1916 M101-4 Sporting News #151 Babe Ruth Rookie PSA EX-MT 6

Sold For: $204,000

Auction Year: 2015 spring

Lot: 3

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Graded EX-MT 6 by PSA. Presented is an extraordinary high-grade example of one of card collecting's greatest icons: Babe Ruth's rookie card. The offered card is entirely new to the modern collecting world and has a tremendous hobby-related history. It was purchased in the 1980s from legendary dealer Larry Fritsch, who at the time was breaking up a complete M101-4 set and selling it card-by-card. The card was carefully stored for more than twenty years by the owner until he submitted it to PSA for grading in 2013 so that the card would be protected by something more than the screwdown holder it sat in since the time of purchase. Unfortunately, the owner passed away a short time later, and the treasured family keepsake has remained untouched in a safe-deposit box ever since. His family has decided that it is time to pass the card on to someone who will enjoy it as much as its prior owner. This decision had nothing to do with the great value of the card, but it is a fact that this iconic Babe Ruth rookie card has increased in value substantially in recent years (let alone since the 1980s). The SMR value for the assigned grade is $95,000, although recent auction prices have eclipsed this number.

Universally recognized as one of the most famous and highly prized of all baseball-card rarities, it would be hard for a piece of cardboard to better symbolize the history and the essence of American sport more than this Sporting News rookie card of Babe Ruth. Ruth had only pitched in four games with Boston in 1915 but fortunately impressed the card manufacturer enough to warrant inclusion in this major issue. The significance of Ruth's rookie card transcends the world of card collecting. Every scholarly list of vintage-card collecting's most important treasures includes Ruth's first Major League card. (Note: The 1914 Baltimore News card of Ruth featuring him as a minor leaguer, of course, predates both the M101-4/5 issues.) This is the finest example of an M101-4/5 Babe Ruth rookie card we have ever offered. In our opinion, it is graded very conservatively. We grade this card Near Mint, with an even stronger overall appearance. While we have offered other cards that technically graded higher, we believe the visual appeal of this card exceeds that of the other examples. This Ruth rookie is exceptional in all respects. The card is bright and crisp, with four extremely strong corners. The virtually perfect centering on this example is of special note. It is beautifully centered, far better than normally seen on this card, with a crisp, flawless image of a slender Ruth in his pitching follow-through. This is also an extraordinary example in that the photo does not have any horizontal print lines which are often found on this card. Only light traces of print snow related to the manufacturing process are visible against Ruth's uniform and parts of the background, and this may be all that keeps this card from grading higher. The reverse is also perfectly clean and ideally features bold advertising for the Sporting News . Also of special note is the fact that the Sporting News advertisement appears on the reverse, which is extremely desirable; while this card was issued with a blank reverse or with one of many different regional advertisements on the reverse, the set has always been referred to as issued by the Sporting News in honor of its most prominent sponsor. This is one of only four examples of the M101-4 Babe Ruth with a Sporting News reverse ever graded at this level by PSA, with just three cards graded higher. The rookie card of Babe Ruth is without question one of the most important cards in all of card collecting. This is an extremely strong and very striking example in all respects of one of the most famous, significant, and highly prized of all baseball cards.  Reserve $25,000. Estimate $50,000++.

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