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    

1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 4 Vg-ex " Super Hot Card "1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1921 E121 American Caramel Series Of 80 George 'babe' Ruth Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)Babe Ruth 1920 Original Photograph Snapshot Type 1 - First Season As Yankee RareBabe Ruth 1927 World Series Signed Autographed BaseballBabe Ruth Vintage 1932 Sanella Margarine Type 2! Graded Psa 8 Nm-mint! Stunning2016 Panini Flawless Teammates Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Miller Huggins Bat Patch /251921 E121 Babe Ruth Sgc A Red Sox Uniform *sells For 15-20k Vg Condition*2005 Absolute Memorabilia Tools Of Trade Babe Ruth Jersey Bat Relic /1501932 U.s. Caramel Babe Ruth #32 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Psa 4(mk) Vgex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth #2 Psa 6.5 Exmt+ (pwcc-he)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 Sgc 2/30 Gd (pwcc)1934 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth #28 Psa Auth, Altered (pwcc)1924 V122 Willard Chocolate Sports Champions Babe Ruth #5 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth #80 Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149 Sgc 1.5/20 Fr (pwcc)2015 National Treasures Babe Ruth Joe Dimaggio Lou Gehrig 4x Jersey Bat #/101928 R315 Yellow Babe Ruth Sgc 2.5/35 Gd+ (pwcc)1930 W554 Strip Card Babe Ruth Psa 1.5 Fr (pwcc)1927 Exhibits Babe Ruth Psa 3(mk) Vg (pwcc)1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1934 Exhibits 4-on-1 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Vernon Gomez Dickey Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)1933 Blue Bird Babe Ruth Front View Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)Babe Ruth Signed Baseball 1925 New York Yankees Ruth Dugan O'neill *no Res* Auto1923 W515-1 Strip Card Babe Ruth #3 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth # 144..psa Pr 1..original Babe Ruth Baseball Card!!!!!1927 New York Yankees Team Figurine Danbury Mint Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Lazzeri1932 Sanella Margarine Type 3 Babe Ruth Bottom 83 #83 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1926 W512 Strip Card Panel Babe Ruth Rogers Hornsby Frisch Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1934 R309-1 Goudey Premium Babe Ruth Sgc 2/30 Gd (pwcc)1929 Exhibits 4-on-1 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Leo Durocher Koenig Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)1973 Topps #1 Home Run Leaders Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays Psa 9 Rare1932 Sanella Margarine Type 2 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 2 Good1931 W517 Strip Card Babe Ruth Throwing #4 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)1932 Sanella Margarine Type 2 Babe Ruth Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)2016 Flawless Baseball Babe Ruth , Lou Gehrig , Herb Pennock 3x Gu Jerseys #5/201930’s Babe Ruth Diamond Fountain Pen1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth #2 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3 Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)1929 R316 Kashin Publications Babe Ruth Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1924 Louisville Sluggers Knack Of Batting Orig., Complete Booklet..babe Ruth +++1950 Babe Ruth Cereal Ring1928 Exhibits Babe Ruth Psa 3(mk) Vg (pwcc)Babe Ruth Bat 4/25 2015 Leaf Q 1935 Goudey 4-in-1 Babe Ruth Rabbit Maranville Brandy Mcmanus Psa 1 Pr (pwcc)1934 Quaker Oats Babe Ruth "ask Me" PinBabe Ruth 2016 Flawless Baseball Quad Game Used Jersey & Bat # 3 Of 4 Wow 1 Of 1Babe Ruth 2000 Ud Yankees Legends Gold Legendary Lumber Game Used Bat C5873Babe Ruth 1935 Muratti Cigarettes #26 Olympics W/ Dorothy Poynton Psa 7 Nr-mint1931 Babe Ruth Josetti Tobacco Sgc 55 Vg/ex 4.51930 British American Tobacco Babe Ruth Sgc 80 Ex/nm 6($1,000) Babe Ruth & Gehrig Original 1973 Vintage Lot Orange & Red Graded 101932 Bulgaria Sport Tobacco Babe Ruth / Max Schmeling Sgc 80 Ex-nm 6Pete Rose More Hits Then Babe Ruth Signed Autographed Omlb Tristar Authenticated