Pete Rose’s exclusion in MLB products is nothing new — and it’s MLB’s call that he’s out


By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

Pete Rose has been banned from Major League Baseball and on its Ineligible List for more than 20 years now and that has meant one thing that should be obvious to collectors.

He hasn’t had a single, officially licensed baseball card since.

It’s nothing new, but his name being omitted from the Career Chase trivia lines in the 2013 Topps baseball set has at least one collector angry, who foolishly took Topps to task for something that’s out if its hands.

And I’ll use the word again. Foolish.

Why would I say that? Rose is on baseball’s Ineligible List — banned for life from the game for his gambling habits while manager of the Cincinnati Reds. That bans him from MLB cards, too — and that’s Major League Baseball’s call. A player who is banned will not be in an MLB-approved product — period.

Otherwise? Topps won’t be making MLB cards. Rose is perfectly welcomed elsewhere on cardboard — and he’s been a draw for companies who have gone without licensing.

“Since Pete Rose is banned from baseball,” said Matt Bourne, the MLB Vice President of Business Public Relations, on Wednesday, “he is not included in MLB-licensed products.”

Clouding the issue today, of course, are the players with tarnished reputations — the Barry Bondses, the Mark McGwires — of the game. The players who have confessed to cheating or now have criminal records relating to steroids or PEDs.

However, they are not banned from the game.

A decade ago this week, I wrote about Rose and addressed his popularity in the game. I asked the card companies at the time about the “issue” of Rose — who hadn’t yet admitted his gambling habits in his book, My Prison Without Bars. That admission of guilt — with profit — changed my view on Rose.

One of the Yahoo! bloggers documenting this meaningless hubbub unearthed my piece for The Tuscaloosa News (click here to read it). Here’s the paragraph that matters most:

“Any player who is on the permanently ineligible list is prohibited from inclusion on any product officially licensed by Major League Baseball,” said Kathleen Fineout, Major League Baseball’s manager of properties. “Any player has the right to enter into licensing deals for products bearing his name or likeness as long as no trademarks of Major League Baseball are included on those products.”

All these years later, nothing has changed with Rose.

Except he’s admitted what he did — and made more than a few bucks with his book and his countless inscribed baseballs.

Should MLB address its steroids issues the same way? Perhaps, but it hasn’t and I’m not sure it would want to face the potential lawsuits or annoyance that a ban of, say, Bonds might create.

After all, we already have one too many pariahs with Rose.

It’s MLB’s call to ban Rose — not Topps’ — and it’s the right one.

Rose’ actions undermined the game — and frankly PEDs and steroids did, too — but those players aren’t banned for life.

It’s as simple as that.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.



Here is a list of the players on the Ineligible List as provided by Matt Bourne, the MLB Vice President of Business Public Relations:

Jean Dubuc — National League pitcher involved with Hal Chase and Heine Zimmerman in 1919.  Had advanced knowledge of Series fix.  Banned for life.

Lee Magee — National League outfield/infielder.  Confessed in 1919 to having helped Chase and Zimmerman fix games in 1918.  Banned for Life.

Eddie Cicotte
Chick Gandil
Lefty Williams
Swede Risberg
Fred McMullin
Hap Felsch
Buck Weaver
Joe Jackson
Black Sox Scandal – Conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.

Eugene Paulette — Accepted gifts or loans from two St. Louis gamblers.

Ray Fisher — Banned from Baseball in 1921 for alleged contract jumping.

Joe Gedeon — St. Louis second baseman.  Friend of Swede Risberg.  Served on Ad Hoc committee to throw the World Series.  Banned for life.

Benny Kauff — Permanently banished, indicted and acquitted for stealing a car and receiving stolen cars.

Heine Zimmerman — Outstanding National League third baseman (1907-1919); batting and home run champion in 1912.  In 1919 Zimmerman and Hal Chase allegedly tried to bribe Benny Kauff, Lee Magee, Fred Toney, Rube Benton, Jean Dubuc and others to help them fix games.  Banned for life.

Phil Douglas — “Shufflin Phil” permanently banned.  In 1922 he wrote a letter to Les Mann, a former teammate with the Chicago Cubs (he was drunk at the time) opaquely offering to desert the Giants; if rewarded so that he would not have to help John McGraw, who he hated, win the pennant.

John (Cozy) Dolan and Jimmy O’Connell — Permanently banished. Jimmy O’Connell (Giants) offered Heinie Sand (SS, Phillies) $500 not to “bear down” and Dolan (Giants Coach) knew about it.  (Sand turned him in).

William Cox — Philadelphia Phillies Owner who was permanently banished for extensive betting (sentimental betting on his own club to win).

Pete Rose — Commissioner Bart Giamatti made decision on August 23, 1989.  Violation of Major League Rule 21-gambling on baseball.  Declared permanently ineligible and placed on the ineligible list.

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  1. Chris 13 February, 2013 at 13:55

    Poor Beckett trying to ride the coattails of this article to get yourselves some badly-needed pub. Everyone knows the story. Some ignorant idiot writes something without looking up the facts. It’s a non-story. Stop trying to be the voice of the hobby.

  2. GrandCards 13 February, 2013 at 14:07

    I completely agree with your main argument, and think that if the MLB is going to ban a player, then it is fine if they don’t have a licensed baseball card made of them. BUT, MLB didn’t erase him from the record books and it seems unnecessary and disingenuous to refuse to even mention him by name on someone else’s cards when that is the theme of the entire set. Especially since Topps has referenced him multiple times on cards in the past — as recently as 2006.

    The whole thing seems a bit silly. I find it hard to believe that anyone would take offense to a fact accurately represented in the narrative on the back of a card, yet clearly people are massively offended by its unnecessary exclusion

  3. Todd Nelkin 13 February, 2013 at 14:08

    Pete is Pete- but how can Upper Deck make a Joe Jackson card as they did in the 1990’s? or conlan make a Hal Chase?- as far as Mac, Sammy and Barry- everyone including Topps made money off of thier feats- they saved baseball – its wrong for Topps to act as judge and jury when they do cards of people who have been arrested or charged with real crimes in the real world..Sets are boring without them, They also exclude people who have never been named in any PFD lists but are guility by assocaiton of the time in which they played-

  4. chrisolds 13 February, 2013 at 14:14

    Chris: Not the case at all. Nobody dared to actually look into the issue — Pete Rose’s exclusion is on MLB, not Topps.

  5. chrisolds 13 February, 2013 at 14:15

    Tchopi: Those are records on a website — info. That’s not a marketed product.

    Also, erasing players from record books is something that’s not likely to happen. The ban is not the same.

  6. chrisolds 13 February, 2013 at 14:17

    Todd: The Upper Deck Jackson card likely had consequences — it was not approved.

    And, again, as it says in the story — Topps is not the judge. MLB is.

  7. Yankees4671 13 February, 2013 at 15:13

    If Pete would have come clean earlier, he would have been forgiven & involved in MLB today. Why has A-Rod, the game’s biggest hypocrite, still eliglble & never been banned for the mandatory 50 games? He admitted to steroids usage.MLB has a vendetta against Pete for his years of denial. MLB is now in a state of admit it & we will forgive you. Pete never bet on the Reds to lose. That is the glaring differrence between him & the Black Sox scandal. If MLB realized how much money that would make off Rose merchandise, they would reconsider it more.

  8. card opinionator 13 February, 2013 at 16:48

    It makes you wonder why Clay at Topps did not say what you did. If you read the article, its as if Clay was toying with the writer. He told him its a “simple decision”, but he didn’t say WHO’S decision. He could have said its a league rule, not ours, but instead he left him hanging. Hanging in the breeze with an inaccurate conclusion.

  9. charles 13 February, 2013 at 18:11

    look everyone knows that the ban was more personal in nature, it was even said that if he would have just omitted to it, it wouldn’t have been for life. but he pissed off the commish so be it its for life or until it’s over turned buy some other commish, i don’t know what chris olds expected, you go out of your way to call out one uniformed person, and then call him foolish That should have been in Quotation marks the secound time,to me it sounds more personal, Your rant that is. but you are correct it was MLB that banned him so it is what it is, and if MLB did something real about PEDs and steroids, 2/3 of baseball would be banned. its about money, and unions. and they are not going to lose that, because of morality.

  10. Raylon 13 February, 2013 at 19:03

    Strange that this came up. I just saw Pete Rose last night on MLB Network on “Countdown” giving his view on one of top 50 players (I forgot who).

    It may be a good thing that Rose not being MLB-licensed. It’s just like an independent music artist who is not with a major record label, he’ll make 100% profit without the licensing get any of their cuts.

  11. TheLegendJerryRice 14 February, 2013 at 07:06

    Brands make cards of players NOT in a MLB or other prof. sports uniform all the time. I think Topps just showed where they stand and kissing up to MLB to keep the Baseball Lic. next time it comes to renew it……..

  12. Bartman 14 February, 2013 at 07:30

    And here you have the reason why I haven’t bought a pack of baseball cards since 1988.
    I love the game, not the league.

  13. Jason Taylor 14 February, 2013 at 07:49

    Chris, I like your parallelism with your final comment. Well done.
    Also, I had to call in to my local sports radio station today because they were ripping Topps as well. Now, I’m not a huge Topps fan anymore, but let’s at least criticize them for the things they actually do wrong as opposed to the things which they are contractually forbidden to do.

  14. @Jaypers413 14 February, 2013 at 08:18

    Look at the back of Shawn Green’s card from 2006 Topps Updates and Highlights (card #UH41). Pete Rose’s name is in fact mentioned – “Pete Rose reached based a record 5,929 times”. Interesting.

  15. Bored71 14 February, 2013 at 10:16

    I was a big Rose fan until i watched his reality show once and now i can’t stand to look at him. he’s very unlikable and his gold digging future wife is disgusting

  16. chrisolds 14 February, 2013 at 10:18

    Mike: I’m aware of that card. It’s not standard-issue. It’s unclear the extent of its licensing based on the legalese on the card itself — at best MLB allowed him in the small boxed set or MLB signed over the project with ties to the documentary (I.e. no royalties for that one).

  17. Tom 14 February, 2013 at 10:50

    I saw Joe Jackson’s name on the ineligibility list as well. Of course, some of these names I never heard of. I feel that what Jackson and Rose did are like misdemeanors compared to what’s been going on lately with the PEDs and steroids. Rose gambled. He didn’t cheat to get to the 4000th hit mark. Rose should be allowed back in MLB. McGwire admitted to steroid use and now he’s a hitting coach. That’s Selig for you. We need to get rid of Selig as comissioner because a real comissioner would ban McGwire from the game due to the steroid use.

  18. Thomas Bist 14 February, 2013 at 10:55

    if Pete Rose will die not being a part of Baseball. MLB should continue they strong message and BAN all STEROID users. It is only fair what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  19. Ryan Persohn 14 February, 2013 at 11:28

    This comes down to MLB. The last I looked MLB did not remove Rose from the record books. Topps is really opening a can of worms. Thanks….Topps real classy!!!!!!

  20. dave weston 14 February, 2013 at 12:25

    I STILL think there needs to be a separation of Pete Rose the PLAYER and Pete Rose the MANAGER. The PLAYER should be allowed into MLB items the MANAGER NO!!

  21. Todd Warden 14 February, 2013 at 12:30

    Is Pete Rose one of the best hitters of all time? Yes…
    Should he be in the Hall of Fame? Probably…
    Is it time he is re-instated for eligibility? Maybe…
    Is any of that what this article is about? NO!
    Some of the re-reporting of this that I have seen this morning makes it seem as if Topps themselves are attempting to erase Rose from history. This simply is not true. If it were, Pete’s record would not be represented on the “Career Chase” line, and would be replaced by Ty Cobb’s record. THAT would be news worthy. Rose’s record is recognized, but because of the fact that he is banned from baseball he (and presumedly his name) cannot be featured on a Topps card without some sort of reprisal. As far as I am concerned, the MLB license is the most valuable thing that Topps has going for them. As it stands, Topps would be foolish to cross the MLB in such a fashion.

  22. Keith A. 14 February, 2013 at 14:17

    What Rose did on the field should get him the hall. He played fair and square. What happened off the field is a different matter. There is a lot of players who used drugs to help their play on the field.

  23. Phil 14 February, 2013 at 14:24

    I’ve always said this: Just put Pete in the Hall of Fame, but do not allow him to participate in any activities. The records speak for themselves in his case. What he did off the field did not affect how he played on the field…but what do I know? I’m just a fan and my opinion does not matter…it’s all up to the high and mighty ruler of Oz, Bug Sellout.

  24. jude 14 February, 2013 at 15:17

    Pete Rose is one of the greatest ball players of all time! Pete belongs in the hall of fame based on his accomplishments. I was at the Phillies game when the ball popped out of the catchers glove & Charlie Hustle was right there & caught it.

  25. Yankees4671 14 February, 2013 at 15:45

    I see what you are saying but if they (Selig) didn’t care then he never would have met with Rose & Schmidt a few years ago to discuss reinstatement. Your right it is MLB’s call but really who at MLB. If MLB is for the fans & not about making millions or billions, then Rose’s fate should be in the hands of the fans.

    Please do not take my comments personally. It seems I am irritating you. Not my intent.

  26. Michael 14 February, 2013 at 15:48

    This is what I’m hearing… “WAAAAAAAAH. We don’t like be called out. So we’re going blame the big bad major league baseball for not standing up.”


    Most people aren’t asking for a Pete Rose card. We’re just asking for ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of the records he holds. Even the Reds can do that. There are 4,256 baseballs in their hall of fame. There’s audio of Pete’s major hits.


  27. chrisolds 14 February, 2013 at 16:04

    Yanks: No worries. I think there’s a public face the entities (Rose, MLB) put on and then there’s a different side when they have met. Clearly no love lost in this one.

  28. tom calandra 14 February, 2013 at 17:03

    pete rose should be in the hall of fame. he did not cheat likethe others like afraud or bonds.

  29. Doug Hildebrand 15 February, 2013 at 08:45


    I’ve been sitting here at my computer for about an hour now reading all of this, taking it in and trying not to get upset about a statements that you made in this little commentary. Obviously you think you are some kind of expert. Who cares if his book was for profit? Obviously you think that Pete shouldn’t be allowed to make any money. Yeah, that really shows what an idiot you truly are. Yes, Pete bet on baseball. Yes, he denied it for a long time and yes the truth finally came out that he did. But what’s the point of saying he wrote a book for profit? Call me crazy, but there aren’t many books, if ANY, that are printed where someone doesn’t make a profit. Even books that are so-called printed at cost and given away, there’s still a profit for someone. What’s your point? That you hate Pete Rose? Because he ruined a once love for him and all that he supposedly stood for? Once Bud and Fay are gone (and I hope that’s soon), I think it will come out their personal agenda with keeping Pete out and he will be put into the Hall where he belongs. What will you say then? Oh, I’m sure you’ll say you have always been wanting to see this day. Obviously you are a saint. You’ve obviously done nothing wrong in your entire life and then admitted it later. Yes I realize you will never have a record like Pete’s, nor will you have anything as meaningful to a history of anything. Good luck in life.

  30. Jeff 15 February, 2013 at 09:18

    Honestly I think it is crap! I got it if you gamble from baseball kick you out, but do not ban them. Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Pete Rose they are all worthy to be in the HOF!! Yet we have PED validated liars and cheaters like McGwire that should be banned and all their achievements stripped from them!!! Why? Simply because did Pete Rose’s gambling cause him to have more hits? Did it enhance his ability to perform? That is the decision for HOF right his performance as a player? His records are in the HOF so are some of his items. So why not him!!! McGwire… mmm well the guy admitted he was on roids which enhanced his performance which means his home runs should be removed! Give Maris back his home run record!! Bonds I won’t even start. For those criticizing Pete Rose need to seriously take a look at themselves. Did you ever make a mistake? He bet got it. Did he tell a player to strike out? Did he tell his team to lose? Did he pay pitchers to give him hits? Hell No!!! So let’s get him re-instated and let’s put a foot down on those that ruined the late 80’s and early 90’s of baseball for my generation! Kick out bann and burn everything having to do with those found guilty of PEDS!!!

  31. chrisolds 15 February, 2013 at 11:11

    It’s as simple as this — Rose told the truth to make a buck.

    He didn’t tell the truth so he might be reinstated during an uptick in support for him at the time of the Jim Gray and All-Century Team nod. He lied — and denied even then.

  32. Monte 15 February, 2013 at 12:12

    It is a disgrace that Pete Rose is banned from baseball for gambling. He admits to betting on his “Reds” every night while coach – TO WIN. Look at the stats and strategies of those teams to see if he was playing to LOSE – HE WAS NOT. Look at the “Black Socks” and you can easily tell that they were plaing to lose. MLB needs to look into players like Mickey Mantle that worked at casinos in the off season. I am sorry MLB can’t do that, he played for the Yankees. It is digusting that MLB let’s those who cheat still play – A-ROID – and others be on the Hall of Fame ballot – Bonds, MacQuire, Sosa, etc. It is a shame that the hardest playing PLAYER – Charlie Hustle – of the last seventy years not benefit from his excellent play.

    However go to the Baseball Hall of Fame and you will see more Pete Rose memorabilia than any other player. But he is not good enough to be a Hall of Famer. I

  33. Jay 15 February, 2013 at 13:01

    This is complete BS…and I could care less if they are MLB Licensed…they have a monopoly and would survive without the license…Screw Topps! I will be buying Upper Deck and Leaf…and so will my family…and friends…make it right or enjoy your PR nightmare!

  34. Rob Braxton 15 February, 2013 at 15:50

    Rose is a pathological liar.
    That being said, to know him at all is to know he could never bring himself to ‘throw a game’.

    I can’t help but feel absolutely confident that (unlike the 1919 Sox) Pete Rose never bet on himself to lose.
    No way.

    And that is why I have some sympathy for him.

    But, personally I take a rather radical stance on cheating (of any kind), and that is – if you didn’t catch them when they were doing it, then you blew it. Ban’em from the game, but don’t ban them from the HoF, and don’t ban’em from my Topps’ cards.

  35. Michael Poyma 15 February, 2013 at 19:14

    Rob, you’re spot on. Pete Rose is such a competitor that, even though he has lied repeatedly over the years about his behavior, somehow I believe him when he has said that he never bet against the Reds. I’m 46, and in the time that I’ve watched baseball, I still haven’t seen another player come close to the way he took the field and played the game. The phrase ” leaving it all on the field” is overused these days, and I would argue that the majority of baseball players over the past 25 years don’t come close to playing the game the way Pete played. Does this have anything to do with whether MLB and Topps should allow Pete’s name to be used in a tiny sentence on the back of other player’s cards? Nope, and I could really care less. I remember seeing Pete Rose play, and that’s all that matters.

  36. Phil 15 February, 2013 at 21:59

    What most people fail to realize is gambling, like drugs and alcohol, is an addiction. When we become addicted to something we will do anything to keep people from learning the truth…even lie like Pete did. I was the biggest supporter of Mr. Rose when he denied gambling and it hurt when he finally admitted it, but unlike MLB and others, I have forgiven. I said this about fifteen years ago and will state it again: I would rather come up to the plate knowing Pete Rose is betting for or against me than face Dwight Gooden while he’s high on drugs. I’d rather face Barry Larkin knowing Pete Rose is betting for or against him than face Barry Bonds on steroids with the possibility that he might smack one off my face all juiced up.

  37. TheLegendJerryRice 16 February, 2013 at 07:14

    Topps is just kissing MLB’s backside like I said earlier. IF UD can make a Rose card. Holds up a 2012 Goodwin. Then SO CAN TOPPS !!!!!!!!!!

  38. chris houser 16 February, 2013 at 21:48

    don’t the leaf Pete rose sets have official mlb photos and stuff why aren’t they in trouble

  39. Mark Fiscus 18 February, 2013 at 20:08

    What I find so interesting is that Cooperstown has over 20 Pete Rose items on display. In my mind he IS in the Hall of Fame. Isn’t Cooperstown run by MLB? Evidently Pete is banned from baseball but not the Hall. If Pete is good enough for the Hall, why not for baseball cards? This thing sounds very hypocritical to me. I think it has more to do with the ever advancing and God forsaken current society of being politically correct, no matter what the majority feels.

  40. Jason 19 February, 2013 at 12:06

    You seem to be bashing the original sources of this story based upon lack of research, yet you did the same thing. Pete Rose appears on several current MLB licensed photo products:

    See the MLB hologram logo on the corner of the photos? Licensed by MLB. So how can this statement be true? (“Since Pete Rose is banned from baseball,” said Matt Bourne, the MLB Vice President of Business Public Relations, on Wednesday, “he is not included in MLB-licensed products.”)

    You keep defending Topps saying the issue is at the MLB level, not true. Topps made the decision to not include his name associated with the stat (even though they had previously on cards since 1988) which has zero to do with his likeness on a licensed baseball card. Including his historical statistics on a card is clearly not the same as a picture of him in a Reds cap associated with the stat. Topps most likely made the decision to not include him based upon their unhappiness with Pete having card products and autographs from their competitor (Leaf) or simply to satisfy someone at MLB. This is not the first time card company’s snubbed a player that had another deal with a different card company, this just might be the most glaring given Pete’s hits record.

    The question you should have asked Topps and MLB is if they decided to excluded the name with the stat based upon an internal decision at Topps or at MLB.

  41. chrisolds 19 February, 2013 at 12:26

    Rose also appears on MLB’s website and in MLB’s history books. It clearly has drawn a line with the types of products he will and won’t be included in — and I’d bet it has to do with any royalties or payouts for autographs relating to those products. (Books and websites don’t generate those things for players.)

    My question to Bourne was specifically about card products, which Rose has not appeared in for years.

    The decision is MLB’s. Topps is not allowed to include him — and that’s MLB’s call. Its licensed products are subject to MLB approval.

  42. Jason 19 February, 2013 at 12:31

    Being listed on a website is completely different then being on a licensed product.

    Your article is the one that state’s:

    “Since Pete Rose is banned from baseball,” said Matt Bourne, the MLB Vice President of Business Public Relations, on Wednesday, “he is not included in MLB-licensed products.”

    Clearly that is a false statement and you should go back to MLB and revise your article.

  43. Phil 19 February, 2013 at 17:17

    Ladies and gentlemen: Topps has put Mr. Rose’s name on a card since 1989 (and I’m not including the 1991 Babe Ruth movie set). 2010 Topps Heritage card number 407. On the front is pictured Ty Cobb stating “Cobb ends career with 4189 hits” On the back, the second to last sentence reads: ” His record stood for 57 years, until PETE ROSE caught him.” So, I guess they CAN put Pete’s name on a card and get away with it!!!

  44. Coimbre21 21 February, 2013 at 15:20

    Banishment or not, his records and stats can’t be taken away. As it was when I was a kid in Little League, he is THE player to learn from when it comes to giving it your all on the field. I have never seen a player since, hustle the way he did for every second of the game.

  45. chrisolds 21 February, 2013 at 16:08

    His stat is on the card — it’s not ignored. Otherwise, the next guy down on the list would have been named and his stat used.

  46. Phil 24 February, 2013 at 08:44

    His STAT is on the card, but his NAME is not. I can the point if they had to put a picture of him on the card, but it’s just his freaking name. What’s in a name? A Rose is a Rose…unless MLB and Bug Sellout are involved.

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