1933 Goudey Babe Ruth Cards: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
The four 1933 Goudey Ruth cards are some of the most beloved baseball cards in the entire hobby.
The set itself is iconic for being the first of all the modern gum card issues.
And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a set of baseball cards more beautiful than these.
The artwork is gorgeous.
Luckily for collectors, Babe Ruth appears four times in this set packed with Hall of Famers.
In this guide, we’ll go over what makes each of these four cards unique and why they’re so desirable.
Let’s jump right in!
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #53
Estimated Value in PSA 8 Near-Mint/Mint Condition: $120,000
Of the four Goudey Ruth cards, the “Yellow Ruth” is considered to be the toughest to find in top condition and among the most valuable baseball cards in general. Collectors love this card and many have it high up on their want list. The bright yellow background and artwork help make this card one of the most beautiful Ruth cards you can find.
On the back of the card you'll find information about the Goudey Gum Company and Ruth both printed in green ink. One of the things I love about this card are the sentence fragments that detail some of Ruth's stats and achievements. Years later in the hobby you will see companies with neatly organized stats and short paragraphs about the player. Here, though, everything is just kind of jumbled together and for some reason I think it helps give the card even more character.
You can also see the ink on the front bleeding through to the back a little bit--something you'll notice from time to time on Goudey cards.
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #144
Estimated Value in PSA 8 Near-Mint/Mint Condition: $55,000
Next up is the #144 “Full Body Ruth”, the only 1933 Goudey card to depict the Bambino from head to toe. For some reason, Goudey did not print card #106, that of Napoleon Lajoie, in their 1933 set--collectors had to send in for the card by mail in 1934 if they wanted to complete their collection. Because card #106 was left off the printing sheet, Ruth's card #144 was printed in place of it. Below you can see two Ruth #144 cards on the second row of this uncut Goudey sheet.
Because card #144 was double-printed there were obviously more of them in circulation. And some versions can appear different. If you get a chance to place each of the double prints side by side, you'll notice that one version is clearer and presents sharper focus than the other. However, this difference does not affect the value of one compared to the other.
The reverse side of the card references Ruth's school experience as a youth in Baltimore as well as the vast difference in money that the Yankees and Red Sox paid for his services. You'll also see very similar stats to those mentioned on card #53 but arranged in a different format. It's hard for me to pick a favorite Goudey Ruth card but I do think this one stands out a little more to me personally because of the full body pose. What better way to commemorate the Sultan of Swat than with this type of image in full Yankees pinstripes following through on a towering shot?
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #149
Estimated Value in PSA 8 Near-Mint/Mint Condition: $110,000
The second toughest of the four 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth cards, the #149 “Red Ruth” is nearly identical to the #53 “Yellow Ruth” except for the different background color. If you asked a group of collectors which of the two they preferred, you would get a strong mix of opinions. Overall, though, it appears the red background is just slightly less popular. And it is slightly less expensive, too.
The reverse side of the card is the exact same as the front--except for the number 149 at the top, of course.
1933 Goudey Babe Ruth #181
Estimated Value in PSA 8 Near-Mint/Mint Condition: $47,500
The “Green Ruth” is the last in the 1933 Goudey Ruth quartet and features a great image of the Yankee legend seated in pinstripes looking over his right shoulder. It's the cheapest of the four but an extremely desirable card, nonetheless.
I really like the reverse side of this card as it doesn't really mention any batting statistics but just talks about his hitting prowess instead. "Box men say you can fool him on a certain ball once, but the next time he gets it, he is apt to hit it out of the park." That's the kind of verbiage that gives old baseball cards like these so much character, in my opinion.
1933 Goudey Ruths in Review
So there you have it.
Four of the most iconic Babe Ruth cards you'll ever come across.
They're not cheap, so they remain a pipe dream for many collectors.
But it's easy to appreciate the beauty and significance of these cards regardless of whether you own them or not.
Which one is your favorite?