when does one become aware of babe ruth? i don't recall the first time i heard his name, and i don't recall being a baseball fan and not knowing about him. perhaps he is less synonymous with the game today than he was when i was growing up, but his legacy has not been reduced in my mind. of course, i never knew him as the all-time home run leader (that was hank aaron to me) nor the single season home run king (that was roger maris, asterisk be damned), so fans from an earlier generation could say that his place in the game had been taken down a notch by the time the late 1970s rolled around.
i do know that ruth was present in so many books that i read and stories about baseball that i came across. i am sure his name was mentioned many times on the broadcasts that i watched or listened to, and, of course, his name was lent to one of the youth baseball leagues in my home town. he was certainly a part of my card collecting hobby, as one of the first 'vintage' cards i coveted as a young collector was the 1973 topps card showing ruth, aaron, and willie mays together. i saved my allowance to buy a copy from the local card shop, and it became the first babe ruth card in my collection. over the next 20 years or so, i added a few more, including newer issues thanks to topps celebrating his 100th birthday in 1995, and upper deck and fleer recognizing the potential of sets celebrating the players of yesteryear.
then topps tribute came along, and i opened some packs in 2001, 2002, and 2003. in 2003, i found this card, a 2003 topps tribute world series edition world series tribute relic babe ruth bat card:
here's the back:
i have another babe ruth bat card from a different pack of tribute somewhere that has a real photo of ruth on it. for now, this card represents the babe, the bambino, the sultan of swat, however you want to refer to him, in my hall of famer collection.
i should reaffirm here that my primary goal with this endeavor is to obtain on-card, certified autographs of hall of famers that resonated with me as a fan in one way or another. for many of them, this is not a realistic goal. therefore, i will use relic cards for those players who just don't have any autograph cards to chase (cut auto cards aren't an option, either).
here's my hall of famer collection as its been documented so far: