Babe Ruth 1914 Baltimore News minor league card breaks record

The minor league card of The Babe is now the most valuable sports card ever sold

With the recent frenzy in the sports card market, a Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps card and a Lebron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite rookie card had recently set the record for the most expensive sports cards ever sold, both topping $5 million. Those records, however, were seemingly short-lived as a rare early Babe Ruth card is now reportedly at the top of the heap.

An SGC 3 graded card of Ruth’s 1914 Baltimore News minor league card recently was bought in a private sale. Unfortunately, the actual amount was not disclosed and we’re sort of at the mercy of Collectable’s Ezra Levine, who only says the card broke that record. Other reports mention the sale is around $6 million but the exact sum is not being reported.

Collectable is behind the news here as the company mentions that fractional sales of the card will take place. This is similar to the Honus Wagner T206 story from a while back where you could technically own a piece of the card for a small amount. For $3 per share, collectors will be able to own a very small fraction of the Ruth card.

How much? Well, considering the company is reportedly planning to offer up shares accounting for only about 1%-2% of the value of the card, not much. Your $3, frankly, is not likely to go very far and at that price, ownership is seemingly more of a novelty. Shares cannot be sold until a vetting process of sorts by the Securities Exchange Commission.

The card is the red ink version (they were printed in both red ink and blue ink) and features a full body pose of Ruth. It had been on display as a raw card at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore. It was only recently graded by SGC where it received a grade of 3.

To the card itself, it’s one that I’ve written about before. Because there have historically been so few sales, it isn’t often in the discussion for the most valuable sports card. But this sale sort of changes that. I’m much more interested in that aspect of it than the fractional ownership deal. The sale thrusts it into the spotlight a bit more and, well, that’s a good thing, because it’s an abundantly important card.

Its rarity and importance to the hobby could realistically make it the most valuable sports card of all time, even if there are a few small things against it. It doesn’t hold a candle to the T206 Wagner in terms of notoriety. Many collectors, for example, have never even heard of it while the Wagner is known to even many non-collectors. Technically, this is also not even Ruth’s rookie card since it’s a minor league issue. In addition, these were really schedules as opposed to traditional baseball cards as they included the schedule for Ruth’s 1914 Baltimore Orioles (then, a minor league team) on the back. That doesn’t have the same kind of collectible allure of popular tobacco or candy cards.

Nevertheless, all of that hardly matters much. In reality, this is the earliest known card of arguably the most popular American athlete of all time and given such a small amount are known to exist, it’s a very important card. Its value is clear and, in comparison to other cards, one could even make the case that it is undervalued.

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