Pete Rose may never be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but his marketing skills place him among baseball’s elite. The all-time hits leader’s latest exposure to collectors comes through Leaf’s Charlie Hustle Baseball Edition.
A blaster box is pricey at $29.99, but that was at Target. I have seen some boxes go for as low as $24.95 online. The price is the bad news. The good news is that collectors will get the complete 10-card base set, plus an autographed card to boot.
Granted, Rose’s signature is on a sticker, but he is a diligent signer, and if you cough up enough cash, he is more than happy to sign.
Rose had a chain of restaurants in South Florida some years back. In 1998 I went with my dad to the one he had in Boynton Beach, Florida. Memorabilia all over the place, and Rose did a radio show from a soundproof booth inside the restaurant.
The food wasn’t bad, either. The cool part was that there were newspaper clippings —good and bad, because after all, even bad publicity is publicity — bats, balls, uniforms and gloves on display.
In the gift shop, if you bought an item that cost more than $20 (I am guessing on the price now, but in that range or higher), Rose would autograph it for you if he was there. Not a bad deal.
This year’s model is like a Leaf product from 2012: Pete Rose, The Living Legend.
There are 10 cards in the base set, with each card detailing Rose’s achievements at certain points during his career. The cards show Rose during every stop of his career — with the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos and Philadelphia Phillies. Because Leaf does not have a license with MLB and the MLBPA, all logos are airbrushed off the photographs.
The card design is nice, with mostly action shots of Rose. A photograph is inset against a feathered background, with the name of the brand in large block letters at the bottom of the card. There is a capital “R” about the brand name, topped by a crown to signify Rose’s status as major league baseball’s career leader in hits.
The card backs utilize a horizontally cropped version of the photo on the front, with seven lines of type discussing his career.
The biographical sketches list his achievements and tend to push for Rose’s election to the Hall of Fame.
An example: “Despite allegations of gambling while a manager of the Reds, he deserves to be acknowledged for his accomplishments as a player by being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Another example: “His work ethic once represented everything that was great about America.”
And: “There wasn’t anything Rose wouldn’t do to help his team win.”
You get the idea.
The autograph I pulled was on a sticker and penned with a red Sharpie. I get it: Rose is a Red. This shot was like base card No. 10, when Rose was with the Phillies. There are 10 different autographs in the set — one for each base card.
It’s a nice little set and keeps Rose in the spotlight. Charlie Hustle turns 80 on April 14, and he hasn’t stopped hustling yet.