For all the problems that Pete Rose ran into from his time as a manager, you still have to admire his unprecedented accomplishments as a player. Although Major League Baseball has barred him from the Hall of Fame, collectors continue to make his early cards some of the more sought-after from the 1960s. This comprehensive top list brings together Charlie Hustle's most important appearances over his entire card career.
Along with three World Series championships, Rose won the 1963 NL Rookie of the Year, 1973 NL MVP, 1975 World Series MVP and was selected to 17 All-Star teams at a record five different positions. He also made a valiant effort at besting Joe Dimaggio's consecutive game hitting streak in 1978, managing 44 straight games with a hit.
However, similar to Hank Aaron or Roger Maris, Rose will be forever tied to a single achievement, breaking the all-time hit record. Rose surpassed Ty Cobb's hit total in 1985 and you can find many cards honoring that feat in the 1986 sets. More specifically, Rose is featured on the first seven cards in 1986 Topps and has 10 different cards in that set alone.
Philadelphia Phillies fans searching for cards from Rose's playing days with the team have a few more options than Reds fans as Rose made appearances in Topps, Donruss, and Fleer during his time with Philly. Look to 1981 Donruss, 1982 Donruss Diamond King, and 1982 Topps for particularly nice cards. Although Rose played just 95 games for the Montreal Expos, he does have a few cards with the team and Expos collectors can look to 1984 Topps Traded and 1985 Donruss.
Although a vast majority of Pete Rose's baseball cards over the years were produced by Topps, because of Topps' licensing agreements with Major League Baseball, Rose has not been featured on one of their cards since 1989. One exception is 2015 Topps Undisputed WWE, which focuses on Rose's wrestling affiliation and includes an autograph card.
Fans looking for contemporary baseball cards for Rose will have to seek out sets made by Leaf or Panini that don't carry the MLB license. Leaf issued Pete Rose sets in 2011 and 2012 and fans can find many budget-friendly autographs in those sets. Rose autograph hunters can also look for an oddball autograph in the 2012 Leaf Originals Wrestling set honoring Rose's appearances in the WWE.
Pete Rose is the only player to play in the majors for 24 or more seasons and that translates to over one thousand cards from his playing days and beyond. This list tries to trim that down to the cream of the crop for Rose by examining that huge group of cards for value, design quality, and collecting interest.
Top 10 Pete Rose Baseball Cards
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Many of the cards on this list are from Pete's first few years in the majors, but he has some great baseball cards from his later years as well. His 1976 Topps card is one of those options from later in his career. With an intense stare, Rose looks directly at the camera while wearing his flip-down sunglasses commonly used by outfielders of the time.
Cards devoted to The Sporting News All-Star selections, including Rose, returned again in the 1969 Topps set and the bright green and yellow design for the National League players was a welcome addition to one of the more basic Topps designs of the 1960s.
Along with the 1966 Topps Pete Rose base card, which is his only appearance in that particular set, Rose also had a card (if you can call it a card) in the Topps Rub-Offs release that let kids apply his face on their bodies as a temporary tattoo.
If there is one Pete Rose card that personifies his "Charlie Hustle" mentality, it would likely be the 1977 Topps card that honors the 1976 National League Championship series between the Reds and Phillies. The card is framed perfectly with Rose running as hard as he always did while the outfielder attempts the relay throw.
One of my personal favorite Rose cards is his 1974 Topps base card. There is just something great about featuring the future hit king squaring around to bunt the ball for a possible sacrifice. Collectors can also find a batting leader card with Rose and Rod Carew in this set.
Pete Rose's only appearance in a Topps product in 1965 is his base card from the flagship set. Rose's popularity with collectors can be illustrated by the fact that even ungraded versions of this third-year card can command prices at $100 and up at auction.
For casual collectors, the 1967 Topps Pete Rose card might appear to be an error as he is featured holding the bat from the left while his two previous Topps cards showed him swinging from the right side. Pete Rose, of course, was a skilled switch-hitter, which might help explain part of his tremendous ability.
As many collectors know, the baseball marketplace has no shortage of Pete Rose autographs. If you are considering adding a signed card to your collection, there are a few points to consider. Those looking for a Topps autograph will have to go the route of an in-person or through-the-mail version as Rose has no Topps certified autographs except for the WWE Undisputed card previously noted. The Pete Rose sets from Leaf offer several options and many at budget-friendly prices. If you have more funds to play with, on-card autographs are a more appealing choice and there are great examples in some of Panini's high-end releases like 2012 Playoff Prime Cuts.
With the reality that the top card on this list is not financially feasible for many collectors, those on a limited budget can look to the 1964 Topps Pete Rose card as a solid alternative. The second-year card is a great-looking option with a huge All-Star Rookie Cup featured prominently in honor of his Rookie of the Year season.
While 1963 Topps is a popular set with vintage collectors, the value of the Pete Rose rookie card accounts for about a third of the set's value. The card, which is in the high-numbered final series, has also been one of the most counterfeited modern cards. If you are considering picking up this card, it is best to stick with a graded version from a reputable grading service and preferably a card you can hold and examine in-hand.
1964 Topps #125 Pete Rose Cincinnati Reds All-Star Rookie EXMT
1985 LEAF #144 PETE ROSE PSA 9 OC
1963 Topps Baseball #537 Pete Rose Rookie Card PSA 6
1963 Topps Baseball #537 Pete Rose Rookie Card PSA 5.5