44 Pete Rose Baseball Cards You Need To Own
Despite the controversy surrounding him, Pete Rose baseball cards remain some of the hottest in the hobby.
Rose is one of the most famous baseball players of all-time. In short, “Charlie Hustle” was a record breaker and still holds the record for most career hits at 4,256.
Over his storied career, he would also appear in 17 All-Star games and win 3 World Series championships.
There are so many Pete Rose baseball cards to collect since his career spilled over into the modern era of the hobby when multiple companies were printing cards. But, the ones on this list are those that form the core of his card base.
1963 Topps #537 Pete Rose Rookie Card
This card features four players, but Rose is the one that makes it worth having since it’s his official rookie card. A whole slew of fakes have been made, so beware when purchasing. The blue banner across the top is prone to chipping and often times it is off-centered and contains print defects. If you can find a good one, this Pete Rose rookie card is a must have for any collector. By far his most valuable card, it’s estimated that a mint condition #537 can be worth up to $200,000!
1964 Topps #125 Pete Rose (All-Star Rookie)
The 1964 Topps Pete Rose All-Star rookie card features a color photo of a fresh faced Rose looking off into the distance. The All-Star Rookie trophy is placed as a badge overtop the photo. At that time he was playing 2ND base for The Reds. In mint condition, this card can be worth over $9000, making it quite the find for any baseball fan.
1964 Kahn’s Wiener #26
While the card itself is fairly simple, because it’s so hard to find, the 1964 Kahn’s Wiener #26 Pete Rose baseball card does not come cheap. That year was the first that Kahn printed full color cards. Pete’s card features a photo of him holding the bat in a bunt position. His signature trails across the photo in black. The back of the card contains some of his stats and a few facts about him.
1965 Topps #207
1965 was a big year for America. Troops were landing in Vietnam, but at home baseball was still alive and well. The 1965 Topps set design is still regarded as one of the best ever made, with cards holding up well over 50 years later. A bright yellow banner flag states the team name, while a full color photo of Rose holding the bat, ready to hit, stands behind. The card has a solid blue border with Pete’s name and position written in the bottom right corner.
1966 Topps #30
Some say Topps missed the mark a bit with their 1966 set, with less eye catching features than surrounding years. The card has a photo of Pete, bat in hand with a diagonal blue band across the top right corner with the team name. Under the photo is his name and position with a blue background. The whole card has a thin black line bordering it. Almost all of these cards are tilted, making properly centered ones hard to come by.
1967 Topps #430
Another collector’s favorite, the Topps 1967 set is famous for its bright colored photos and clean design. Pete’s card has a great photo where you can almost see his grin cracking. He’s holding the bat from the left, which many believed to be an error. It wasn’t, as Pete was an excellent switch-hitter. The Reds’ name trails the bottom in bright green, for some accidental irony. His signature lies just above the team name while his name and position are spread out across the top. While the year itself wasn’t too exciting for Pete, mint #430s will still fetch about $1500.
1968 Topps #230
It was the year of the pitcher, with he Tigers taking the world series. Even though Tiger cards outshine most others from that year, the 1968 Pete Rose baseball card is still a needed piece in any fan’s collection. Pete had a 22-game hitting streak at the beginning of the season that helped him win the batting title. The card itself has a textured canvas background, a design technique that was new to Topps. Rose’s last name is larger than his first, and in bright red font. His team and position are contained in a blue bubble at the bottom right of the card. One thing to note is that because the color is printed right to edge of this card, damages will be easier to see.
1969 Topps #120
It’s tough to find any 1969 Topps cards that aren’t in rough shape. The company had major chipping and centering issues with this set, along with a host of print defects. The light or white backgrounds are unforgiving to any markings. It wasn’t an outstanding year for Pete or for The Reds, leaving the 1969 Topps as one of his less valuable cards compared to others of the ’60s. He also was not a part of the 1969 “White Letter” misprint phenomena, which added some collector value to the affected cards. Nonetheless, no Rose collection is complete without this card.
1970 Topps #580
The 1970 All-Star game ended with a bang, literally. Rose collided right into the Indian’s pitcher, Ray Fosse, dislodging his shoulder. Pete won the game with that wild move, leaving a rift between Fosse and him, which has lasted down to this day. The Pete Rose Topps card for that year featured a headshot of Rose instead of the normal baseball pose. The brightly colored photo catches Pete mid sneer, it seems. The design used clean colors, pairing a grey background with white, black and red lettering. With prices hovering in the lower ranges, this card makes an excellent memento of the events at the All-Star game.
1971 Topps #100
Topps tried something new in 1971, going solid black on the backgrounds of their cards. While this looks amazing on cards in good condition, any wear whatsoever shows up as white creases, chips and scratches. The back of these cards were something special in themselves, featuring a black and white photo of the player followed by the player’s stats and bio. Because of his popularity, it’s extremely hard to find a 1971 Topps Pete Rose baseball card that hasn’t been practically destroyed by the overeager kids of his day. The card has Pete’s signature at the bottom of a full color photo, and can go for over $7000 if it’s a good one.
1972 Topps #559
The seventies were a happening time. Not even Topps could escape the excess of those days, with the 1972 set getting a little funky. The borders of the cards are wacky and colorful while the font is a psychedelic 3D type. For some reason, they chose to omit the player positions and leave all of the focus on the colorful display. While you can find affordable Pete Rose 1972 cards, a mint one is still highly valuable due to the love it or hate look of the set.
1973 Topps #130
Things were toned down in the 1973 Topps set. The Pete Rose card features Pete looking high to the sky at the ball he’s just hit. These action shots were a new touch to the baseball card design. The player positions have corresponding silhouettes in front of colored circles. The player name and full team name are written in the left bottom corner. While the cleaner design is easy on the eyes, these cards are infamously off center. They were also printed on a much thinner cardstock than years previous, making them far less durable.
1974 Topps #300
Running with the action shot motif, Topps put out another card showing a mid-game Rose ready to bunt. The card has a red banner on both the top and bottom showcasing the full team name. This time they finally decided to give The Reds there color, and the look works. This was the first year that Topps decided to release their whole set at once. This was to stop competition with the release of football cards. You could buy the set in full through the JC Penney’s catalog, and they’d throw in a bonus traded set to boot.
1975 Topps #320
It was the first of two back to back years that The Reds would win the world series. A big time for Pete, 1975 would also be the year that Topps created card magic. This set is one of the all time most coveted collections. The Rose card is bold, with a full color background of red and yellow, and a bold printed “Reds” across the top in blue ink. The shot of Pete has his autograph across it, and there is a star in the right bottom corner highlighting his National League All-Star Status. The card varies in value, with both affordable and expensive quality cards on the market. The full border definitely makes this card prone to chipping, and many printing issues exist throughout the set.
1976 Topps #240
Rose came to be known as the heart of the “Big Red Machine” that was The Cincinnati Reds. As captain, Pete lead the team to their second world series win with his passionate attitude. His intensity and eagerness to play were unlike any other. The 1976 card shows a focused Rose, flip-downs flipped up, eyes glaring at us and ready to go. There is yet another star, this time in the bottom left corner, advertising his National League All-Star fame. This is one of his more valuable Pete Rose baseball cards, with mint specimens topping $9000!
1977 Topps #450
The ‘77 Topps Pete Rose card shows Pete with a mitt instead of his usual bat. Still a National League All-Star, this time the card has a blue banner across the bottom to display the title. His autograph is split up in a vertical fashion on the far side of the full color action shot. It’s hard to come across good quality specimens in this set, as a flimsy stock was used. The cards are also prone to smudges and smears, which can really muck them up. While not a collector’s favorite, this card is still eye catching when you get one in good condition.
1978 Topps #20
It was Pete’s last year with the Reds until the mid ’80s. He was 37 years old when he reached his 3000 hit mark. He also gave Joe DiMaggio a run for his money, coming close to Joe’s record with a 44-game hitting streak. The card shows Pete sitting on the bench, watching the action for a change. The team name is in a nice scroll font that has a classic baseball feel. There are lots of these cards around, so it’s easy to add one to your collection.
1979 Topps #650
While he started with The Phillies in 1979, his card still features him a member of The Reds for this year. Topps switched back to the action shots, with lots of mid-game snaps on the cards from this set. These cards are incredibly hard to find properly centered. It’s said that no one has a complete high grade 1979 Topps set. It’s also one of the first sets to feature the Topps baseball logo on the front of the card.
1980 Topps #540
In 1980, Pete would win his third World Series title. As the Phillies top hitter, he was a major part of the victory over the Kansas City Royals. The card shows a mop-haired Rose close up in his Phillies gear. His position and the team name are in colored, tilted banners on opposing corners. His signature graces the bottom left area of the photo. Rose was also a part of the special Topps Burger King set that was released of the Philadelphia Phillies. These Burger King cards tend to be worth more than the standard Topps versions.
1981 Donruss #251 and #371
The Topps monopoly was over. 1981 saw the birth of two new baseball card companies which would force Topps to up their print game. Donruss produced multiple Pete Rose cards that year that you should add to your collection. The #251 Pete Rose card has a modern shot on the front with a nice clean design. The team name is in a chunky yellow type with the player name and position below in black. And the #371 card features a nice full close-up of a smiling Rose in his Phillies batting helmet.
1981 Fleer #1
Fleer’s first set since ’63 featured interesting photography and a one-look-fits-all approach. The team names are inside a slightly 3-dimensional baseball, and each card has an aqua border. It’s interesting to note that Pete’s #1 card contains a statistical error, however value is not greatly impacted by the mistake.
1981 Topps #180
Topps went for a new look to try to keep up with the sprouting competition. While not their cleanest design, you have to give them some creativity points for the use of the cartoon hat to show the team names. The photos were definitely brighter and sharper than previous years.
1982 Donruss #168
While Pete’s hitting average was gradually slipping, he was edging ever closer to the all-time hitting record. 1982 saw him still with the Phillies, but losing some of his trademark steam. The Donruss card shows Rose catching a baseball mid-game. The photo is not overly sharp and the card design was not a notable favorite. The team name is shown in a baseball while the player name trails across a bat.
1982 Fleer #256
Fleer took a different route, with a clean head shot of Pete against a blue sky background. The card features another clean design, not unlike the previous year, however this time they used a red border with a centred red button containing the player’s name, team and position on it. This card was one of the more valuable cards in the entire 1982 Fleet set. Centering can be tough for this card.
1982 Topps #780
The 1982 Topps set has been lovingly referred to as “the hockey stick set” for obvious reasons. Collectors love the clean design, but due to the massive size of this set at 792 cards, many have not been able to complete it. Pete was a regular Topps staple at this point. His card features an in action shot of him waiting for a hit. The pink and orange border colors are vibrant and eye catching.
1983 Donruss #42
While Pete’s averages were still winding down, he did manage to help bring the Phillies to another World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. They lost to Baltimore, in what would end up being Pete’s last season with the team. Donruss switched up a baseball with a mitt to display team names on the card, and still had noticeably darker photos than their competition.
1983 Fleer #171
Fleer kept up their unified sets with a tan background on every of the 660 cards. The different team logos are on each card along with the Fleer logo at the top. Pete’s card shows him waiting on the sidelines, bat still in hand. The colors in the photo are deep and vivid. This set featured a unique color scheme on the back with a brown on white font.
1983 Topps #100
With a bit of a nod to the 1963 set of twenty years earlier, Topps showcased two full color photos of players on the front. Topps combined action with posed photos to give collectors more of what they wanted. The classic blue and red color scheme works well in creating the baseball feel. Here we see Rose, moments after a hit, looking out into the field. Just below is a posed shot of him in his Phillies helmet.
1984 Donruss #61
Pete would join the Montreal Expos in 1984. This Donruss card still shows him with the Phillies, batting ever closer to the all-time hits record. While the Expos had signed Rose to sell more tickets, his inconsistent hitting led them to trade him back to the Reds by late season. Pete was 43 at the time.
1984 Fleer #46
This set is often heralded as one of the top sets of the 80s due to its attainable size and good portion of high quality cards. There are some centering problems and the cards are prone to corner damage from the flimsy box they came in. Many counterfeit Rose cards have been copied from this set, as his #46 card has gained popularity with many collectors. This is something to keep in mind when growing your own collection.
1984 Topps #300
Compared to its peers, the 1984 Topps set was relatively underwhelming. Many great condition cards exist from this set at reasonable prices, which is a bonus for any looking to build their collections. Topps kept the double photo motif going, keeping action and headshots on the front. The backs of these card are horizontal and feature purple writing.
1985 Donruss #641
This was the year Charlie Hustle would finally break the hits record. In September of 1985, Pete hit his 4193rd hit, breaking Ty Cobb’s record. The Reds would go on to finish second in the National League west that season. At this point Pete was both a player and a manager, and had fallen deep into a gambling addiction. Some reports say he was bidding up to $15,000 on any given day.
1985 Fleer #550
There may be no greater way to commemorate Rose’s record breaking year than with the #550 Fleer baseball card. The card shows Pete taking off after one of his famed hits. The colors are absolutely great, with a bright red background surrounding the photo. As the color runs right to the edge, any wear and tear will show on this card. It is more valuable than the Pete Rose counterparts that would also be released in the 1985 season.
1985 Leaf #144
This card is practically the same as the 1985 Donruss Pete Rose card, as Leaf had acquired Donruss. They used the set to break into the Canadian market, offering both English and French stats on the card backs and adding some Canadian Greats that are not found in the Donruss set of that year. The only difference that you can find is the presence of the Leaf logo in the top left corner, replacing the Donruss logo previously there.
1985 Topps #600
The 1985 Topps set went back to the one shot, classic looking baseball cards. The cards have a full-sized photo on the front in bright, sharp colors. The team names are spread on an angle at the bottom of the card, next to a circle containing the team logo. The back of Pete’s card shows his complete Major League batting record along with a few basic facts about him. This photo of him really starts to reveal his age, no longer the wild man full of energy that he once was.
1986 Donruss #62
Donruss stepped up their design a bit with their 1986 set. Here we have a great shot of Pete, smiling for the camera on the sidelines of a game. The background is striped black and blue with the photo cut diagonally on the top and bottom. These cards are very affordable and easy to find, making it simple for you to add them to your Pete Rose collection.
1986 Fleer #191
Rose would bat for the final time in the Major Leagues on August 17 of 1986. The Reds would cut him later that year to take on pitcher, Pat Pacillo. He would leave the total record of 4,256 hits, still unbroken to this day. This card shows a posed Rose smiling with bat over shoulder, looking good in the bright red Cincinnati jersey he would soon hang up. The card itself is difficult to find in good quality because of the dark navy border that is completely unforgiving to any damage.
1986 Leaf #53
Rather than having the image of a leaf to distinguish this card from its Donruss counterpart, the company simply spelled out their name in the upper left corner. Whether its the Donruss or Leaf version you’re looking at, there is no doubt the card features a nice image of an older Pete Rose smiling brightly.
1986 Topps #1
The #1 Topps card from 1986 still carries some value today. The card has Pete batting on the front of it, with The Reds’ name boldly written above in appropriate red font. The top of the card has a black background which shortly transitions to white below the top of the photo. Pete was still a regular staple in all of the card sets of 1986.
1987 Donruss #186
Pete returned to The Reds as a manager in 1987. The end of his career would unfortunately be marred with tabloid incidents and building gambling allegations. The Donruss #186 card gives us a window into the troubled “Charlie Hustle”, with a close up of him watching a game unfold. This set has a black and gold background which looks sharp, but ages poorly.
1987 Fleer #213
Pete almost jumps right out at you on the 1987 Fleer baseball card. They used some tricky cropping to make the players pop out from the sky blue background behind them. The writing is in all white font with the team logo on the bottom right corner. The sky-blue background fades to white with one solid blue line marking the bottom of the card. As one of the final pieces to the Pete Rose collection, it really is a great looking baseball card.
1987 Leaf #129
The 1987 Leaf #129 Pete Rose baseball card features the same design as its Donruss counterpart. And, in turn, the same issues of wear and chipping show up quite often on the dark borders of this card.
1987 Topps #200
The last one on our list for today, the 1987 Topps Pete Rose card features him just as he’d like us to remember, playing the game. The full color action shot is overlayed on what looks like a wooden background, made to resemble the wood of a bat perhaps. Pete’s name is in a red box with his position absent. The team logo is in the top left corner, edging onto the photo. As the card is relatively newer, you can get your hands on a decent specimen without parting from a lot of cash.
Pete Rose Baseball Cards Wrap-Up
While serving as a player-manager, Pete was found guilty of betting on baseball games, including betting on his own team. This controversy has kept him out of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for years. After investigations on his gambling concluded, he was finally inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 2016.
While the end of Pete’s career left a bad taste in the mouths of many, looking back it’s hard not to acknowledge just how amazing of a ball player he was. No one has touched his hits record, games played, games won or times on base.
He played incredibly hard every season of his life. The way the game should be played.
While there has been talk of lifting his ban, the controversy surrounding the heart attack of Bart Giamatti has left things complicated. Many love Pete, regardless of what the officials say. There is no doubt that he will go down in history as one of the greatest players of the game. Nobody had as much heart as Charlie Hustle.