Seldom-seen 1933 Eclipse Import Babe Ruth Card Graded by CGC Cards

Posted on 1/10/2024

The card is undoubtedly the highlight of this small, rare 1933 set of baseball cards.

CGC Cards™ recently graded a seldom-seen 1933 baseball card featuring a New York Yankees legend: the Great Bambino. CGC Cards' grading experts certified the 1933 Eclipse Import #402 Babe Ruth - Hand Cut as authentic and assigned it a grade of CGC 2. It's nearly impossible to find examples of this particular card in higher grades, and even low-grade versions can still garner plenty of collectors' interest, commanding thousands of dollars.

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While many of the Babe's cards are holy grails of the hobby, this card is one of the lesser-known from his iconic 22-season MLB career. The card was issued toward the end of his playing career, a couple years before Ruth retired. That same year, in 1933, Goudey produced the R319 and R338 sets, which feature some of the most colorful and popular cards of the famous slugger, which can be worth millions of dollars. Although the 1933 Eclipse Import issue is similar to the Goudey issues, with a colorful artistic rendering of Ruth instead of an action-shot of the player, it hasn't attracted the same following and fanfare.

This is at least partially because the 1933 Eclipse Import set is not as attractive or pleasing to the eye as others like the Goudey sets. The series has some well-documented problems, with the aesthetics topping the list. The fronts of the cards include a colorful cartoon-like image of the players. #402 features Ruth sitting down in the dugout in an odd hunched-over position, with a grey pinstriped Yankees jersey that looks more like pajamas than an MLB uniform. His two legs are indecipherable from one another, and his right hand looks mangled. Despite the lackluster drawing, the rarity of the card and its direct ties to Ruth's legendary career still make it highly sought after by vintage baseball collectors.

The Babe's card is unsurprisingly the crown jewel of the 1933 Eclipse Import set, which only includes 24 total cards. For reasons unknown, the set is numbered 401-424, and three cards do not have numbers, adding to the confusion of the set. Further, most of the cards (including this CGC-graded Babe Ruth example) feature a standard back with a card number, the player’s name, team and a short biography. However, some of the cards are known to have advertising backs, which were popular on many cards during the earliest decades of baseball card collectibles. The 1933 Eclipse Import set is a unique and at times inconsistent baseball card series, but the Ruth card is another piece of collectible history linked to arguably the greatest player to ever grace a baseball diamond.

Starting his MLB career with the Boston Red Sox in 1914, Ruth became a dominant left-handed pitcher before proving his prowess at the plate and earning names like the Sultan of Swat. His emergence as a bonified slugger led Boston to play him in the outfield when he wasn't pitching, and Ruth became one of the first great two-way players in league history.

In 1919, due to financial troubles, Boston owner Harry Frazee sold Ruth's contract in a controversial move that would change the landscape of baseball forever when the slugger joined the New York Yankees. The Babe went on to have one of the most iconic careers of all time. Meanwhile, the Red Sox would suffer one of the longest championship droughts ever over the next 86 years, which came to be known as the Curse of the Bambino following the ill-fated trade.

Ruth's accolades in New York are lengthy and few players' resumes compare. He was the home run king for decades (714), earning 12 AL home run titles, while also leading the AL in RBIs five times. With a career batting average of .341, the 1923 AL MVP and 1924 AL batting champion is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. Add in the fact that he's a seven-time World Series champion, and the titles and individual records solidify Ruth as a baseball icon.

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