Believe it or not, there is more than one Pete Rose rookie card, but the 1963 Topps card is universally considered THE Pete Rose rookie. In this post we’ll take a look at that card — and we’ll discuss a few obscure Pete Rose rookies and other early key cards.
1963 Topps Rookie Stars (Pete Rose Rookie) card #537
The 1963 Topps Pete Rose rookie card, #537, is one of the most significant and recognizable baseball cards ever made and ranks as one of the most valuable cards of the 1960s. It is the only card that is considered a Pete Rose rookie and is extremely sought after in the baseball card collecting world for that reason and several others including:
- The Legendary Status of Pete Rose: Pete Rose is one of the greatest and most famous baseball players to ever take to the field. His hardworking approach to the game was legendary and earned him the nickname “Charlie Hustle.” He was the most well-known player from the “Big Red Machine” Cincinnati team. He retired as the MLB all-time hit leader, which is a record that may never be broken.
- The Controversial Post-Playing Career of Pete Rose: After his playing career Pete Rose served as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. He was banned from baseball for gambling on the sport while he was a manager and is currently ineligible for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The controversy that has kept him out of the Hall of Fame has kept him in the minds of fans. He remains one of the most famous baseball players ever.
- Age. This card is hard to find in great condition due to its age. Cards from this set also suffered from bad centering and poor print quality. Very few perfect Pete Rose rookie cards were ever made. The card care practices of the time were far below today’s standards, so many of the original cards were lost, destroyed, or suffered wear and tear.
1963 Topps Set Details
The 1963 Topps set is known for its bright colors and high-quality photography. The Pete Rose Rookie card is the most valuable in the set, but this set also includes the rookie card of Hall of Famer Willie Stargell (#553). Oddly, there is also a rookie card for Dave DeBusschere (#54) who played a few years of baseball but later went on to a Hall of Fame basketball career with the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. This set contains 576 cards and was issued in 7 series. Series 6 (#447-522) and series 7 (#523-576) are high-number cards and are more scarce than the first 5 series.
- Year: 1963
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Number of Cards: 576
- Series: 7
- 1962 League Leaders (#1-10)
- World Series Highlights (#142-148)
- Multi-Star cards (# not sequential)
- Rookie Stars cards (# not sequential)
- Team cards (# not sequential)
- Manager cards (# not sequential)
1963 Rookie Stars card #537 Details
- Card no: #537 of 576
- Card Title: 1963 Rookie Stars
- Number of Players: 4
- Pedro Gonzalez
- Ken McMullen
- Pete Rose
- Al Weis
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1963 Topps Rookie Stars (#537) card is a vertical layout that features four players. The card only shows a cutout face of each player, which makes it a unique design for this era. The primary color of the card is yellow with a white border surrounding most of the card. The top of the card is blue and has the text “1963 Rookie Stars” in white. The card also features the following four players:
- Pedro Gonzalez (New York Yankees second baseman)
- Ken McMullen (Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman)
- Pete Rose (Cincinnati Reds second baseman)
- Al Weis (Chicago White Sox shortstop)
Pete Rose is listed as a second baseman on this card. Although he did appear in 628 games throughout his career at 2nd base, he played more games at three other positions: first base (939), third base (634), and left field (673). He also played a significant amount of right field (589) and a bit of center field (73). None of the other players went on to become star players, but all of them played at least 5 years in the major leagues.
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Back of the card
The back of the 1963 Topps Rookie Stars (#537) card has a horizontal layout. The card number is in the upper left corner and the top, like the front, has the text “1963 Rookie Stars,” this time in black ink. It lists the lifetime minor league statistics (referred to, for some reason, on the card as records) for each of the four players. The card doesn’t have any other biographical information about the players such as age or hometown.
Pete Rose Rookie Card Value
The Pete Rose rookie card is one of the most valuable cards made in the 1960s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 09/20/2021. It shows prices for the Pete Rose rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie card #537.
Other Relevant Pete Rose Cards
The 1963 Topps Rookie Stars #537 card is not the only card in the hobby that is considered a Pete Rose rookie, but it is the most famous. Let’s take a look at other 1963-issues for Pete Rose and a few other cards that warrant discussion in this post.
1963 Cincinnati Reds Postcard
In 1963 the Cincinnati Reds organization issued a set of 26 team postcards that included Pete Rose. The back of these postcards is blank except for the words “Photo Post Card” and a box for a stamp. This postcard is very rare due to the regional nature of the release and because many were used and discarded. If you can find one, expect it to be relatively expensive if it is in high-grade condition.
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1963 Sports Service Cincinnati Reds Set B Pete Rose
Sports Service photo cards were 5″x7″ photos that were released from 1961 to 1986. Some teams had a single 12-card set and others had two 12-card sets. A Pete Rose card was issued in 1963 as part of the Reds B set. A lot of collectors have never even seen this card because it is hard to find. In terms of the rookie/non-rookie discussion, this one is certainly in the gray area due to its non-traditional size and photo format.
French Bauer Reds Pete Rose Milk Cap
In 1963 a Cincinnati Dairy Farm issued a set of 30 Cincinnati Reds milk caps. Pete Rose was included in this set, which created an extremely odd and rare rookie year Rose collectible. This was the only year French Bauer made sports milk caps, so it was lucky for collectors that this was Pete Rose’s rookie year.
1963 Reds Team Card (#63)
There can be some confusion in the baseball card collecting hobby concerning the 1963 Cincinnati Reds team card. It’s not uncommon to see these cards signed by Pete Rose. Pete was on the opening day roster and won the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year award, but he is not pictured on this card or named on the back of the card. So don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get an inexpensive early Pete Rose card by buying this one. Just because Pete isn’t in the photo doesn’t mean it’s void of star players, though. It does have Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson
Shop for the 1963 Reds Team Card (#63) on eBay (affiliate link)
1964 Topps Pete Rose All-Star Rookie (#125)
Another card worth mentioning is the 1964 Topps Pete Rose Card (#125). This is a great Pete Rose card due to the close-up photo of a young Pete Rose and the inclusion of the Topps All-Star Rookie trophy at the bottom righthand corner. However, this is not a Pete Rose rookie even though the word “Rookie” often appears in the title of this card on eBay and other eCommerce sites. This is Pete Rose’s second-year card, and it’s still a great one to own. We just want to make sure you know that buying it will not get you a Pete Rose rookie card.
Shop for the 1964 Topps Pete Rose All-Star Rookie card #125 on eBay (affiliate link)
Pete Rose’s Legacy
Pete Rose is considered an all-time great baseball player and, behind Babe Ruth, maybe the most well-known baseball player ever. He achieved many great accomplishments over his 24-year playing career. Here is a list of some of his accomplishments:
- 1963 National League Rookie of the Year
- 1973 National League Most Valuable Player
- 17 time National League All-Star
- 3 time National League Batting Champion
- 7 time National League Hits Leader
- 9 time National League On Base Leader
- 5 time National League Doubles Leader
- 2 time National League Golden Glove Winner (OF)
- 79.6 Lifetime WAR
- All Time On Base Leader (5,929)
- All Time Hits Leader (4,256)
The big question around Pete Rose is if he will ever be enshrined in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. This, however, is a ceremonial question as very few people would argue that Pete’s playing career rises to the level of a Hall of Fame player. It undoubtedly does and the sports card collecting hobby values the Pete Rose rookie more than any other Hall of Fame rookie from his era.
Get Your Pete Rose Rookie
Do you want to own a 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie (#537)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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