Friday, December 20, 2013

Goudey's 1934 Big League Gum Baseball Trivia

This post isn't trivia about a 1934 Goudey baseball set. This post is trivia FROM a 1934 Goudey baseball set. Already deep into that year's release, the company's designers added some late-season Q-and-A to their follow-up on 1933's successful debut, perhaps to spice up what was otherwise a parade of marginal players. (That's one reason I consider 1934 an "update" to 1933; more details in A Closer Look at 1933-34 Big League Gum.)

1934 Big League Gum #73-96 sheet + "1933" Lajoie

Goudey published several "series" of Big League Gum cards in 1934, four runs of 24 players each, for 96 cards total. The above 5x5 card sheet comprised that final group, #73-96, with an extra spot for the "1933" #106 Nap Lajoie (green background near upper-right).

Goudey often switched numbers between series to leave gaps, hoping kids would buy more cards to fill them, but #73-96 looks to be all there. (Perhaps they realized there wouldn't be a fifth series to swap numbers with.)

1934 Big League Gum #73, Ed Wells

One can guess that a fourth run of cards would come out mid-season, but Goudey's inclusion of trivia questions, some from 1934 itself, narrows the release window to "post-May" and perhaps after that year's All-Star Game on July 10th. Let's start with its first card, Ed Wells, and flip him over to find this question.

Hall of Fame manager John McGraw passed away in early 1934, so this question's a tribute of sorts. It's pretty esoteric to know who he "turned down," though. Big League Gum #85, Adam Comorosky, has the answer, or at least the factual part of it.

OK, McGraw didn't get every call right. But according to Giants team historians, he passed sight-unseen on the Cooperstown talent of Lefty Grove thanks to bad feelings over missing out on Babe Ruth in 1914. The moral: don't hold grudges, kids.

Each of the first twelve cards in that series (#73-84, all American Leaguers) asked a question answered by the final twelve (#85-96, all National Leaguers). Singles from the whole series are scarce and it's a pricy proposition to acquire all 24, so here's its full trivia list for hobby posterity, with relevant notes and links.

  • #73 Ed Wells, Q: What pitcher was turned down by John McGraw?
  • #85 Adam Comorosky, A: Lefty Grove in 1926

  • #74 Bob Boken, Q: Who was the most consistent base-stealer last year? [i.e., 1933]
  • #86 Lloyd Johnson, A: Pepper Martin, 26 out of 35

Martin's 26 thefts led the NL for 1933, but his Baseball-Reference page omits the 9 "caught stealing," implying it was kept unofficially at the time.

  • #75 Bill Werber, Q: Who struck out the greatest number of times last year? [1933]
  • #87 George Darrow, A: Jimmy [sic] Foxx, Philadelphia A's, 93

  • #76 Hal Trosky, Q: What NL player has already played in over 2000 contests?
  • #88 Homer Peel, A: Frankie Frisch of the St. Louis Cardinals

  • #77 Joe Vosmik, Q: Who hit into the first triple play this year? [i.e., 1934]
  • #89 Linus Frey, A: Irv Jeffries, Phillies vs. Braves, off Frankhouse May 29th [box score]

That May 29th "triple play game" dates Goudey's fourth series to June, if not later.

  • #78 Pinky Higgins, Q: Who has the highest lifetime batting average?
  • #90 Ki-Ki Cuyler, A: Ty Cobb .370 [still MLB's all-time leader; correct figure is .366]

  • #79 Eddie Durham, Q: What noted player has taken part in the most World Series games?
  • #91 Dolph Camilli, A: Babe Ruth, 41 games [now Yogi Berra, 75]

  • #80 Marty McManus, Q: What was the longest game ever played?
  • #92 Steve Larkin, A: Brooklyn & Boston 1920, 1-1 tie in 26 innings [still the record; box score]

  • #81 Bob Brown, Q: What was the greatest number of scoreless innings pitched last year and who pitched them?
  • #93 Fred Ostermueller, A: 46 innings by Carl Hubbell, July 13th - August 1, 7 games

  • #83 Jim Mooney, Q: Who holds the record for driving in the most runs in a single season?
  • #95 Myril Hoag, A: Hack Wilson of the Cubs, 190 in 1930 [since corrected to 191]

  • #84 Paul Derringer, Q: What pitcher holds the record for most consecutive games won?
  • #96 James DeShong, Q: Rube Marquard, 19 with the Giants in 1912

Marquard started his 1912 season by winning 19 in a row for John McGraw's Giants, the eventual NL pennant winners, and still holds this record. Check out "Winning Streaks by Pitchers" from the SABR archives for plenty more on the subject.

1909-11 T206 Piedmont Tobacco, Rube Marquard (portrait)

BONUS RUBE: Marquard was the last living player from another seminal set, T206 tobacco. He passed away on June 1, 1980, just long enough to appear in (and sign) the 1979 Diamond Greats set of then-living former players.

1979 Diamond Greats #26, Rube Marquard

As noted in my Diamond Greats set profile, Marquard appeared on vintage cardboard sets nearly 70 years apart, which might itself be another record. Trivia on top of trivia! Such was baseball and collecting, even back in the 1930s.

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