Of all the Wax Pack Gods that I worshipped as a kid in the 1980s, Pete Rose was always one of the most difficult to come by. He was in all of the same overproduced sets as Walt Terrell and John Mizerock, but somehow there never seemed to be enough Pete Rose baseball cards to satisfy my appetite.
Maybe it was because I was a Reds fan or maybe it was because I was in awe of Rose’s exploits on the field as he marched toward Ty Cobb’s record at an age when he should have been collecting Social Security and taking up woodworking.
Rose wasn’t my favorite player — that was and still is Mike Schmidt — but Charlie Hustle did intrigue me like no other.
And he touched the same nerve with the hobby at large, as his assault on the all-time hits record was maybe the first large-scale milestone watch that was accompanied by escalating card prices. In many way, Rose’s 1963 Topps issue was instrumental to the burgeoning rookie-card craze.
The Pete Rose bubble was also one of the first to burst when he succumbed to a gambling scandal in 1989, and demand and prices tumbled through the 1990s.
Over the years, though, as the steroid taint touched players who had eclipsed Rose in the public eye, many fans began to take a more positive view of Rose, at least in terms of his on-field accomplishments.
As support has grown in recent times for Pete’s reinstatement, or at least for his induction into Cooperstown, the values of his cards have stabilized and begun to climb again, too. That’s especially true for quality graded copies of his early pasteboards.
And, after 27 long years, Pete Rose will finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame in late June of 2016. Of course, Rose will be heading to the Reds Hall of Fame and not Cooperstown, but it will get his name into the news again and should spark at least a bit of new interest in his cards.
Turns out those same cards that were so elusive 30 years ago have held a decent amount of their value over the decades and, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you (and I) can look at them anytime you want.
To help out with that endeavor, I have gathered the entire run of regular-issue Rose cards below. For now, these include just Pete’s base card from each set, but check back here often if you’re a Rose nut like I am, because I’ll be adding leader and record-breaker cards, oddball issues, and other goodies over time.