Author’s note: The most detailed analysis I’ve seen on this set comes from the December 1995 edition of “The Vintage and Classic Baseball Collector” magazine, with a corresponding web version here. If you only have time for one article, I encourage you to stop reading mine and head straight to that one.
A package last year from SABR president Mark Armour sparked my interest in a set I’d previously ignored, both as a writer and a collector, even though it’s the logical sequel to two sets I’ve written about extensively.
Having recently added two of the three Dodger cards in the 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 set, I’m now feeling qualified, if not compelled, to do a deep dive. This first article will examine the basic structure of the set and highlight 11 players who have a special status on its checklist.
THE BASIC SET
The 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 (R321) set consists of 36 different unnumbered cards (ignoring back variations), some red bordered and some blue, each consisting of 4 players who are often but not always teammates.
In what I imagine was a disappointment for at least some collectors, many of the set’s images were recycled from previous Goudey issues. For example, here are the 1933 cards of Tommy Bridges and Bob O’Farrell, easily matched to their 1935 cardboard above.
In fact, most of the 1934 Goudey cards borrow all four of their images from the 1933 and 1934 sets, allowing collectors to “round the bases!”
THE MASTER SET
Adding a twist to the set is the presence of 2, 3, or 4 different backs for each of the cards in the set. For example, the Piet-Comorosky-Bottomley-Adams card below comes with four back variations, labeled by Goudey as Picture 1 card H, Picture 3 card F, Picture 4 Card F, and Picture 5 card F. (Following the VCBC article referenced earlier, I’ll use the notation 1H, 3F, 4F, and 5F from here on.)
The various card backs across the set combine to form nine puzzles in all, each with 6 or 12 pieces. Here is the Joe Cronin puzzle, also known as “Picture 5,” built from backs 5A-5F.
The full list of puzzles (pictures) is as follows. All use six pieces unless otherwise noted.
- Picture 1 – Detroit Tigers (12 pieces)
- Picture 2 – Chuck Klein
- Picture 3 – Frankie Frisch
- Picture 4 – Mickey Cochrane
- Picture 5 – Joe Cronin
- Picture 6 – Jimmie Foxx
- Picture 7 – Al Simmons
- Picture 8 – Cleveland Indians (12 pieces)
- Picture 9 – Washington Senators (12 pieces)
Were one to attempt a master set, there would be 114 different cards in all. The number is a bit oddball but is the result of varying numbers of backs per card, specifically:
- 12 cards with two backs each = 24
- 6 cards with 3 backs each = 18
- 18 cards with 4 backs each = 72
Among the various sources available, my “go to” for the configuration of the 1935 Goudey master set (i.e., all possible front/back combinations) is Table 1 of the November 1995 VCBC article. Just note that the “Card Fronts” section of the table includes one typo (the 1J back listed for Bill Terry should be 1K), and the “Puzzle Backs” section of the table includes numerous errors.
THE SIX PANELS
Again following the naming conventions of the VCBC article, I’ll now introduce the six panels that make up the set. You can think of a panel as a group of cards whose backs generate the same set of puzzles.
The six cards in this panel correspond to six-card puzzles 3, 4, and 5 as well as the right half of 12-card puzzle 1. (That is, each of the cards shown comes with four different backs, one for each of the puzzles just named.) Interestingly, each of the six cards features a single National League team. Star power is significant, highlighted by Babe Ruth on his brand new team, the Boston Braves.
Artwork for all 24 players comes from previous Goudey sets.
The six cards in this panel correspond to six-card puzzles 2, 6, and 7 as well as the left half of 12-card puzzle 1. Five of the six cards feature American League teams, with the Cardinals being the lone National League team.
Again all artwork is from previous Goudey sets.
Panel III (blue borders)
The six cards in this panel, the only one with blue borders, correspond to six-card puzzles 2, 4, and 7. Where cards from panels I and II featured only one team each, we now see three cards that include multiple teams. Note for example Glenn Wright (White Sox) on a card with three Pirates on the second card shown.
You’d be smart to wonder if Wright’s inclusion on the Pirates card is the result of a late-breaking team change. For example, had he been a Pirate during the set’s planning stages, only to have an astute Goudey editor update his team the instant a deal went down? Well, Wright did in fact play for the Pirates, but it was from 1924-1928! 😊
Still, before we accuse (or credit!) Goudey with being completely random here, it’s worth noting that many of the photos from its 1933 set were taken years earlier. Therefore, the original photo used for Wright’s card may well have come from their Pirates stash.
On the other hand, such an explanation would not extend to the next card shown, which features Charlie Berry (Athletics), Bobby Burke (Senators), Red Kress (Senators), and Dazzy Vance (Dodgers). In this case, there is no single team for which the full quartet played.
Of added interest are two panel III players who also appear on panel I, though background colors differ: Gus Mancuso (Giants, shown below) and Ed Brandt (Braves).
I can almost hear the conversation now of young card swappers back in the day:
“Anyone have the blue Mancuso?”
“You mean blue borders and red background?”
“No! That’s the red Mancuso. I mean red borders and blue background!”
Backgrounds and very minor retouches aside, however, all artwork is again recycled from earlier Goudey sets. Stay tuned, however. This is about to change.
The six cards in this panel correspond to six-card puzzles 3, 5, and 6 as well as the right half of 12-card puzzle 1. Four of the cards are dedicated to single teams (Browns, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies) while two feature multiple teams.
Again, we have duplicated players, this time in the form of four players we previously saw on panel I or II. Conveniently enough they appear right next to each other at the end of the bottom row: Comorosky, Bottomley, Kamm, and Cochrane.
Of particular note is the player in the bottom left position of the Phillies card: Clarence “Bubber” Jonnard, the first new player we’ve encountered thus far.
Jonnard, a coach with the Phillies in 1935 (whose later accomplishments included managing the Minneapolis Millerettes of the AAGPBL and signing Mets Ed Kranepool and Ken Singleton), literally played in one game all season, had one at-bat, and struck out in a blowout loss…a good six years after his previous major league plate appearance. Nonetheless someone at Goudey must have really wanted Bubber in the set. Not only did they find a spot for him on the checklist but they even sprung for art!
The six cards in this panel correspond to the right halves of 12-card puzzles 8 and 9. All six cards are dedicated to single teams (5 AL, 1 NL), and no players appear on any other cards.
One player you might recognize from a previous Diamond Stars article is rookie Cy Blanton (bottom row), who got off to a blazing hot, Fernandomania-like start in 1935. I doubt anyone would have been working on his card before the season started, but it wouldn’t have taken many starts before someone at Goudey decided to add Blanton to the set.
Both Blanton and his cardboard neighbor Tom Padden required new artwork. Ditto for Tigers ace Schoolboy Rowe (bottom right corner of first card).
The six cards in this panel correspond to the left halves of 12-card puzzles 8 and 9. Five of the cards are dedicated to single teams (3 AL, 2 NL), and one card includes a mix of Giants and Dodgers. Each of the 24 players makes his only appearance of the set on this panel.
Here is where we see the bulk of the set’s new artwork: Rollie Hemsley of the Browns, all four Reds (Gilly Campbell, Bill Myers, Ival Goodman, and Alex Kampouris), Zeke Bonura of the White Sox, and Bill Knickerbocker of the Indians.
THE ELEVEN NEWCOMERS
All in all, the 1935 Goudey set introduced eleven new players–less than 10% of the set. Why only eleven players, and why these eleven players, I don’t know. The most intriguing theory would be that Goudey already had the artwork from a prior project (e.g., an unissued fifth series of 1934 Goudey) and saw a chance to use it here.
Unfortunately, such a theory is quickly rebutted by the specific players selected. Here is a snapshot of each player’s career from 1933-1935, using plate appearances for the position players and innings pitched for the two pitchers.
Looking at the 1934 data for Blanton, Campbell, Myers, and Goodman, it’s hard to imagine they would have been candidates for an extended 1934 Goudey set. At the same time, ten of the eleven players seem quite sensible additions to a 1935 offering, and even the one exception, Jonnard, had something of a “fun factor” going for him.
- Though I’ve treated the 1935 artwork as if it was lifted directly from earlier sets, this wasn’t necessarily the case. Compare, for example, the Hank Greenberg artwork from 1934 and 1935, and you’ll see several subtle differences. (Plus, how would Goudey even execute such a thing using 1930s technology?)
- Just as the 1934 Goudey set featured Gehrig but no Ruth, the 1935 set features Ruth but no Gehrig.
- Youngsters successful in completing the entire 1933-35 Goudey run would probably find Joe Medwick to be the best player absent from their collections. Fortunately, Goudey managed to get its “ducks” in a row over the next three years with Medwick cards in 1936 Goudey Premiums, 1936-37 “Canadian Goudey,” 1937 Thum-Movies, and 1938 Goudey.
- Ten Hall of Famers appeared in all three Goudey sets from 1933-35: Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Cochrane, Dizzy Dean, Chuck Klein, Paul Waner, Frank Frisch, Heinie Manush, Bill Terry, Charlie Gehringer, and Kiki Cuyler.
When I revisit this set I hope to offer some hints as to how the cards were divided into series and when each series might have been released. Oh, and more importantly, I hope to grab the final card I need for my Dodgers team set!