2016 sucked. Terrible things happened to everyone but you gotta just roll with the punches and move on. I've never really posted a 'most wanted' or 'white whale' list but if I had this card would have been on it. 2016 in all it's badness threw an opportunity to pick this card up at me recently so I took it.
Goddamn funkin' sunuvabitch Pete Rose. This man's cards are the bane of my existence. It's bad enough that one of the last cards I need for just about every set is a Pete Rose card, but dealers always seem to pull out the Beckett from 1988 when pricing the damn things. But the floaty head Rookie card? Hell, that's another thing entirely.
The first year I really went batshit over baseball cards was 1983. This was good because every set that year looked great and was stuffed with future Hall of Famers. It was also bad because the Rookie card craze was really starting to take over the hobby. The crazy good rookie class of Gwynn, Boggs and Sandberg helped with that. Then Mattingly showed up in '84 and things got worse. Then Doc showed up in '85 and it was all over but the crying. But in 1983, the two rookie cards that impressed on me the most were the '69 Reggie and the '63 Rose.
One of my first sports memories is of Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs in a World Series game. Three home runs. In one game! A WORLD SERIES GAME. A game for the whole World!!! Another one was listening to my family crow because Gene Garber screwed up Pete Rose's chance at a Very Good Record. I was impressed that one of "our team's" players defeated someone who was obviously a Great Player and I had an early lesson in the joys of Schadenfreude. So when the Rookie Card Hype hit, these were not the only cards being pushed by the dealers, but they were the ones that really stuck out with me. And, being a kid with enough pocket money to buy a few packs of new cards here and there, I had absolutely no chance of ever getting these two glorious cards at the new and improved rookie pricing.
I finally got my Reggie last year. It is still one of the crown jewels in my collection even though it looks like the stage at the end of a G.G. Allin concert. Hell, it's one of my favorites because it looks so shitty. My futile little rebellion against the PSA Tenners of the world. But like I said earlier, a Rose rookie is something else entirely.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, The concept of a Rookie Card is a marketing scam that went completely out of control. There is some actual method to the madness though. Every Topps set from 1952-1973 were released in different series. Just like today, except there were up to 7 series (I think, if anyone knows of a set with 8 or more series, please let me know in the comments) instead of 2 and an Update. And like today, the last series was printed in WAY less quantities than the first and tended to be chock full o' rookie cards of players who made their debut earlier in the year. Less supply + overhyped demand = BOOMSHANKA, the dealers make $$$$$.
Pete Rose's rookie card is in the fairly scarce 1963 high numbers series. And the rookie card hype hit right when he was chasing down Ty Cobb. And even though I as a wee lad became smitten with the colorful and circley '63 Topps set there was no way I'd ever complete it because of the hype. That little smiley floatey Rose head (which can also be found on his far superior 1964 Rookie Cup card) would forever elude my grasp. And then, 33 years later, it somehow fell right into my lap. You may ask "How?" Here's where the 2016 bit fits in:
THROUGH LIES, CRIMINALITY AND GENERALIZED CHICANERY.
Just like a lot of the bullshit we had to endure in 2016!
Another reason why the Pete Rose rookie always stuck with me is because in the '80s, some chucklehead decided to print up a bunch of fakes and then proceeded to try to sell a whole stack of 'em at a card show. I remember hearing the news reports about it back in the day and am pretty sure I read an article about it with pictures of the fakes in one of the hobby magazines at the time. I couldn't find any original articles, but this Washington Post report from 1988 references the incident. I wasn't so much amazed by the fact someone would have the nerve to try to pass off a bunch of Rose Rookie fakes at a card show full of eagle eyed cardboard nerds, but that the judge ordered they all be stamped as counterfeit instead of destroyed! I could never have a real Rose rookie, but how fuckin' cool would it be to get an Official Fake!
And now I got one. Even though 2016 beat me down hard, I'm still fightin' and looking out for thirteen year old me. Ya got yer Rose, kid.