1933 Sport Kings Babe RuthThe Goudey Gum company produced another set in 1933, featuring stars from baseball, football, basketball, golf, cycling, boxing, skiing, horse racing, wrestling, tennis, hockey, swimming, boating, flying, billiards, and track and field. Oh, and Iditarod. This 48-card set was boldly stamped with the obvious moniker Sport Kings.
The cards in the Sport Kings set showed portraits of these prominent athletes in uniform, from the waist up. Just above each athlete's name was a miniature scene from that athlete's sport. This was a beautiful set and was produced over the span of two years.
The cards in this set measured 2 3/8" by 2 7/8" and were packaged in two different colored wrappers.
There were only three baseball players included in the set - Ty Cobb, Carl Hubbell, and Yankees outfielder Babe Ruth.
The "Sport Kings" was a set of 48 cards printed by the Goudey Gum
Company of Boston in 1933 as a tribute to the different sporting
legends of that era. Card #2 in the collection was dedicated to George
Herman "Babe" Ruth, baseball's Home Run King, who at that time was
winding down his spectacular baseball career. The 1933 Sport Kings
Babe Ruth card was one of only three cards in the collection that
featured baseball players.
The "Sport Kings" was the second set of cards that was produced by
Goudey in 1933. The first was the more popular "Big League Chewing
Gum," a 240-card all-star baseball collection which was also the first
baseball gum cards to be printed. It had four cards on Babe Ruth which
helped make the collection one of the top 3 sets of baseball cards
Before Goudey started including baseball cards in its sticks of gums, the promotional items were already being included by American candy and tobacco manufacturers in their products since the mid 1800s. The early cards were usually printed in sepia tones on cheap paper. Goudey's versions were larger, more colorful, and more durable which made them instant hits as collector's items among baseball fans.
The 1933 Sport Kings was unique because it featured legends from 18 sports including baseball. That broadened the set's appeal and attracted more sports fans to collect them. The popularity that the cards generated was also due to its more attractive design and durable make. Just like the Goudey "Big League Chewing Gum" set, the "Sport Kings" were bigger than usual at 2 3/8" x 2 7/8". On the front, each card shows a colorful hand-drawn portrait of the featured athlete against a solid color background. Above the portrait was a red "Sport Kings Gum" banner, while below was a black strip with the athlete's name and an action scene from the sport in silhouette. The entire front had a white border around it. The back portion had a short biographical write up on the featured star. Above the text are the card number, the athlete's name, and the name of the sport. At the bottom was a Goudey "Sport Kings Gum" advertisement.
A Number of Firsts
The 1933 Sport Kings stood out as one of the most memorable hobby sets of all time because it provided a number of firsts. Foremost of these was its inclusion of the first individual cards of basketball players. They were Ed Wachter (#5) and Celtics standouts Nat Holman (#3), Joe Lopchick (#32), and Eddie Burke (#33). The Sport Kings was also one of the few to ever feature women champions. They were Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Helene Madison (#37) and track and field's Babe Didrikson (#45), one of history's best known female athletes. The collection also became popular for being the first to include separate cards for the father-and-son cycling legends Bobby Walthour Sr. (#7) and Jr. (#31). Still, it was easy to see that the 1933 Sport Kings had the top regard for baseball, with Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth occupying cards #1 and #2, respectively, plus Carl Hubbell on #42.