Guest Column: Autographed 1933 Goudey Cards by Sean Brennan

I started collecting autographed 1933 Goudeys in about 1988. Back track about 6 years earlier, a carpenter neighbor of mine asked my dad for some help with some baseball cards he had found in an attic – all very good + 1933 Goudeys and Delongs. We flew with him to St. louis to auction them off and after the auction there remained a few lesser cards. Dealers came up to my neighbor offering him a few bucks. He turned to me (then 7) and my brother (then 10) and said “you want these?”. I got a Burleigh Grimes and a Bill Terry and was hooked. Flash forward to 1988, I have been collecting autographs through the mail mostly with the help of my dad and brother. While looking at my 1933 Goudeys (I had about two dozen by that point) I realized that Bill Terry was still alive. I mailed the card and two weeks later when I got back autographed, thus started a 25 year collecting journey.
I managed to get about 40 players through the mail before they passed away. I was on a tight budget so I got the cards autographed as I could afford them. Somehow I ended up with 14 signed Willis Hudlins?!!? They were all great signers except Randy Moore who stamped everything and Dick Bartell whom charged $5 (!!). I can still remember throwing them in an envelope with no cardboard (Yikes!). I received a Earl Whitehill signed Goudey for Christmas in 1988 that my dad bought for $50. I remember thinking how much he over paid back then. In the 25 years since I have only seen one other signed Earl Whitehill whom died in 1950.
The best part about collecting these back in the day was they were pretty worthless. Dealers frowned upon autographed cards and often sold these for less then the card itself was worth. I remember picking up my signed Pie Traynor on ebay in 2001 for $30!. In the last few years however, the vintage signed card market has went crazy. Signed Ty Cobb tobacco cards are going for $25k. Recently a trimmed Bing Miller (died in 1966) sold for $1200!!! I have TWO that I paid a total of $50 for and they are UNTRIMMED!

Rarities: of course Ruth and Gehrig are the kings value wise though, if you have the money, you can undoubtably get one within a year as there are quite a few in existence. I am more concerned with the real rare ones. Earl Clark died in 1938 giving him the distinction of being the first casualty of the Goudey series. He was also a minor leaguer and I have never actually seen one signed making him the holy grail of signed Goudeys. The toughest one I have is Johnny Welch whom died in 1940. Some other tough ones that i have seen 1 or less of are Fred Brickell, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, Pete Scott, Heinie Sand, Heinie Meine, and Bernie Friberg.

I currently have 176 different. I have 39 different hall of famers. I have over 130 doubles. I currently have every player that died back to Dizzy dean (that is 1974 and I am only missing the Luke Sewell standing card which is way more difficult to find then it should be because Luke insisted that wasn’t him on the card). The most I have paid for any of the cards I have is $325 for my Johnny Welch. The nearest I have to a complete team set is the Chicago cubs where I am only missing the Pat Malone. If I ever sell my set i might keep the Cubs just so i can have the oldest signed team set in existence (?).

I am happy to share my collection on Helmar’s blog and hope you enjoy them as well.

Happy Collecting! ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  Sean Brennan

7 thoughts

  1. Hello David. I like the way that you’ve put a structure to your collecting. Having a goal is a great way to deepen your collecting pleasure. Continued good luck with it! Charles


  2. Thanks for all the kind comments!
    Jonathan – unfortunately I do not have a Moe Berg signed 1933. I dont collect the 1934 goudeys but I know a guy working on a signed set. He has 3/4ths of the set done and still doesnt have a Greenberg. Probably the easiest Jewish player to get signed from the 1933 set is Andy Cohen. If I find an extra one I will certainly let you know. Question, is your center near Griffith Park in Los Angeles? I lived there ten years ago and seem to remember that but I may be wrong?

    Hi Bruce! Bill Terry is a pretty easy one to acquire. In fact there is a over priced one on ebay currently. He was the first player I got myself that passed away.

    David – sounds like you got a pretty terrific collection yourself. Contact Charles about showing it here, i think we would all love to see it! ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Sean, thanks for taking the time to respond. Actually, we are about 25 miles from Griffith Park. Or in Los Angeles mileage-speak, we are about 30-40 minutes away. As I’m sure you remember, that’s where the Observatory is located. Thanks for letting me know about the Andy Cohen card and yes, should you find an extra one, please let me know. Good luck and best of everything.


  3. I really enjoyed reading about your adventures in your journey. It is both interesting and insightful. I am the director of the Jewish Baseball Western Wall of Fame here in the southern California area. For the past 22 years, we’ve been making, free, in person presentations on the history and deeds of the 179 men of Jewish heritage who played major league. We make our in-person presentations to young people of all denominations. It has been an adventure and journey not unlike your own.
    We basically exist on the kind, unsolicited contributions by individuals and volunteers who either attend our presentations or hear about it from word of mouth. Mr. Mandel has been nothing but kind and generous in our endeavor over the years. My question to you is should you have doubles of signed cards of Moe Berg or Hank Greenberg, et al, that you would be willing to part with for affordable amount, we would be very interested and appreciative so we can display them at our future presentations to the young people. Either way, we’d love to hear from you regarding any further stories you could share. Thank you for your time.


  4. I really enjoyed this column. I’d love to see the auto Bill Terry. As the last national leaguer to hit over .400, he’s one of my favorite old-timers. The Goudeys are something special. Thanks for the posting.


  5. Hello,

    Great story about your start in baseball card collecting world and congratulations on your success! I have been working on accumulating one original card of every players in BB Hall of Fame. I currently own 213 players and spend some tome trying to locate the obscure players like Old Judge Ed Delahanty and others. Except for post-1950 the collection is not the highest quality but unique and fun history lesson on baseball.
    Thanks, David


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