Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Babe Ruth!

Born on Feb 6, 1895, Babe Ruth, although he got both day or year wrong for his WWI draft card. (I assume better records came to light afterwards.) Though never called to serve during wartime, he did enlist and appear in uniform as encouragement for others to join the Armed Forces.

Private Babe Ruth and General Pershing (National Archives)

Babe figures prominently in the type collection, thanks to his massive popularity and marketability. He first appears over and over in the 1920s, and later filled out post-war nostalgia sets. Here's my highlight reel, with links to full set profiles.

1. 1920 W519

Bad strip card scissor work can't mask those Ruthian good looks.

2. 1921 W521

Same picture, reversed image (note the right-buttoned shirt collar). Still smiling!

3. 1924 Williard's Chocolates Sports Champions

Ruth became so famous, he personified baseball to the world. Babe's one of just three such players (alongside Ty Cobb and Eddie Collins) in this multi-sport set from Canada.

4. 1928 Fro-Joy Ice Cream

If you've seen the grip, you better see the swing!


5. 1928 Babe Ruth Candy

This wasn't THE Baby Ruth bar, which facetiously claimed to be named for a deceased Presidential daughter, but a chocolate licensed through Ruth himself. No matter, that more famous bar blocked Ruth's "real" candy from sticking around, thanks to "potential name confusion." Nice job, legal system.

6. 1948 Swell "Babe Ruth Story" movie cards

These cards focused on a lackluster movie adaptation of Babe Ruth's life, so the whole set sort of qualifies as "Ruth." This one showed the purported link to Ruth's early baseball experience, Brother Matthias, an instructor at his Catholic boys school.

7. 1979 CMC Talking Baseball Cards

Babe's final public address at Yankee Stadium ended up on this square 7" that was half-record, half-card.

The set itself capitalized on the boom in kid-friendly record players, which I owned a couple of during my younger years. Nothing like borrowing some Tom Petty vinyl from the public library and spinning "Refugee" on the ol' Fisher-Price turntable. (Kids, ask your parents about record players...and Tom Petty.)

8. 1980 The Franchise "Babe Ruth Classic"

This "Classic" set's another run of Babe Ruth nostalgia, mixing on- and off-field photos into a direct-to-collector set that's nothing special to look at, unless you like to compare his right-handed writing to his left-handed swinging.

9. 1980 TCMA All-Time Yankees

All-time eyebrows. All-time nose. All-time eatin'. All-time everything!

Many happy returns to fans of The Sultan of Swat and check out for 100% more Babe.

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