The 1941 Goudey Set has a Little-Referenced Wartime Tribute Card
A common player has a special card in Goudey’s final set
The 1941 Goudey set was the company’s final baseball card release. Despite the company’s long and storied history, the set has all sorts of problems, including miscuts, a poor checklist, and a generally weak design.
Still, because the cards are rare, they hold a good amount of value. And while the set may be short on stars, it includes one pretty interesting common in the set.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Hugh Mulcahy is card No. 1 in the set. While the first card in any set is not necessarily a star, Mulcahy’s presence as the first card in the set makes some degree of sense. And like other cards in the set, Mulcahy has four color variations — red, blue, green, and yellow.
The 1941 Goudey set was issued during World War II. The United States’ involvement wouldn’t really come until December of that year with the bombing of Pearl Harbor but Mulcahy found himself involved before then as he was drafted in March of 1941.
As SABR notes, according to a teammate, Mulcahy was seen as somewhat of a hero among baseball players as he was the first major leaguer to be drafted into the U.S. Army. And this site gives a bit of insight into his Army days:
Mulcahy’s service took to him to Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and the Second Army Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. He was then deployed overseas to the Pacific Theatre to New Guinea and the Philippines as he rose to the rank of Master Sergeant.
Mulcahy never saw combat duty as, like many major leaguers in the service, he played in a series of baseball games that were designed to entertain the troops and keep their morale high. However, Mulcahy contracted dysentery in 1945 while in the Philippines, lost 30 pounds, and was discharged in July with a Bronze Star.
His 1941 Goudey card took note of that distinction. While other cards in the set only included a player’s name, team, and position on the front, the bottom of Mulcahy’s card cites him as the “First Major Leaguer to be drafted in U.S. Army.”
While that was a nice way to recognize him, the reality is that, like many players, Mulcahy’s baseball career was harmed as a result.
An All-Star for the only time in his career in 1940, Mulcahy would go on to miss the next four years due to military service. Missing those was particularly painful for Mulcahy as he was 27 through 30 years of age in those years meaning he did not get to pitch during arguably the prime of his career.
Mulcahy did return to the majors in 1945. But he only saw limited action through 1947 before playing his last major league game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mulcahy would pitch in the minor leagues a bit after that but never regained the promise he once had.
The card is not one that is incredibly desired and still sells for the price of other commons. In decent lower-grade condition, it starts around $20-$25. But if you’re interested in a unique type card at a low price, it’s not a bad pickup and has a nice story behind it.