Collecting On A Budget – Babe Ruth

Call me nuts but I have a hard time celebrating a World Series win by a team that plays in the most home run friendly park in baseball and whose 2009 team salary was higher than the Marlins, Nationals, Pirates, and Padres combined.

Rather than to keep dwelling, I’d like to continue the ‘Collecting On A Budget’ segment that first ran in April and never returned. Did you know that for less than the price of a box of 2009 Topps Tribute you could own a Babe Ruth card from the 1930’s, a piece of The Babe’s game-used memorabilia, and even a Ruth one of one?

First thing you have to do is throw expectations out the door. Forget owning one of the legendary ‘Piece of History’ bat relics or a beautiful Donruss 1/1 from the era when they never shut their printers off. You have to be selective and will have to trade aesthetics for the basics.

First thing you will need to do is find a vintage Ruth. Don’t even try to find the best copy out there. Instead, search for those beat-up cards that were tacked on walls and stuck in bicycle spokes for an entire summer. Those are the least expensive and more often than not, authentic.

1933 Sport Kings Gum – $52 dollars

Next up you will need to find a piece of wood and/or clothing the legendary Yankees star used. Topps, Upper Deck, Donruss, and others have produced thousands of these cards so it won’t exactly be hard to find. Just remember to think small and plain. No pinstripe on this relic.

2009 Topps Heritage Heroes Edition – $69 dollars

The final task is perhaps the toughest. Babe Ruth 1/1 cards are extremely hard to come by and sell for big money, even without memorabilia and/or autographs. You will have to settle for the least desirable true 1/1 and that comes from 2008 Upper Deck SPx and their seemingly endless supply of Babe Ruth 1/1’s.

2008 Upper Deck SPx – $76 dollars

So there you have it. You can pre-order a box of 2009 Topps Tribute for $235 dollars and take your chances or for just under $200 you can pick up three interesting (if not highly sought after) Babe Ruth cards to add to your collection.

So what’s it gonna be?

A true 1/1 - Babe, not the SPx card ...



  1. The vintage Ruth is clearly a fake but one can acquire a real Ruth for around that price IS possible – just think oddball and avoid the well known issues. For example:
    1926 W512 #6 BABE RUTH 137.50

  2. The Sports King you show is a reprint and one you will find many of.

    The one Chris showed is a nice item to add to a collection.

  3. That 33 Sport Kings is faaaaaaaaaake. Chris has it right though,there are oddballs out there that are (somewhat) affordable.

  4. Thanks for the heads-up, guys. I am the anti- Sports Cards Uncensored when it comes to spotting fakes.

    Thank goodness no one cares enough about my players to create any.

  5. Great idea Mario, but as has been said, the 33 Goudey is a reprint, and the heritage card is game-used “memorabilia”, NOT a Babe Ruth bat.

  6. If you really want to collect on a budget try picking up a Hobby Box of 08 Chrome. I just paid 25.00 for one.

  7. You should see the other vintage cards that guy is selling, they all have the same worn corners. I’m guessing belt sander. Also if I found some of the best cards ever in a shoebox, I would have gone to an auction house.

    It’s almost impossible to not know the names of the players he is selling.

  8. The vitage card is probably a counterfeit. Nearly half of the cards from this set if not put through PSA authentication are fakes. So be very careful. I have a real card from that set if you want me to scan it.

  9. The one card I want to own more than any other is a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth.
    It can be in bad condition. I don’t care.
    I have a 1949 Leaf, but it’s been trimmed.
    I would also like to have a GU Ruth card.

  10. With regard to the guy pushing fakes, in June I went off about a dude who HAS to be the same guy, johnnybill78 (

    Same story about “grandpa passed, I know nothing about these, listed them as reprints…” and folks bid the crap out of those auctions. ’49 Paige, ’50 Robinson, Goudey Ruth, Goudey Gehrig,nothing but classic cards without a single non-name among them. What’s best is that anyone who’s ever seen cards from those sets before would KNOW those were fakes, so the guy listed them a repros to be covered under ebay policy.

    WHO bids on these cards!?!?

  11. Since we all already know the Sports King Ruth is a fake I figured I’d add that there are some really nice vintage postcards of old-time Hall of Famers that are very affordable and nice looking. Also, Exhibit cards from the 20’s to 60’s are really nice and can be purchased for very decent prices.

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