The Story of the (Nearly) Quadruple Printed Babe Ruth Kashin Cards
Most of us heard of double printed cards. That happens when a card is printed twice as much as others in a particular set. For example, Babe Ruth’s No. 144 card in the 1933 Goudey set was double printed as it occupied two spots on one of the uncut sheets.
But how about quadruple printed?
Seems kind of nuts, right? I mean, make one card four times as much as others in the set Well, that exact scenario played out in the R316 Kashin set and Babe Ruth was the subject.
About the R316 Kashin Set
The R316 Kashin set is believed to have been produced in 1929 and/or 1930. We also have evidence from back advertisements that it was also printed beyond those years. But in general, this is considered to be a 1929-30 set for the most part.
The set included 101 small cards that were actually more like photos due to the larger size and thin card stock. But while 101 cards were ultimately produced, this actually began as a 100-card set.
Missing (Then, Adding) Babe Ruth
The set included many of the big stars in the game but was missing some, including Yankees great Babe Ruth. This, as you can imagine, likely hurt the product on some level.
After all, Ruth was still the biggest name in the sport and he was still wildly productive, leading the league in home runs, RBI, walks, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS in both 1930 and 1931. Printing a baseball card set without the game’s top star was probably ill-advised. At that point, there was little evidence he was slowing down. Still, he was left out of the Kashin initially, as indicated by their earlier boxes.
Ruth, however, did appear later. Why or how is unclear. Perhaps they didn’t have the rights to use his image at first but secured them later. But whatever the reason, he did get into the set later–and in a big way, too. Kashin decided to not only include him in their set but make sure that everyone could get a Ruth pretty easily.
The set was sold in four different boxes and each box had 25 different cards. Thus, if you bought each one of the four boxes, you’d basically have a complete set. Kashin decided to put one Ruth picture into every box so no matter which one you bought, you still ended up with a Ruth.
Part of that was likely about selling more boxes, of course. But part of it may also have been about trying to appease fans that had already bought a complete set. Kashin made it easy for fans to fully complete the set by putting Ruth in every box. Eh, who are we kidding? This was probably entirely about making more money.
That likely made fans happy but also created some problems. Since the boxes still had only 25 cards, someone had to be bumped from each box to make way for Ruth. Those players bumped from the boxes were Bump Hadley, Jesse Haines, Harry Seibold, and Phil Todt. So while they appeared in the earlier runs, they were removed later and, thus, became shortprints. That is seemingly confirmed by the population reports as those four have not been graded too much by PSA.
Thus, instead of 100 cards, adding Ruth to the set gives us 101.
The flip side of his large-quantity printing, too, is that Ruth cards are widely available. As one of the stars of the set, you’d expect his card to be graded more than the others. But it is significantly more available as a result. To date, PSA has graded about 150 of them – roughly about 7% of the total number graded for the entire set.
Still, despite the mass printing of them, the Ruth values have not been crushed as you might think. After all, the quantities are still pretty low on them and it is still certainly a Ruth. Mid-grade cards still start in the $750-$1,000 range. And while that is certainly lower than other Ruth cards, like the 1933 Goudeys, part of that is surely because it is more like a photo than a traditional trading card.
Really Quadruple Printed?
So was the Ruth really quadruple printed? Well, not entirely. It is often cited as such but that isn’t really true.
Thing is, the Ruth was quadruple printed in terms of only the later runs. He legitimately did appear four times as much as other cards in the set and, thus, in those later printings, his card was legitimately quadruple printed.
However, if you include all of the sets printed before he appeared in it with the original 100 cards, his card was not printed to that extreme. After all, all of the other cards in the set were printed before any Ruth cards were. Many of those sets were initially printed with no Ruth in them and those cards are all out there and part of the overall print run. So, adding those print runs together, his card wasn’t exactly quadruple printed in the totality of the entire print run.
We know his card was printed more than all of the others. But we could never accurately access how much more without knowing exactly how many were created in all of the print runs.