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 #53 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Sgc 10 1 Poor 1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Sgc Authentic Babe Ruth #12 Sketch Card 3/9 Limited Mlb New York Yankees Signed Edward Vela1927 (1928) Babe Ruth (blank Back) Exhibits Hof New York Yankees Sgc40 B4 Goudey1935 Goudey 4 In 1 W/ Babe Ruth New York Yankees Hof Bvg 2.5 G-vg 1933 Goudey Bvg 3.5 (very Good+) Babe Ruth €1933 33 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth Yankees Psa 1 (mk) Pr-fr1929 Babe Ruth Wa & Ac Churchmen Baseball Usa Sports And Games #25 Psa 3Babe Ruth Plus Ect. 1936 Autographed Baseball Vintage "genuine George "babe" Ruth Louisville Slugger" Baseball Bat2014 Topps Triple Threads Baseball 1/1 Blank Back. Babe Ruth Yankees1949 Leaf Babe Ruth #3 Card Very Good ConditionOld Vintage H&b 250 Pro Model Stock George Babe Ruth Baseball Bat Yankees Hof 2005 Absolute Memorabilia Babe Ruth Game Used Bat Relic /250Babe Ruth Jersey# 3/3 $6000+ Yankees Game Used Worn Patch Sp 2005 Leaf CertifiedBabe Ruth 2001 Leaf Certified Materials Fotg Game Used Jersey #/136! 2003 Topps Tribute Babe Ruth & Barry Bonds 600 Hr Club Dual Bat Card1933 Goudey Babe Ruth2011 Topps Tier 1 Babe Ruth Triple Relic! 1930's Burke Batrite Hanna Mfg. "flying Bat Logo" Babe Ruth Georgia Driver BatAntique Cast Iron Babe Ruth Doorstop1923 W515 - Babe Ruth / Dave Bancroft - Sgc 84 - Nm 7 - Pop 1Rare Babe Ruth #1/60 '07 Upper Deck Premiere Triple Jersey Card New York Yankee Babe Ruth 2004 Prime Cuts Ii Timeline Materials Position Game Used Jersey #/25Vintage 1920's 1930's Babe Ruth Athletic Underwear Advertising Mini Baseball BatBob Feller Signed Babe Ruth Yankee Stadium Photo Framed To 13x15 Psa/dna Coa2014 Topps Gypsy Queen Clear Mini 1/1 Babe Ruth #301 New York YankeesHi End! 1973 Topps #1 Babe Ruth / Hank Aaron / Willie Mays Nm-mint Psa 8 Nq(hof)Danbury Mint Babe Ruth Figurine Ny Yankees Baseball Hall Of Fameš2007 Ud Premier Babe Ruth Premier Remnants 3 Pinstripe Relic #26/60 Bgs 9 (mw)1927 Babe Ruth #38 American Caramel1915 Babe Ruth First 1st Hr Home Run Ticket Al American League Pass Psa Babe Ruth Little League Bat-vintage1983 Babe Ruth Fdc Signed By Cleveland Indians Doby, Newhouser, Feller & MoreBabe Ruth Lou Gehrig Etc All Stars Tour Of Japan Tokyo 1934 Babe Ruth Bobblehead24 1968 American Oil Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Mays, Starr And More1961 Fleer Babe Ruth Ny Yankees Smr $215 + Baseball Card # 75 Nm - Mt Psa 8Lot Of 15 Pocket Knives, Commemorative, Advertising, Parker, Seaver, Babe RuthR318-helmar Hey-batter! #36 Babe Ruth New York Yankees HofBabe Ruth Circa 1935 ------2 Pins --quaker Oats Champion 1960 F. H. Fleer Baseball Greats, Babe Ruth #3, UngradedVintage 1933 German Sanella Album Cards W/ Babe Ruth Jack Dempsey +Vintage 1935 Quaker Oats Champions Pin Babe Ruth Boston Braves Cap Bv $2502014 D Ngc Ms69 Babe Ruth Half Dollar Young Collectors Set Baseball Hall Of Fame2014 Topps Series 1&2 Baseball Complete 660-card Set!! Babe Ruth Silk Patch! $$$1961 Golden Press Baseball,babe Ruth,9 Card Lot,lot 2,8 Others2014 Topps Update Babe Ruth #'d/99 Gold World Series Ring Relic Card #wsr-brBob Feller Signed Babe Ruth Yankee Stadium Photo Framed To 13x15 Psa/dna Coa2014 Topps Update Series Babe Ruth Gold Commemorative Trophy - 36/99Babe Ruth 1/1 Yankees Framed Pink Printing Press Plate 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter(52) 1959 Cadaco All Star Baseball Discs Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Ex PlusTristar 6 Hidden Treasures Sealed Baseball. Babe Ruth-walter Johnson????amazingBabe Ruth 2005 Sweet Spot Classic Game Worn Pants Yankees1996 22kt Gold Danbury Mint 102 Baseball Cards Cobb Gehrig Ruth Honus Wagner HofLot Of 3 Complete Sets Of Vintage Babe Ruth Baseball Cards Fro-joy 19281961 Vintage Fleer Baseball Card #75 Babe Ruth Yankees Hof($400) Babe Ruth Lot Original 1979 Vintage Black & White Graded Post - WwiiPaul Hopkins Signed Baseball + Babe Ruth 59th Hr Inscription Jsa Coa Senators