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Mudville: May 25, 2024 4:46 am PDT

Lou Gehrig Says… Here’s Shanty

If I had to create a band name based solely on baseball cards, Shanty Hogan and the Goudeys might be tough to beat.

Shit, the artwork for the first album is right there on his 1934 Goudey baseball card.

The 1934 Goudey set is absolutely iconic and its place in history is just. It has great artwork and little silhouettes of baseball players in action.

This creates an effect on some cards where a player looks like he is high on LSD and imagining these little men playing ball in space.

I’m looking at you, Mickey Cochrane.

If you don’t remember the 1934 Goudey set off the top of your head, it’s the one that has a ghost of Lou Gehrig in the bottom corner of the card with “Lou Gehrig says…” written in a banner.

It’s a really cool concept.

I also applaud Goudey for finding a photo of Gehrig wearing a hat that makes him look like he’s peddling sausages on the Lower East Side to gentlemen that don’t speak English.

Lou Gehrig hadn’t yet died; he was just presented as a ghost on these cards.

Frank Hogan seemed like an interesting character based on his card in this issue.

Even though it’s just a painting,

Hogan looks like a big dude.

He’s got a glove the size of an elephant’s ear and I’m guessing he’s a catcher, because he’s somewhat crouching.

It was a nice move to put positions on the front of baseball cards, but Goudey hadn’t birthed that idea just yet.

Looking at Frank Hogan’s card, I see a large handsome fellow with a square jaw, readying for a throw as someone is about to get knocked on his ass.

Maybe it’s Sunny Jim Bottomley! Hogan even gets three little silhouettes in the background, depicting what appears to be a weak popup to the pitcher. Awesome. And here’s the ghost of Lou Gehrig about to say something, probably about him! Life couldn’t be better for Frank Hogan.

On the back of the card, there surely is a quote. I can tell because there are quotation marks at the beginning and end of the text. I guess this is what Lou Gehrig said. Frank Hogan’s big moment.

The quote though is just some biographical text about Mr. Hogan. Simple prose like “Frank Hogan was born in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Frank Hogan stands at an even six foot high and tips the scales at 220.” There’s no way Lou Gehrig said this. I don’t think a human said this.

I do believe this was said by someone using a Speak and Spell while doing ring announcements for a big pretend boxing match. False advertising by Goudey.

Comparing the back of Hogan’s card to others in the set though, there’s a clear difference. It’s the same Speak and Spell text, but there’s also a printed signature of Lou Gehrig and “by arrangement with Christy Walsh” written on the bottom.

I did not remember seeing that on Frank Hogan’s card because it wasn’t there. That led me to wonder whether Frank was good enough for Lou Gehrig to be talking about in the first place.

This led me to Baseball Reference.

Baseball Reference is a site that lists every player who has ever farted in a Major League Baseball game. It stretches as far back as when Revolutionary War soldiers were playing baseball games with bases made out of dead British soldiers’ redcoats. Frank Hogan does not exist in the Baseball Reference database. Shanty Hogan does though, and that’s who is pictured on Frank Hogan’s card. It’s a bummer that Goudey didn’t use the nickname Shanty on the card. On Kiki Cuyler’s card, Goudey used his given name Hazen, but put “Ki-Ki” in parenthesis. Goudey missed the boat on really jazzing up the Hogan card by failing to use Shanty. But they just went with boring old Frank, a shortened form of his middle name, Francis.

Looking through the 1934 Goudey set, all of the quotes on the back follow the same template. Maybe they just had Lou Gehrig read printed text out loud, slapped quotation marks on the print and called it a quote. Technically, they wouldn’t be wrong. Maybe Goudey just made the whole thing up. And who was Christy Walsh anyway and how did he land such prime exposure on these cards? Chasing down the mysteries of the 1934 Goudey set, I learned that Christy Walsh was a sports agent. His clients included Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Rogers Hornsby. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Scott Boras!

The 1934 Goudey set is still one of the treasures of the collecting world. Frank (Shanty) Hogan may have gotten shafted a couple of times and Lou Gehrig probably never said what was promised to me on the front of the cards, but it’s still a fantastic set, nevertheless. The set was released in two series and in series two, Lou Gehrig was replaced by Chuck Klein. The Hall of Famer Klein was no slouch, but he was also no Gehrig. It must have sucked for those players in series two who missed out on Lou Gehrig fake talking about them, but such is life in the wild world of the 1934 Goudeys.

Rocco is a baseball writer with too much time on his hands who lives in the dusty corners of Baseball Reference. He was one half of the battery for the 1986 Belleville Recreation Farm League Champion Indians. He likes early 20th century baseball nicknames, pullover polyester jerseys and Old Hoss Radbourn. He works as a College Athletics Director and his second book was released in April of 2021.

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