20 Reasons Babe Ruth Cards Will Be in Demand For Decades Ahead

Babe Ruth is not just one baseball’s top heroes. He is one of the most widely recognized heroes of all-time in all sports. His home run record may have been broken, but the “quality” of his record 714 homers is unrivaled. Most vintage baseball collectors want a piece of Babe Ruth in their collection. And as collectibles have matured into an alternative asset class, investors have also helped push the demand and price of Babe Ruth cards and memorabilia higher and higher over time.

Collectors Dashboard aims to keep both collectors and investors informed of what trends may fade and which trends may endure ahead. It is impossible to know what will happen to the demand or price of any collectible in the future, but original and vintage Babe Ruth cards, autographs and collectibles from the years during and shortly after his playing career are almost certain to remain in high demand for many decades ahead.

Prices for Babe Ruth cards, signed balls, signed checks, other autographs, and other memorabilia have risen handily over time. Collectors and investors who purchased Babe Ruth cards and autographs prior to 2021 should all feel very happy that they own a piece of The Babe.

One problem that has arisen with the rising prices for collectibles as an asset class is that collecting or investing in original Babe Ruth cards and memorabilia is that the prices have reached levels that most people who want to own them cannot afford it. There are still ways to own a Ruth card for $1,000 or less, but lower price points for vintage Ruth “anything” have become harder and harder.

Collectors Dashboard believes very strongly in its statement that vintage Babe Ruth memorabilia from his era as a player and shortly thereafter will endure for decades into the future. For starters, the highest quality samples of Babe Ruth cards are no longer just selling for prices in the tens of thousands of dollars nor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Babe Ruth cards can now sell for prices well above $1 million. The Collectable app previewed a 2021 share offering for fractional ownership of a Babe Ruth 1916 Sporting News rookie for about $3.7 million in a PSA 7 grade. At the same time, Heritage Auctions had a May 2021 auction for the same sort of card (also a PSA 7) with an estimated value of $4+ million, and its bidding price was already up to above $1.9 million as of May 3, 2021.

Signed and authenticated Babe Ruth baseballs, despite a rather large supply, used to sell for a few thousand dollars at conventions even after 2010. Now most auctions have even very shoddy samples of Ruth’signed balls sell closer to $10,000 — and some balls now sell for multiples of that price. Even the price of signed checks, index cards and post cards now fetch thousands and thousands of dollars.

There are also still many samples of Babe Ruth baseball cards that are still quite affordable for collectors who just have to have a vintage Babe Ruth card in their personal collection. Many collectors have purchased Babe Ruth cards from the 1950s to 1970s, and other newer cards that include Game Used Relics as a way to own a piece of The Babe. These are all stepping stones for some collectors, and many will be on the hunt for real vintage Babe Ruth items ahead.

Creating a list of 20 items to outline why collectors and investors alike will care about Babe Ruth for decades into the future is admittedly unfair. One list may not be the same as other lists. Some of the things that Babe Ruth was known for off the field may even be offensive to some people who are into collectibles. There are many other reasons collectors and investors will be interested in Babe Ruth for decades into the future, so perhaps this is just a starting point.

Here is a starting point of 20 reasons why authentic and vintage Babe Ruth collectibles will remain in high demand by collectors and investors for decades into the future.

  1. Babe Ruth is a story of a turnaround kid who became the most public figure of them all. His mother died at an early age while he had been committed into a school for troubled children. The boy known as George could have wallowed and floundered but he did not. This has been brushed over without any detail, but the story of Babe Ruth’s early years could have easily turned into one of sadness that no one would have ever read or heard.
  2. Young George was always looking out for the younger kids and giving free candy and looking after them in school. That trait never stopped and ‘Babe’ was always happy to visit kids and hand out gifts and autographs. This access kept Ruth widely popular with those young fans for decades, many of whom were able to tell their own Ruth stories and enthrall many collectors who are still alive and well.
  3. George was recruited by Jack Dunn for the minor league Baltimore Orioles franchise in 1914 after the teenager had earned a name for his strong baseball skills-playing prowess at St. Mary’s. The contract was for a mere $600 and young George became forever known as ‘Babe’ after a sportswriter referred to him as one of “Dunn’s babes.” Nicknames stick, and that’s why he is ‘Babe’ rather than other nicknames he picked up.
  4. Babe started as a pitcher and toward the end of 1914 Dunn sold his contract to the Boston Red Sox. He won a reported 87 games and had only a 2.16 earned run average from 1915 to 1919. He even won three World Series games and set a record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings for that.
  5. Babe started showing such strong hitting that the Red Sox started playing him at first base or the outfield on non-pitching days. It has never been common for players to be great pitchers who would have made the Hall of Fame as a pitcher and who also would have made it to the Hall of Fame as a batter.
  6. Ruth managed to hit 29 home runs in 1919, breaking the former record of 27 homers by Ned Williamson back in 1884. What was more impressive is that this was during the time that few home runs were hit in baseball and Babe ushered in an end to the “Dead-Ball Era.”
  7. In 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee’s financial woes tied to Broadway play productions led to Babe’s contract being sold to the New York Yankees for a sum of $125,000 along with a personal loan to the Red Sox owner. This led to “The Curse of the Bambino” where Boston went for decades without winning a World Series (and Babe’s take was a 2-year contract set at $10,000 per year).
  8. He immediately rose to the occasion in New York. That first Yankees season of 1920 for the Yankees was led by 54 homers from Babe alone as a full-time outfielder, and the following year Ruth outdid his record again with 59 homers.
  9. Babe’s contract renewal in 1922 jumped to $52,000 per year. This made him the highest paid player in that era. According to the SABR site, Babe Ruth was the sole highest-paid baseball star for 13 consecutive years and that is another MLB record that has never been broken.
  10. After Babe’s homer count fell to 35 in 1923, the magnificent new Yankee Stadium led Ruth to hit 41 homers. This helped lead to the baseball field’s nickname of “The House That Ruth Built.” Not many players get attributed to being the marquee player for decades and decades.
  11. While Babe’s salary jumped to $70,000 in 1927, that same year he slammed his enduring 60 home run record of that era. That record held until Roger Maris hit 61 homers for the Yankees in 1961, although sportswriters were keen at the time to point out that Babe’s record was in a 154-game season versus the 162-game season in 1961 for Maris. This led to the asterisk on the Maris record as 61*.
  12. When Babe was renegotiating his contract after the 1929 stock market crash at the start of the Great Depression, the Yankees club was unhappy about his demands. It was pointed out by sportswriters that Ruth was paid so well he was making more money than U.S. President Herbert Hoover. This is where Babe was credited for saying, “What the hell has Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did.”
  13. The “Called Shot” Legend — It was in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, after being heckled by the Cubs bench, where Babe’s famous “Called Shot” took place. This is where Babe pointed his finger toward the center field bleachers where he then proceeded to hit the ball out of the park. This incident in real life was far less clear in the recorded footage of the day with a quick double-point. It also does not at all resemble the more dramatic pointing that has been represented in movies and baseball lore. Still, the “Called Shot” has not been routinely attributed to other players.
  14. Babe’s late career was plagued with unsuccessful efforts to get into managing. This may have been a blessing in disguise. With a ballooning weight and diminishing performance, Ruth ended his career with the Boston Braves in 1935 with a record 714 home runs. There is no way to know if Ruth would have been a good manager or a bad manager, but his life and antics might have been a drag against producing the victories New York fans (or other teams) wanted. The fact that Ruth never went on to potentially wreck his image keeps collectors focused on the success of Babe Ruth rather than what may have been a painful post-player career.
  15. Babe’s 714 home run record was broken in 1974 by Hank Aaron, but Babe outpaced Hank on many metrics. He also did it in far fewer games. While Hank Aaron did outpace Babe on some stats, these are just some of the key stats that make Babe stand out so much more than Hank Aaron’s record of 755 home runs:

Total Games — Ruth 2,503 vs. Aaron 3,298

At Bats — Ruth 8,399 vs. Aaron 12,365

Plate Appearances — Ruth 10,623 vs. Aaron 13,941

Batting Average — Ruth .342 vs Aaron .305

Runs — Ruth and Aaron tied at 2,174

Runs Batted In — Ruth 2,214 vs. Aaron 2,297

Walks — Ruth 2,062 vs. Aaron 1,402

Strike Outs — Ruth 1,330 vs. Aaron 1,383

Slugging Percentage — Ruth 0.690 vs Aaron 0.555

  1. Being in the Baseball Hall of Fame is an honor enough for any baseball player. Ruth was actually in the inaugural class back in 1936 and this class also included baseball legends like Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. This only adds to the prestige of Ruth. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York is full of many items from statues, to uniforms, to contracts from Babe Ruth’s career.
  2. Does being a playboy help or hurt? Babe was a night-owl and his off-field antics, endless eating, drinking and debauchery, womanizing and so on. His antics were legendary even during the Roaring Twenties. This cumulative effect and endless partying, on top of aging, also likely led to Ruth’s career being shortened. That may not sound legendary, but this persona often makes for far better story telling than being a recluse who lives a boring and uneventful life. Having stories told by other players is often quite different than what is recorded in the history books that kids read. One of Babe’s traveling roommates on the Yankee team was quoted as saying, “I didn’t room with Ruth. I roomed with his luggage.” While this alone is not a draw, it just adds to the mystique of Babe Ruth’s life.
  3. Babe Ruth is frequently credited for the Yankee uniform pinstripes to make him look less rotund, although the Yankees started using pinstripes several years prior to Ruth’s 1920 arrival. Sometimes fictional truths sound better than the real truth.
  4. It was not common for one player to get multiple cards within a single-year set when Ruth was playing. The 1933 Goudey set changed that during the throws of the Great Depression. Goudey issued four different Babe Ruth cards in 1933. This one set has allowed some 4,676 graded samples in the PSA population report and over 1,000 of each card (with the #144 batting variation the most common at 1,439 samples). The total graded population from SGC was 1,976 as of April 2021. That creates a total of 6,652 graded cards at the end of April 2021 without considering the samples that are ungraded or which were graded by other services. This will only act to keep a healthy supply of vintage Ruth cards available for the coming decades.
  5. One last issue to consider is the number of baseball movies, shows and documentaries that have included Babe Ruth. There are too many to count, but ask any baseball fan who “The Whammer” was supposed to be in The Natural. It is almost assured that there will be more movies and documentaries produced in the years ahead, all of which can drive enthusiasm about owning original Babe Ruth cards.

Again, it seems unfair to just have 20 reasons why Babe Ruth’s vintage cards and collectibles will be sought out by collectors and investors for many decades ahead in the twenty-first century. The end result still seems certain.

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