Plenty of Stars Missing from the 1934 Goudey Set
The 1934 Goudey has a lot of big names but it’s arguably missing even more
In 1933, Goudey created the most famous pre-war gum card set of all time. To most collectors, it makes up the Big Three of baseball card sets along with the famous T206 release and the equally popular 1952 Topps set.
Goudey tried again in 1934 to make another iconic set but mostly fell flat in its efforts. The set used many of the same images from the 1933 set and it just wasn’t nearly as special the second time around.
That do-over wasn’t the only reason the set was a bit underwhelming. That’s because, the 96-card set was noticeably smaller than the 240-card 1933 edition. And that smaller checklist meant, well, fewer big names.
To be perfectly fair, the 1934 set did feature Lou Gehrig twice and Gehrig headlined the set, providing commentary on players depicted in it, making for a somewhat unique ploy. But it was still missing quite a bit.
Let’s take a closer look.
The most glaring weakness, of course, was the absence of the legendary Babe Ruth.
Ruth, who headlined the 1933 set with four cards, was entirely absent from this one. The reason remains unclear, though all kinds of speculation has included the fact that Ruth and Gehrig were not good friends creating a potential conflict. But Ruth’s four cards in the 1933 set are, aside from the shortprinted Nap Lajoie card, the most value ones in the entire release.
Whatever the reason he did not have any cards in it, his absence is the easiest one to spot. And after having four cards in the previous year, the 1934 set not even including one Ruth card is a major letdown.
Ruth’s career was certainly at its end. But he still clubbed 34 home runs in 1933 and led the league in walks that year. Even without those credentials, I mean, he was still Babe Ruth. And Goudey including him in their 1935 set after a somewhat down 1934 season (by his standards — 22 home runs, .288 batting average) showed he was still a big draw.
Ruth is the biggest name that was MIA but there’s much more missing from this set, too.
Other Hall of Famers
In addition to Ruth, there are several other Hall of Famers that were included in 1933 but not 1934. Actually, make that many other Hall of Famers that were missing.
Those include the likes of Tris Speaker, Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott, Hack Wilson, Pie Traynor, Tony Lazzeri, Al Simmons, Eddie Collins, Lefty Gomez, and Joe Cronin. Many other Hall of Famers are not found in the 1934 set, either, including Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Bill Dickey, Earl Averill, Red Ruffing, Waite Hoyt, Burleigh Grimes, Red Faber, Goose Goslin, Rick Ferrell, Rabbit Maranville, Fred Lindstrom, Herb Pennock, Arky Vaughan, Billy Herman, Sam Rice, Lloyd Waner, Gabby Hartnett, Joe Sewell, and Earle Combs. You’re talking quite a few guys that are nowhere to be found.
The lack of Ott is particularly noticeable. Ott had two cards in the 1933 set and was one of the game’s premier power hitters at the time. Other than maybe a contract dispute, frankly, it’s difficult to understand why he and others were not called upon again.
Now, to be fair, some of those players featured in the 1933 set were actually retired. Speaker had been done playing for several seasons as was Collins. Faber’s and Sewell’s last season was 1933. Still, the majority of those guys were active and are very real omissions.
A Missing Spy and Other Stars
Additionally, the 1934 set did not include Moe Berg. Berg was not a legendary player but as he would go on to become a spy for the U.S. after his playing days, his cards are highly desirable.
Berg’s absence in the 1934 set is not without understanding because, well, he wasn’t a big name. But it’s another valuable card missing from that set and the set is also devoid of stars that were in the 1933 set such as the popular Lefty O’Doul and several All-Stars, including Frank Crosetti.
A Grand Chase Card
Finally, it’s worth a mention that the card also does not include the valuable chase card that the 1933 set does in the Lajoie card.
That, of course, was by design as Goudey did not print a card No. 106 in the 1933 set and then produced Goudey in 1934 to address collector complaints. Still, if we’re looking at things missing from the 1934 set, a major chase card is one of them. After all, the Lajoie 1933 card is one of the reasons for the set’s widespread appeal. The lack of any kind of rare, expensive card like that is yet another glaring hole.
The 1934 Goudey set isn’t exactly a train wreck and to suggest that it’s not even a good set is off the mark. There are a sufficient number of big names in it and, if we’re being honest, it’s still Goudey’s second best set, which is saying quite a bit given the popularity of their cards in the 1930s. But it fell well short of the 1933 set and the biggest reason for that is the fact that so many big names are missing from it.