Woman Selling Rare Babe Ruth Card Found in Antique Piano
Photo: Darren McCaollister/Getty Images
Photo: Darren McCaollister/Getty Images

Rare Babe Ruth rookie card found in antique piano fetches $130K at auction

A $25 investment turned into a six-figure windfall for a western Maryland woman.

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A rare Babe Ruth baseball card that was found inside a family piano sold for more than $130,000 Friday, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Known as the “Piano Babe Ruth” card, the 1916 M101-4 Babe Ruth blank back card was part of Goodwin and Company’s Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons auction that ended Friday.

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The card, which was graded 2.5 by Beckett Grading Services, fetched a final price of $130,053.60, including the buyer’s premium.

The Ruth rookie was one of 112 found by Ellen Kelly of Westernport, Maryland, in a family piano she bought for $25 at an estate sale in 1992.

“Best $25 I ever spent,” Kelly told Sports Collectors Daily.

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In addition to the card that depicted Ruth as a young pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, there were 110 more cards that included 20 other Hall of Famers

That second lot sold for A group of other low-grade cards from the same series found with the Ruth sold in the auction for $4,419,60, according to the Goodwin website.

Kelly, who has been a hospital receptionist for 39 years, moved the nearly 100-year-old piano, which belonged to her aunt, to her home after buying it. A friend fixing the piano found the cards.

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“He was looking at a pile of cards and I said, ‘Hey, there’s Babe Ruth,’” Kelly told Sports Collectors Daily.

Steve Bloedow, director of auctions for Beckett, said the buyer wished to remain anonymous. He was delighted the card topped six figures.

“We thought $60,000 to $75,000 was a fair estimate for this card. We are thrilled to see a six-figure final sale price.” Bloedow told Sports Collectors Daily

Kelly said she believed the cards were hidden in the piano either by her father or an uncle.

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“They had to hide the cards because my aunt threw everything out,” Kelly told Sports Collectors Daily

Kelly put the cards in a safe deposit box, where they remained until she allowed a friend to research auction possibilities, the website reported. 

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