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The 1933 Goudey Big League Gum set helped kickstart popularity in the collectible hobby during a short period, with the issue consisting of 239 cards and one mail-order copy numbered #106.
The 1933 Goudey set is considered one of the “Big Three” vintage baseball card sets, along with the T206 and 1952 Topps releases.
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With 240 cards to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is the best overall. We’ve come up with a list containing the top seven 1933 Goudey baseball cards, with info and investment advice to give you a better idea of what to expect from the best that the ‘30s had to offer.
The set measures 2-3/8″ by 2-7/8″ and is noted for its use of colorized photo images.
They’re a cut above many of the cards that came before and hold up to modern options thanks to strong design choices and a nostalgic feel.
There are four Babe Ruth cards and two Lou Gehrig cards, while over a quarter of the options in the 1933 Goudey set contain Hall of Famers, further adding to the price and prestige in the present day.
Many sets have attempted to emulate the collection, which is understandable given their age and popularity. However, few match up in value, so here are seven of the best ‘33 Goudey cards.
1933 Babe Ruth Goudey #53
If you haven’t guessed, Babe Ruth features heavily on this list! A seven-time World Series Champion and possibly the most famous baseball player to have lived, his collection of cards have helped to immortalize him almost a century after their release.
The #53 is the first card we’ll be looking at. It’s also known as the ‘Yellow Ruth’, for obvious reasons. “The 33′ Goudey Ruth is an iconic image of Ruth with a bat slung over one shoulder, along with a bright yellow background and a simple white border.”
A red ‘Big League Chewing Gum’ tab is also at the bottom. The reverse lists player info, along with a Big League advert. It’s the toughest to find in good condition, meaning it’s the most expensive of the four.
1933 Babe Ruth Goudey #144
The second of four Ruth cards to make a list, the #144 (or Full Body Ruth) was double-printed and is more plentiful overall. As the name suggests, it features a full-length image of the player as he waits on the plate with his bat held ready. It uses the same illustration as the #53 and #149 cards instead of showing Ruth in a full batting pose. (It was double printed in place of a Nap Lajoie card which also manages to make a list.)
Although options are abundant, there are noticeable differences between the two #144 versions. One tends to be in sharper focus than the other, although they sell for similar prices at auction.
1933 Babe Ruth Goudey #149
Next up is another Ruth card from the 1933 set. Essentially, it’s the same as the Yellow card found above, but it’s been given a Red finish this time.
They’re worth a similar amount when looking at average values, so it’s typically a matter of personal preference, depending on which color has more aesthetic appeal.
1933 Ty Cobb Goudey Sport Kings #1
Ty Cobb is credited with setting 90 MLB records during his career, and his combined total of 4,065 runs scored and runs batted in (after adjusting for home runs) is still the highest ever produced by any major league player to this day.
He was a cut above the majority of players from his era, so it’s easy to see how he makes a list. His card is the first in the 1933 Goudey Sports Kings set, which featured athletes from various sports.Ruth and Carl Hubbell were the other two selected in the release slightly later than the ‘33 Goudey set.
It features a profile shot of Cobb as he stares directly at you, with a yellow background that is reminiscent of the Ruth card discussed above.
There’s a ‘Sport Kings Gum’ banner at the top in red, while his name is listed on a black tab at the bottom.
The tab also features miniature baseball shadows, which is a nice touch.
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181
As if the final Ruth card wouldn’t make a list! The #181 features an over-the-shoulder image of the player, with the most detailed illustration of Ruth in the set.
It comes with a light green background, listing his full name as ‘George Herman (Babe) Ruth’. There’s a red ‘Big League Chewing Gum’ tab at the bottom, player info, and an ad on the reverse. Despite being my favorite of the Goudey Ruth quartet, it’s typically the cheapest at auction.
1933 Lou Gehrig Goudey #92
Lou Gehrig was a seven-time All-Star and a six-time World Series champion who spent 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees (1923–1939). Known as “The Iron Horse” because of his durability, he was diagnosed with ALS in ‘39, which ended his career.
“It’s common for collectors to find number 92 because it tends to be on the market more than the other card, which is rarely available at auction.” It’s now commonly referred to in North America as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”.
His untimely death has increased popularity surrounding his release from the 1933 Goudey set, especially as there’s a distinct lack of options from later years. The card features an action shot of Gehrig with his bat at the ready. There are two 1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig cards, #92 and #160.
1933 Nap Lajoie Goudey #106
Nap Lajoie was a Triple Crown winner in 1901 and a five-time AL batting champion over the decade. He’s a decorated player from the era, but he doesn’t compare to the others in terms of star power or stats. So, why does his card make a list along with Gehrig, Ruth, and Cobb?
“Despite being numbered to 106, Lajoie is the elusive ‘240th card’ in the set”. Rather than being included in packs, collectors were required to request one via mail from Goudey. It was released along with the 1934 Goudey set.
The card features a profile shot of Lajoie with a light green background. After looking at the others, you can spot several advances, such as the art style, the text, and the miniature baseball illustrations found at the top of the card. It’s hyper-rare, but several high-grade copies are on the market, as it wasn’t released in packs originally.
The most valuable 1933 Goudey Baseball Card is the 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53. This bad boy will cost well into the six digits and maybe seven at high grades.
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1933 Goudey Baseball Card Checklist
1 Benny Bengough RC 2 Dazzy Vance RC 3 Hughie Critz RC 4 Heinie Schuble RC 5 Babe Herman RC 6 Jimmie Dykes RC Error 6 Jimmie Dykes RC Corrected 7 Ted Lyons RC 8 Roy Johnson RC 9 Dave Harris RC 10 Glenn Myatt RC 11 Billy Rogell RC 12 George Pipgras RC 13 Lafayette Thompson RC 14 Henry Johnson RC 15 Vic Sorrell RC 16 George Blaeholder RC 17 Watty Clark RC 18 Muddy Ruel RC 19 Bill Dickey RC 20 Bill Terry RC 21 Phil Collins RC 22 Pie Traynor RC 23 Kiki Cuyler RC 24 Horace Ford RC 25 Paul Waner RC 26 Bill Cissell RC 27 Sarge Connally RC 28 Dick Bartell RC 29 Jimmie Foxx RC 30 Shanty Hogan RC 31 Tony Lazzeri RC 32 Bud Clancy RC 33 Red Kress RC 34 Bob O'Farrell RC 35 Al Simmons RC 36 Tommy Thevenow RC 37 Jimmie Wilson RC 38 Fred Brickell RC 39 Mark Koenig RC 40 Taylor Douthit RC 41 Gus Mancuso RC 42 Eddie Collins RC 43 Lew Fonseca RC 44 Jim Bottomley RC 45 Larry Benton RC 46 Ethan Allen RC 47 Heinie Manush RC 48 Marty McManus RC 49 Frankie Frisch RC 50 Ed Brandt RC 51 Charlie Grimm RC 52 Andy Cohen RC 53 Babe Ruth RC 54 Ray Kremer RC 55 Pat Malone RC 56 Red Ruffing RC 57 Earl Clark RC 58 Lefty O'Doul RC 59 Bing Miller RC 60 Waite Hoyt RC 61 Max Bishop RC 62 Pepper Martin RC 63 Joe Cronin RC 64 Burleigh Grimes RC 65 Milton Gaston RC 66 George Grantham RC 67 Guy Bush RC 68 Hod Lisenbee RC 69 Randy Moore RC 70 Pete Scott RC 71 Bobby Burke RC 72 Ownie Carroll RC 73 Jesse Haines RC 74 Eppa Rixey RC 75 Willie Kamm RC 76 Mickey Cochrane RC 77 Adam Comorosky RC 78 Jack Quinn RC 79 Red Faber RC 80 Clyde Manion RC 81 Sam Jones RC 82 Dib Williams RC 83 Pete Jablonski RC 84 Glenn Spencer RC 85 Heinie Sand RC 86 Phil Todt RC 87 Frank O'Rourke RC 88 Russell Rollings RC 89 Tris Speaker 90 Jess Petty RC 91 Tom Zachary RC 92 Lou Gehrig RC 93 John Welch RC 94 Bill Walker RC 95 Alvin Crowder RC 96 Willis Hudlin RC 97 Joe Morrisey RC 98 Wally Berger RC 99 Tony Cuccinello RC 100 George Uhle RC 101 Richard Coffman RC 102 Travis Jackson RC 103 Earle Combs RC 104 Fred Marberry RC 105 Bernie Friberg RC 106 Nap Lajoie SP 107 Heinie Manush RC 108 Joe Kuhel RC 109 Joe Cronin RC 110 Goose Goslin RC 111 Monte Weaver RC 112 Fred Schulte RC 113 Ossie Bluege RC 114 Luke Sewell RC 115 Cliff Heathcote RC 116 Eddie Morgan RC 117 Rabbit Maranville RC 118 Val Picinich RC 119 Rogers Hornsby RC 120 Carl Reynolds RC 121 Lefty Stewart RC 122 Alvin Crowder RC 123 Jack Russell RC 124 Earl Whitehill RC 125 Bill Terry RC 126 Jo-Jo Moore RC 127 Mel Ott RC 128 Chuck Klein RC 129 Hal Schumacher RC 130 Freddie Fitzsimmons RC 131 Fred Frankhouse RC 132 Jim Elliott RC 133 Fred Lindstrom RC 134 Sam Rice RC 135 Woody English RC 136 Flint Rhem RC 137 Red Lucas RC 138 Herb Pennock RC 139 Ben Cantwell RC 140 Bump Hadley RC 141 Ray Benge RC 142 Paul Richards RC 143 Glenn Wright RC 144 Babe Ruth RC 145 Rube Walberg RC 146 Lefty Stewart RC 147 Leo Durocher RC 148 Eddie Farrell RC 149 Babe Ruth RC 150 Ray Kolp RC 151 Jake Flowers RC 152 Zack Taylor RC 153 Buddy Myer RC 154 Jimmie Foxx RC 155 Joe Judge RC 156 Danny Macfayden RC 157 Sammy Byrd RC 158 Moe Berg RC 159 Ossie Bluege RC 160 Lou Gehrig RC 161 Al Spohrer RC 162 Leo Magnum RC 163 Luke Sewell RC 164 Lloyd Waner RC 165 Joe Sewell RC 166 Sam West RC 167 Jack Russell RC 168 Goose Goslin RC 169 Tommy Thomas RC 170 Harry McGurdy RC 171 Charlie Jamieson RC 172 Pinky Hargrave RC 173 Roscoe Holm RC 174 Curly Ogden RC 175 Dan Howley MG RC 176 John Ogden RC 177 Walter French RC 178 Jackie Warner RC 179 Fred Leach RC 180 Eddie Moore RC 181 Babe Ruth RC 182 Andy High RC 183 Rube Walberg RC 184 Charlie Berry RC 185 Bob Smith RC 186 Johnny Schulte RC 187 Heinie Manush RC 188 Rogers Hornsby RC 189 Joe Cronin RC 190 Fred Schulte RC 191 Ben Chapman RC 192 Walter Brown RC 193 Lyn Lary RC 194 Earl Averill RC 195 Evar Swanson RC 196 Roy Mahaffey RC 197 Rick Ferrell RC 198 Jack Burns RC 199 Tommy Bridges RC 200 Bill Hallahan RC 201 Ernie Orsatti RC 202 Gabby Hartnett RC 203 Lon Warneke RC 204 Riggs Stephenson RC 205 Heinie Manush RC 206 Gus Suhr RC 207 Mel Ott RC 208 Bernie James RC 209 Dolf Luque RC 210 Virgil Davis RC 211 Hack Wilson RC 212 Billy Urbanski RC 213 Sparky Adams RC 214 Buddy Kerr RC 215 Russ Van Atta RC 216 Vernon Gomez RC 217 Frankie Crosetti RC 218 Wes Ferrell RC 219 Mule Haas RC 220 Lefty Grove RC 221 Dale Alexander RC 222 Charlie Gehringer RC 223 Dizzy Dean RC 224 Frank Demaree RC 225 Billy Jurges RC 226 Charlie Root RC 227 Billy Herman RC 228 Tony Piet RC 229 Arky Vaughan RC 230 Carl Hubbell RC 231 Jo-Jo Moore RC 232 Lefty O'Doul RC 233 Johnny Vergez RC 234 Carl Hubbell RC 235 Freddie Fitzsimmons RC 236 George Davis RC 237 Gus Mancuso RC 238 Hughie Critz RC 239 Leroy Parmalee RC 240 Hal Schumacher RC
No list of the best 1933 Goudey cards will miss out on Babe Ruth. His popularity is entwined with the set, feeding off one another to create one of the best collections ever put on cardboard.
Of the four different Ruth portrayals, #144 was double-printed and could be found in packs at twice the rate of lesser figures. It makes for the most affordable quartet, which is also highly coveted by collectors interested in a real piece of pre-war history.
The same goes for a complete 1933 Goudey set, with or without Lajoie’s mail-order release. Despite recent price rises, they should be seen as some of the best long-term investment options available on the market right now.
Of course, higher grades are always worth a lot more and represent the pinnacle of pre-war baseball memorabilia. There’s also a distinct lack of new stock hitting the market, as almost every existing ‘33 Goudey card has been accounted for.
The price of entry holds many back from investing, but values continue to rise, especially for high-graded versions where there aren’t many copies to choose from.
The ‘33 Goudey set is a significant long-term investment; the same goes for any of the seven cards mentioned above. They continue to be some of the essential pieces in the hobby, drawing ever closer to their 100th anniversary.