Even after his death in August 1948, Babe Ruth was still a larger than life figure both in baseball as well as in American society. Thus it was little wonder that the Leaf Chewing Gum Company included Ruth in their 1949 Leaf set. I do understand that at one point we used to call this a 1948 set but after dogged research from long-time dealer and hobbyist Ted Zanidakis about 20 years ago there was enough proof and now Leaf is considered by most knowledgeable hobbyists to be a ’49 issue.
Even an early 1949 set issued only a few months after Ruth’s death from cancer was destined to be popular. Although Leaf would not issue another baseball card set for more than a decade, the simplicity of the Ruth card remains popular with collectors to this day. The photo of the Babe in a Yankee cap set against a solid background and with his name at the bottom is a fitting tribute.
For collectors, Babe Ruth is still a magic name and will be as long as baseball is played. And if you have ever watched the wretched Babe Ruth movie in 1948 where the ending shows him being wheeled down a corridor and the serious announcer voice mentions The Babe doing good for science, we discovered nearly 50 years later that was not a Hollywood script ending but was the truth. The Babe did help cancer victims for years after he passed.
While it’s not necessarily a card you can pick up with minimal investment, it is among the less expensive cards that were issued during Ruth’s life and the key card in a set that also includes Honus Wagner, then a Pirates coach. You can see a few for sale and auction on eBay here.