Rare Babe Ruth card from GR sells for $92,000+

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rare baseball card with a Grand Rapids connection is up for auction Thursday night.

The card is a Babe Ruth rookie card from 1916 and it came from Herpolsheimer’s, a former department store in downtown Grand Rapids.

It sold for $92,177 Thursday night, according to the bidding site.

“It’s fantastic and it’s rare,” Bobby Livingston, the Executive Vice President of RR Auction in Boston, Massachusetts, said.

The front of the card shows Babe Ruth pitching. Even though most think of Babe Ruth as a home run hitter, this was his rookie card. That in itself is rare, but, on the back, printed very clearly is, “Herpolsheimer Co. Boys Fashion Shop, Grand Rapids MI.”

This is believed to be one of four in the world with the Herpolsheimer name.

Courtesy images of a Herpolsheimer’s Babe Ruth baseball card up for auction. (Nov. 21, 2019)
Courtesy images of a Herpolsheimer’s Babe Ruth baseball card up for auction. (Nov. 21, 2019)

“The kids of Grand Rapids in order to get this card would have to go to Herpelshimer’s and they were kind of (used as) advertisements, so the mother’s had to bring their sons down to this clothing store. Every time they would visit they would get a different set of baseball cards,” Livingston said. “And in there, unknown really to most of the kids of Grand Rapids, would be the greatest baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth.”

According to the auction house, historic newspaper advertisements show that Herpolsheimer’s distributed these cards 20 at a time to children for 10 weeks.

“In order to get every card in a set, you had to go to Herpelshimer’s every week for 10 weeks, so it’s an incredible promotion,” Livingston said.

And it’s a hit with historians.

“It’s a double header. It’s two pieces of history, one is the Herpelshimer’s store, which is long gone, and then you’ve got the greatest baseball player of all time together,” he added.

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