Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Grabbing Gretzkys - 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee

There's little doubt as to who the greatest player in the history of hockey is, at least in my mind.  More so than in maybe any of the other "big four" professional sports, I feel like there's a consensus among hockey fans when it comes to this debate.

If you polled a group of 1,000 die-hard hockey fans I'm sure you'd get some votes for Bobby Orr, or Gordie Howe scattered throughout.  Maybe a few for Maurice Richard, or Mark Messier?  Mario Lemieux or Patrick Roy even?  Dare I say Alex Ovechkin?  I'm sure a few others would be mentioned in a poll that large, but I'm willing to bet at least 90% or more would respond with Wayne Gretzky.  95% maybe?  99% (hah!) even?

Wayne was still playing, and was still considered the undisputed king of the game, when I first became a rabid hockey fan and began playing the sport myself in the late '80s.  Not surprisingly, I was enthralled by The Great One, and hoarded any of his cards that I encountered during my first run at collecting way back then.

Well, over the past couple of years, one of the things I've done in the hobby has been to target some unique additions to help bolster my humble collection of the greatest player ever to lace up skates.  My goal here is not to become some kind of Gretzky super-collector.  He's understandably one of the most desirable names in the hobby, and I don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on his memorabilia.  Even if I did, that pursuit would drive me nuts.

Instead, I hope to just improve my small collection of Gretzky cards by acquiring graded examples of his "playing era" cards that I remember most fondly, maybe some oddballs and a tough to find '90s insert or two, and ultimately an autograph to really hammer the player collection home.  I've done well in my pursuit I think, and I plan to share some of them on the blog this year in a series called "Grabbing Gretzkys".

First up, the first Wayne Gretzky card I ever owned, and also the first Wayne Gretzky card I ever pulled myself from a pack!

Way back in 1989, my brothers and I had started playing ice hockey, and around that time my Dad began bringing home packs of 1989-90 Topps and O-Pee-Chee hockey for us to open at the kitchen table.  We each had a three ring binder and would spend hours trading with each other and sorting and re-sorting our cards in their plastic sheets.

I have a complete mint set of '89-90 O-Pee-Chee now that I picked up a few years back, and I still have my original childhood three ring binder as well.  Even still, this card evokes such memories that I couldn't resist the opportunity to add a graded copy to my collection too, especially since it set me back all of $7 shipped.

1989-90 was Wayne's second season in Los Angeles, and even with 10 years of his NHL career already behind him he was still playing at an absolute elite level.  He recorded over 100 assists, and ended up with 142 points.  That was good for most in the league, and Gretzky won his unprecedented 8th Art Ross Trophy.

A modest addition to kick this project off, but one that packs a whole lot of punch on the nostalgia scale for this collector.  I'd love to complement this one with a PSA 9 of the Topps version someday, but only if I can bring it home for less than $10 like I did here.

As I mentioned, I've got some more unique Gretzky cards to show off here in the coming weeks, so expect some more "Grabbing Gretzkys" posts soon!


Marc said...

It's tough comparing players from different decades of hockey as the game has evolved along the way. Gretzky is by far the greatest of his generation. Solid acquisition.

Fuji said...

Agree with Marc that it's hard to compare players from different decades/eras. However Gretzky straight up dominated the league when he was in his prime. He'd have 30 to 40% more points than the #2 guy in the league. That's insane. Also hard to compare positions too. But... I have no problem with people ranking Gretzky the #1 hockey player of all-time.

gregory said...

I look forward to this series!

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