Babe Ruth Baseball Cards and Memorabilia Guide

Babe Ruth Baseball Cards and Memorabilia Guide

Profile

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. To say he's a legend would be an understatement. Despite playing at a time when few collectors today were alive, Babe Ruth cards and memorabilia continue to be a cornerstone of the hobby today.

Ruth originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher. He was 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  key ingredient of the Yankees' lineup, leading 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.

Playing Career

In 1927, Ruth became the first player to ever hit 60 home runs in a season, 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 12 times, slugging percentage and OPS 13 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.

Marketability

Ruth was the first sports celebrity who transcended play on the field. He was 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 where he was most comfortable).

Early Cards

Early Babe Ruth baseball cards come from a variety of sources. This was 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 1930s, that produced Ruth's first highly sought after trading cards. The first was in 1933 Goudey World Wide Gum.

The extreme rarity of his cards from his early playing days (1914-1916) make them more of a novelty. They show up so infrequently that the secondary market pushes the price well past the limits of virtually all collectors.

Babe Ruth Rookie Card

1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth RC #9

This unnumbered 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie 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 virtually unknown minor league rookie having just left St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. Less than a dozen examples are known to exist, which includes 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).

1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth Image

ebaysmalllogo Image
3711465282804040 1 Image
2014 Topps Triple Threads AMBER #3 111 125 BABE RUTH
$8.95
1715028663714040 1 Image
2 Rare QUAKER OATS PINS BABE RUTH 1934 & 1935
$1,199.00
3215530424934040 1 Image
Babe Ruth Line Drive Card Collection
$14.99
1114850997694040 1 Image
1981 DONRUSS BASEBALL'S GREATEST MOMENTS BABE RUTH PUZZLE COMPLETE 1-63
$6.00
1414377993854040 1 Image
2010 Topps Tribute Babe Ruth Black PSA 10
$99.00
1414378014134040 1 Image
2007 Upper Deck Masterpiece Babe Ruth Black Linen 99 PSA 9
$33.00
1414378019954040 1 Image
2007 Upper Deck Masterpieces Babe Ruth Black 99 PSA 10
$100.00
1414378022734040 1 Image
2007 Upper Deck Babe Ruth Re-Prints PSA 10
$22.00
1414378024324040 1 Image
1993 Upperdeck All-Time heros Babe Ruth PSA 9
$14.00
1414378028414040 1 Image
2004 Leaf Certified Babe Ruth BCCG mint 10
$16.00
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Vintage Cards

Top Pre-War Babe Ruth Cards

Babe Ruth has a tremendous amount of vintage material from his playing days. Collectors can also find numerous Babe Ruth cards produced after his retirement and eventual death. With a professional career in baseball that spanned from 1914 to 1935, the American Card Catalog records a total of 118 cards or variation of cards produced during this time frame. Here is a look at some key Babe Ruth cards from the era.

Due to their popularity and significance, we've listed the Babe Ruth Goudey cards in a separate tab that can be found at the top of the page.

Population reports current as of 10/13 and include highest registered grades.

1916 Sporting News M101-5 Babe Ruth #151

1916 Sporting News M101 5 Babe Ruth 159x300 Image

This card, manufactured by the Sporting News publication, features Ruth as a pitcher early in his career. He is still a member of the Red Sox. The card measures 1-5/8 x 3 inches and there have been found to be at least two variations of the card, both involving a blank back.

1919 W514 Strip Card Babe Ruth Home Run King #2

1919 W514 Strip Card Babe Ruth 177x300 Image

This is a colorful card depicting a slim and fit Ruth in a follow through swing. The painted card designates him as the year's Home Run King with the New York Yankees. It measures 1-3/8 x 2-1/2 inches.

1920 W516 Strip Card Babe Ruth #1

1920 W516 Strip Card Babe Ruth 183x300 Image

Another hand-painted card and still depicting him as a pitcher, this Babe Ruth card measures a mere 1-1/2 x 2-3/8 inches.

1921 Exhibits Babe Ruth

1921 Exhibits Babe Ruth 184x300 Image

Designated as W461-1 in the American Card Catalog, this over-sized card measuring 3-3/8 x 5-3/8 inches designates Ruth as an outfielder for the New York Yankees.

1922 American Caramel Babe Ruth #186

1922 American Caramel Babe Ruth 180x300 Image

This sepia-toned card shows a posed photo of Ruth in an oval die-cut, surrounded by an old-world style antique frame design. The card is surrounded by a white border. Designated as E120 in the American Card Catalog, the 1922 American Caramel measures 2 x 3-1/4 inches.

1923 W515 Strip Card Babe Ruth #3 and #47

1923 W515 Strip Card Babe Ruth 185x300 Image

This brightly colored strip card features a painted upper-body portrait of Ruth drawn in an almost cartoonish manner. Measuring 1-3/8 x 2-1/4 inches, the card is actually quite popular with vintage Ruth collectors due to the fact that four cards have received a grade of  Mint or better. The card has two numberings (3 and 47) and two undefined variations.

1926 W512 Strip Card Babe Ruth #6

1926 W512 Strip Card Babe Ruth 188x300 Image

Another hand-drawn and unflattering image of Ruth, the last two cards make you realize how disappointing it is that Ruth doesn't have a card in either the T206 or Cracker Jack sets. The majority of these strip-type cards were hand cut and, as a result, are often submitted for grading in larger numbers than those of other cards from the same time period. Measuring 1-3/8 x 2-1/4 inches, it features Ruth in a head shot.

1929 Kashin Publications Babe Ruth #79

1929 Kashin Publications Babe Ruth 222x300 Image

Designated in the American Card Catalog as R316, this over-sized card measures 3-3/8 x 4-1/2 inches. It features a black and white photo of Ruth in a posed batting stance. This is his most submitted Babe Ruth card for grading from 1932 and earlier.

1932 US Caramel Babe Ruth #32

1932 US Caramel Babe Ruth 249x300 Image

This is easily the most colorful Babe Ruth card produced up to this point in time. Designated in the American Card Catalog as R328, it measures 2-1/2 x 3 inches and features a colorized portrait of Ruth against a vibrant red backdrop.

Top Post-War Babe Ruth Cards

1948 Leaf Babe Ruth #3

1948 Leaf Babe Ruth 248x300 Image

The 1948 Leaf Babe Ruth is a collector favorite, not so much for the specific subject matter but for the iconic set it comes from. The up-close head shot of an older Ruth is set against a bright red background. The card measures 2-3/8 x 2-7/8 inches.

1950 Callahan HOF Babe Ruth #63

1950 Callahan HOF Babe Ruth 206x300 Image

This beautiful black and white Babe Ruth cards features a sketched portrait with a facsimile signature.

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Babe Ruth #2 Ted's Idol

1959 Fleer Ted Williams Teds Idol 2 212x300 Image

A classic image, this card features a candid photo of a young Ted William's talking with his childhood idol, Babe Ruth. This is one of two cards within the 1959 Fleer Ted Williams set to picture Ruth, the other is card number 75. This is by far the more popular of the two. The card measures the, by now, standard size of 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches.

1960 Fleer Baseball Greats Babe Ruth #3

1960 Fleer Baseball Greats Babe Ruth 214x300 Image

This card features an aging Ruth taking part in an old-timers game. The blue corner borders are ensconced by a white border and measures 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 inches.

1961 Fleer Baseball Greats Babe Ruth #75

1961 Fleer Baseball Greats 213x300 Image

A more appealing photo of the Bambino set against an orange backdrop accompanies the 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats Babe Ruth card. The predominately white design features blue stars running vertically part way down the left and right border. A blue pennant has his name set against a red and white striped pattern. The whole card has a patriotic feel and is standard sized.

1961 Topps Babe Ruth Hits 60th Homer #401

1961 Topps Babe Ruth 209x300 Image

This is one of the first notable Topps Babe Ruth cards. It commemorates Ruth hitting his 60th home run. It features a vintage colorized photo of Ruth tracking his shot. The white bordered card is standard sized and features a design element that is supposed to represent a "ripped from the headlines" appearance.

1972 Kellogg's All-Time Greats Babe Ruth #6

1972 Kelloggs Babe Ruth 6 190x300 Image

Inserted randomly in specially marked cereal boxes, this card features a lenticular 3D printing technology. It has a vibrant color scheme of blue and yellow with Ruth shown batting. The card exhibit a facsimile signature and measures 2-1/4 x 3-1/2 inches.

1972 Kellogg's Babe Ruth #14

1972 Kelloggs Babe Ruth 14 191x300 Image

Ruth's second card in the set designates him as the "Greatest Right Fielder," while the previous card distinguished him as simply the "Greatest Ever." The card is the same size as his other Kellogg's card and uses the same color scheme and a similar, albeit slightly different, photograph.

1973 Topps RBI Leader Babe Ruth #474

1973 Topps RBI Leader Babe Ruth 474 215x300 Image

This is the last significant Topps Babe Ruth card of the vintage era before his resurgence in the modern age of game-used jerseys and cut signatures. This standard-sized card pays tribute to Ruth as the All-Time R.B.I. Leader at the time. It features Ruth in a black and white photo.

ebaysmalllogo Image
1715028663714040 1 Image
2 Rare QUAKER OATS PINS BABE RUTH 1934 & 1935
$1,199.00
1614284613864040 1 Image
BABE RUTH 1948 LEAF BASEBALL YANKEE CARD #3 Stunning PSA 2.5 Gorgeous Beauty
$1,299.00
1114851340374040 1 Image
Babe Ruth jersey card 1 1
$256.00
1910133450614040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 53 Babe Ruth PSA 1 (9504)
$2,000.00
1910133451314040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 149 Babe Ruth PSA 6 (5405)
$11,000.00
3108293071714040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 149 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (5725)
$5,250.00
1310782848634040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (4161)
$4,250.00
1310782848804040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (9393)
$4,500.00
1910133452814040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (1248)
$3,950.00
1910133452914040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (1164)
$3,950.00
1910133455774040 1 Image
1933 World Wide Gum 80 Babe Ruth PSA 6 (8279)
$12,500.00
1310782852524040 1 Image
1933 World Wide Gum 80 Babe Ruth PSA 1 (4096)
$1,500.00
1310782852634040 1 Image
1933 World Wide Gum 80 Babe Ruth PSA 1 (4097)
$1,100.00
3108293079594040 1 Image
1934 World Wide Gum 28 Babe Ruth PSA 5 (9543)
$7,500.00
1614525231044040 1 Image
BVG 6 EX-MT 1935 Wheaties Scorekeeper BABE RUTH HOF Hall of Fame - Boston Cap
$52.99
1815333806564040 1 Image
1994 Teletrading Phone Card Set "Babe Ruth,Page,Ty Cobb,Lou Gehrig1 of 5,000
$34.50
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The Goudeys

Babe Ruth Goudey Baseball Cards

Babe Ruth's Goudey baseball cards by the World Wide Gum Company serve a dividing line between his pre-war and post-war releases. While technically still Pre-War, the quality of the Goudey cards raised the bar for all future baseball cards to come. The cards remain extremely popular today, particularly those featuring Babe Ruth.

Population reports are current as of 10/13 and includes highest registered grade.

1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth #2

1933 Goudey Sport Kings Babe Ruth 247x300 Image

The Sport Kings brand is legendary in hobby lexicon and this card from the original set helped pave the way for the brand's resurgence by In The Game in the early 2000s. This Babe Ruth card, designated in the American Card Catalog as R338, measures 2-3/8 x 2-7/8 inches. It features a very realistic, colorized image of Ruth.

1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth #80

1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth 80 244x300 Image

Another vividly colored card, a trait of all the Goudeys, this card features Ruth in a posed batting stance. Like all cards in the set, it is designated as V353 in the American Card Catalog and measures 2-3/8 x 2-7/8 inches.

1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth #93

1933 Goudey World Wide Gum Babe Ruth 93 243x300 Image

Featuring Ruth in an up-close follow-through batting stance, he is set against a deep orange backdrop.

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth 53 243x300 Image

This Goudey set features the most popular Babe Ruth cards. The are also the most frequently submitted for grading. All four Ruth cards in the set are designated as R319 in the American Card Catalog, each measuring 2-3/8 x 2-7/8 inches.

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth 144 244x300 Image

The only difference between this card and his 1933 Goudey World Wide Gum release is the numbering.

1933 Goudey #149 Babe Ruth

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth 149 243x300 Image

Again, this one is nearly identical to the previous release of the World Wide Gum brand issue.

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181

1933 Goudey Babe Ruth 181 246x300 Image

One of Babe Ruth's most iconic cards, it features a stoic looking Ruth against a green background.

ebaysmalllogo Image
1910133450614040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 53 Babe Ruth PSA 1 (9504)
$2,000.00
1910133451314040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 149 Babe Ruth PSA 6 (5405)
$11,000.00
3108293071714040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 149 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (5725)
$5,250.00
1310782848634040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (4161)
$4,250.00
1310782848804040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (9393)
$4,500.00
1910133452814040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (1248)
$3,950.00
1910133452914040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 4 (1164)
$3,950.00
2614885822354040 1 Image
1933 GOUDEY BABE RUTH #53 PSA 2.5+ NM FRONT-DEAD CENTERED-RESIDUE ON REVERSE
$7,995.99
1414394378204040 1 Image
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth New York Yankees #149 Baseball Card
$977.99
2313624515534040 1 Image
1933 World Wide Gum #93 - Babe Ruth - SGC 50 -- Canadian Goudey HoF (mikedenero)
$2,650.00
1311755443264040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 149 Babe Ruth PSA 1 (6219)
$1,400.00
1308997211734040 1 Image
1933 Goudey 181 Babe Ruth PSA 0 (9702)
$880.00
3313272973184040 1 Image
1933 GOUDEY NO. 53 BABE RUTH SGC 84 NEAR MINT (7) OUTSTANDING
$25,000.00
3711654585444040 1 Image
1933 Goudey #144 Babe Ruth New York Yankees HOF BVG Authentic
$510.00
3610824322204040 1 Image
1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth HOF New York Yankees PSA 1.5 FR "Looks Undergraded"
$1,080.00
3012902319874040 1 Image
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144 - PSA Graded 1.5 - New York Yankees
$2,299.95
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Modern Cards

The advent of including pieces of game-used materials and cut signatures into trading cards helped breath new life into the hobby beginning in the late 1990s. Collectors of retired legends like Babe Ruth also benefited from these new high-end cards. They quickly became some of the most desirable and expensive cards in the hobby. Here is a look at some of Babe Ruth's most iconic and influential modern trading cards.

1999 Upper Deck A Piece of History Game Used Bat Babe Ruth

1999 Upper Deck A Piece of History Babe Ruth 260x186 Image  1999 Upper Deck A Piece of History Babe Ruth 21 260x183 Image

These are the first Babe Ruth cards to feature pieces of a game-used bat. Part of an evergreen set honoring the 500 Home Run Club, the set also included a version with a Cut Signature and is serial numbered to just 3 copies. The 500 HR Club version of the card is numbered to 50, while the regular version is numbered to 350.

The creation of these types of cards were not without their critics however. Many purists and high-end collector, questioned the practice of essentially transformig such a historical baseball artifact. One thing is certain, the creation of this card gave collectors who would never be able to afford a complete Babe Ruth game-used bat, the opportunity to own a piece of history.

2001 Donruss Classic Combos Babe Ruth Bat-Jersey #/100

2001 Donruss Classic Combos Babe Ruth 3 100 Image

If putting a swatch of jersey or bat chip on a card was a good idea, than putting both on a card was even better. That is exactly what Donruss did with this card, one of Babe Ruth's first combo memorabilia cards.

2001 Donruss Elite Threads Babe Ruth

2001 Donruss Elite Threads Babe Ruth 260x183 Image  2001 Donruss Elite Threads Babe Ruth Back 260x182 Image

Donruss was one of the first trading card manufacturers to acquire an authenticated game-worn Babe Ruth jersey for the sole purpose of cutting it up and inserting swatches into baseball cards. This is one of the very first such cards. Serial numbered to 100 total copies, the back of the card displays a picture of the actual jersey used to create the card.

2001 SP Legendary Cuts Babe Ruth Cut Autograph

2001 SP Legendary Cuts 260x173 Image

One of the first cards to include a cut signature autograph of Babe Ruth, the card is limited to a print run of just seven hand-numbered copies. Today, similar cards are used regularly, although few actually have a picture of the Bambino. Most are one-of-one cards as well.

2005 Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Tools of the Trade Babe Ruth

2005 Donruss Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Babe Ruth Jumbo Jersey 260x184 Image  2005 Donruss Playoff Absolute Memorabilia Babe Ruth Jumbo Jersey Back 260x183 Image

The acquisition of a legitimate Babe Ruth game-worn home jersey by Donruss-Playoff for the sole purpose of using it in trading cards created national news. In a special ceremony, the daughter of Babe Ruth, Julia Ruth Stevens, was presented with one of the first cards manufactured from the jersey. If the destruction of a Ruth game-used bat created a controversy, one can imagine the firestorm that was generated by destroying one of the last remaining Ruth jerseys in existence. What had been a customary practice to use small swatches of material to maximize the return on investment of the piece was tossed out the window with the creation of these jumbo pieces of material. Another version of the card has smaller pieces from the the same jersey joined by a swatch from a pair of game-used pants and a piece of a bat.

2005 Playoff Prime Cuts Timeline Babe Ruth

2005 Playoff Prime Cuts Babe Ruth Timeline Image  2005 Playoff Prime Cuts Babe Ruth Timeline Back 260x186 Image

Continuing to up the ante, Donruss-Playoff released a high-end product in 2005 called Prime Cuts. This card is serial numbered to 50 copies and is a quad game-used memorabilia card of Babe Ruth. It contains, two bat chips and swatches from a game-worn jersey and pair of pants.

ebaysmalllogo Image
1114851340374040 1 Image
Babe Ruth jersey card 1 1
$256.00
1507916177564040 1 Image
2011 TOPPS GYPSYQUEEN BABE RUTH GAME USED BAT SP MINT BEAUTIFUL BABE RUTH BAT
$179.99
2215751771734040 1 Image
Babe Ruth, Game Used Bat, Polar Bear, 2009 Topps 206
$229.99
3810245194464040 1 Image
Babe Ruth 2001 Upper Deck UD All-Star Heroes GAME USED BAT card-#1534 1933
$99.99
1313017308384040 1 Image
BABE RUTH GAME USED BAT CARD 2009 PRIDE OF YANKEES MOVIE POSTERS HALL OF FAME
$79.95
2616259118694040 1 Image
BABE RUTH LEGENDS RELIC #TORL-BR #33 99 BGS 9.5. Gem Mint. 2014 Topps
$295.00
1213037627024040 1 Image
1979 Signature Miniatures Babe Ruth Baseball Pewter Figure Figurine COMPLETE Set
$296.96
2208880633014040 1 Image
Babe Ruth 2010 Topps Sterling 3-Bat #3 25 JERSEY NUMBER Yankees FREE SHIP
$249.99
1313190118384040 1 Image
BABE RUTH 2001 SP Authentic SULTAN OF SWAT GW Jersey Card 38 59
$450.00
1313190124284040 1 Image
BABE RUTH 2012 TOPPS BLOCKBUSTERS GAME-USED BAT 03 50 Jersey #
$129.99
1313018426014040 1 Image
2002 Babe Ruth SP Legendary Cuts Legendary Bat #B-BRu Game Used Bat Card
$159.00
1313018426244040 1 Image
2009 Babe Ruth Topps Tribute Series Game Used Bat card #42 of only 99 made
$139.00
1414143236774040 1 Image
2005 Babe Ruth SP Legendary Cuts Materials Game Used Bat #57 of 75 made
$199.00
1413832288834040 1 Image
2010 TOPPS TRIBUTE BABE RUTH GAME-USED BAT! #d 37 75 YANKEES
$149.99
1214423198064040 1 Image
2005 LEAF CENTURY COLLECTION BABE RUTH GAME USED BAT CARD #24 50 MINT!!!
$112.99
2716131370194040 1 Image
Babe Ruth 2011 Topps Triple Threads Flashback Relic Bat Gold 9 BGS 9.5
$546.25
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Rob Bertrand

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Rob Bertrand is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby. He is one of the site's most accomplished writers, as well as the co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @VOTC.

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