Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and … Carl Hubbell — How the Pitcher Earned His 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Appearance

Some have questioned Carl Hubbell’s inclusion as one of three baseball players in the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings set — but he was well deserving

Goudey’s 1933 Sport Kings issue is perhaps the most famous multi-sport set of the pre-war era. There are many reasons for that, including the diversity of star athletes across the spectrum of sports.

While there are plenty of big names in the set, arguably the key cards belong to Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, two of the three baseball players in the release. Goudey could have chosen from any number of big name talents for its third baseball card.

They could have selected from a laundry list of former players. After all, they went to former player Nap Lajoie for their ‘missing’ 1933 card in their primary baseball set after he’d been gone for nearly two decades. Goudey’s baseball set also included other retired players, such as the likes of Tris Speaker. Even Cobb, who appears in the set with Ruth, had been out of baseball for several seasons. Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson — you name it.

If they wanted to stick with a current player, there was also no shortage of options. Lou Gehrig, who would become the face of the company’s 1934 set, was one of the most popular players in the game. There were other legendary figures and chief among them, even ahead of Gehrig at the time, may have been Jimmie Foxx. Foxx had not only just won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award but he also won the Triple Crown in 1933 (and we know from the card backs that these were issued after the season).

In the end, however, Goudey chose Carl Hubbell as the third and final baseball player featured.

Looking back today, while a great pitcher, that selection may seem a bit off to collectors. Surely, there are bigger names and Hubbell’s career statistics do not necessarily scream all-time great. But make no mistake, the inclusion of Hubbell, even over Foxx, made perfect sense.

Goudey certainly needed to include a pitcher. With Ruth and Cobb occupying the other two spots, that surely would have helped Hubbell jump to the front of the line. To ignore the pitching aspect of baseball would have been sloppy and, at the time, no pitcher was more dominant than Hubbell.

This, after all, was not necessarily a career achievement selection. Goudey was looking for the best pitcher at the time and that happened to be Hubbell. That year, Hubbell had a season for the ages, going 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA and ten shutouts on his way to winning the National League Most Valuable Player award. He led the league in numerous categories that season, including wins, ERA, shutouts, and innings pitched. Hubbell would then go on to his best postseason effort of all time, winning two games against the Senators, pitching 20 innings while not giving up a single earned run as the Giants claimed the title.

And when you consider that Hubbell was a National Leaguer while Ruth and Cobb both hailed from the American League, the selection made even more sense.

Personally, I would have added Foxx as a fourth baseball card and merely deleted one of the other athletes from the set. Winning two Most Valuable Player awards made him a strong candidate to be featured and, well, I’m not touching Cobb or Ruth. But while Hubbell’s name may not carry the same weight as those other players, his incredible 1933 season made his selection for the set a slam dunk.

In terms of price, Hubbell’s card is predictably less expensive than that of Ruth or Cobb. In decent low-grade condition, his card starts around $200-$250.

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