We enter Part 2 of our journey absent any real leads but with a stockpile of earlier sleuthing that can’t possibly be for naught, or at least that’s what I hope. One thing is for sure. We have not yet left every stone unturned.
Enter the Flying Dutchman
True or not, we all know the story of Hans Wagner wanting his card pulled from the T206 set so children wouldn’t be encouraged to use tobacco. Is it possible a 1930s ballplayer would have taken similar issue to the Goudey set?
Might there have been a Major Leaguer in 1933 who was vehemently opposed to chewing gum? Hard to imagine a ballplayer being opposed to gum unless…he was also a dentist! Enter Eddie “Doc” Farrell, DDS. You can’t make this stuff up!
This would be such a fun ending to the story if a Wagner-like tale was responsible for the famous Lajoie card of the 1933 set. There is only one problem with it. Take a look at the player who is literally the very first card on Sheet 6! He’s not exactly smiling in his endorsement of Big League Chewing Gum, but he’s definitely not the missing card! As they say about things that are too good to be true…
At this point, it feels tempting to just take the “L” and go home, but before we do that let’s have a look at some guys who took a few too many “Ls” in 1933.
The 1933 Goudey set includes cards of ten managers, including three from the minor leagues:
- Bill Terry, New York Giants
- Charlie Grimm, Chicago Cubs
- Joe Cronin, Washington Senators
- Lew Fonseca, Chicago White Sox
- Marty McManus, Boston Red Sox
- Frankie Frisch, St. Louis Cardinals
- Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Browns
- Frank O’Rourke, Milwaukee Brewers
- Tris Speaker, Kansas City Blues
- Dan Howley, Toronto Maple Leafs
While five of the seven MLB managers logged significant playing time in 1932/1933 (exceptions: Fonseca, Hornsby), there’s at least some reason to think that Goudey considered managers to be a key part of the set. If you read my original 1933 Goudey post, it will make sense to you that Fonseca’s being in Sheet 3 means he made the cut for the original core release and was not simply filler to avoid cannibalization of the 1934 issue. (Hornsby is more complicated. He had a player card on Sheet 4 but didn’t get a manager card until Sheet 7 when he joined the Browns as skipper.)
Just as we looked previously at players who left MLB partway through the 1933 season, might it be worth looking at managers who did the same? It’s probably a long shot, but so was this entire endeavor, right?
Here are the four teams that saw managerial changes during the season, along with the ten managers that ran them–
- Cleveland began the season with Roger Peckinpaugh, who piloted the club for its first 51 games–i.e., through June 8. Bibb Falk then took over for a single day (June 10) before yielding the reigns to Walter Johnson. Yes, THAT Walter Johnson. Now pause a minute to imagine how awesome a 1933 Goudey Walter Johnson manager card on the Indians would have been! And if you enjoy making customs, I would love it if you would donate one to this post! Or this one!)
- Detroit started the season with Bucky Harris at the helm for their first 153 games. With any pennant hopes long behind them the Tigers installed Del Baker on September 30.
- The St. Louis Browns began the year with Bill Killefer who managed until July 18. Next up was Allan Sothoron whose brief tenure lasted till July 27, at which point the great Rajah, freshly arrived from across the street, took the reigns.
- The St. Louis Cards began the year with Gabby Street, who managed until a July 23 loss to the Braves. His replacement was Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch.
Could any of these part-time managers have been the original card 106 (or more likely, the original card 142)? To even be considered, I believe there are four criteria they would need to meet.
- No card yet in 1933 Goudey set
- A “name” in baseball of that era, perhaps a former established player or a longtime manager
- Managed the team at the start of the 1933 season or at least took over early enough to be on the radar for Sheet 6 inclusion.
- Canned just before Sheet 6 was finalized, which I believe would have been in July.
We can now evaluate all the managers already identified and see if any meet the criteria.
Of the four men who began the season as manager, one (Bucky Harris) was still managing long after Sheet 6 hit the candy stores. That leaves three candidates: Peckinpaugh, Killefer, and Street.
Of these three, I believe we can also rule out Peckinpaugh. As he was only skipper through June 8, I think Sheet 6 would have still be in the early planning stages and there would have been time for a genuine replacement rather than a last-minute Bambino ex machina.
If I had to choose between Street and Killefer, I’d definitely put my money on Street for three reasons–
- His Cardinals were a much more popular team than Killefer’s Browns.
- His Cardinals got off to a pretty hot start (34-21 by mid-June) whereas the Browns were…the Browns.
- He was already a legendary baseball player.
More on Gabby Street
Okay, you’re not buying that third bullet. Legendary? You just went to look up his WAR or whatever and wondered how such a carefully researched article could have such a typo! Perhaps you forgot about this!
Side note: In 1930 another catcher named Gabby topped Street’s feat by catching a ball from a blimp! You can find him on card 202 (Sheet 8) in the Goudey set.
It’s a fun thing when a trail of clues gets whittled down to a single player, or in this case manager. But do I really think Gabby Street was the original card 106/142? Let me put it this way. It would not shock me if he was. In addition to the clues that led us to him, there is one other minor one at least worth noting.
Let’s humor ourselves and assume Gabby Street was the original card 142, ready to hit the candy shops until a DP Ruth took his place at the last minute. While his inclusion in the set would have been as a manager, Street was better known as a catcher, and it would make sense on some level for Goudey to find another catcher to include in his place. As we’ve already seen, Paul Richards was a rather borderline selection for the set when he showed up on Sheet 9. On the other hand, if you were looking for catchers…
More on Gabby Street
I came across this article in the July 28, 1934, edition of the Boston Globe (subscription required), in which the great Walter Johnson was asked to select his all-time team. Admittedly this was before Bench, Campy, Berra, et. al., but check out who he puts at backstop!
I’ll note also that when the 1940 Play Ball set had the opportunity to bring back various retired legends of the diamond, there was no Ruth. There was no Gehrig. There was no Cobb. But there was…
Is that it?
There is definitely one thing that doesn’t sit right with me. While an additional manager card wouldn’t have been a total stretch for Sheet 6, there were a number of big-name managers I would have imagined making the cut well ahead of street. To name a few, Connie Mack (PHA), Joe McCarthy (NYY), and Max Carey (BRO) were all available.
Still, based on the research to this point, if I had to put my money on one guy it would be Gabby Street. But rather than end things there, we’ll follow a few more leads in Part 3 and maybe, just maybe, come away with an even stronger candidate or two.
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