SPORTS CARD HIGHLIGHT: WAYNE GRETZKY
See? I told you that hockey fans and card collectors would have a place in this series! This is actually the first time that I’ve written about a hockey/NHL card. I guess I was suddenly inspired when I came across a game over the weekend. Normally, I would just watch for a few moments to see the score and who’s playing. Luckily, it was my hometown team (New York Islanders) and they were in a real nail biter with the Penguins. So, I decided to watch all of it to the end.
While I was watching, between commercials, I began to think about which card I was going to highlight next. I was thinking about going back to football when I realized that the answer was right in front of me. I promised that fans of almost every major sport would have something to read in this series when I first started it. And, with this legendary NHL rookie card, I’ve done exactly that!
Keep reading to find out more about the great Wayne Gretzky and the details behind his ultra-valuable rookie card!
Considered by many to be one of the greatest ever to step on the ice, Wayne Gretzky has reached the pinnacle of professional hockey through a long and prosperous career. Even those who may not be too familiar with the sport, have probably heard his name at one time or another. Gretzky’s path to greatness started when he joined the Indianapolis Racers (of the former World Hockey Association) as a center back in 1978. Gretzky, who was only 17-years old at the time, decided to make this his first stop since the NHL refused to sign players who were under the age of 20.
Gretzky was traded, removed from the Racers’ roster and sent to play for the Edmonton Oilers (another WHA team at the time). After playing just one season in the WHA, Gretzky was thrust into the NHL scene when the WHA folded, and the two leagues merged. Only four former WHA teams were allowed to join the NHL and one of them was the Edmonton Oilers. So, the NHL was forced to oblige, even though Gretzky was still under their age limit at the time. Now, at age 18, Gretzky played in the NHL as a rookie in the 1979 season with the re-established Edmonton Oilers.
He played with the Oilers for nine seasons, from 1979 to 1988. During that time, he helped the Oilers win four Stanley Cup Championships and earn a host of other awards, including eight for MVP. He also set a host of records, which still remain unbroken today. Gretzky continued his career for the next 11 seasons, playing for three different teams (Kings, Blues, and Rangers), until his retirement in 1999. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame that same year.
After 20 years spent in the pros as a player, Gretzky decided to turn his attention to ownership and coaching, which he did with the Phoenix Coyotes shortly after his retirement. His post-retirement coaching career wasn’t as successful as his playing career, but still and all, Gretzky’s legacy in the sport has set the bar for all others who have come after him!
Now, we’ll get to the card.
The card is a 1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 rookie, which is believed to be one of the most valuable Hockey cards out there. I know that some of the other rookie cards that we’ve highlighted in this series have become valuable due to a mistake, misprint, or fault, but that’s not the case for this rookie card. Instead, this card is valued according to its perfection. As you know, these cards always come down to their condition, and back in December 2020, this one proved to be every bit as perfect as the player it depicts.
It was then that a 1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky rookie card was sold for $1.29 million at auction. How was this possible? Because it was given a grade of Gem Mint PSA 10, which means it was in Mint, perfect condition. Plus, there are only two of these cards in existence to have the unique blue border around them, which adds to their rarity value as well. A Topps version of this card sold at the same auction, but took in $700k by the time the hammer came down, which is also a record-setting price in the Topps brand. But, right now, the top spot belongs to the O-Pee-Chee version.
Make sure to leave me any thoughts or comments you may have about this card below. And if you have any other suggestions on which hockey card I should highlight next, let me know below as well. I thank you for joining me in this fun sports card highlight post and hope you will continue to join me as the series progresses!
Until we meet again,
Vince The Prince