Phil Esposito (True) Rookie Cards

As a young man, Phil played hard enough to earn a spot onto the Minor League Teepees where he went on to impress the scouts of the Chicago Blackhawks and was given the chance at the pro level in the season of 1963-64. Phil Esposito has one true rookie card.

The Worst Trade in History?

Phil Esposito’s career in Chicago was short-lived, mainly because he couldn’t get along with Blackhawks management. By the end of the 1967 season, he was traded by Chicago to the Boston Bruins.

This trade has arguably been one of the worst in Chicago Blackhawks history and one of the best in Boston Bruins history. This trade paired Esposito with another All-Time Great, Bobby Orr.

The two complimented each other’s style of play and brought much success to the Bruins. If Orr couldn’t find a score he would pass the puck to Esposito who would typically be planted in the slot right in front of the net.

Key Components to Esposito’s Game

Esposito wouldn’t hit the puck very hard like some centers, instead, his talent was in his quickness and accuracy.

Phil Esposito was also known for being big and strong, he was hard to move. He would stand in front of the net and you couldn’t get him to move, everyone knew what the strategy was but you couldn’t do anything about it.

Goal scoring for him was being in front of the net, in the right place at the right time all the while utilizing his speed and accuracy of the puck. The moment the puck hit his stick it was gone, imitating a carom in billiards.

Career Stats & Accomplishments

The most memorable moment of Phil’s career was in the 1972 Summit Series when Canada hosted Russia. The series was not going very well and the Canadian fans began booing their team.

Esposito in a live interview immediately after one of the games rebuked the Canadian fans:

“If the Russian fans boo their players in Moscow like you people are booing us, I’ll come back and apologize personally to every one of you, but I really don’t think that will happen. We gave it and are doing our best. All of us guys are really disheartened…

We came out here because we love Canada. They’re a good hockey team, and we don’t know what we could do better, but I promise we will figure it out. But it’s totally ridiculous – I don’t think it is fair that we should be booed.

The fans responded to Phil Esposito and embraced him. Later that year Esposito won the 1972 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s outstanding male athlete of the year and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Career Stats: Goals 717 | Assist 873 | Points 1590 | Game Winning Goals 118.

Career Accomplishments:

  • 2x Stanley Cup Winner
  • 8x All-Star
  • 2x Hart Memorial Trophy
  • 2x Ted Lindsay Award
  • 5x Art Ross Trophy.

Before We Begin

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True Rookie Card

Identifier (RC) Defined

A rookie card is a trading card that is the first to feature an athlete AFTER that athlete has participated in the highest level of competition within his or her respected sport. It must be licensed by both the League and the Players Association. An RC identifier is only given to cards that fit this criteria. Below is an exhaustive list of the featured players true rookie cards.

1965-66 Topps, #116 (RC)

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The 1965 Hockey Set houses 128 cards. The cards were grouped together by the team which is a concept I’ve always liked. The cards were printed in Canada this is why there is a French translation following the English translation.

This card would be the lone true rookie card of Phil Esposito. The card design is phenomenal. I love the colors on the front of this card, the red Blackhawks uniform pops in front of that blue background.

The card back screams pure vintage and I’m wondering if any of you hockey aficionados knows the answer to the trivia question?


Rookie-Year Card

Identifier (RYC) Defined

An RYC identifier is given to the cards of a rookie player that: are not the first card featured in the base set, subset cards, insert cards, print on-demand cards, food and beverage issues, or cards that are not properly licensed by the League and the Players Association.

1965 Coca Cola (RY)

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According to Vintage Hockey Collector, written by Hockey Historian Bobby Burrell these were part of a mail in offer. When you sent Coke 10 cork liners of the same team they would send you a corresponding team set. This set featured 18 attached, perforated cards.

They were printed on thicker card stock and were slightly bigger than the standard card measuring 2.75″ x 3.50″ respectively. A great looking portrait photo and full stats on the back.

However, because these are non-licensed and a food and beverage issue, the proper identifier for this would be a “rookie-year card” of Phil Esposito. It was released in his rookie season but should not be considered a true rookie card for the aforementioned reason.


Post-Rookie Theme

Identifier (PRT) Defined

The PRT identifier has a dual function. It’s used to identify cards that feature a player after their rookie season but in some way the card design has elements that feature a rookie theme. Also, for vintage, this identifier can be used for second year cards which are highly collectable, and often times preferred, but they are NOT true rookie cards.

1966 Topps, #6 (PRT)

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If this card looks eerily familiar it’s because the design resembles the 1955 Bowman baseball set.

This 132 card set was the largest hockey set ever produced by Topps. The card front is not only creative but also realistic in its television design.

It seems like you’re really looking into a television and the details: notice the fans in the stands, player bench even an opponent skating along Phil’s right shoulder.

This is another viable option for collectors in the event the true rookie card gets too expensive. A very nice 2nd year card or should I say post-rookie theme card of Phil Esposito.


Sources:

Phil Esposito Stats | Hockey-Reference.com https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/e/esposph01.html (accessed April 25, 2019).

Burrell, Bobby. Vintage Hockey Collector – Price Guide. Printed November 2015.

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