Wayne Gretzky (True) Rookie Cards

In 1978, Wayne Gretzky was the youngest leading scorer in the Junior League. By June of that same year, he signed with Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. He has two true rookie cards and no parallels since they didn’t exist back in 1979.

Wayne Gretzky a Cultural Icon

It seems in every sport there is “that one” player that transcends the sport they represent. They exceed to such a degree they become cultural icons. For example, if you can visualize with me for a moment a Mount Rushmore of elite players that were larger than life.

As a result, I see Babe Ruth as a larger than life cultural icon. In the NFL I would select “Broadway” Joe Namath as another cultural icon, and in the NBA Michael Jordan took the game to new heights.

Simply stated Wayne Gretzky is a cultural icon that changed the game of hockey. People who knew nothing about hockey knew about him.

What You Should Know About Wayne Gretzky’s Childhood

What you may not know about Gretzky is he was forced to grow up quickly. He was viewed as a child prodigy for having extraordinary talent and ability in the hockey rink.

He was sought after at a very young age. Everybody loved him, talked about him, and wanted him to play for them.

But what did they see? By no means was Wayne a physical specimen. When he entered the NHL he was as thin as a hockey stick and was listed at 5’11” 165lbs.

What they saw was his puck handling skills, it was a whole new tier of puck handling. What they saw was his anticipation skill, as he seemed to be three steps ahead of everyone else.

The Nay-Sayers

However, before entering the NHL he was criticized. “He’s too small, too slow, overrated, etc.” but that just seemed to be fuel for the young Gretzky and as he began his career he didn’t ascend to the mountain top but rather ascended into a whole new realm of greatness that had never been seen before.

His twenty-year career was primarily with the Edmonton Oilers, LA Kings, and the New York Rangers and he is a 15x All-Star, and 4x Stanley Cup Champion.

Career Stats & Accomplishments

According to Hockey-Reference.com Wayne Gretzky career stats are:

Games Played 1,487 | Goals 894 | Assists 1,963 | Points 2,857 | Game Winning Goals 91

Acoomplishments:

  • He is a 2x Conn Smythe Trophy winner which is given to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  • 5x Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, given to the player who conducted himself with the best sportsmanship.
  • 5x Ted Lindsay Award winner, awarded annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by NHL Players Association. (Gretzky has the most wins).
  • 9x Hart Memorial Trophy winner, given to the player most valuable to his team (Gretzky has the most wins).
  • 10x Art Ross Trophy winner, given to the player who leads the league in points at the end of the regular season, (Gretzky has the most wins in this category too).

The Legacy of Wayne Gretzky

Awards aside, his list of personal accomplishments on the ice are too many to list here but know this, when he retired in 1999 he was the career leader in 60 NHL categories!

But perhaps the greatest legacy one can leave behind is how they impacted other people. So the question was asked, why was Wayne Gretzky nicknamed “The Great One?” Former Oilers Equipment Manager, Sparky Kulchisky explained it best,

“Because when you really got to know him, he was a better person than he was a hockey player.”

Wayne Gretzky True Rookie Cards

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.

1979 O-Pee-Chee, #18 (RC)

The 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Hockey was a single series 396 card set. The O-Pee-Chee brand was manufactured and distributed in Canada. They were an independent company working under the licensing of Topps in 1979 but owned by Upper Deck today.

What you really need to know about this rookie card is, next to Michael Jordan’s rookie card this one is heavily counterfeited as well. Some of these have made it to the secondary market, so buyer beware!

I strongly recommend doing your homework if considering to purchase one that is not authenticated by a third-party authenticator.

As far as card values are concerned. As of the date of this post. The O-Pee-Chee rookie card of The Great One is 2x-3x more expensive than the Topps version.


1979 Topps, #18 (RC)

The 1979-80 Topps Hockey was a single series 264 card set. Card stock quality is standard 1970s Topps gray cardboard and with those blue borders chipping along the edges and dinged corners are inevitable.

However, the blue borders give it a distinct feature along with a white team banner that really accents the front of the card nicely.

The card back has another distinct feature in the shape of an ice skate. Player bio, stats, and commentary are given within the skate and to the upper right portion, one can appreciate the cartoon that has become such a staple of the Topps vintage brand.

Take caution when purchasing raw copies of this one, counterfeits run rampant along with any rookie cards of cultural icons. I recommend relying on third-party authenticated cards for peace of mind.


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.

I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you. Wayne Gretzky true rookie cards aren’t cheap! They are pricey. However, a more affordable option for many collectors is the second year cards or shall I say “Post-Rookie Theme” cards of these all-time greats.

Featured below are the 1980 O-Pee-Chee cards of Gretzky, these may be a more viable option for you. Even more affordable would be the Topps brand of these exact same cards.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

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