Twenty years ago, when then commissioner Bart Giamatti banned Pete Rose from baseball, he not only ruined his chance to be inducted into Cooperstown’s hallowed halls, but also hurt his revenue stream.
Over the years, Rose has likely made more money on memorabilia than any retired player who isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but his ban has still resulted in leaving money on the table.
“When he had Pete at shows in the 80s and 90s, he sold as well as anyone and at a high price,” said Bobby Mintz, vice president of sales and celebrity relations at Tri-Star Productions, one of the largest sports autograph memorabilia companies. “But it was tied to the fact that people believed that he really didn’t bet on baseball. So when his book came out in 2004, we saw interest in him drop precipitously. People lumped him in with all the other liars, like the steroid users, in the game.”
Mintz says that he believes that Rose has lost at least $1 million from being kicked out of the game.
“If his record were clean, ‘Charlie Hustle’ would be a no-brainer for people,” Mintz said. “He was the embodiment of the All-American way, a hard-working, get down and get dirty guy.”
Others think that Rose might have lost even more. Gil Pagovich of Maxx Sports & Entertainment believes the number might be closer to $2 million since Rose wasn’t able to participate in any official Major League Baseball licensing programs or be allowed to be part of any sponsored events.
Rose’s agent, Warren Greene, would not comment on anything related to the anniversary or Rose's financials.
Meanwhile, no athlete Web site has more autographs for sale than Pete Rose. There’s a signed baseball of Rose held by a bronze casting of his hand for $275. There’s the opportunity for a personalized ball with an inscription of your choice for $98.99.
And for those who can’t afford that, there’s “I’m sorry I bet on baseball T-shirts” for $19.99, which is apparently so popular it has sold out in every size but small.
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