1987 Topps Pete Rose
An interesting post indeed for your Thanksgiving day. Major League Baseball banned Rose from the game in 1989 for betting on baseball games he was managing for the Reds. The fallout has been an ongoing soap opera that has run its course and is just slightly sad and tired at this point. Nobody has stirred the Major League Baseball pot over the last thirty years more than Pete Rose. All of the attention has certainly helped keep Rose relevant, but his life-time ban from the game certainly puts a hamper on Charlie Hustle's popularity and ability to impact the hobby.
The last official Pete Rose card was issued in the 1989 Topps set and featured Rose as the manager of the Reds. Since then there have been Rose cards made, but none of them have been officially licensed by Major League Baseball. It seems the heaviest action on Rose baseball cards has been from the rebirth of Dallas based card company Leaf. Leaf does not shy away from controversy, so it's only fitting that the company puts out sets of cards featuring the former Reds player with all the logos removed from the cards.
2012 Leaf Living Legends Pete Rose Autograph
While it's cool to see a Pete Rose autograph on a piece of cardboard, Leaf has produced a boat load of these autographs with all sorts of stickers, variations, and card types. In simple terms, Pete Rose autographs have been overproduced and are basically a dime a dozen on Ebay. Why buy a box of an unlicensed product from Leaf when you can just go on Ebay and get a Pete Rose autograph for $10 to $15 with no commons? It's sad in many ways to see one of the greatest players in the history of the game down this low, but at this point nothing is really shocking when it comes to Pete Rose. I am sure he will keep signing cards by the thousands and eventually his signature will be worth even less.
Luckily there is a silver lining to the dark cloud that is Pete Rose. As a player Topps, Fleer, and Donruss all made plenty of cool Rose cards, especially the old Topps cards. The cards are still worth something and are still desired by collectors. One of my favorite vintage cards in my collection is an old 1975 Topps Rose card I picked up in a flea market in Southern Illinois during college.
1975 Topps Pete Rose
The card is definitely well-loved, but this is a great set and the Rose card is awesome. I have picked up a much cleaner copy since, but these are the cards which still make Rose a relevant part of the hobby. For card purists, Rose has kind of become a cool player over the past twenty years because the lifetime ban has prevented Topps and Upper Deck from flooding the secondary card market with a bunch of commemorative and reprint cards. You are left with twenty-five years worth of player and manager cards only from the years that Rose played and managed (plus those Leaf cards)
1971 Topps Pete Rose
Rose is one rookie card that I have never owned, but someday I will have to pick one up for my collection. If you ignore the Leaf cards, not a problem here, he's one of the few players left who you might honestly have a chance of collecting most of his entire run of cards. 1971 is my favorite in my collection, not issued in 1984 or 1975.
On the Field-
Rose is most famous for being the all-time hit leader of Major League Baseball passing Ty Cobb with hit number 4,192 during the 1985 season. He did not play after the 1986 season, but remained with the Reds as the team's manager. I don't remember much about Rose as player from my childhood, but I do remember going to a Cardinals/Reds game and seeing him break up an almost no-hitter by Danny Cox. Really, this is the moment as reported on by a local Cincinnati television station:
The real story about Pete Rose over the last thirty years began in the spring of 1989. There had been rumblings that Rose might have a gambling problem, but Peter Ueberroth had initially cleared Rose of wrong-doing. Then Sports Illustrated put out a detailed report about Rose's gambling and ran the story the first week of the 1989 Major League season.
Rose was banned from Major League Baseball on August 24th, 1989. At times many have speculated about a Rose return from his ban, but at this point I am skeptical if we will ever see it as long as Pete Rose is living. I am not going to delve into an entire essay on the matter, but if you are interested on my thoughts on Charlie Hustle you can check out my opinions on the matter here.
Some Rose collectors are going to cringe at the pick for the best Rose card, but I have always loved this card. Frankly, given that Rose played three-quarters of a season in Montreal makes me wonder why nobody else really managed to get a Rose card out as an Expo. Donruss put out an Expo card of Pete in 1985, but he had already been traded back to the Reds (for Tom Lawless -48 seconds).
1984 Fleer Pete Rose
Great card from an iconic 80s set. If you do not have one of these in your collection I highly recommend search one out. Inexpensive too.