Reds Will Honor Rose; Autograph Market Still Down

Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb for the all-time hits record nearly 25 years ago.

He probably passed Babe Ruth and Bob Feller for most autographs by a Hall of Famer a long time ago.

Rose has spent a good chunk of his post-retirement years signing for pay.  That, combined with some fans’ distaste for his legal troubles and baseball ban, has kept the value of his autograph down.

At Riverfront Stadium on September 11, 1985 Rose singled to left center field off San Diego Padres pitcher Eric Show to pass Hall of Famer Ty Cobb and become Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader.

The Cincinnati native finished his career with 4,256 hits over 24 seasons for the Reds, Phillies and Expos.

Next month, Rose will make his first on field appearance in Cincinnati after his ban from baseball when the team pays tribute to the record on its 25th anniversary weekend.

Ironically, Rose’s appearance at the September 11 contest at Great American Ballpark could be brief.  He’s being roasted at a casino 23 miles away in Lawrenceburg, IN that same night.  Former teammates Tony Perez, George Foster and Ken Griffey Jr. are expected to attend the $200 per ticket function with each attendee guaranteed an autograph from at least one of the guests.  Rose and his family, are, however, expected to return to the ballpark the next day according to a team news release.

There’s no doubt Rose is Hall of Fame worthy, but the team needed special dispensation from the commissioner’s office to let Rose appear since his lifetime ban remains in place.  He’s still popular with a large number fan and collectors, but the availability of Rose signed items has kept prices down. Rose continues to sign autographs at a Las Vegas shopping mall where fans can stop in and pay to have an item signed.

Rose autographed baseballs and even bats routinely sell on eBay for less than $70–sometimes much less–even with a certificate of authenticity.  Stat or highlight-inscribed balls, which often bring a premium when associated with Hall of Famers, can be had for less than $100.   Nearly 1,000 Rose autographed items were available on eBay at last check.