In an article by CTV News on March 23, it was reported that collectors can buy a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card; but it will cost you $139,000 – and the bidding hasn’t stopped yet. In case you’re wondering, the starting bid for the rare piece of cardboard (memorabilia) was $10,000.
Lelands Auction House has this card online for its Lelands 2021 Spring Classic Auction. If you’re a hockey card fan, a Wayne Gretzky card is iconic – perhaps it’s the best card in the world for a hockey card collector to own. This particular Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Rookie card is a PSA 9 (a grading company that assures the authenticity and the pristine condition of the card). It’s a good one!
The fact that this 1979 OPC #18 Wayne Gretzky RC graded by PSA as a Mint 9 is what makes it so valued. According to those who know, there are only 91 such cards that have been graded Mint 9 or higher.
Gretzky Was the “Great One” – His RC Is the Card to Own
The Gretzky card is iconic, and whenever someone hears I am a hockey card collector (and buyer and seller) the first question they ask me is: “Do you have a Gretzky Rookie Card?” (I don’t.)
For hockey card collectors, it might be possibly be the most important card in the hockey card hobby. Gretzky changed the game with his skill. It also happens that he’s one of the nicest players to have played and one of the greatest ambassadors of any sport ever.
Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card was the first hockey card to sell for $1-million. In fact, because it’s the Canadian version of the card – there is also a corresponding Topps (made in the USA) version. However, for collectors, the OPC version is the most highly-sought-after version. It was also graded a perfect 10, and there have only been two such Gretzky rookie cards from the O-Pee-Chee’s 1979 run to receive a perfect “gem mint” score from the Professional Sports Authenticator grading service.
Gretzky’s RC is His WHA Card Not an NHL Card
Interestingly, the Gretzky RC is not an NHL card. It’s a card that has Gretzky pictured in his Edmonton Oilers’ uniform from the final season of the WHA, which for a time was a rival of the NHL. The Oilers were one of four WHA teams that joined the NHL when the WHA disbanded.
The other teams were the New England Whalers (later renamed the Hartford Whalers), Quebec Nordiques, and the Winnipeg Jets. For young hockey fans, the Hartford Whalers moved to Carolina to become the Hurricanes, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado to become the Avalanche, and the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes.
The Sports Card Industry is Booming
Recently, more people are staying inside because of the COVID-19 pandemic as you can see on this ABC YouTube video.
If you’re a hockey card collector today, you’ll know that the newer cards are sometimes pieces of art. They are beautifully made. Fortunately for the classic collectors, there are lots of very high quality older cards (for me, anything up to 1988 is classified as “older.” But, every collector has their own call on that one.
Collectors know that it can be very difficult to find absolutely mint cards before the 1980s. The production value of such cards wasn’t always the best. Factories “were using recycled cardboard that chipped easily, they were off-centre, and there were a lot of print defects.” For collectors, that added an additional quest – not only to find “the player” you wanted, but also a high-quality card of that player.
The Resurgence of the Sports Card Market
Although COVID-19 has been a horrible thing, it undoubtedly was a boom to the sports card marker. Many people returned to the hobby as a safe way to stay inside and get one’s sports’ fix when the major professional sports’ leagues had shut down for safety reasons.
For collectors and traders like myself, it’s refreshing to have a local sports card store open. I can talk with the owner and the staff about cards, pour over their newer and older cards, watch them break boxes on air.
It is just great fun to hold pictures of my favorite players in my hands and read about them on the back. My sports cards collecting has allowed me to build relationships with other collectors and eventually got me into hockey writing.
Even When I Was a Professor, I Loved Playing with Sports Cards
As my handle “The Old Prof” suggests, before I was an academic before I was a hockey writer. In the “old days,” I wrote about political and economic systems and the history of the 20th Century. I enjoyed the work and had to engage in a lot of research; that hasn’t changed with writing about NHL trades and players – and I do every bit as much research to produce my words as I did then.
Still, I love playing with hockey cards – even if I don’t have one worth $139,000.
/ 7 hours ago
After a Game 1 loss in which they allowed five goals, Joel Quenneville has...
/ 1 day ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs are getting a few players into their lineup, while also...
/ 4 days ago
Reports are Adam Larsson is close on a three or four-year extension with the...
/ 5 days ago
TSN's Darren Dreger notes that Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie is likely to test...
/ 6 days ago
Kevyn Adams didn’t seem angry, but he did seem a bit annoyed that there...
/ 6 days ago
After John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were fired by New York Rangers owner David...
/ 1 week ago
The Edmonton Oilers are making ground on a four-year extension with defenseman Adam Larsson.
/ 1 week ago
As per reports by multiple sources, John Tortorella has agreed to leave the Columbus...
/ 2 weeks ago
George Parros says he doesn't want the gig as head of NHL Department of...