Fans of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team known as the Boston Red Sox likely know the team was first established in 1901. Registered to the American League, the long, novel-worthy history of the team is one of Boston, Massachusetts’s pride and joy. What makes a baseball team go from ordinary to extraordinary isn’t always about winning the World Series. It’s about how connected it is to the fans, player for player, person for person. What gives the Boston Red Sox such legendary status can be seen, plain as day, through the roster of collectibles that happen to include baseball cards, novelty items, posters, signed autographs, and wearables. Of all the items the fans of the Red Sox seem to cherish most, it seems baseball cards are usually at the very top of the list. Every bit as vital to the history of a baseball team as the players themselves, it seems baseball cards are the closest connection a fan can possibly achieve, especially if it’s a favorite player that is virtually idolized as some kind of baseball god.
The Trade of Baseball Cards
In the game, when baseball players are traded between teams, sometimes there are hefty price tags that come with the deal, especially if there is a big star involved. When it comes to baseball cards, this seems to share the same type of story. Whoever is willing to pay top dollar for the most coveted baseball cards that come available, so be it. In the case of the iconic Boston Red Sox, there are some prized baseball cards featuring the names of star talent that can only come cheap in one’s dreams. Otherwise, paying what seems like a mass fortune for some is nothing more than a small price to pay to get one’s hands on that one special baseball card that apparently has more value to it than life itself. The PSA Authentication & Grading Services is a website that has been serving as a price guide on baseball cards, as well as a dating site that focuses on the conditions of baseball cards and their estimated values. Among the most expensive baseball cards to collect, Babe Ruth’s rookie year with the Boston Red Sox has been known to see his name featured at many elite-classed auction sites. The majority of the most expensive cards have his name on them, but each with its own stories and why the price tag.
10. 1912 T207 Brown Background Irving Lewis No Emblem ($17,625 USD)
According to the Robert Edward Auctions, the 1912 T207 Irving Lewis brown background baseball card without the emblem is among the rarest baseball cards to find for a collector. The PSA grade level of this baseball card is an EX-MT 6, which is the highest graded example. This legendary rarity came from Broadleaf Cigarettes and was sold at the auction website for $17,625 USD. The no emblem on the sleeve is an extreme rarity, which adds to the rarity in the T207 set.
9. 1916 H801-6 The Globe Clothing #151 Babe Ruth Rookie Card PSA EX-MT 6 ($142,200 USD)
The 1916 Babe Ruth Boston Red Sox Rookie card, which was conditioned by the PSA at EX-MT 6, sold at an auction in 2014 for $142,200 USD. What sets the H801 series aside from the T-Cards that were issued, is H-Cards were designated as advertising and trade cards in the American Card Catalog. H-cards are printed on thinner paper stock and are a bit more fragile than the sportier baseball cards, like the T-cards. To find a 1916 H-classed card at a PSA EX-MT 6 condition made this is as close to a one-of-a-kind collection piece as it gets.
8. 1915 Babe Ruth Original Photograph Type 1 PSA/DNA Photograph ($186,000 USD)
In 1915, Babe Ruth’s rookie season was with the Boston Red Sox before he was traded to the New York Yankees. At the time, this unknown sports the team uniform and gazes at the camera. According to Robert Edward Auction, this 1915 Babe Ruth original photograph baseball card sold for $186,000 USD during the summer of 2021. This baseball card, plus the photo, came from Baseball Magazine and bears a hologram sticker on the back that was placed by Christie’s Auction House in 1996.
7. 1917 Collins-McCarthy Babe Ruth ($250,000 USD)
In 1917, Collins-McCarthy candy cards were among a few baseball card issues that were printed and sold that featured Babe Ruth sporting the Boston Red Sox uniform before he was traded to the Yankees. Often seen as an overlooked piece of baseball card treasure, because of its rarity, fetching as much as $250,000 USD for it is considered reasonable among card collectors who consider the purchase a smart investment, at least according to PSA’s posted price guide.
6. 1954 Wilson Franks #20 Ted Williams ($350,000 USD)
Distributed in packages of hot dogs, the 1954 Wilson Franks Ted Williams baseball card is one of the most important regional cards ever produced. Already condition sensitive, among those cards that have been found in high grade was thought to have never been packaged and instead left the factory by hand. These Ted Williams baseball cards are among the most visually pleasing and desirable to hold in a collector’s possession. There are not many of these cards in existence, which already makes them heftily priced, to begin with. Any of these cards rated in good condition or higher has been selling as low as $3,340 USD and as high as $350,000 USD.
5. 1915 (M101-5) Sporting News Babe Ruth (Blank Back) ($717,000 USD)
Through Heritage Auctions, the 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth baseball card with the blank back auctioned for $717,000 USD in August 2016. According to Pre-War Cards, there were only thirty-five blank-back cards from the M101-5 lineup from Sporting News that were ever produced.
4. 1916 (M101-5) Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card ($1,000,000 USD)
Fans who have followed the full baseball career of Babe Ruth know in addition to playing for the New York Yankees, he was also on the roster of the Boston Red Sox. The 1916 baseball card features the greatest baseball player who’s ever lived as a young rookie, just before he was traded to New York. According to Old Sports Card, the PS-7 condition editions of these particular baseball cards can fetch an easy $1 million USD. There were, in total 200 of these made, but some didn’t have advertisements sported on the back while others did.
3. 1916 (M101-5) Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card ($1,350,000 USD)
In PSA-8 condition, this particular 1916 Babe Ruth rookie card from Sporting News fetches an easy $1.35 million USD when auctioned. It is the 200-card M101-6 set, which is often found off-center and has a variety of advertisements on the back. Most existing copies have blank backs, which makes the advertised back versions of Babe Ruth’s rookie card that much more valuable.
2. 1916 (M101-4) Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card ($1,450,000 USD)
During the summer of 2021, a graded six PSA baseball card featuring the 1916 Babe Ruth pose while still a Red Sox player was sold at an auction for what was then a record-breaking $1.45 million USD. According to Memory Lane Inc., Newman Auction had this baseball card featured on its auction site, which ran from June 12, 2021, until July 10, 2021.
1. 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card #151 ($2,460,000 USD)
This Babe Ruth rookie card is worth $2.46 million USD. At least this is what it sold for at the auction. Registered at a PS7 condition, which is considered near-mint, this protectively plastic-cased card was sold at an online auction by the Mile High Card Company to an anonymous buyer. This sale broke the previous record of $1.45 million USD for yet another Babe Ruth rookie card, which was also sold by the Mile High Card Company.