1975-76 O-Pee-Chee WHA - #19 - Robbie Ftorek
1975-76 saw O-Pee-Chee double the size of the previous season's WHA set, as they released a 132-card tribute to the "other league". This set has the highest book value of any of O-Pee-Chee's dedicated WHA sets (in fact its book value is close to that of the other three sets combined). These cards seem to be the most sought after/hardest to find in great condition at a reasonable price. In terms of design, these are a cut above the other WHA sets as well (I think these and the '72-73 high numbers are the nicest looking O-Pee-Chee WHA cards). Not only do the cards look better, but some of the big name players have two cards in the set; a base card and an All-Star card. This is a practice that O-Pee-Chee would continue with the following year.
In terms of the card itself, this is considered Ftorek's rookie, and is one of the top 10 cards in the set as far as book value goes. Robbie was one of the most successful US-born players of the 1970s and finished 6th all-time for career points in the WHA. For me though, the best part about this card is the awesome Phoenix Roadrunners sweater. The Roadrunners, like many teams, did not ultimately last in the WHA and folded after just three seasons due to financial issues. They would later change the look of their uniforms, going with stripes on the arms and a slightly different roadrunner overlaid on an outline of the state of Arizona. I like these early uniforms better though.
As I said, this set is just not that easy to come by. A quick eBay search turns up just six of these currently listed, three graded and three ungraded. I was very pleased to be able to snag this copy, which is in fantastic condition with good overall centering, for under $10.
I would love to complete the entire O-Pee-Chee WHA run, and this is one of the collecting goals that I've been working away at most consistently. For all the reasons mentioned above though, it's very likely that the '75-76 set will be the last one I manage to complete. For now, I'm grateful to have added Ftorek's rookie to the collection at such a reasonable price...