According to Topps baseball cards this year the all time record holder for most base hits in baseball is simply known as "all-time record holder." Or at least that is likely how Pete Rose would be listed on the back of a baseball card printed today.
As Chicago Side Sports points out, the baseball card company is not using Pete Rose by name on their baseball cards, but they will use the names of other players who own records. Was this an error? Something that slipped through the cracks? Does somebody at Topps have it out for Rose, who continues to try and wiggle his way back in to the good graces of Major League Baseball?
The reason may be fairly simple. It all comes down to - what else - money.
Topps is licensed to print and sell baseball cards under separate licenses from Major League Baseball and the MLB Player's Association. Rose, who was banished from baseball for gambling on the sport as a manager of the Cincinnati Reds, no longer falls under either organization. In this day and age, where former college athletes are suing the NCAA and EA Sports over player likenesses and licensing, a case could probably be made against Topps for using the name of baseball's all-time hit leader.
Rose is known to make the rounds at card shows and more and gets paid for appearances and signatures. All former (and current) players have these kind of arrangements. There is no reason Rose should be any different. He is entitled to that. Nobody knows if Rose would ever even think about pursuing any sort of legal action in hopes of getting a cut of the Topps income generated from baseball card sales, but it certainly appears to be a possibility Topps does not want to get in the middle of.
In actuality the decision may have been more influenced by the license agreement Topps has with MLB and the MLBPA. As Chris Harris from Stale Gum suggests, there is nothing more to it, really...
@macho_row @thegoodphight It's not. Topps is an exclusive licensee of MLB and can't mention Rose by name. Move along, nothing to see here.
— Stephen McTowelie (@stalegum) February 13, 2013
Nobody is disputing who owns the record, or rather that the record exists. Everybody knows who owns the record. We don't need a baseball card to verify that.