Babe Ruth’s 1916 Rookie Card Fetches a Cool $630,000 at Auction

That’s one less coveted sports collectable on the market.

A rare 1916 M101-5 Babe Ruth rookie card just hammered down for $630,000 last week at Heritage Auctions’s Winter Sports Card Catalog sale, snagging the title of top lot. The blank-back memorabilia—which is the highest-graded example of the keepsake, at SGC Excellent+ 5.5—wasn’t the only highlight of the event, though: The auction raked in over $11 million from January 26 to 27 thanks to the sales of other rare items, including sealed boxes of baseball, football, and basketball cards.

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The Great Bambino is pictured front-and-center on the card (one of eight known examples), wearing his Boston Red Sox uniform. Ruth kicked off his illustrious professional career as a pitcher on the team for three seasons before, of course, going on to become one of best sluggers of all time. The legend’s 1916 rookie card is a great, too; it has one of sharpest obverse images seen on the collectable, according to Heritage. The memento’s only imperfections are minimal corner wear and a slightly off-center shift of Ruth’s picture.

Memorabilia from other sports icons were dominant at the auction as well. A 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card, for example, fetched $372,000 at the event. With a PSA Gem Mint 10 grading (meaning the collectable is virtually perfect), the example depicts His Airness mid-slam dunk in a bright-red Chicago Bulls uniform.

Other highlights of the sale include a signed 1949 Jackie Robinson Bowman (sold for $117,000), a signed 1949 Bowman Roy Campanella rookie (realized $69,000), and the 1953 Topps Willie Mays card graded near Mint-Mint 8 (sold for $186,000). One of the auction’s most fought-over prizes was an authenticated and sealed box of 1965 Topps Baseball cards with 24 unopened packs that could include names such as Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, and Hank Aaron, among others, according to Heritage. The unopened offering ended up selling for $336,000.

Babe Ruth cards have been grand slams at auctions before. Last month, a 1914 Babe Ruth rookie card hammered down for a whopping $7.2 million. That may surprise some, but the market for sports memorabilia has become a billion-dollar business.

Think about that the next time you clear out your trading-card collection.

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