Obscure Card of the Month: 1934 Schutter Johnson I’m Going to be a Baseball Player
Since I collect a variety of sports cards in addition to some non-sports stuff, one of my favorite things to collect in the pre-war era are sports cards that are in mostly non-sports sets. One of those is found in a somewhat rare 1930s gum card set issued by Schutter-Johnson, a candy company.
Schutter-Johnson is probably a bit more famous for another 1930s set they created that focused solely on baseball cards. This set instead focused on occupations. Its formal title is mostly considered to be the, “I’m Going to Be” set, even if that isn’t all that catchy. But that’s the title that is found on the backs of the cards at the top as a lead in to a description of a particular occupation. It was also found on the wrappers of these cards, which tell us that they were sold for one cent with a piece of gum, like many other gum packages in the time period.
This set is commonly called a 1934 issue but is also sometimes simply called a 1930s set with some dating questions. It is listed as R72 in the American Card Catalog. And like other 1930s gum card sets, these are a bit thicker than earlier candy cards. In terms purely of thickness, they are about the same as Goudey’s 1930s cards. One difference, though, is that they are a bit more rectangular in shape than many other 1930s issues.
Most of the occupations are not sports related. However, a few do depict athletes for sports, including wrestling, swimming, horse racing, auto racing, track and field, boxing, and baseball. It’s the baseball card (No. 19 in the set) of that group, obviously, that gets the attention.
Shown on the front of that card is a generic baseball scene with a baserunner sliding into home with a catcher trying to make a tag and an umpire in the background. No specific players are referenced, which has really limited the card’s value over the years, despite it being a relatively difficult card to find.
The back of the card includes a description of baseball, which reads as follows:
“Hear those crowds in the stands thunder and yell their joy as you sock out a homer, over the center bleachers and across the street. Boy, that’s sport! When you’re out in the field, is there anything as nice as the feel of a hot liner as it smacks into your glove? Or maybe it’s a fast grounder that you cover and throw to first. A cool breeze, a warm, sunny day, and the old glove working perfectly. Let’s go!”
While the baseball card is very popular with collectors, unlike in other mixed sets, it is actually not the most valuable card. That distinction belongs to a rare card for what is called a strongman. With only a couple of known copies, that card was intentionally shortprinted to limit prize redemptions, as Schutter-Johnson offered a prize of a baseball mitt, a watch, or a pair of roller skates in exchange for a complete set. By shortprinting that card, they were able to limit the number of prizes they had to distribute.
But beyond that rare card, the baseball card is certainly the key one in the set. When you can find it, it usually starts in the $25-$50 range in low-grade condition, though that price probably is not commensurate with its rarity. It is a fairly tough card to find and to date, PSA has only graded a little more than 20 of them.