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    

2005 Playoff Absolute Babe Ruth Tott Jumbo Jersey W/ Pinstripes 13/951916-20 W-unc Big Head Babe Ruth Red Sox Hof Rookie Era Psa " Crazy Rare " 1932 World Series Babe Ruth "called Shot" Ticket Stub Psa 2 Yankees Hof2007 Ud Premier Remnants Babe Ruth Hof Yankees Triple Pinstripe Patch 33/601926 W512 #6 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa Authentic " Very Rare "Original 1923 Babe Ruth First Opening Day At Yankee Stadium Baseball Press PhotoSpectacular, Original 1935 Babe Ruth Boston Braves Pitching Original Photo2002 Ud Vintage Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Honus Wagner Timeless Triple Jersey Bgs 8.5 Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig #4/5 Dual Jersey/bat Relic 2016 Panini Prime Cuts Yankees1928 Babe Ruth Candy Company #6 " The King Of Swats "2013 Five Star Dual Relics #ed /10 Babe Ruth & Yogi Berra Bgs 9.5 Jersey Bat 1/1Babe Ruth Autograph Cut -- See DescriptionCoca Cola Redemption Card Babe Ruth 1927 W/ 5 Cent U.s. Dime Same Year 1920 W519 Unnumbered Babe Ruth – Psa Authentic - Ruth's 1st Yankees Card!1935 Exhibits Babe Ruth Psa 4.5 Vg-ex+ Baseball Card New York Yankees !!! 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 #5a Babe Ruth Brandt Maranville Mcmanus Psa Good 22009 Topps Babe Ruth T-206 Mini Framed Old Mill Bat Relic Yankees2004 Donruss Classics Babe Ruth Legendary Jersey A True 1 Of 1 Well. A 3/3! Wow!Babe Ruth Autographed Cut..... (please Read Description)2016 Immaculate Babe Ruth, Roger Maris Dual Gu Jersey + Bat #d 05/10 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth # 53 Original 1928 Babe Ruth Fro-joy Ice Cream F52 Baseball Card No 2Babe Ruth Signed Photograph - Pathe Freres Phonograph Co. Promotion - 1920Babe Ruth 2015 Immaculate Heroes Game Used Jersey W/ Pinstripe #08/15 Rr32581932 Sanella Babe Ruth (type 2) Card Graded 4 (vg-ex) + 112 Set Cheap Pre Goudey2016 Topps Dynasty Alex Rodriguez Patch Auto #5/5 Babe Ruth Award YankeesBabe Ruth Auto Signed 8x10 Photo Photograph Stamp Rare New York Yankees Red Sox1933 Goidey Babe Ruth1961 Fleer Baseball Complete Set Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Lou Gehrig Set Estate Sale1923 W515-2 #3 Babe Ruth Hand Cut Sgc "a"1962 Topps #141 Babe Ruth Twilight Years - Green Tint Variation - Psa 7 Nr MtBabe Ruth 2001 Ud Sp Authentic Sultan Of Swatches Pinstripe Jersey 03/14 Sp1950 Cadaco-ellis Ethan Allen's All-star Baseball Game Babe Ruth,jackie RobinsonBabe Ruth Cast Iron Door Stop Vintage New York Yankees Baseball Antique!!2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Babe Ruth Tools Of The Trade Game Bat 10/25 Mt1933 Goudey #149 Babe Ruth1960 Fleer Baseball #3 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 5 Ex - Sharp!Very Rare Unknown Stamp Panel W/ Babe Ruth & Georges Carpentier, Made In GermanyExtremly Rare Babe Ruth Autograph1960 Fleer Baseball Complete Set Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Lou Gehrig Set Estate SaleBabe Ruth 2011 Topps Tribute Game Used Dual Bat 69/751927 Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Signed Baseball Sports Memorabilia Read Listing 1952 Topps Look'n See #15 Babe Ruth ... Graded Sgc 301932 Babe Ruth SanellaRare W/easel Stand Babe Ruth George Herman 1934Lot(2) Babe Ruth's Own Book Of Baseball + Big Book Of Baseball (pwcc)2007 Ud Premier Remnants Babe Ruth Hof Yankees Triple Pinstripe Patch 33/601952 Topps Look 'n See Babe Ruth #15 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1960 Fleer Baseball - 23 Card Lot - Babe Ruth, Cobb, Lajoie, Hof's2014 Topps Bunt Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig (77) Dual Signature Sig Virtual Card1952 Topps Mickey Mantle 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Baseball Card Lot Read Listing1961 Fleer #75 Babe Ruth ... Graded Sgc 881959 Fleer Ted Williams #2 Ted's Idol Babe RuthBabe Ruth -psa-aaa-beckett Lot Mix 100/100 Original As Picture WinBabe Ruth Signed Advertising Card Yankees Baseball Collectible Read ListingBabe Ruth #32 Sketch Card Limited 1/25 Edward Vela Signed1962 Topps Set Break #139 Babe Ruth Story: 5 Nr-mint C089752001 Upper Deck All Star Heroes Memorabilia Babe Ruth Bat Card /19332009 Topps 206 Babe Ruth Mini Piedmont Gold 50 /50=ebay 1/1 #2871962 Topps Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #140 Psa 7 Nm Babe Ruth Special