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The Great One
Wayne Gretzky, Topps 1979 rookie

Card tales: The Great One

2014-05-07 02:00:00 (GMT)

East Grand Rapids, Michigan, United StatesI never planned to own this card.

Card No. 18 in the 1979 Topps hockey set: Wayne Gretzky, center, Edmonton Oilers.

His rookie card.

To Gretzky or not to Gretzky

I attended a card show in metro Detroit in the early '90s and saw the blue card on a dealer's table.

Gretzky was an L.A. King by this point, years away from the Oilers.

He was anointed hockey's West Coast ambassador. His all-world play and celebrity were to lead the expansion and mainstreaming of the NHL.

But my hockey collection was non-existent at the time and making Gretzky my first hockey rookie card seemed wrong.

I grew up outside of Detroit. Steve Yzerman — or Stevie Y. — was the Red Wing's star captain and center. I thought I should turn around and move on to another table, if not a Yzerman rookie.

Instead, I walked around and thought about making the buy. 

Looking back, I know a magazine cover played a role in my final decision.

Gretzky is on the cover of the inaugural issue of Beckett's hockey card price guide. A helmetless Gretzky is skating in a black-and-silver Kings jersey. It's an iconic image among collectors.

Gretzky was the modern symbol of the hockey card industry.

Why would I walk away from an attainable Gretzky rookie?

I wouldn't.

I handed some cash to the dealer.

The numbers

In grading parlance, the card is in "very good-excellent" condition. 

The back of the card prophetically says, "Wayne is considered the best prospect to turn professional since Guy Lafleur."

During his 1978-1979 rookie season, Gretzky started playing his way into history. He scored 46 goals and made 64 assists to collect 110 points over 60 games.

A young Great One is listed as standing 5'11" and weighing in at 165 pounds. 

The captain

Over the years, I've acquired the rookie cards of other hockey superstars.

But to this day, I don't own a Steve Yzerman rookie.

💬 Comments

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Cliffhanger!  What's it worth!?  I'm at the edge of my seat for the conclusion to this story!

posted 3 years ago
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good question! after some research, the card, based on its condition, is worth $200+. if a grading service were to say it's a higher-grade card, which is certainly possible, it would be worth hundreds more.

posted 3 years ago
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East Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Chris' content career started at the San Francisco Chronicle after college. After working as a metro reporter in Southern California's Inland Empire, he...... more







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