The Record-Breaking Babe Ruth Rookie Card : A Piece of Baseball History

In the world of sports memorabilia, few items stir as much excitement and awe as the trading cards of legendary athletes. Recently, a 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card shattered records when it sold for a staggering $7.2 million. This sale not only marked it as the third-highest price ever fetched for a sports card but also crowned it as the most expensive Babe Ruth item ever sold. The card, featuring a 19-year-old Babe Ruth as a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, holds immense value and historical significance, being one of only ten known to exist.

The Story of the Babe Ruth Rookie Card

The journey of this card began in 1914 with a 16-year-old paperboy named Archibald Davis in Baltimore. An avid baseball fan, Davis collected 15 baseball cards of his favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, which included the now-famous Babe Ruth rookie card. This card, along with others, was cherished and preserved, eventually being passed down through generations of Davis’s family.

In a remarkable twist of fate, the family decided to loan these precious cards to the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum in Baltimore in 1998. For over two decades, these cards were a centerpiece of the museum’s collection, attracting fans and historians alike, until their private sale in 2021.

Rarity and Comparison

The rarity of this Babe Ruth rookie card cannot be overstated. With only ten known to exist, and just two others graded higher than the one recently sold, it stands as a rare gem in the world of sports collectibles. For context, there are over 1,500 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards and 32 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner cards known, each with a PSA grade, making the Ruth card far rarer and more sought-after.

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Babe Ruth’s Early Years

A young Ruth playing in Baltimore

Babe Ruth’s iconic status in American culture and sports history is well-documented. However, his early years are less known to many. Ruth spent his youth as a ward of St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage. It was here that Jack Dunn, the owner and manager of the Baltimore Orioles, discovered Ruth’s extraordinary talent. Dunn became Ruth’s legal guardian, setting the stage for Ruth’s ascent into baseball legend. The 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card is a poignant reminder of Ruth’s humble beginnings and his journey to becoming one of the most celebrated athletes in history.

Discovery and Sale

Brian Dwyer of Robert Edward Auctions shows the 1914 Baltimore News baseball card

The existence of this particular Ruth rookie card was unknown until the 1980s, adding to its mystique and allure. Its rarity and the story behind it have made it a coveted item among collectors. Remarkably, the card has only been up for sale once in the past decade, further enhancing its status as a prized collectible.


The sale of the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card for $7.2 million is more than a transaction; it’s a celebration of baseball history, a nod to the legacy of one of the sport’s greatest players, and a testament to the enduring allure of sports memorabilia. As it enters the hands of a new owner, this card continues to symbolize the rich and storied past of America’s favorite pastime.