I saw the other day where Upper Deck has added Shoeless Joe Jackson to the lineup for 2010 baseball issues, a development that immediately makes me wonder if Jackson’s kindred spirit, Pete Rose, might be waiting in the wings.
Way, way back in that other millennium, I interviewed Rose at a card show – I think one of the Tuff Stuff shows in Richmond, Va. – and asked him if he thought that the increased interest in Jackson and boisterous demand for his cards and memorabilia might have a positive spillover concerning his own case.
Remember, this was about 10 years ago, and Pete had suggested to me that he might consider suing Major League Baseball if they didn’t get off the dime and at least give his reinstatement request a good look.
He pretty forcefully insisted at the time that he wasn’t comfortable with virtually any linkage to Shoeless Joe, the implication being that Jackson had been accused of throwing the 1919 World Series and he, Pete, had merely got ensnared because of his interest in betting on ponies and the like. Since the story line then was that he hadn’t bet on baseball, he wanted to keep his distance from Joe.
To his credit, Pete has done a pretty good job of keeping himself out of the limelight over the last couple of years, a feat certainly more impressive by the fact that this year marked the 20th anniversary of Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti’s “Permanent Ineligibility” ban on Rose.
Being on that list reportedly kept both players from appearing in baseball card issues that carried the Major League Baseball imprimatur. I don’t suppose that Pete would care for the linkage much better today than he did a decade ago, but if Shoeless Joe can get a “modern” card (his first appearance is slated for Upper Deck’s 2010 Goudey release in March), why not Pete?