Blogging my way through the 1935 Goudey baseball card set

I’m collecting baseball cards again.

I collected for most of my youth, but as adulthood set in, other priorities took over. It happens a lot. But now my kids are getting old enough to take an interest in such things, and if my son is buying baseball cards, I might as well buy a card or two myself, right?

On Christmas Eve, I decided to take on a challenge: The 1935 Goudey set. Goudey was the biggest name of the 1930s, but at 36 cards, the 1935 set is small enough that a mere mortal like me can stand a chance of accumulating one example of each, and do so in a reasonable period of time. Most of the player drawings in the 1935 set are reused from the 1933 and/or 1934 sets, so it looks and feels like a classic Goudey set.

It’s not going to be a particularly cheap endeavor, but with one exception, it’s possible to get a low-grade example of each card in the set for $10-$15. A complete set in low grade is likely to cost less than $1,000. And while $1,000 is a lot of money, that’s approximately $20 a week. Most of us spend $20 a week on things that aren’t particularly good for us. Spend two years doing it and it drops to $10 a week.

The expensive card, of course, is Babe Ruth’s farewell card. At the end of the 1934 season, the Yankees released Ruth, and Ruth signed with the Boston Braves to act as a player-coach. Ruth was 40 years old and didn’t have much left, but the Braves weren’t a good team and had nothing to lose by taking a chance on Ruth. Ruth had a his moments but didn’t hit consistently, and he retired in May.

The set is nice because it features a good number of other Hall of Famers besides Ruth. Goudey seemed to follow a pattern of putting 2-3 star players on a card along with one marginal player. Usually the players were from the same team, and when they weren’t, there often was some other logic to the grouping. Of course not all of the stars of 1935 went on to become Hall of Famers, but 21 of the 36 cards feature at least one Hall of Famer, and many contain two or even three Hall of Famers.

As for my strategy, I’m going to start out by sourcing as many cards locally as I can. Lower-grade cards are much easier to get than high-grade cards, and a carefully assembled low grade set can still look nice. And in the 1930s, kids carried them to school in their pockets, flipped them and traded them, so where’s the shame in a set that reflects the reality of the day it was issued? Assembling a set of worn but still presentable cards will add a little bit of challenge while keeping the cost lower.

So, as I accumulate the cards from the set, I’m going to blog about them. All collections have stories, and hopefully mine will be interesting. If not, at least being able to read a little about the players will be informative.

Even though it’s frequently overlooked except for the Ruth card, the 1935 Goudey set holds some nice surprises. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me.

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