A Rundown of the 1934 Goudey ‘Chuck Klein’ High Number Cards
A dozen elusive “Chuck Klein Says” cards are highlights of the 1934 Goudey set
Goudey underwent a pretty significant shift in 1934. The set that generally used the legendary Babe Ruth as its headliner in 1933 (featuring him on four different cards) made a move to Ruth teammate, Lou Gehrig, to head its campaign for 1934.
How or why the move took place is anybody’s guess. Ruth’s decreased level of play could have been part of the reason. In 1933, Ruth hit ‘only’ 34 home runs his lowest total to date with the Yankees, save for his 1925 campaign when he played in fewer than 100 games, hitting 25 dingers. Ruth was certainly still a threat and he led the league in walks (114) that season. But his .301 batting average was more than 40 points lower than his lifetime average and one of the lowest of his career.
Ruth’s play, however, was not the likely culprit because Goudey did not feature the Babe at all in the set. While the company may have seen more long-term value in the younger Gehrig, Ruth certainly was still good (and more importantly, popular) enough to be included in the release. That he wasn’t there at all, as has been theorized by collectors, is more likely the result of Goudey not being able to come to an agreement with him — whether or not that was the result of a frosty relationship with teammate Gehrig is unknown.
The Gehrig ‘headliner’ angle is important here because the 1934 Goudey baseball card set is generally known for its ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ headlines. Almost all of the cards in the set featured a special blue banner identified as ‘Lou Gehrig says.’ The backs then offered a commentary, purportedly from Gehrig, about the player in question and were put together with the help of Christy Walsh, an author and, ironically, an agent for both Ruth and Gehrig. Walsh, in fact, is generally regarded as the first baseball agent.
The idea seemed to go along fine until Card No. 80 of the 96-card set. Lou Gehrig’s trademark banner was replaced on cards No. 80-91 with a new red banner featuring ‘Chuck Klein Says,’ along with a headshot of Klein, a star player for the Cubs and future Hall of Famer. Starting with Card No. 92, the remainder of the set concluded with the ‘Lou Gehrig Says’ banner.
The obvious question is, what gives? Why would Goudey replace the Gehrig banner with one for Klein? There have been all sorts of theories on the brief change to Klein. Some have wondered if Goudey and Gehrig had a brief falling out, leading to an unexpected change. Another possibility is that the move was indeed planned. It is possible that more Klein cards were expected to be issued before the set was halted at Card No. 96 — a number far less than the 240 cards in the 1933 release. One interesting thing of note is that all of the Klein cards feature National League players, even if that tidbit doesn’t give us a reason for the alteration.
Whatever the reason, though, the Chuck Klein cards are a highlight of the set. That’s not because of a particularly great checklist subset — rather because the cards appear to be shortlisted with PSA’s population report generally backing that up with those graded an average of 175 times per card — significantly lower than most of the rest of the set.
Still, prices for those cards are not astronomical and part of the reason for that is because of the aforementioned checklist that is quite weak. Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler is the lone highlight, really. And while some other players did have notable careers (including 1941 Most Valuable Player Dolph Camilli), it’s generally a pretty lackluster grouping. The Chuck Klein cards are as follows:
- 80 – Marty McManus
- 81 – Bob Brown
- 82 – Bill Hallahan
- 83 – Jim Mooney
- 84 – Paul Derringer
- 85 – Adam Comorosky
- 86 – Lloyd Johnson
- 87 – George Darrow
- 88 – Homer Peel
- 89 – Linus Frey
- 90 – Kiki Cuyler
- 91 – Dolph Camilli
Why weren’t there more stars? Sure, some players like Ruth were omitted, possibly for contractual reasons. But the other issue was the same one that plagued the E95 and E96 Philadelphia Caramel sets. Most of the stars had already been featured earlier in the set and by the time the higher number cards came around, there were fewer options. That is even more evident when you consider the Chuck Klein cards were only National Leaguers. The best National Leaguers at the time included the likes of Klein, Carl Hubbell, Bill Terry, Dizzy Dean, Pie Traynor, Paul Waner, Frankie Frisch, and others. All of those named players, with the exception of Traynor, were already featured.
Common Chuck Klein says cards typically start around $20-$25 in low-grade condition while the Cuyler starts around $75-$100.