There is little question that George Herman “Babe” Ruth was one of the greatest, if not the greatest baseball player to ever to pick up a ball and glove. Although some of his hitting records have been surpassed, what he did in comparison to the rest of the league—he twice hit more home runs in a season than any other entire team's players combined—was astounding. And to think, he was originally a pitcher!

Not surprisingly, Ruth collectibles are some of the most desired in all of sports. His legend has spread through his baseball cards, his enormous bats, and his flamboyant signature.

Even before Ruth broke into the Major Leagues with Boston at the end of the 1914 season, he already had a baseball card. That's because earlier in the year, the "Baltimore News" printed a Ruth card while he was playing for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. The set only included players from the Orioles and another local Minor League team, the Terrapins. There are fewer than 10 known copies of this Ruth card, which lists him as a pitcher. Obviously, many collectors salivate at the thought of getting their hands on this prize.

Ruth’s first full season in the Majors was 1915, and he made an immediate splash with the Red Sox, winning 18 games on the mound. There is only one rookie card featuring Ruth, the M101-5 Sporting News. This card is not as highly sought after as one might expect (the Sporting News set as a whole is quite rare and had horrible centering problems), considering it's the rookie card of perhaps the greatest player in baseball, but it does have its fans.

The M101-5 was Ruth’s last card with the Red Sox and his last mainstream card for 17 years, as the baseball-card market lulled during and after World War I. Of course, the lack of Ruth baseball cards did nothing to dampen America's infatuation with its first sports icon. As a member of the Red Sox, Ruth was acclaimed for his prowess both on the mound and in the outfield, but after the 1919 season, the team's cash-strapped owner, Harry Frazee, sold his biggest star to the New York Yankees for $100,000.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ruth would go on to lead the American League in home runs 10 times (12 total, including two with the Red Sox) and win four World Series championships. The Red Sox, on the other hand, were stricken by “The Curse of the Bambino” and would not win another championship until 2004.

In 1932, Ruth returned to the mainstream card market in the form of a 1932 U.S. Caramel card. It shows a jolly Ruth with his hat high on his head against a red background. The ca...

In 1933, Goudey became the first chewing gum company to release baseball cards. In its inaugural set, Goudey included four Ruth cards. Arguably some of Ruth’s most desired collectibles, this quartet is integral to what many collectors consider one of the top sets ever printed. Some collectors even consider the four Ruth cards to be a mini-set themselves, and accumulate them as such.

That same year, Goudey released a Sport Kings set that also featured Ruth, this time looking like a giant above silhouetted baseball players. This card is also difficult to find in high-grade, largely because of centering problems.

After the 1934 season, Ruth was sold to the Boston Braves—he ended his career a year later with 714 homeruns. Despite retiring, Ruth was still featured on many collectibles. For example, in 1936, Milton Bradley released a Babe Ruth-themed board game entitled, "Babe Ruth's Baseball Game." This gem is exceptionally hard to come by today. Just before his death, Ruth also appeared in a 1948-49 Leaf baseball card set. Even though it was published after his retirement, collectors don't treat this card as a less-prized commemorative.

Ruth collectibles do not stop at baseball cards. His signature is largely considered the most desired autograph in sports. Whether it is on a baseball, a photograph, or a bat, Ruth’s recognizable loopy “Babe Ruth” is as iconic as his grin. In fact there is a whole movie, "The Sandlot," which focuses on the retrieval of a lost Ruth autograph.

Other interesting vintage artifacts include pictures of Ruth with teammate Lou Gehrig. Together, the two comprised the middle of the Yankees' “Murderer’s Row” lineups. Interestingly, Ruth wore #3 and Gehrig wore #4 because of their places in the Yankees batting order—the Yankees were the first team whose players regularly wore numbers on their uniforms, and they did so based on their respective spots in the order. Thus Ruth’s #3 jersey, like Gehrig's #4, is an immensely popular collectors’ item.

Similarly, Ruth game-used bats are extremely collectible, though they routinely run into the six-figures at auction. Other more accessible Ruth items include, but are not limited to, coins, statues, and figurines. Indeed, Ruth is such an American icon that anything related to his life has value. Even the document outlining his sale to the Yankees sold recently for $99,000.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

George Ruth Babe Ruth 1921 E121 American Caramel Series Of 80 Graded Psa 3 Rare!Babe Ruth 2005 Absolute Quad Game Used Bat & Jersey #18/50 New York Yankees Hof1933 Goudey #181 Babe Ruth Yankees Psa 2 (mk) *438588bn-maExceptional 1926 Original Photo Babe Ruth Yankees The Babe & His Bat !1933 Goudey Babe Ruth # 144 Rc Rookie Card Psa Good 21927-28 Original Photo Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Yankees BarnstormingHistoric 1927 Original Photo Babe Ruth Hits Record 60th Home Run !!!1933 Goudey Sport Kings #2 Babe Ruth Yankees Hof Psa 4 Vg-ex CenteredSuperb 1936 Original Photo Joe Dimaggio Yankees Rookie Successor To Babe Ruth !Babe Ruth /20 $800+ Red Sox Game Used Baseball Bat Sp 2009 Topps Legends Of GameTristar Series 6 Baseball Hidden Treasure Babe RuthBabe Ruth 2005 Prime Cuts Baseball Triple Game Used Bat Jersey & Pants Card #/50Huge Vintage 1950's, 60's' 70's Sports Card Lot Of Over 830+ Cards Stars, Sp'sBabe Ruth / Ty Cobb Rare 2013 Topps Five Star Dual Legends Bat Relic 07/10Sgc 80 1929 Kashin R316 Babe Ruth Hof / Set Break / No Reserve1927 Original Photo Babe Ruth & Lou Gehirg Yankees World Series Home Run !*★ 1999 Ud Piece Of History Babe Ruth 500 Hr Club Sp ˜*1933 Goudy Babe Ruth #144 Psa 1 Pr New York Yankees*2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Printing Plate Babe Ruth 1/1 Yellow Very Rare Ssp 1932 Bulgaria Sport #256 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 6 Ex-mt1930s Goudey Gum Co. Big League Chewing Gum Card #144, George Herman (babe) RuthSanella Premium-set 112 Cards With Babe Ruth Type 2 Psa 42013 Topps Gypsy Queen Babe Ruth Hometown Currency Relic Card Serial #3/51919 Spalding Baseball Guide Cobb Joe Jackson Black Sox Babe Ruth 1918 Red SoxVintage Worth Special Bounder Baseball, Sand Lot Ball Babe Ruth Look No 83-1Tristar Hidden Treasures Series 6 Autographed Baseball Babe Ruth Walter Johnson Babe Ruth Hartland Statue Yankees 1960s 1961 Fleer Babe Ruth #75 Psa 8 Nmmt (oc) Beautiful Card $1 No Reserve!!2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Hometown Flags Patch Maryland Gqhf-br Babe Ruth 3/5 Hof1949 Leaf Gum #3 Babe Ruth. New York Yankees. Low Grade Baseball Card2014 Babe Ruth Topps Gypsy Queen Baseball Mini Brown Leather Sp True 1/1 Yankees1948 Wire Photo Babe Ruth Yankees Final At-bat At Yankee StadiumBabe Ruth Pendant Found In Farm Building Jar Of Buttons Sale In Iowa Read!!1930 Original Photo Babe Ruth New York Yankees Playing Cards !New York Yankees Babe Ruth Signed Cut W/loa & Grading LetterThe Manhattan Private Mint Babe Ruth 1 Oz 999 Silver Bar1963 Topps Foldees Babe Ruth, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin Sgc 8.5 Pop11961 Fleer Babe Ruth Baseball Card Yankees # 75Original Uncut Japanese Baseball Menko Sheet-circa 1950-babe Ruth With 53 Cards2014 Topps Museum Collection Babe Ruth Game Used Bat Quad Relic #17/25 YankeesBabe Ruth 1934 Quaker Oats Flip Book Page Original Ted Williams And Babe Ruth Photo Negative By Paul Maguire PhotographerPrince Fielder Psa Autograph Full Size Rawlings Bat Texas Rangers Babe Ruth JsaRare: 1947 Babe Ruth Nbc Cavalcade Of America 6 X 9" Premium1973 Topps Set Break #1 All-time Home Run Leaders ( Babe Ruth ) Nm-mt1967 Topps Who Am I? # 12 Babe Ruth Psa 8 Nm-mt 25821Babe Ruth Signed Onl Baseball Likely Game Used! Full Jsa LoaBabe Ruth 1932 Sanella Margarine Bvg 7 Hof RareHelmar Brewing Co. Cabinet #20 Babe Ruth Boston Red Sox Hof2011 Topps Marquee Gametime Mementos Babe Ruth Quad Bat Card #/25Vtg Baseball Watch Fob Scorer Umpire Strike Counter Babe Ruth Parisian Novelty ($500) Babe Ruth Original 1978 Old Vintage Graded Gem Mint 10Rare............#5 Babe Ruth Pesque Hueso Spanish Cerveza Leyendas Baseball CardMcfarlane Cooperstown Collection Babe Ruth Red Sox Series 61952 Look & See Babe Ruth Psa 9 (mc)($1,000) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Original 1973 Old & Vintage Both Mint & RareWillis Hudlin Signed Baseball Indians "gave Up Babe Ruth's 500th Home Run"1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149 PoorSams 1992 Limited Edition Bobblehead - Babe Ruth - New York Yankees 1934 Original Photo Babe Ruth New York Yankees Birthday With Cake !