Overanalyzing Goudey, part seven

Author’s note: This is the seventh in a series of pieces that will offer a mix of facts, unknowns, and speculation on one of the Hobby’s most iconic brands. This installment examines the chronology of the 1934 set.

UPDATE: This article was updated in November 2021 to include reflect dates of birth from the 1933 edition of “Who’s Who in Major League Baseball” thanks to an eBay purchase from an ex-major leaguer!

* * * * *

If you are just now jumping into this series, this post will probably stand on its own. However, you may wish to skim the second, third, and sixth installments first in order to have a richer context.

Briefly, we have already covered the 1934 Goudey set as a 96-card set printed as follows–

  • Sheet 1 – Cards 1-24 in order, featuring repeated players and artwork from the 1933 set.
  • Sheet 2 – Cards 25-48 in order, with almost entirely new players.
  • Sheet 3 – Cards 49-72 in order, with almost entirely new players.
  • Sheet 4 – Cards 73-96, with almost entirely new players, and an extra “1933” Napoleon Lajoie card

I have spilled a ton of ink examining the chronology of the 1933 release but none thus far on the timing of its sequel. Were all 96 cards simply released all at once? Were the cards released in sets of 24 (or perhaps 48), from the start of the baseball season to the end? Or were these 96 cards all released fairly early in the season, with potential future releases halted due to poor sales or other business reasons?

Here are some clues, though as with previous articles not all will prove definitive or even useful.

SHEET 1 (CARDS 1-24)

The card backs from the first series do not reference any in-season events or even list any player ages. Recalling that all 24 players (and their artwork) were recycled from the 1933 set, this release could have been prepared and finalized quite early. In fact, the decision to reuse prior players and artwork was likely made specifically to shorten production time and ensure cards would hit shelves by Opening Day.

However, we can establish an earliest possible date for finalization based on the Red Sox card of Lefty Grove and the Tigers card of Mickey Cochrane. Each of these cards reflect trades made on December 12, 1933.

An additional team update reflected in this release was Chuck Klein (Phillies to Cubs, November 21) while a non-update was Alvin “General” Crowder’s trade from the Senators to the Tigers on August 4.

Overall then, the clues suggest a finalization window from December 12 to August 3. Obviously that’s quite broad, and we can narrow it quite a bit by assuming cards would have been on shelves for Opening Day.

SHEET 2 (CARDS 25-48)

The first card to include a player age or any clue at all is that of Julius Solters, card 30 in the set. Notably, “Moose” did not make his Red Sox debut until Opening Day (April 17) of the 1934 season. His card bio identifies him as “one of the newcomers to the Boston Red Sox…” These clues seemingly point to his card being finalized after Opening Day.

Meanwhile, the card bio indicates Moose’s age as 25. Though Baseball-Reference lists his date of birth as March 22, 1906, contemporary sources identified his birth year as 1908, as is seen on his 1938 Goudey card.

A 1908 birthdate would make Solters his 1934 Goudey age until March 21, 1934, i.e., the preseason.

This leaves us with two possibilities–

  • The card was finalized during Spring Training even though Solters was not yet a sure thing to make the team.
  • The card was finalized after Spring Training and the age assigned to Solters was simply out of date.

I favor the latter of these two options, mainly because I don’t think Goudey would have included Solters on the checklist and created artwork for the card until his Major League status was assured. (Unlike the 1933 set, the 1934 set did not include any minor leaguers.)

Immediately after Solters in the set was card 31, Baxter Jordan, who Goudey lists as 27 years old. According to Baseball-Reference, Jordan was born on January 16, 1907, which would have made him 27 for the entire 1934 baseball season. As such, his age and birthdate offer no useful hint as to when cards 25-48 were released other than simply “January or later.”

No other cards on the sheet include ages, but we can look at two team changes that the cards reflected as well as two that the cards did not. Here they are in chronological order.

  • George Earnshaw #41 – Traded from Athletics to White Sox on December 12. Shown on card with White Sox.
  • John Stone #40 – Traded from Tigers to Senators on December 20. Shown on card with Senators.
  • Dick Porter #43 – Traded from Indians to Red Sox on May 25. Shown on card with Indians.
  • Don Hurst #33 – Traded from Phillies to Cubs on June 11. Shown on card with Phillies.

The teams these four players are shown with suggests cards that were finalized between December 20 and May 24. Factoring in the Solters card as well, we end up at April 17-May 24, though the foundations supporting such a conclusion are somewhat shaky.

SHEET 3 (CARDS 49-72)

The first card of interest on the third sheet is that of George Watkins, number 53 in the set.

Watkins is shown with the New York Giants, reflecting a March 24 trade from the Cardinals, so we know the card was finalized in late March at the earliest, hardly a surprise since we are now in the set’s penultimate release.

However, Watkins is also noted as “one of [New York’s] most dependable hitters.” This characterization might help date the card since Watkins was anything but dependable in the first part of the season.

At the end of April, Watkins was batting a paltry .091. When the sun rose on May 20, Watkins was batting a meager .194. A hot finish to May boosted his average above .250 for the first time on May 31, on its way to a high of .276 on July 3. (He would finish the season batting .247.) As usual there is room for wiggle, but I’ll take May 31 as the earliest the description of Watkins would have applied.

Further pointing to finalization of Sheet 3 in or after late May is the card of Wesley Schulmerich, whose bio notes a recent trade from the Phillies to the Reds. According to Baseball-Reference, the trade occurred on May 16.

Possibly bounding the window for the sheet on the other side is the card of Ed Holley. He was traded from the Phillies to the Pirates on July 12, but his card still shows him with Philadelphia. This suggests (but of course does not guarantee) that the sheet was finalized earlier than mid-July.

The first card on the third sheet to indicate an age is that of Mark Koenig, who Goudey lists as 29 years old, which would have been his age until July 18, 1934. (For completeness, I’ll note he is also on his new team, Cincinnati, which he joined back on December 20.)

Three cards after Koenig in the set was card 59, Joe Mowry, whose card gives us two clues. First, he is listed as 24 years old. However, an April 6 birthday meant his Goudey age would be correct the entire season, so this isn’t a very helpful clue.

The second clue comes from the last line of Mowry’s bio, which tells us that “in May, 1934, Mowry was transferred to the Albany Team of the International League.” This transaction occurred on May 24, placing the card in or after the end of May, consistent with the Watkins and Schulmerich cards already reviewed.

Six cards after Mowry in the set was card 65, Cliff Bolton, who Goudey lists as 26 years old. According to Baseball-Reference and the Who’s Who guide, Bolton was born on April 10, 1907, which would have made him 26 only until April 9, 1934. In other words, either the card was finalized quite early or the age was incorrect at the time the card was finalized.

Two cards after Bolton in the set was card 67, Bob Weiland, who Goudey lists as 27 years old. According to the Who’s Who guide, Weiland was born on December 14, 1906, which means his Goudey age was accurate the entire season.

However, the final sentence of Weiland’s bio provides a second clue, noting a May 1934 transfer to the Cleveland Indians. Researching the transaction further, we can date it more precisely as May 25. This makes the Weiland card the fourth so far to place Sheet 3 at or after the end of May.

Two cards later we get another age, this time John Marcum who Goudey notes as 23. According to Baseball-Reference, Marcum had the numerologically fantastic birthdate 09-09-09, which makes his Goudey age incompatible with any stretch of the 1934 season.

No other cards of Marcum indicate a birthdate. However, this article from August 1933 supports 1909 as Marcum’s birth year as understood at the time.

An event not mentioned in Marcum’s bio is his halting of Schoolboy Rowe’s 16 game winning streak on August 29, 1934. One might be tempted to take the omission as an indication that the bio was finalized before August 29, but it is more typical than atypical to omit highlights from the season in progress.

Closing out Sheet 3 is Arndt Jorgens, who Goudey notes as 27 years old. Based on his then understood birthdate of May 18, 1906, Jorgens would have been his Goudey age until May 18, 1934.

All told, the cards on the set’s third sheet offer a surplus of clues compared to earlier sheets, even if some (as is common) prove mutually exclusive. There are several cards definitively placing the sheet around or after the end of May, and there are at least a couple cards suggesting finalization before mid-July. Broadly then, we might land on June, give or take a week or two.

SHEET 4 (CARDS 73-92)

Bob Boken’s card 74 doesn’t mention his age but does note that he “was secured by the White Sox from Washington during the present season,” a transaction that occurred on May 12. We can therefore conclude that his card and its sheet were finalized (unsurprisingly) sometime after that date.

Next up is Pinky Higgins, who Goudey notes as 24 years old. Higgins was born on May 27, 1909, which meant he was his Goudey age through May 26, 1934. Again we have the conundrum that the card (and sheet) were either finalized quite early, or the Goudey age was simply outdated by the time the cards were finalized.

The very next card in the set is Eddie Durham, who Goudey notes as 25 years old. Per the Who’s Who guide, Durham would have been this age until August 17.

However, the card back offers a second clue as to timing. The end of the first paragraph notes that Eddie began the season rehabbing a “lame arm” at home in South Carolina but was “expected to be back with the White Sox before the close of the season.” (Spoiler alert: He didn’t make it back.) Pursuing this lead further, here are some notable dates relevant to Durham’s pitching status:

  • May 26 (Chicago Tribune and numerous other outlets) – Durham petitions Commissioner Landis to be placed on the voluntary retired list.
  • August 1 (Chicago Tribune) – Focus of rehab is to return for the 1935 season.

From this we might assume that Durham’s card was finalized earlier than May 26 or simply conclude that the Goudey biographers weren’t completely up on the news.

The very next card in the set is that of Marty McManus, who Goudey describes as “born in Chicago 33 years ago.” According to Baseball-Reference and the Who’s Who guide, McManus was born on March 14, 1900, meaning his card age would have been incorrect the entire season.

Notably, McManus didn’t age a bit between the first sheet of 1933 (!) and the final sheet of 1934 as his 1933 card also has him “born in Chicago 33 years ago.”

My conclusion then is that Goudey simply recycled the text from the year before, meaning it adds no significance to our understanding of the 1934 set. There is also little to read into McManus appearing on his new team, the Red Sox, since the transaction took place way back on April 11.

What of Bob Brown, who appears next in the set? The second sentence of his bio reads: “He was sent to Albany this Spring by the Braves, but was returned to the Boston club because of poor control.”

Ignoring the misplaced modifier (or were the Braves simply tanking ahead of their time!), we can use game logs to help date the card. His Spring demotion evidently took place in May, and his return appears to have taken place just ahead of July 1.

Two cards past Brown was the card of Jim Mooney, who Goudey notes as 27 years old. According to Baseball-Reference and the Who’s Who guide, Mooney was born on September 4, 1906, meaning he was his Goudey age through September 3, 1934. Assuming Goudey was current and correct with this age, we could infer Mooney’s card was finalized by that date.

Like Bob Brown’s card earlier, the card of Lloyd Johnson describes some minor league back and forth. “The Giants secured Johnson from the Mission Club of the Pacific Coast League, but recently sent him back to the minors.”

A review of Johnson’s 1934 record shows that he pitched only a single Major League game in 1934, which took place on April 21. (Never mind that it was for the Pirates, not the Giants.) Further research shows that Johnson’s release date was May 8, meaning his card was finalized on or after that date. The word “recently” suggests May or June as a likely timeframe.

Another demotion, this time not noted, comes with the set’s very next card, George Darrow.

Darrow was traded by the Phillies to Baltimore (Int’l League) on July 5 but is nonetheless described as the “new left-handed pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies.” The implication is that the card was probably finalized before July 5.

We encounter yet another demotion card in the person of Homer Peel, card 88 in the set. (And in case you’re wondering, Peel lived up to his name exactly twice in his career.)

According to the card’s final paragraph, “[Peel] was recently released to Nashville.” According to Baseball-Reference, Peel’s last game with the Giants was June 25. Were the release truly recent, we might suppose Peel’s card was finalized in July, if not very late June.

Card 89 in the set belongs to switch-hitting Lonny Frey, who Goudey lists as 21 years old. According to contemporary sources, Frey was born on August 23, 1913, which makes his Goudey age accurate through August 22..

Dolph Camilli’s card 91 has two clues worthy of pursuit. The first is that “during the present season he was traded to the Phillies,” a transaction that occurred June 11.

The second clue is Dolph’s age, given as 26 on the card. Contemporary sources use April 23, 1908, as Camilli’s birthdate, which means he would have been his card age virtually the entire season.

Card 92 is interesting in that it features the bespectacled Steve Larkin, who pitched only two games for the Tigers in 1934, one on May 6 and one on May 9.

The May 17 Sporting News reported on Larkin’s demotion to the minors, but this is not noted on the card. Either it was overlooked by Goudey or the card was finalized ahead of the transaction.

Next is Fred Ostermueller, who Goudey lists as 26 years old. Ostermueller was born on September 15, 1907, making him his Goudey age through September 14, 1934, or very nearly the entire baseball season.

Our penultimate player of interest is Myril Hoag. Goudey leads off his biography with the fact that Hoag took the place of Babe Ruth “on a number of occasions this season.” This happened for the first time on June 6, and Hoag certainly rose to the occasion, going 6 for 6 at the plate in game one of a doubleheader against Boston. By June 9, Hoag had replaced Ruth three times, which I’ll non-scientifically take as the minimum threshold for “a number of occasions.” As such, I believe we can point to Hoag’s card being finalized no earlier than mid-June.

Last up is Yankee pitcher Jim DeShong, who Goudey lists as 23 years old. According to contemporary sources, DeShong was born on November 30, 1910, meaning his Goudey age would have been correct the entire season.

Again, we have a sheet with a lot of information, not all of which can be true at the same time. The most definitive clues come from player transactions, the latest of these we can assign a precise date to is the June 25 demotion of Homer Peel. Allowing time for printing, cutting, packing, and distribution, it would be hard to imagine these cards hitting shelves any earlier than late July.

Age data are much more dodgy, but we might perhaps infer from the cards of Mooney and Ostermueller that the cards in this sheet were finalized before September, a position that also makes sense from a business perspective as well.

Summary

A review of teams, transactions, and other clues has presented us with the following reasonable guesses for the finalization of the set’s four sheets.

  • Sheet 1 – December 12 to April 17
  • Sheet 2 – April 17 – May 24
  • Sheet 3 – May 31 – July 12
  • Sheet 4 – June 25 – August 31

Ideally, we would have windows for each sheet that were narrower and better substantiated. Still, this is much more than what we started with.

I hope you enjoyed the article. Tune in next time for the eighth installment in the series where I finally provide the “proof” you’ve been waiting for!

Author: jasoncards

I mainly enjoy writing about baseball and baseball cards, but I've also dabbled in the sparsely populated Isaac Newton trading card humor genre. As of January 2019 I'm excited to be part of the SABR Baseball Cards blogging team, and as of May 2019 Co-Chair of the SABR Baseball Cards Research Committee.

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