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 Babe Ruth #144 Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Psa 4 Vgex (pwcc)1943 * Babe Ruth * Psa/dna & Jsa * Single Signed Mlb Oaa Baseball Rare Est 7/10Babe Ruth Reggie Jackson 2007 Sp Legendary Cuts Dual Autograph 1/1 $10k YankeesHank Aaron Babe Ruth Willie Mays 1999 Ud A Piece Of History 500 Club Triple BatBabe Ruth Autographed Baseball Psa/dna1932 U.s. Caramel Babe Ruth #32 Psa Auth (pwcc)Babe Ruth Autographed Baseball Bat2015 Panini Immaculate Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Triple Jersey Bat 16/252015 Panini Immaculate~heros~babe Ruth~game Worn Jersey~#ed 2/10~ny Yankees1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149 Sgc 1.5/20 Fr (pwcc)1921 E220 National Caramel Babe Ruth Sgc Auth (pwcc)2015 Immaculate Babe Ruth Sp Game Used Material 1/10 HeroesBabe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Dual Signed Baseball Psa/dna1941 Babe Ruth Cut Autograph Signature Signed Richard Simon Full Letter Coa!!1935 Goudey 4-in-1 Babe Ruth Rabbit Maranville Brandy Mcmanus Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)Original 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Sgc Graded Authentic No Reserve!!!Lot(12) 1930 Mp & Co Ray O Print W/ Babe Ruth X2 & Lou Gehrig, Rare (pwcc)2015 Immaculate Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig Dual Game-used Bat #18/20! New York Yankees1928 New York Yankees Signed Baseball Babe Ruth Autograph Gehrig Jsa Hof Read2004 Fleer E-x Classic Connexions Roger Maris Babe Ruth Dual Bat 1/22 Yankees1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 - Graded Psa 2 - The Sultan Of Swat-the Great BambinoBabe Ruth Cut Autograph!! #21933 Eclipse Imports - Babe Ruth - #402 - Scarce! Sgc Authentic1943 War Bond Baseball Game Full Ticket--babe Ruth Hits His Very Last Home RunBabe Ruth 2013 Topps Tribute Tribute To The Stars Used Bat Relic Ttsr-br 12/992013 Topps Five Star #/10 Babe Ruth Yogi Berra Game Used Bat Jersey Dual Legends32 Unfired Zippo Set Elvis,babe Ruth,wright Bros,playboy,200th Anniv Of Amer Eag1928 Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig & N.y. Yankees At Tigers Orig. Baseball Game Program1950 Menko Near Complete Set Babe Ruth Joker (pwcc)1925 Sept 18th Ny Yankees Press Pass Ticket Babe Ruth Hr #304 Psa Ex-mt 8 1 Of 1Kashin 1927 Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig Combo Baseball CardsYogi Berra Signed 16x20 Rookie Photo With Babe Ruth Psa/dna Rare Yankees Hof1954 Topps Scoop Babe Ruth Sets Record #41 Psa 6 Exmt (pwcc)1948 Baseball's Great Hof Exhibits Babe Ruth Standing With Bats Sgc 5 Ex (pwcc)1951 Topps Connie Mack's All-stars Babe Ruth Sgc 4/50 Vgex (pwcc)Babe Ruth 1926 W 512 #6 Hand Cut Graded A Authentic "babe" Baseball Card! Mlb Babe Ruth Louisville Slugger 40b.r. 34" Babe Ruth 1932 Sanella Margarine Type 2 (sanella At Bottom) Psa 3.52015 Panini Diamond Kings '27 Timeline Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 4/10 Yankees Relic1933 Sanella Margarine Babe Ruth Type 2 Bvg 8.5 Nm-mt+ (pwcc)Washington Mint Babe Ruth One Half Troy Pound .999 Fine Silver Card! No Reserve!Babe Ruth Reel History. 2007 Sp Legendary Cuts Film Frame 1/1 Rhff-br(2) Babe Ruth Liberty News Old Liberty Art Card Draft Prototypes 1/1s1931 Josetti Babe Ruth / Harold Lloyd - Sgc 5.5 - Ex+1950 Callahan Hall Of Fame Babe Ruth Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)2015 Topps Babe Ruth Bat Knob1948 Baseball's Great Hof Exhibits Babe Ruth Batting Sgc 6 Exmt (pwcc)Original 1929 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Cowboy Outfit Japanese Baseball Menko CardBabe Ruth Liberty Tobacco Old Liberty Art Card W/1917 Dime 1 Of 5 Made24 Rawlings Rbro1 Babe Ruth Baseballs1959 Fleer #2 Ted Williams Ted's Idol - Babe Ruth Baseball CardBabe Ruth Brooklyn / La Dodgers Bobblehead Stadium Giveaway 9/9/14Superb 1927 World Series Vintage Type 3 Photo Babe Ruth Hits Home Run Lou Gehrig1933 - Goudey - Babe Ruth - Promo - Gem Mint 10 - Baseball Card!!!Babe Ruth Signed Autographed Oal William Harridge Baseball Beautiful!!!!Babe Ruth Rare 2014 Topps Five Star New York Yankees Game Used Bat #02/25 Fd598224little League/babe Ruth Practice Baseballs,tight Laced,-9"-practice Only1962 Topps #139 Babe Ruth Hits 60 Hof - Green Tint Psa 7 Nm