The Colossus of Clout continues to set records 86 years after he played his final baseball game, as a Babe Ruth minor league baseball card is hitting the market with the highest sports card valuation ever.
Shares in the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth card are being sold at a valuation of just over $6 million by Collectable, a memorabilia investment company that sells equity stakes in sports cards and other items and maintains a secondary trading exchange. The 1914 card is one of the rarest around, with fewer than 10 believed to exist.
“This is a ridiculously unique and special card that probably pops up once every 20 to 30 years,” Ezra Levine, CEO and founder of Collectable, said in a phone call. “It was purchased by a private investor, who thought it’d be amazing to share a minority portion with the public.”
The company says 20,000 shares will be offered at $3 a piece at a future date. That share count equals about 1% of the equity in the card at the price and valuation. Collectable has to file paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission before it can hold its sales, which it terms an IPO. If the sale goes forward successfully at that value, the Ruth card will be the most expensive sports card ever, vaulting past the $5.2 million paid for a Mickey Mantle in a private transaction in January. The market for memorabilia has been red hot the past year, as that Mantle sale itself beat the valuation record of $3.4 million set in August 2020 for a Mike Trout rookie card.
The 1914 Ruth is a “pre-rookie” card from when the Babe, then a 19-year old left-handed pitcher, played for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League, at that time considered a minor league circuit of eight teams. The reverse of the card features the team’s schedule for the season, while the front shows the 6-foot, 2-inch tall Ruth standing and wearing a glove. By July 11 that season, Ruth had been sold to the Boston Red Sox and made his major league debut. According to PSA, a card grader, one of the Ruth 1914 cards last sold in 2013, at auction for $450,300. The 1914 cards were printed with either a blue or red border at the time and, “In any grade, this pre-rookie card is a find of a lifetime,” PSA said.
Collectable’s Levine says the card will be displayed indefinitely at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore. According to a 2011 Associated Press report, the card being sold may have originated with a Baltimore man named Arch Davis, who hawked newspapers in which the cards were included as promotional items. Davis kept a set that was inserted with the paper for himself at the time, passing it down through the family. It is unclear if the Davis family remain the majority owners or if the ownership has changed since the AP report.
Collectable, which began operation in September and recently closed its Series A venture capital funding round, will offer non-binding pre-orders for the Babe Ruth card shares starting today, according to Levine.