Babe Ruth Baseball Cards: Rookie Cards Checklist and Buying Guide
George Herman Ruth, Jr. or "Babe" Ruth, as he was best known, also carried the monikers "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat." He played from 1914–1935. Ruth originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher after being groomed by his hometown Baltimore Orioles, then a minor league team. In a financial move that, to this day defies logic, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919. He converted to a full-time right fielder and went on to become one of the league's all-time great power hitters. Ruth revolutionized baseball. He was the cornerstone of the Yankees' lineup and led them to seven American League pennants and four World Series titles. After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ruth was the first player to ever hit 60 home runs in a season (1927), a record that stood until 1961. His career numbers reflect his legendary stature in the sport and the hobby. His lifetime batting average of .342 ranks 10th all-time. In 1923 he hit .393, a Yankee record that still stands today. Ruth retired as the all-time home run leader with 714, a record that stood until 1974 when Hank Aaron passed him. His .690 career slugging percentage and 1.164 career on-base plus slugging (OPS) remain major league records.The most dominating player of his generation, he led the league in home runs twelve times, slugging percentage and OPS thirteen times each, runs scored eight times, and runs batted in six times. What gets lost in the shuffle are his remarkable pitching statistics, which include a 2.28 ERA and a 94-46 win-loss record.
Ruth was the first sport's celebrity superstar who transcended the game. He became one of the most recognized and marketable people in the country. Known for living the high life off the field, Ruth was often seen at New York's most famous nightclubs and restaurants. Always a gracious signer, Ruth adored his fans, who were more than happy to put him in the spotlight (a place he was most comfortable).
Early Babe Ruth baseball cards come from a variety of sources, before there was a clear definition for the term rookie card. Interestingly enough, his rookie cards, while extremely valuable, aren't his most popular cards. It was not until the Gum Era of the 1930's, (Goudey World Wide Gum 1933) that produced Ruth's first highly sought after trading cards. The extreme rarity of his cards from his early playing days (1914-1916) make them more of a novelty as their infrequent arrival on the secondary market pushes the price well past the limits of even the most deep-pocketed collectors.
Babe Ruth Rookie Cards
This unnumbered card was printed in two color variations, red and blue. The bright and vibrant border surrounds a muted and tinted image in the same color hue. The card features Ruth as a completely unknown minor league rookie having just left St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. Less than a dozen other examples are known to exist, which includes the one owned by the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore. This card is part of a 1914 set issued by the Baltimore Sun, the city's newspaper and featured stars of the city's two professional baseball teams, the Terrapins of the Federal League and the Orioles of the International League. It has sold at auction for over half a million dollars (Robert Edwards Auctions, 2008).
Babe Ruth's Autograph