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 #149 Babe Ruth Psa 2.5 Good Pop 20Babe Ruth And Ty Cobb Autographed 1917 Offical National League Baseball2016 The Bar Babe Ruth Yankees Hof Signed Cut Auto 1/1 Bgs W/ Newspaper ClippingAmazing Babe Ruth Cut Autograph! Psa/dna Slabbed With Perez Steele Postcard1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 Authentic Psa*no Reserve* Babe Ruth Auto Cut *no Coa* Selling Father's Old Collection Babe Ruth Authographed Ball1929 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Opening Day Original Photo..psa/dna Type IJunk Drawer Lot Of Babe Ruth Cards, Silver Coins, Watches, Coin Books, And More.1914-1930 Louisville Slugger Hillerich & Bradsby George Babe Ruth Baseball BatSigned "sincerely" Babe Ruth CutBabe Ruth Cachet Envelope Signed By 20 Hofers * 6 - Deceased *Babe Ruth Sga Bobblehead "" Shot Call"" Yankees "" Must Have"Redtop Beer Babe Ruth Ad Sign Vintage Rare Babe Ruth - 1933 Goudey World Wide Gum - # 80 - Sgc 60 5 Excellent! Nice Card!1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181 Sgc 1Lot Of 161 1962 Topps All Graded Psa (psa 7 Avg) Babe Ruth Brooks Robinson+ L1241927 Ny Yankees Champs Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig + Jsa "murderer's Row" Autograph 1926-29 Exhibits Postcard Back Postcard Back-(pose) Babe Ruth Psa 1 Pr Pop 41939 African Tobacco - Babe Ruth - Large - Psa 6 - Highest Graded! Low Pop!2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection 1/1 Game-used Yankees Bat Purple #yb-37Lot Of 161 1962 Topps All Graded Psa (psa 7 Avg) Babe Ruth Brooks Robinson+ L1241921 Schapira Bros - Babe Ruth - Portrait - Sgc 1.5 - Rare Number Grade!1934 Babe Ruth *psa 8 Nm Mint!* Quaker Oats Baseball Club Pin New York YankeesLot Of 10 Limited Ed. Ten Dollar Babe Ruth Las Vega Gaming Tokens .999 SilverBabe Ruth 2003 Topps Tribute Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint Perennial All-star Relics Bat HofBabe Ruth/gehrig/cobb/jackson/dimaggio/others Cards( 100 Cards)December 1915 Baseball Magazine Red Sox World's Champions Number - Babe Ruth!2003 Topps Tribute Perennial Babe Ruth Yankees Hof Bat Bgs 9 Vintage 1932 1933 Sanella Margarine Babe Ruth Baseball Card1929 Babe Comes Home - R94-1 - Babe Ruth - Movie Card - Sgc 1.5 - Rare Card!2000 Fleer Genuine Babe Ruth Names Of The Game Bat Card #ed 17/50 Yankees2017 Leaf Immortal Collection Babe Ruth Game Used Bat Relic #'d 5/102017 Leaf Immortal Gold Spectrum Babe Ruth Game-used Red Sox Bat (2 Of 5) Bgs 9Babe Ruth 1948 Topps Magic Photos Baseball Red Sox Yankees Braves1961 Topps #401 Babe Ruth Yankees Hof Hits 60th Homer Psa 9 Mint>original 1935-dated Babe Ruth Athletic Underwear Box With Receipt, Great Shape!Lot 2000 Upper Deck Yankees Legends Game Bat Legendary Lumber No Babe Ruth 1973 Topps #1 All Time Hr Leaders Babe Ruth Hank Aaron Willie Mays Psa 8 Nm-mtVintage "babe Ruth" Character WatchNew Babe Ruth Chicago Cubs Wrigley 100th Bobblehead Sga NibBabe Ruth: 1952 Look 'n See #15: Psa 5.52017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection 12/20 Game-used Boston Bat #bb-14 Redsox2017 Leaf Babe Ruth #yb-31 Red Yankee Bat Card #9/102017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal CollectionOld Gold Cigarettes Babe Ruth W/dime " Enjoy A Smoke For A Dime" Redemption Card2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection 10/10 Game-used Yankees Bat Red #yb-202017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection - Yankees Game-used Bat #2/20 (#yb-46)1952 Topps Look & See Baseball-#15 Babe Ruth, Ny Yankees Hof Vg/ex($600++) Babe Ruth Original Vintage 1920s 6 Cell Negative Lot Very Old And RareBabe Ruth 2017 Immaculate Baseball Legends Bat Relic 3/5 Ruth Jersey ##!2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection 18/20 Game-used Boston Bat #bb-41 RedsoxNew York Yankees Monument Park Statue Of Babe Ruth Rare Sga Stadium Giveaway!! Babe Ruth Baseball Wiffle Balls Bag Sealed Rare Toy Empire Kitschy Empire OldBabe Ruth Card Autograph 2017 Leaf Babe Ruth Immortal Collection - Boston Red Sox Game-used Bat #19/20Rare 1954 Topps Scoop #41 Babe Ruth Sets Record Sept 30, 1927 Card Excellent Old2011 Babe Ruth Topps Tier One Top Shelf Relics #394/399George 'babe' Ruth Game Used Bat New York Yankees H.o.f.1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53