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    

Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig '25 Yankees Signed Autographed Ball Auto Psa/dna 2 (pwcc)Babe Ruth Signed Autographed 1930s Signed Ruth Model Bat, Auto Psa/dna (pwcc)1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa 5 ExBabe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Signed Baseball - Psa Dna Graded - No Reserve Auction!Babe Ruth Signed BaseballR319 1933 Goudey Baseball-#144 Babe Ruth, New York Yankees Hof, Sgc 60/5, NicerBabe Ruth Bat Mickey Mantle Auto Cuts Griffey Jr Ripken, 1/1, Hofers Lot No Res!Babe Ruth 2007 Upper Deck Ud Premier Remnants Triple Game Used Yankees JerseyBabe Ruth 1999 Upper Deck A Piece Of History Game Used Bat 500 Hr Club /350 SpBabe Ruth Signed Autographed Baseball Sweet Spot Auto, Jsa Auth Loa (pwcc)R319 1933 Goudey Baseball-#53 Babe Ruth, New York Yankees Hof, Sgc 35/2.5 Sharp1933 Goudey #149 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa 1 (mc) Pr-frR319 1933 Goudey Baseball-#149 Babe Ruth, New York Yankees Hof, Sgc 55/4.5 NicerBabe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Dual Signed Baseball Psa Coa Framed Shadowbox '27 Yankees1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Card #144 Psa 21933 Goudey Babe Ruth # 53 Psa 3 Vg, # 15211004, Hof1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149 New York YankeesBabe Ruth Autograph Baseball1932 Abdulla & Co. Ltd Sport Records #196 Babe Ruth Hof Psa 2 Good " Low Pop "2008 Triple Threads Babe Ruth 6x Game-used Bat Relics #8/18 Ssp 714 Hrs Yankees Babe Ruth New York Yankees 2010 Topps Sterling Quad Game Used Bat Relic #03/10Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 2005 Hartland Statue Figurine 9" W/ Original Box Yankees Babe Ruth 2015 Topps Museum Game Used Quad Bat Relic /251932 Sanella Babe Ruth Card Super Rare Type 1, Psa 5 (ex) With Set Pre GoudeyBabe Ruth New York Yankees 2010 Topps Sterling Triple Game Used Bat Relic #/251933 Sanella Margarine Type 1 Centered Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 6Roger Maris Autograph Connecting For His 61st Home Run Passing Babe Ruth Nice Nr1915 - 1919 Babe Ruth Notepad - Boston Red Sox - Bvg Authentic - Rare! Babe Ruth - Sanella 1932/33 Type 2 Psa 2,51935 Babe Ruth Boston Braves Quaker Oats Pin With Backing AntiqueBabe Ruth Autographed Baseball (personalized) (1929-31 Era)-jsa AuthenticatedVintage Babe Ruth Hillerich & Bradsby J2 Decal Baseball Bat Louisville Slugger2015 Topps Museum Collection Quad Relic Legends #ppql-br Babe Ruth /25!1934 Quaker Oats Babe Ruth New York Yankees Fob Scorer Score Keeper Rare"babe" Ruth Pocket Watch...original C.1940's Ingraham Mfg...ex!1935 Babe Ruth New York Yankees On Cover Of Orig. Large American Boy PublicationBabe Ruth Commemorative Bat Signed By Ruth's Grand DaughterHuge 66" Louisville Slugger 125 Powerized Genuine Babe Ruth Baseball BatA Top-notch C. 1920 Vintage Original Type 1 Photo Of Babe Ruth New York Yankees 1921 Babe Ruth New York Yankees On Cover Of Popular Science Monthly Publication1948 The Babe Ruth Story By Babe Ruth First Edition, Original PublicationTed Williams Signed 18x23 Photo Auto W/ Babe Ruth Framed 27x31 Jsa Loa HofAutographed By Ted Williams With Babe Ruth, Hologram, Coa Field Of DreamsTerrific 1927 World Series Vintage Original Type 1 Photo Of Babe Ruth Home-run! 2008 Sp Legendary Cuts Memorabilia Games Used Bat 10/25 Babe RuthBraves Cooperstown Collection # 3 Jersey Babe Ruth/dale MurphyMcfarlane Mlb Cooperstown Collection New York Yankees Babe Ruth2013 Topps Babe Ruth Proven Mettle Commemorative Coin Card 43/99 Yankees Pmc-br2005 Sweet Spot Classics Babe Ruth Game Used Pants Yankees Sp With Pinstripe2009 Topps Sterling Babe Ruth Triple Jersey 18/251960 Fleer Baseball Set Break #3 Babe Ruth Nr-mintVintage Original George Babe Ruth Louisville Slugger Baseball Bat 40 Br1961 Topps Babe Ruth Hits 60th Homer #401 ... Ex-mtSweet C.1927 New York Yankees Vintage Original Type 1 Photo Babe Ruth - YankeesBabe Ruth Signed Autographed Western League Baseball Red & Blue Stitching 1926 Babe Ruth 714 Home Run King Silver Art Bar. 1oz..999 Silver Bar No Reserve!George Herbert 'babe' Ruth Silver Art Bar. 1oz..999 Silver Bar No Reserve!Babe Ruth Autographed Replica D&m Baseball Red & Black Stitching Very RareHelmar Imperial Cabinet #17 Babe Ruth Boston Red Sox HofEaston Xl1 - Little League / Babe Ruth - Yb13x1 29/19 2 1/4" -10 - Great Bat!