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    

1931 Ny Yankees Team Signed Baseball 19 Auto 's Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Psa/dna LoaBabe Ruth New York Yankees Cut Auto Psa/dna Autographed1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth #93 Psa 2.5 Gd+ (pwcc)1933 Goudey #181 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa 2 Good " Looks Undergraded "1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Sgc Auth 1930 Ny Yankees Team Signed Baseball Auto Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Dickey + Jsa Loa1927 Ny Yankees Signed Baseball 3 Auto's Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Tony Psa/dna LoaBabe Ruth 2009 Topps Sterling Patch 6 Piece Jersey W/pinstripes /10 Game Used1926 W512 Strip Card Babe Ruth #6 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1923 W515-1 Strip Card Babe Ruth #3 Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)1930 Lou Gehrig 3 Home Run Game & Babe Ruth Homers Baseball Game ProgramBabe Ruth 2002 02 Leaf Certified Jersey Sans Autograph Auto Fabric Game 1/10 1/11927 W560 Strip Card Babe Ruth Sgc Auth (pwcc)Babe Ruth Rookie 1933 Goudey #149 Rc Sgc Graded 101926 W512 Babe Ruth Sgc 1.5 Goudey1929 Kashin R316 Babe Ruth Baseball Card Sgc 20 1932 Sanella Margarine Type 2 Babe Ruth Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)Babe Ruth Game Worn Pants1950 Callahan Baseball Complete (65) Card Set W/ Box ... "mint" ... Babe Ruth1932 Sanella Margarine Mid-grade Complete Set Babe Ruth Type 2 Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)Vintage Japanese Babe Ruth Post Card (pre Or Post War Collectible)Babe Ruth Baseball Wrist Watch Base Ball Nm W/box & Paper Work Rare And Complete2002 Babe Ruth Bat Card 20/50 Bv $2501935 Babe Ruth Quaker Oats Celluloid Score Keeper Boston Braves Scorer Baseball32 Used Leather Baseballs, Rawlings, Wilson, Babe Ruth, Little League 9 In"1937 Donut Corp. Of Amer. Babe Ruth, Thrilling Mom., Hand Cut Hof - Sgc 1.5Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey Sport Kings #2+goudey #181+mickey Mantle 1955 Bowman #202Lot Of 22 Old Baseball Cards Including Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb & More!Babe Ruth Yankees 2011 Topps Series 1 Baseball Topps 60 Relic T60r-br1993 Sp #279 Derek Jeter Rc Yankees Lot Mickey Mantle Babe Ruth Jorge Posada MoLou Gehrig Babe Ruth 1929 Yankees Signed Autographed Baseball Jsa AuthenticatedJacob Ruppert Beer Tray New York City Ny Talk Of The Town Nyc Yankees Babe Ruth*1963 Babe Ruth Hall Of Fame Bust Baseball Original New York Yankees Nice!1961 Topps #401 Babe Ruth Hits 60th Homer Exmt Vint.man's Wristwatch/"babe Ruth" Model/shock Proof U.s.a./nr/steampunkLou Gehrig/babe Ruth Franklin Mint Collector Knifes1960 Fleer Baseball Greats Babe Ruth #3 New York Yankees 2015 Topps Babe Ruth Cs-17 1895 Nickel, 1 Cent Stamp # 32/50 New York Yankees2003 Upper Deck Babe Ruth Classic Portraits New York Yankees Bronze Bust W/box1968 American Oil Mickey Mantle & Babe Ruth Ticket Double Psa Scarce Clear 7 Ounce Big Hit Beverages Babe Ruth Brunswick Ga. Georgia Bottle2015 Topps Series 1 Babe Ruth Story 10 Card Complete Set Yankees2007 Sp Legendary Cuts Babe Ruth Reel History Film Card 1/1 New York Yankees1933 Goudey Babe Ruth (#181) Psa Good/232 Used Leather Rawlings Babe Ruth Baseballs, Little League 9 In"Antique 1930's Babe Ruth Pocket Knife Camillus Figural Celluloid Baseball Bat1961 Topps Set Break Nm #401 Babe Ruth Hof 194491916 Red Sox Team Autographed Signed Baseball W/ Babe Ruth And Others1934 Butterfinger Babe Ruth 1954 Topps Scoops Babe Ruth Sets Record #41 Please Read Authentic 1963 Babe Ruth Cooperstown Hof Bust1961 Topps Set Break #401 Babe Ruth 60th Hr Nr-mint G28795Babe Ruth Signed Autographed Onl Ford Frick Retirement Baseball 1935($220) Babe Ruth Fro-joy Reprint Lot Vintage Player Complet Set - Rare LotNew York Yankees 1929 Baseball Road Jersey Babe Ruth Majestic CooperstownRare Boston Braves Babe Ruth Jersey Size 44 Yankees Red SoxBabe Ruth 2011 Topps Tier 1 Relic Bat 28/399 Graded Gem Mint 10 Yankees Card 1934 Quaker Oats Babe Ruth Members Pin. New York Ny YankeesBabe Ruth Signed Autographed Oal Red & Blue Stitching Baseball 1926-27 Rare 1929 Babe Ruth Magazine Cover Baseball Yankees Melbourne's Plays & Players