and back combinations needed to assemble all of the nine puzzles, a total of 36 card fronts exist in the set. Here’s one man’s feeble attempt to rank all 36 in terms of star power included on each one.
A few things to keep in mind here.
First, card values were largely unimportant to me. This is primarily (although, not entirely), about who’s on the card. If we were ranking this solely be how much the card is worth, it’s a much less arbitrary list – and what fun is that?
Second, it was also hard to rate players using certain merits like All-Star selections. All-Star games didn’t begin until 1933 so players that had completed the bulk of their careers before that would be penalized if All-Star appearances were weighed too significantly. I reference them but they aren’t the be all end all – particular for players that would have racked up a ton of them if they had the benefit of playing when All-Star games existed.
A final point is that what I said earlier is key – this is an arbitrary list. Yours is likely different. And if you asked me to rank them again tomorrow, mine probably would be, too. Don’t take it too seriously.
Names on each card are listed alphabetically.
The Bottom Feeders
36. (tie) Ethan Allen, Fred Brickell, Bubber Jonnard, Jimmie Wilson
36. (tie) Ray Benge, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Mark Koenig, Tom Zachary
36. (tie) Larry Benton, Ben Cantwell, Flint Rhem, Al Spohrer
36. (tie) George Blaeholder, Dick Coffman, Oscar Melillo, Sam West
36. (tie) Cy Blanton, Babe Herman, Tom Padden, Gus Suhr
36. (tie) Ed Brandt, Fred Frankhouse, Shanty Hogan, Gene Moore
36. (tie) Jack Burns, Frank Grube, Rollie Hemsley, Bob Weiland
36. (tie) Gilly Campbell, Ival Goodman, Alex Kampouris, Billy Myers
36. (tie) Watty Clark, Lonny Frey, Sam Leslie, Joe Stripp
36. (tie) Ed Coleman, Doc Cramer, Bob Johnson, Johnny Marcum
36. (tie) Mel Harder, Bill Knickerbocker, Lefty Stewart, Joe Vosmik
36. (tie) Joe Kuhel, Buddy Myer, John Stone, Earl Whitehill
What is a Bubber Jonnard? Gilly Campbell? I mean, who are some of these people?
Now, to be fair, there are a lot of quality players here that went on to pretty nice careers. Jimmie Wilson, for example, played nearly 20 years, was a two-time All-Star, and won a couple of rings. Joe Vosmik was a career .307 hitter. But overall, there’s just not much to get excited about here. And if you think I’m going to sit here and distinguish between the careers of guys like Gus Suhr and Tom Padden (Suhr was better, by the way), you’ve got another thing coming. No Hall of Famers here and just hard to differentiate too much.
The Non-Bottom Feeders
24. Sammy Byrd, Danny MacFayden, Pepper Martin, Bob O’Farrell
23. Johnny Allen, Jimmie DeShong, Red Rolfe, Dixie Walker
No Hall of Famers here but these cards should be ranked a little higher than the others. Martin was named to four All-Star teams and O’Farrell was an MVP in the pre-All-Star era. O’Farrell was one of the top catchers in the game and would have likely made a few teams had they been established earlier than 1933 (he played from 1915 to 1935).
Allen won a ring and in 1937, was TSN’s Major League Player of the Year. Rolfe was a four-time All-Star and won five rings before nearly winning a pennant as manager of the Detroit Tigers. Walker was a five-time All-Star, won a batting title, and nearly won two MVP Awards, finishing second in 1946 and third in 1944.
Limited Star Power
22. (tie) Sparky Adams, Jim Bottomley, Adam Comorosky, Tony Piet
22. (tie) Luke Appling, Jimmy Dykes, George Earnshaw, Luke Sewell
22. (tie) Earl Averill, Oral Hildebrand, Willie Kamm, Hal Trosky
22. (tie) Max Bishop, Bill Cissell, Joe Cronin, Carl Reynolds
22. (tie) Zeke Bonura, Jackie Hayes, Mule Haas, Ted Lyons
22. (tie) Jim Bottomley, Adam Comorosky, Willis Hudlin, Glenn Myatt
22. (tie) Bump Hadley, Lyn Lary, Heinie Manush, Monte Weaver
15 cards in and we finally hit some Hall of Famers. But while each of these cards have one guy in Cooperstown, there’s not a whole lot here outside of that. Save for the one great player, most of these cards would be in the bottom feeder level. With a Hall of Famer, their cards are definitely more desirable. But these are the lower end greats and don’t command too much more than commons do.
15. Alvin Crowder, Goose Goslin, Firpo Marberry, Heinie Schuble
14. Rick Ferrell, Wes Ferrell, Fritz Ostermueller, Bill Werber
13. Red Lucas, Tommy Thevenow, Pie Traynor, Glenn Wright
12. Charlie Berry, Bobby Burke, Red Kress, Dazzy Vance
The Traynor/Vance cards also have a sole Hall of Famer but I still rank them a little higher because the Hall of Famers are bigger names. Both fell a little short of the guys mentioned in the next tier but they’re also better than the guys behind them so their cards fit in the middle. Traynor was a career .320 hitter and Vance led the league in strikeouts seven times, won the pitcher’s Triple Crown, and won an MVP.
Finally, Goslin and Rick Ferrell are lower-end Hall of Famers, but their cards are both boosted by two strong pitchers in Crowder and Wes Ferrell, each of whom had multiple 20-game seasons. For that reason, I ranked them a little ahead of the last group, too.
Heavy Hitters, Sort Of
11. Travis Jackson, Gus Mancuso, Hal Schumacher, Bill Terry
Two Hall of Famers and Mancuso and Schumacher each received two All-Star nominations, so how doesn’t this card rank higher? I think you can make that argument but at the end of the day for me, neither Terry nor Jackson is anywhere close to the big name draws of some other players ahead of them.
10. Dick Bartell, Hughie Critz, Gus Mancuso, Mel Ott
9. Jimmie Foxx, Pinky Higgins, Roy Mahaffey, Dib Williams
8. Pete Fox, Hank Greenberg, Gee Walker, Schoolboy Rowe
How on earth do you separate Greenberg and Ott? Ott had the bigger career numbers but Greenberg won two MVPs, missed about 4 1/2 years of his prime due to World War II, and won two World Series’ to Ott’s one. Greenberg was the better player but Ott did it longer. So in their case, it comes down to who else is on the card. Greenberg edges out Ott here because all four players on the card made at least one All-Star game appearance as opposed to three on Ott’s card. But ask me tomorrow and I might give you a different answer.
Foxx, who I’d rank ahead of both players, is stuck in the middle here by virtue of a card that doesn’t include much else. Higgins was an All-Star but Mahaffey and Williams were non-factors here. In all, though, you could probably mix these three cards up entirely and not get any argument from me.
The Big Three’s Big Three
7. Guy Bush, Waite Hoyt, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner
6. Kiki Cuyler, Woody English, Burleigh Grimes, Chuck Klein
5. Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, Pat Malone, Red Ruffing
These cards don’t have the flashy name as either of the last group but, well, they each have three Hall of Famers. I can listen to the argument that monster names are lacking here, but sorry, I’m not slotting these any lower. Yes, the Hall of Famers are weaker by comparison but when 3/4 of the card is comprised of Hall of Famers, it makes it hard to rank any lower.
A card with two, as in the case of the Jackson/Terry card, can rank lower for me. But three would just be ignoring too much talent when you’re comparing them to cards with only one.
4. Mickey Cochrane, Willie Kamm, Muddy Ruel, Al Simmons
This is one of two Cochrane cards with two Hall of Famers but it ranks slightly lower than the other. Cochrane’s credentials don’t really need to be repeated, but he was a two-time MVP, won a World Series as both the player and manager, was a player/manager on another team that won a pennant, and won three World Series titles while playing only 13 years. He was also arguably the top defensive catcher of his time. If he was the only Hall of Famer, this card would be further down the list since his name isn’t any bigger than the guys in the Heavy Hitters section above. But the presence of a second Hall of Famer, Al Simmons, gives it quite a boost. Simmons won two batting titles, won two World Series, and finished in the top five of MVP voting four different times.
3. Tex Carleton, Dizzy Dean, Frankie Frisch, Ernie Orsatti
Dean obviously makes up a large chunk of this card and he was one of the best pitchers of the era. His 1934 season (30-7 with a league-leading 195 strikeouts and seven shutouts) is one of the all-time best, winning him an MVP award. In only six seasons where he pitched the bulk of the year, he finished in MVP voting three times and led the league in strikeouts four times. He was also a four-time All-Star and won a World Series. Like Cochrane’s card at No. 4, he is joined here by another significant Hall of Famer in Charlie Frankie Frisch. Frisch won four World Series titles, won an MVP, and the led the league in several categories throughout his career, including hits, runs, stolen bases, and total bases. He nearly won a second MVP title, finishing second in 1927. As a manager, Frisch also made an impact winning a World Series (as a player/manager) and winning more than 1,100 games. Orsatti was also a career .306 hitter. Really strong card.
2. Tommy Bridges, Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell
Cochrane’s second card in the set is a gem. It not only includes the star catcher, but also a second Hall of Famer in Charlie Gehringer. Gehringer was the 1937 MVP and the runner-up for the award in 1934 (falling just short to teammate Cochrane). Twice, he led the league in runs, hits, and doubles, and he led the league in batting average in 1937. Those two players make it similar to No. 3 and No. 4 on the list but it’s boosted a bit by Bridges. That, ultimately, is the reason I slotted it higher than the last two.
A somewhat underrated player, Bridges won two World Series titles and was named to six All-Star teams. The pitcher led the league in strikeouts twice and won more than 20 games in three consecutive seasons. Again, though, if you jumbled the last three cards in this group, it would be difficult to argue. You could make a good case for virtually any order.
1. Ed Brandt, Rabbit Maranville, Marty McManus, Babe Ruth
Ruth is the very last player listed in this article and it’s somewhat ironic because he’s easily the biggest draw in the set. 1935 was Ruth’s last season and while he’s shown in a Yankees uniform (the picture is a closeup of one of his 1933 Goudey cards when he was still in New York), the card does list him as a member of the Braves.
As if the card needed more star power, it also includes Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville. Maranville is mostly considered a ‘lesser’ Hall of Famer, but he was one of the top defensive shortstops of his generation and also nearly won two MVP awards, finishing third and second, respectively, in 1913 and 1914.