Why Was a Trio of Retired Hall of Famers in the 1933 Goudey Set?

To the surprise of some, the landmark set includes three Hall of Fame players that had actually concluded their careers

The 1933 Goudey set is one of the most famous baseball card sets of all time. But while the set includes mostly current players, three Hall of Famers are found in it, even though their careers had ended.

But why were they included over active players? Let’s take a look at all three and see if we can determine why they were selected for inclusion.

Nap Lajoie

33g-106-lajoieThe card of Nap Lajoie is obviously the key card in the entire set. The card was not included in packs in 1933 and was reportedly printed in 1934 only after customers began asking for the missing No. 106 card. Many collectors feel that Goudey intentionally did not print a card No. 106 in the 1933 set to ensure kids would continue buying more packs looking for it. That theory, though, has not been proven.

It remains one of the most important cards in history. Other cards are more valuable but the story behind it has made an iconic card.

Interestingly enough, Lajoie had long since ended his career. His last major league season was in 1916, 17 years before this set was even printed. So why Lajoie? That’s tough to say, obviously. And of the three retired players, his inclusion is the biggest mystery.

Why Lajoie was selected for the set when he hadn’t played in nearly two decades is likely a mystery that will never be solved. I actually have wondered if Ty Cobb could have possibly been a choice for this card.

Today, the Lajoie card sells for five figures, even in low-grade condition.

1933 Goudey Tris SpeakerTris Speaker

Hall of Famer Tris Speaker is a second retired player in the set.

Speaker had not been out of action nearly as long as Lajoie, though he was retired. He last played in the majors in 1928, so he was five years removed from being active. Still, why include Speaker, who was retired nonetheless, at all?

Well, the answer lies partly on the back in his biography. Maybe not an answer, per se, but at least somewhat of an explanation.

At the time of release, Speaker was not a major league player. But he was still involved in the sport as a part of owner of the minor league Kansas City Blues and he also served as the team’s manager at one point. Interestingly, Speaker is shown in full uniform, swinging a bat, giving the appearance that he was still an active player.

Since the set did include some minor league players, Speaker’s card is not as out of place as it might seem.

Eddie Collins

Eddie Collins 1933 GoudeyEddie Collins’ card isn’t exactly hidden in the set but it doesn’t seem to get as much notoriety as the Speaker card.

Collins is most famous for being a player on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team with eight players conspiring to lose games intentionally. But his final seasons were played with the Philadelphia Athletics. That was after he had spent nine seasons with that team in the beginning of his career.

His final major league game was played in 1930 but Collins had been barely playing. He played only a total of 12 games in 1929 and 1930, and even in 1928, he suited up in only 36 games. Like Speaker, Collins is shown in full uniform swinging a bat, making it seem like he was still a current player.

Posing the same question I did for Lajoie and Speaker, why was Collins included here? He had played in the majors more recently than those players but still had been retired for a few years.

Again, the back explains Collins’ current situation as he had become the vice president and business manager of the Boston Red Sox. Now, that doesn’t really sound like enough to be in the set. After all, how many team executives make their way into baseball card sets. But given that Collins was a star player, his inclusion makes more sense.

Also, consider his particular role. He worked in the front office for the Red Sox and Goudey was a Boston-based company. It was a way to include someone with ties to the Red Sox that also had a noteworthy career.

Follow Pre-War Cards on Twitter and also be sure to like our page on Facebook.