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 Single Signed Baseball Autograph Auto Jsa Loa New York Yankees HofBabe Ruth Sweet Spot & William Harridge Dual Signed 1944 Baseball Auto Jsa LoaBabe Ruth & Ty Cobb Signed Offical National League Baseball1922 World Series Program Giants Top Yankees, Babe Ruth In Ny Yanks 2nd Pennant!Babe Ruth Signed Autographed Oal William Harridge Baseball.Antique Cast Iron Baseball Player By A.c. Williams C 1909 Ty Cobb Babe RuthBabe Ruth Sports #1 -1949- Golden Age Comic- 1st Issue!Rare Orig 1923 Lections Psa Baseball Card Babe Ruth New York Yankees Good 2 (mk)1932 U.s. Caramel - Babe Ruth - #32 - Psa 2.5 (under-graded?)1933 Goudey #149 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa 2.5 Good+Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey #181 New York Yankees Hof Psa 2.5 Good+1933 Goudey #181 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Psa 2.5 Good+1933 Goudey #181 Babe Ruth Hof Yankees Psa 3 (mk) Vg " Strong Eye Appeal "1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Psa 1.5 Fair " Looks Nicer "1933 Goudey Big League Chewing Gum R319 #144 - Babe Ruth1933 Goudey Babe Ruth1973 Topps #1 Hr Leaders W/ Babe Ruth Hank Aaron Willie Mays Hof Psa 9 " Tough "1933 Goudey Babe Ruth New York Yankees #149 Baseball Card1926 W512 Babe Ruth Hand Cut - Blank Back - Psa 2 ~ Psa Label Is Wrong1933 Goudey Card #149 Babe Ruth Psa 4 Original Best Price !!1962 Topps Venezuelan Babe Ruth Special's Complete Set Gehrig, Venezuela Spanish2004 Playoff Prime Cuts Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Game Used Materials Card #6/92017 Diamond Kings Materials Babe Ruth - Bat, Pinstripe Jersey, Holo Blue (2/3)2017 Leaf Executive Collection Babe Ruth Yankees Cut Auto Autograph2017 Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig Allen & Ginter Double Rip Card Ssp #9/10 Yankees Rare2010 Topps Sterling Babe Ruth Five Piece Bat #d 2125 Rare 5x Sp Relic New York !2011 Topps Tribute Babe Ruth Bat #'d 3/99 Jersey Number Dual Relic 1 Of A Kind !1954 Topps Scoop #41 1927 Babe Ruth Sets Record September 30, 1927 Gai 3.5 Vg+2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection 20/20 Game Used Boston Bat Relic Card Babe Ruth 1948 Leaf Baseball CardBabe Ruth 2009 Topps American Heritage Collection Relic CardHelmar Brewing Co. Cabinet #61 Babe Ruth Providence Grays1904 Babe Ruth Yankees Hall Of Fame Bronx Bombers Watch Silver Metal Chain RingSp Legendary Cuts Babe Ruth Game Used Bat /75. Wow!!!($600++) Babe Ruth Original Vintage 1920s 6 Cell Negative Lot Very Old And RareBabe Ruth, Wife & Will Rogers 1929 Photo1948 Exhibits-hall Of Fame Babe Ruth Hof (with Bats) ($600++) Babe Ruth Original Vintage 1920s 6 Cell Negative Lot Very Old And Rare2005 Absolute Babe Ruth Game Used Bat #d/150 Tools Of The Trade Memorabilia Sp !($600++) Babe Ruth Original Vintage 1920s 6 Cell Negative Lot Very Old And RareJanuary 1934 Baseball Magazine Babe Ruth New York YankeesBabe Ruth Hits 500th Home Run New York Yankees Mlb Baseball 1929 Old NewspaperNew Babe Ruth #3 New York Yankees Throwback Jersey Pinstripe Size M Medium(spr01)book Softcover Babe Ruths Big Book Of Baseball 1935 Edition By Babe Ruth2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Game Used New York Bat Relic Immortal Collection #15/20Babe Ruth Brown Ceramic Baseball Bank Unique!2005 Trilogy Babe Ruth Game Used Bat #d 15/99 Rare Sp Upper Deck Relic Gu !($1,000) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Original Vintage 1973 Smithsonian Set Graded 10($1,000) Babe Ruth Mini Lot Black, Foil, Short Print Sp Mini Graded Gem Mint 101933 Goudey Babe Ruth ,#1811950s Babe Ruth Sporting News Original Cartoon Art By Vic VacOriginal 1940's - 50's Babe Ruth Sportsmanship Award Baseball Medallion Yankees1952 Topps Look N See #15 Babe Ruth Vintage Baseball Card Yankees1932 Ny Yankees At Detroit Tigers Baseball Ticket Stub, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig14 Card 1962 Topps Babe Ruth Story Lot. Up To Nm! Green Tint #139 & More G1959 Fleer Ted Williams #2 Ted's Idol Babe Ruth Exmint (001)1961 Fleer Baseball Greats #75 Babe Ruth Hof New York Yankees Bvg 5.5 Ex+Babe Ruth New York Yankees "premier Issue" The Bradford Museum Beer SteinBabe Ruth Yankees #13/30 Game Memorabilia 2017 Topps Tier One Nice!!!Vintage Babe Ruth Boston Braves 8 X 10 Press Photo Rare?