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 #144 Babe Ruth Yankees Psa 4 Well Centered *4577881930's Babe Ruth * Psa/dna & Jsa * Single Signed Baseball 5/10 Blue AutographedBabe Ruth Signed Check (extremely Rare) "flawless" Jsa AuthenticatedBabe Ruth & Claire Ruth Signed Check (quadruple Signature) Jsa Authenticated(102) Prog Rock Record Album Lp Lot 6 Rush Lp's Babe Ruth Floyd Wishbone More!Huge Lot (700) Game Used Jersey Bat Relic Insert Auto Serial # Stars BaseballBabe Ruth 1931 W517 #4 Graded Sgc 40 Vg 3 17013 Bv $1000+!!1931 Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Signed Baseball *jsa Loa* Autographed BallBabe Ruth 1921 W516-2-1 #10 - New York Yankees - Breathtaking!!! Sharp!!!Babe Ruth 1948 Leaf Psa 2Babe Ruth Single Autographed Baseball Professional Sports (psa/dna)Babe Ruth Autograped BaseballBabe Ruth 1923 W515-1 #3 - New York Yankees - Unbelievable!!! Sharp!!!Babe Ruth Auto Signed Psa/dna Joe Dimaggio,bill Terry,ed Barrow,jake Ruppert Hi End! 1973 Topps #1 Babe Ruth / Hank Aaron / Willie Mays Nm-mint Psa 8 Nq(hof)1948 Leaf #3 Babe Ruth (hof) Sgc 60 Ex 5, Yankees, No Reserve $0.99 Starting BidHuge Baseball Card Lot, "wow" Babe Ruth Dont Miss This! Autographs And Jerseys1926 W512 #6 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Strip Card Sgc Graded Set Break!Babe Ruth First Day Cover Signed By 9 Hall Of Famers Chicago Cubs New York Yankees Babe Ruth "called Shot" Bobblehead Sga 5/16/14($1,000) Babe Ruth Printing Plate 1914 Rookie Baltimore News Graded Gem Mint 101928 Babe Ruth Babe Ruth We Know What He Can Do Baseball Advertising Pin Button1920 Baseball W516-1 Strip Card Babe Ruth Sgc 'a' One Small Crease Looks Ex1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53 Hof Psa 4 Or 5? No Reserve YankeesEarly 1940 's Babe Ruth " Never Forgotten " Pin Button 2" W/ Ribbon + Charms1954 Babe Ruth League Baseball Pin Pinback ButtonBabe Ruth New York Yankees Bobblehead Columbus Clippers Bobble Sga 7-4-20031961 Topps Setbreak Babe Ruth Hits 60th Homer #401 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)Nos Babe Ruth Vintage Red Rock Cola Cardboard Cutout Sign Bottle Topper1960 Fleer Babe Ruth #3 Psa 8 Nm-mt Card Hof2005 Prime Cute Babe Ruth Dual Bat 56 Hr Very Rare Biography Card With PiecesBeautiful Childhood Lot Of 1962 Vintage Babe Ruth Baseball Cards W/ Lou Gehrig!!Hi End! 1962 Topps #141 Babe Ruth Twilight Years Nm-mint Psa 8 Nq(hof)(centered)1962 Topps Set Break #139 Babe Ruth Story: 5 Ex-mint C00179Helmar Babe Ruth. Wow! This Card Is In Awesome ShapeVtg Babe Ruth Umpire's Watch Fob Score Strike Counter Boston Braves + Ad & CaseMcfarlane Baseball Nolan Ryan, Billy Wagner, Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr.Babe Ruth Original Hartland Statue From 1950s-60s & 3 Cards+2014-w * Babe Ruth * Ngc Ms70 * $5 Gold Commemorative Baseball Hall Of Fame HofBabe Ruth 2005 Upper Deck Hall Of Fame Game Used Boston Serial #5/5 Pop 1 Rare2014-p * Babe Ruth * Ngc Pf70 $1 Silver Commemorative Baseball Hall Of Fame Hof2014-p * Babe Ruth * Ngc Ms70 $1 Silver Commemorative Baseball Hall Of Fame Hof1959 Fleer Ted Williams Lot Of 20 Higher Grade Cards Babe Ruth Mvp Hof1948 Baseball's Great Hof Exhibit Postcard-babe Ruth (10 Bats) G-vg (key To Set)($500) Babe Ruth 1920 Rp Lincoln Wheat Coin Card Vintage Graded 10 1962 Topps #138 Babe Ruth , The Famous Slugger Psa 8 Retro Babe Ruth Baseball Ice Cream Cones Wood Wall / Table Plaque Vintage Sign2014-w * Babe Ruth * Ngc Pf70 * $5 Gold Commemorative Baseball Hall Of Fame HofLot Of (71) Different 2014 Allen & Ginter "black Border Mini" Cards Babe Ruth1962 Topps #143 Babe Ruth , Greatest Sports Hero Psa 8 1962 Topps #137 Babe Ruth And Manager Huggins Psa 8 , Green Tint VariationBabe Ruth New York Yankees 1934 Buffalo Nickel Insert Baseball Coin Card RareSporting Life Chewing Gum Series 3, #36 - Babe Ruth, Brooklyn Dodgers2013 Triple Threads Legends Babe Ruth 7 Relic Game-used Bat Yankees #11/27Sealed Case Of 6 Tristar Hidden Treasures Autograph Baseball Series 6 Babe RuthBabe Ruth Bobblehead Cubs Yankees Sga Wrigley Field 5/16/2014 3 Of 10Babe Ruth Honus Wagner Cy Young Ty Cobb Starting Lineup Set Cooperstown Nib 2003 Fleer Fall Classic Postseason Glory Gehrig Babe Ruth Yankees Bat 117/150Yankees Babe Ruth Legends Figurine Statue Monument Park Collection Hormel PromoNewspaper 1927 Babe Ruth Hits 60th Home Run New York Yankees Team Photo See!