In this new, ongoing series, we explore various sets on the PSA Set Registry, featuring the trading cards of iconic athletes. Select cards will be highlighted and the requirements of each set will be included. The following article reviews the Pete Rose Basic Topps Set.
The legendary Pete Rose is one of the most polarizing players to ever set foot on a major league diamond. As a player he was hard-nosed, had a work ethic that earned him the nickname “Charlie Hustle,” and holds the major league record with 4,256 base hits. He played in 17 All-Star Games, won three World Series and had success at every level of the game. Yet he broke one of the game’s most sacred rules when he bet on major league baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds. He accepted a lifetime ban from the game as part of his punishment and is ineligible for what would have otherwise been an obvious spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. While many baseball fans feel his punishment was justified, just as many believe it was too harsh. The resulting debates ensure that Pete Rose remains a hot topic among fans and collectors.
The 1963 Rookie Stars cards offer some of the most basic design of any Topps issue. A young Rose is pictured with three other “floating heads” on his first card (#537), each of which is encased in a red circle atop a yellow background. The bland design, however, has not made Pete’s rookie card any less desirable to collectors. Of the nearly 5,000 examples submitted to PSA, only 30 have received grades of PSA 9, and just one PSA 10 example exists within the hobby. The PSA 10 last sold in a 2016 auction for a whopping $717,000.
If you are trying to complete his basic Topps set checklist on the PSA Set Registry, this is the most heavily weighted card (10.00) of the bunch. Weights are determined by the card’s secondary market value using a scale from 1.00 to 10.00 with 10.00 being the most expensive. Using three varying PSA grades for the card, here are its industry average auction prices:
PSA Good 2: $379.93
PSA Excellent 5: $810.98
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $4,964.77
While the 1963 Topps issue is without question his rookie card, many collectors prefer the appearance of Rose’s 1964 release. The youthful ballplayer, then playing second base, is shown in his Cincinnati Reds pinstripes with a Topps’ All-Star Rookie designation on the card front. The trophy logo is popular with collectors, and is reason alone for the card to reside in many collections today. Condition is a challenge with this card, as only 35 PSA 9 examples exist and a card worthy of PSA 10 status has yet to be submitted.
PSA Good 2: $69.19
PSA Excellent 5: $141.55
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $1,361.49
The 1971 Topps set has long been viewed as a particular challenge for collectors. The numerous legends and Hall of Fame members are one thing, but those black borders are so tough to find in top grade! Being one of the most desired players in the set makes the Rose card a hot commodity. Just a dozen PSA 9 examples exist within the entire hobby and they trade infrequently. The lone PSA 10 has yet to trade hands in a public auction. It’s no wonder collectors chase this card with such determination. High-grade examples rarely come up for sale!
PSA Good 2: $7.10
PSA Excellent 5: $22.51
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $861.67
The 1984 Topps set is a mid-decade classic. Though not particularly expensive, this set is absolutely loaded with Hall of Fame talent. Crisp images and an attractive design add to the overall desirability. The veteran slugger is shown in the twilight of his career, still doing what he did best; rapping out yet another base hit. PSA 10 examples are abundant and at right around $30, this is one high-grade card that is available to the masses.
PSA Good 2: N/A
PSA Mint 9: $8.86
PSA Gem Mint 10: $31.08
1963 TOPPS PETE ROSE 537 (10.00)
1964 TOPPS PETE ROSE ALL-STAR ROOKIE 125 (6.00)
1965 TOPPS PETE ROSE 207 (6.00)
1966 TOPPS PETE ROSE 30 (5.00)
1967 TOPPS PETE ROSE 430 (5.00)
1968 TOPPS PETE ROSE 230 (4.00)
1969 TOPPS PETE ROSE 120 (4.00)
1970 TOPPS PETE ROSE 580 (4.00)
1971 TOPPS PETE ROSE 100 (7.00)
1972 TOPPS PETE ROSE 559 (4.00)
1973 TOPPS PETE ROSE 130 (3.00)
1974 TOPPS PETE ROSE 300 (3.00)
1975 TOPPS PETE ROSE 320 (3.00)
1976 TOPPS PETE ROSE 240 (2.00)
1977 TOPPS PETE ROSE 450 (2.00)
1978 TOPPS PETE ROSE 20 (1.50)
1979 TOPPS PETE ROSE 650 (1.50)
1980 TOPPS PETE ROSE 540 (1.50)
1981 TOPPS PETE ROSE 180 (1.50)
1982 TOPPS PETE ROSE 780 (1.00)
1983 TOPPS PETE ROSE 100 (1.00)
1984 TOPPS PETE ROSE 300 (1.00)
1985 TOPPS PETE ROSE 600 (1.00)
1986 TOPPS PETE ROSE 1 (1.00)
1987 TOPPS PETE ROSE 200 (1.00)
With a checklist containing 25 cards, the Pete Rose Basic Topps Set gives collectors a quarter century of baseball history to chase. His earlier issues can certainly strain one’s hobby budget, but gratefully there are also plenty of late-career releases that can be found at very reasonable prices. Challenge and ease, pricey and affordable… Truly, this collection represents the best of both worlds.
Rose’s tenacity, hard work and will to win made him one of the most popular players of his era. There was simply no give in the man they called Charlie Hustle. Fortunately for collectors, his record-setting career is well documented in hobby cardboard. Take good look at the Pete Rose Basic Topps Set and give it a try. I think you will be glad that you did!
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