Question: I'm a baseball-card collector and have a number of Pete Rose cards. I want to know if Pete's troubles will have any impact--either way--on the value of his cards.--F.B.
Answer: Rose still has public sentiment on his side, believes Greg Kirby, a Santa Barbara-based dealer. "He's got a gambling problem that got him into big trouble," he said. "As a result, he's got sympathy on his side."
The controversial Rose case reached a climax recently when the baseball commissioner, Bart Giamatti, banned the Cincinnati Reds manager from baseball for life. Rose has denied the gambling allegations, which are contained in a lengthy report by baseball's special counsel, John Dowd.
Historically, baseball-card dealer Kirby recalled, if a player got into trouble--such as New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden's substance-abuse problem that surfaced in 1987--his card generally slides in value.
In other words, publicity alone does not increase a baseball card's value in the eyes of collectors--it has to be good news, according to Kirby.
In Gooden's case, he said: "People were unloading his cards" until the Mets pitcher came out of rehabilitation and made a successful comeback.
As for Rose, Kirby said he already has his accomplishments and "nothing will take anything away from that." Add those potential Hall of Fame statistics to what Kirby sees as the Rose sympathy factor, and Rose card prices will remain unaffected, he said.
In fact, Kirby speculated, if the sympathy factor is sustained, the collectible value of Rose cards "might even be buoyed."
A Dallas-based senior editor for "The Official 1990 Price Guide to Baseball Cards" by James Beckett (9th edition, 625 pages, Ballantine Books, $5.95) said he agreed with Kirby's analysis.
"I don't see anyone going out and dumping Rose cards," Pepper Hastings said. "Old (Rose) cards are scarce. And we haven't heard the last of this Pete Rose thing. Whether (the public) remembers Pete Rose for his gambling or his record number of hits remains to be seen."
As with all successful baseball players, dealer Kirby noted that Rose's 1963 rookie card--printed by the popular baseball-card producer, the Topps Co. of New York--is sought after and has sold for about $600. It pictured Rose with three other rookies.
Rose's second-year card, Kirby said, sells for about $150. Most recent Rose cards, such as when he was a Reds player-manager, sell in the 75-cents-to-$1 range, he said.
Kirby, a veteran dealer with an inventory of about 750,000 baseball cards, believes that baseball cards generally have proven a better investment than the stock market in recent years.
The popularity of baseball cards recently drew big crowds to the Great All-American Sports Collectors Convention at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. More than 300 dealers attended the baseball-card and memorabilia show.
Additionally, Kirby said he'll be hosting his own--albeit much smaller, about 20 dealers--baseball-card show on Sunday at the Goleta Valley Community Center near Santa Barbara. Admission is free.
Readers can contact Kirby for information about baseball cards and his shows at 5240 Calle Cristobal, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93111.
Regarding our recent inquiry concerning post cards made of leather, R. E. McKee of Booneville, Ark., writes that "there are a number of books" dealing with the unusual cards. Among them: "Mail Memories" by John M. Kaduck (Box 02152, Cleveland, Ohio) and "Picture Postcards" by Dorothy B. Ryan (Clarkson N. Potter Inc., One Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016).
Andrea Podley of North Hollywood writes that "there are people across the country who are collectors of Peanuts memorabilia . . . those wonderful characters by Charles M. Schulz: Snoopy, Charlie Brown, even crabby Lucy.
"Six years ago, I formed a club to enable those interested to learn about the new and older items that were issued. The club just had a convention, called a 'Beaglefest,' in Santa Rosa, and we were fortunate enough to have Schulz as our guest of honor. Everyone and his dog had a wonderful time."
For information on how to join the Peanuts Collector Club, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Andrea Podley, P.O. Box 94, North Hollywood, Calif. 91603.