Babe Ruth, larger than life as a player, is still breaking baseball records – 75 years after he died.
Ruth, who held baseball’s lifetime home run record for 39 years, is depicted on a rare, soon-to-be-auctioned baseball card expected to bring bids of $10 million or more and potentially challenge the $12.5 million ceiling for any piece of sports memorabilia.
That was the purchase price for a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle
Originally published by The Baltimore News in 1914, Ruth’s rookie season as a pitcher for the International League’s Orioles, the card is coming to auction for the first time in a decade.
The last recorded public sales of the card, according to PSA, were in 2012 and 2013, with a Blue PSA 2 grade selling for $575,000 and a Red PSA 1 going for $450,300 in 2013.
Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) is the largest and most reliable third-party grading and authentication company in the world. Cards and collectibles graded by PSA are worth considerably more than those that are not.
According to Brian Dwyer, president of Robert Edward Auctions of Chester, NJ, the Ruth card auction will run from Nov. 17-Dec. 3, with a viewing at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore from 2-4 pm two days before the start of the auction; a private reception at the museum from 5-8; and a Manhattan reception for interested bidders from 5-8 on Nov. 29.
The red-hued card, which features a vertical image of the 19-year-old Ruth, measures 2 5/8 x 3 5/8 inches in size. It belonged to a set that featured player photos on the front and Orioles team schedules on the back. The card also has a blue variation, also showcased by the Baltimore-based Ruth museum.
“The 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth is the most important card ever made,” Dwyer said. “It represents the origin of Babe Ruth in the game of baseball and in the trading card hobby.”
Ruth, who reached the major leagues for the first time later in 1914 as a pitcher with the 1914 Boston Red Sox, was best-known for his prodigious batting feats and his boisterous personality. He spent most of his career with the New York Yankees, who obtained him from Boston in a trade on Jan. 3, 1920.
The pitcher-turned-outfielder, who had a .342 lifetime batting average, retired in 1935 and was a charter member of the first induction class at the Baseball Hall of Fame a year later.
The rare Ruth card is one of only 10 known to be in existence, Dwyer reported. It is graded SGC VG 3 (very good). Only one other card has a higher grade (PSA 4), the auctioneer said.
According to MarketDecipher.com, the booming sports memorabilia market is on pace to reach $227.2 billion by 2032, growing at a projected compound annual growth rate of 21.8 per cent over the next 10 years.
The auction of the Ruth rookie card should spur that momentum.
As Dwyer explained, “This is a card that every collector dreams of owning, and with so few examples in existence, there is almost no desire to sell these cards by the few privileged enough to own them. It is very likely to be the only example we’ll see available for purchase for years to come.”
To attend one of the viewing events, write firstname.lastname@example.org.