Forget the Hall of Fame. If a player disappears from the back of baseball cards, does he still exist?
A little investigating by chicagosidesports.com, followed by some further poking by Yahoo!’s Big League Stew, seems to show that one baseball card company may be trying to give Major League Baseball a hand in forgetting Pete Rose.
Rose, who holds many MLB records but has been shunned by the league due to a lifetime ban from the game, fails to get a mention on some recent baseball cards made by Topps.
This year, Topps lists all the usual information on the back of its cards — stats, age, career history — and also has a line called “career chase,” where it notes how close players are to certain milestones. On most cards, that information is listed in relation to whoever’s record the person is chasing. For example, Rob Harris of chicagosidesports.com writes, Bobby Parnell is listed as having pitched 249 games, which puts him 1,003 away from Jesse Orosco‘s record of 1,252.
But when it comes to records that Rose “holds” — a disputed notion considering he has those records but won’t be recognized by the Hall of Fame after being banned from MLB for gambling issues in 1989 — the record is listed, but Rose’s name is not. It’s a curious double take, considering Rose’s stats are considered the record, but he is not deemed the record-holder.
Harris shows A.J. Pierzynski‘s card, which in the “career chase” section simply says, “With 1,645 hits, Pierzynski is 2,611 away from the all-time record of 4,256.”
What complicates the matter with this subtle omission, which took some sharp eyes to pick up but was blatant once recognized, is that it hasn’t always been this way. Twitter user @nightowlcards found three examples of similar Rose-related cards — two of which had Rose’s name mentioned, as if he really did exist, and another that conveniently omitted all his benchmarks with the Reds.
Rose fails to make it on this 2010 card.
More clever way for Topps to avoid mentioning Rose, from 2010. No listing of H, R, 2B, BB, AB -- Rose #1 in all. http://t.co/MtxI0yRy— NightOwlCards (@nightowlcards) February 13, 2013
But he does have the record — and a nice cartoon — in 2006.
Pete Rose mentioned on the back of a baseball card: 2006 Topps http://t.co/kzvXd4Ci— NightOwlCards (@nightowlcards) February 13, 2013
And then there’s 1995, when he was acknowledged in a quote.
This may be me not knowing terms or length of licensing deal, but Pete Rose mentioned on back of card. '95 Topps. http://t.co/UAp4x46O— NightOwlCards (@nightowlcards) February 13, 2013
Harris asked Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi what was up. He said Luraschi “called the omission of Rose ‘a simple decision’ but declined to elaborate. When pressed, he repeated that it was ‘plain and simple’ that Rose’s name should not appear on cards.”
Keeping players from baseball card glory is one thing. Singling out Rose is another. If players are going to start being knocked from baseball cards for offenses, more egregious behavior can certainly be found, such as off-field conduct or performance-enhancing drug use.
But that’s always been what’s messed up about Rose’s place in the game. Sure, he sullied the sport with his gambling connections, but the relative harm he did compared to his incredible career and many achievements has always irked fans who think he got a raw deal by being banned. Now, it appears he’s getting another petty slap on the wrist, with his records standing but his name further erased.
And just when you thought your baseball card collection was safe from Big Brother.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@nightowlcards
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