MLB

Here’s Why Autographed Babe Ruth Baseballs Aren’t So Valuable

One name synonymous with baseball history is Babe Ruth. While it’s been almost a century since he took the field, Ruth was baseball’s first legend and the sport’s most enduring player.

With his standing in the game, one would think an autographed Babe Ruth baseball is the most prized treasure a fan could have. Would it surprise you to learn that Babe Ruth baseballs aren’t as valuable as you think?

Babe Ruth’s career

Ruth began his career as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Before it was common for players to do one or the other, he was baseball’s first Renaissance Man. Ruth helped the Red Sox earn one of their most successful periods in franchise history.

When the team’s owner traded him to New York for cash, few realized it would signal the beginning of one franchise’s misfortunes and another’s successes. Ruth became the greatest New York Yankee of all time, propelling the team to historic heights.

Regularly hitting majestic moon shots, Ruth also became well-known for not just the number of homers he hit, but the length of his homers. In the 1932 series, it was rumored that he “called his shot,” reportedly pointing to the outfield bleachers in Wrigley Field then hitting the ball exactly where he pointed. 

The most expensive sale of an autographed Babe Ruth baseball

A baseball signed by Babe Ruth is displayed with other baseball memorabilia from the Smithsonian National Museum of American Historys collection
A baseball signed by Babe Ruth is displayed at the Smithsonian | NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

Memorabilia with Ruth’s John Hancock on them would make any baseball fan go nuts. According to ESPN, the highest price ever paid for an autographed Babe Ruth ball was $388,375.

Another more famous ball of Ruth’s sold for slightly less ($250,641) but had even more significance. This ball was signed for a young fan by Ruth prior to a game in the 1926 World Series. Evidently, the boy got hurt when he fell off a horse in 1926. So Ruth wrote “I’ll knock a homer for Wednesday’s game” on a baseball and gave it to him.

As ESPN reports, “Ruth then famously hit three home runs for the New York Yankees that Wednesday, which happened to be Game 4 of the 1926 World Series. Newspaper accounts at the time soon proclaimed that Sylvester’s condition suddenly improved thanks in part to the moment.”

Why autographed Babe Ruth balls aren’t so valuable

To put it delicately, Ruth was known for having many vices during his career. For as much of a troublemaker as he could be off the field, he was never one to turn down an autograph request. There are many signed Ruth baseballs in circulation. According to Brigandis Coins and Collectibles

“He was more than accommodating, sometimes signing his name hundreds of times a day.  Ruth loved being social with fans, but especially children. He generously signed and gifted baseballs, bats, photos, scrap paper, and anything that could be signed.” 

Ruth wasn’t just the home-run king of his time, he also was the king of signing autographs. No player left a mark on the game of baseball as big as the Babe, whether that mark is referring to his bat or his pen.

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