An extremely rare baseball card featuring a 19-year-old Babe Ruth has gone up for auction, with bids jumping from $2.5 million to $5.2 million within its first day on the market.
The 1914 card was printed by the Baltimore News while the budding baseball legend was still playing for his hometown Orioles, a minor league team with no connection to the current Major League club of the same name.
Robert Edward Auctions, which is selling the card, believes it could fetch as much as $10 million, although there haven’t been any new bids since Wednesday.
Only ten copies of the card have survived, and its mere existence wasn’t known publicly until the 1980s.
Since its discovery, copies of the card have jumped in price from $6,600 to $18,700 in 1991 and to nearly $80,000 in 1999, according to REA.
The 1914 card was printed by the Baltimore News while the budding baseball legend was 19
The Baltimore native was just 19 at the time, earning only $100 a week from the Orioles
Brian Dwyer of Robert Edward Auctions shows the 1914 Baltimore News baseball card
‘Issued in both red and blue variations, the red-and-white image of Ruth is framed by a red border on the offered example, which measures approximately 2-5/8 x 3-5/8 inches,’ reads REA’s description. ‘The reverse has home and abroad schedules for the Baltimore team during its 1914 campaign. This card is the highest-graded example on the SGC Population Report as well as the second highest-graded example in the hobby, with only a single PSA VG-EX 4 higher.’
This specific card is ‘the second-finest confirmed example and the highest graded to appear at public auction in more than fifteen years,’ according to REA.
If the Ruth card does sell for $10 million, it would become the second most expensive card ever behind Topps’ famed 1952 Mickey Mantle, which went for $12.6 million in August of 2022.
Ruth was pictured regularly throughout his life, from his youth in Baltimore in 1898(left) to his early playing days in Boston (right) after being sold to the Red Sox for $25,000
Currently second on the list is the 1909 Honus Wagner, which went for nearly $7 million a year earlier.
Curiously, most of the cards that fall between No. 3 and No. 12 on that list aren’t vintage, but recent printings, nearly all of which contain autographs.
The soaring price for Ruth’s card is somewhat ironic, given that he was said to be making $100 a month at the time.
By June, the Orioles would sell the pitching-hitting sensation to the Boston Red Sox for $25,000, and he would go on to become a national sensation who came to define the roaring 1920s in the United States.