1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie Card: A Closer Look

January 28, 2022

rose-rookiePete Rose was the epitome of hard-nosed baseball players. ‘Charlie Hustle’ earned his nickname for his tenacity on the field and his prowess at the plate.

Despite being banished from baseball due to gambling on games, Rose remains one of the most well-respected players of all time. 

And while Rose will never likely reach the Hall Of Fame, his 1963 Topps Rookie card remains one of the hobby’s most valuable cards

The Rose rookie card has always been one of my favorite baseball cards. I love the bright colors of the 1963 Topps set, and Rose’s tiny circular rookie headshot makes for one awesome-looking card.

Rose’s rookie has continued to appreciate in value as collectors and investors alike bid up high-grade copies. Ultimately, I still think despite the above-average supply, Rose’s rookie in higher grades remains an excellent investment.

Pete Rose As A Player

The Cincinnati Reds signed Pete Rose as a 19 year old in 1960, less than a month following his graduation from high school. 

Pete was a pretty good football player, too, a sport he loved, mostly for the battle on the field. Although when he failed to make the varsity high school squad, his focus turned to baseball.  

A switch hitter, 'Charlie Hustle' was probably one of the most versatile players ever to play the game. Over the course of his career he played first base, second base, third base, and the outfield. 

Most fans know Rose as the 'all-time hit king', and yes, he could hit and still holds the MLB record with 4,256 career hits.  

In addition, Pete holds the record for most games played (3,562) and singles (3215). He batted .303 over his career with nine seasons of 200 or more hits, while winning three World Series Championships

In 1984, Rose became a player-manager for the Reds, lasting until his last year in the big leagues (1986), with his full-time coaching duties ending in 1989. 

Rose's coaching career ended following an investigation that discovered that Rose had been betting on baseball games while a player and manager of the Reds. 


Pete Rose signing autographs in Vegas. Image courtesy Jon Parise (source)

On August 24, 1989, Rose was banned from baseball permanently

In 2020, Rose filed for reinstatement, arguing that the Astros sign-stealing scheme was far worse than his actions.  The league, as far as I know, has not responded to Rose's filing. 

1963 Topps Baseball Rookie Stars #537 Pete Rose Rookie RC VG-EX PSA 4

$1,294.00  (26 bids)
End Date: Tuesday Dec-06-2022 23:14:57 EST


1963 Topps #537 Rookie Stars w/ Pete Rose RC PSA 5 EX " LOOKS NICER "

$1,400.00  (13 bids)
End Date: Monday Dec-05-2022 23:59:01 EST


So does Rose belong in the Hall? In my opinion, yes. Rose made mistakes and he certainly wasn't the poster child of baseball role models, but as far as I'm concerned, he's paid the price. Sure, he accepted the ban, but as one writer argues, MLB is now in cahoots with sports gambling operations. Were Rose's actions all that big of a deal?

"I left a tarnish on my baseball career, on my legacy and on the name Pete Rose-his name too, and my son's name, and I will carry the pain of knowing what I've done for as long as I live. I don't think betting is morally wrong. It's how you do it that matters"

-Pete Rose in his biography, Play Hungry

A Look At The Front And Back Of Rose's Rookie Card

The front of the Rose rookie card is in the classic Topps multiplayer format.

The 1963 Topps Rookie Stars cards marked the second year that Topps produced the multiplayer rookie cards. 


The Pete Rose Rookie card from the '63 Topps set remains one of the most sought after cards in the hobby

Here we find four rookies with a smiling Pete Rose in the bottom left corner. None of the other three players were of the same caliber as Pete Rose.

Pedro 'Speedy' Gonzalez had a short-lived career with the Yankees and Indians, although he was one of the first players from the Dominican Republic to play in the big leagues. Al Weis wasn't much of a player; although he lasted ten years, he batted only .219 over his career. Ken McMullen was a decent hitter and had a few 20 homerun seasons over his 16-year career

The back of the card (#537) only shows each player's minor league career statistics. 


How Much Is A Pete Rose Rookie Card Worth?

Pete Rose's official rookie card is his 1963 Topps #537 card.  A gem mint copy of the card (PSA 10) last sold in 2016 for over $700,000, more than quadrupling the price from four years earlier.

Note there is only one PSA 10 Rose Rookie card in existence.

Rose's rookie card has a reasonably plentiful supply; thus budget conscious collectors can typically find one in lower grades (Poor to VG) for under $1000. 

However, prices jump significantly in higher grades, especially starting around PSA 8 (NM-MT grade), for which average selling prices are over $10,000.  

auction-prices-realized (11)

What Is The Current Graded Population For Pete Rose's Rookie Card?

In total, PSA has graded more than 5,000 copies of Pete Rose's rookie card. Collectors should note that this number does not include cards graded by Beckett or SGC, along with the existing raw (ungraded) population.

As shown in the chart below, PSA has only graded 1 PSA 10 copy of Rose's rookie card, and it's hard to say what today's pricing might command on that card (the last sale was for over $700K in 2016).  

PSA 9 (Mint) copies are also relatively rare (only 30 graded copies); this notably has to do with the top blue border on the card, which shows chipping quite easily.  NM-MT (PSA 8) graded copies are much easier to find, although at 421 copies, still a somewhat tougher find. 

When you drop from PSA 7 to below, the supply increases drastically--more than 4000 copies have been graded from Auth to PSA 7.  


How Much Is An Autographed Pete Rose Rookie Card Worth?

On average, autographed Pete Rose rookie cards sell for about a 20% premium to the regular base 1963 Topps card. Recent sales have shown lower graded signed copies selling for over $1200, up over $5000 for mid-grade cards with a clean auto.


Note that Rose has been a pretty liberal signer over time, so finding an autographed rookie card might be easier than one might think. Be careful, however, not to pay up for an authentic auto on a reprint 63 Topps card--I've seen a lot of these on eBay. Try to find one that has both autograph and card authentication from PSA.

Pete Rose Signed 1963 Topps RC Retro Cincinnati Reds PSA PSA/DNA 10 AUTO

$224.50  (7 bids)
End Date: Wednesday Dec-07-2022 22:41:01 EST


Pete Rose Signed 1963 Topps #537 RC Rookie PSA 5 PSA/DNA 10 AUTO PWCC-S POP 18

$1,525.01  (19 bids)
End Date: Monday Dec-12-2022 22:59:01 EST


1963 Topps Pete Rose #537 PSA 4 Auto 10 RC Signed


Buy It Now for only: $2,995.00
Buy It Now

One quick note; most collectors aren't familiar with the Reds team card from the 63 Topps set, which is technically not a Rose rookie issue, as he is not in the team photo. Although ultimately, Rose did win the rookie of the year award in 1963.

Rose signs these as well, and many are available for sale on eBay for a fraction of the cost of the #537 card.


What's The Investment Potential?

Despite all of the controversies that have followed Pete Rose, collectors have brushed off the noise and continued to bid up his rookie card. Pricing on Rose's rookie card has not been impacted by his banishment from baseball.

As discussed, there is plentiful supply (PSA has graded over 5000 alone), so from a rarity perspective, I wouldn't consider the Rose rookie card a crown jewel sort of investment unless you are buying very high-grade copies. 

Regardless, Rose's legend sits among the all-time greats of baseball, and I would expect Rose to remain a hot commodity with collectors. 

I do expect his rookie card to appreciate in value over time, although I would opt for a nice autographed copy if you can find one at a resaonable price. 

Pete Rose Rookie Cards For Sale on eBay

1963 Topps Baseball Rookie Stars #537 Pete Rose Rookie RC VG-EX PSA 4

$1,294.00  (26 bids)
End Date: Tuesday Dec-06-2022 23:14:57 EST


1963 Topps #537 Rookie Stars w/ Pete Rose RC PSA 5 EX " LOOKS NICER "

$1,400.00  (13 bids)
End Date: Monday Dec-05-2022 23:59:01 EST


1963 Topps Baseball Rookie Stars #537 Pete Rose Rookie RC VG-EX PSA 4.5

End Date: Sunday Dec-11-2022 16:17:19 EST
Buy It Now for only: $850.00
Buy It Now

1963 Topps Set Break Rookie Stars Pete Rose/Weis/McMullen SGC 2 #537 GD

$460.75  (26 bids)
End Date: Thursday Dec-08-2022 20:01:53 EST


Pete Rose Signed 1963 Topps #537 RC Rookie PSA 5 PSA/DNA 10 AUTO PWCC-S POP 18

$1,525.01  (19 bids)
End Date: Monday Dec-12-2022 22:59:01 EST


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