Time for another "Grabbing Gretzkys" post, highlighting some of my pick-ups in my attempt to build a moderately sized but respectable collection of the man whom I'd argue is the greatest hockey player of all-time.
Last time we looked at a graded version of the first Gretzky card that I ever pulled myself from a pack. Today, it's one of the more coveted parallels of the parallel-ridden decade that was the '90s!
On the hockey side, there were three Finest sets in the '90s; the inaugural '94-95 set, one the following year in '95-96, and then one last effort in '98-99. The final set isn't that rare or valuable, but the first two sets have maintained collector demand for 25 years strong here. The 1995-96 set added an extra wrinkle, by having three tiers of cards on the checklist; bronze, silver and gold. Hobby boxes weren't cheap, and you pulled only a couple of refractors per box. Most likely you were pulling two bronze refractors. If you were very lucky, maybe you saw a silver and a bronze. Extremely lucky, and you may have landed one of the prized Gold Refractors. Insane, off the charts level lucky, and that card may have been the one you see here, the Wayne Gretzky Gold Refractor!
I've been grabbing Finest Refractors for my hockey collection for years now, and this card has always been the Holy Grail as far as that quest goes. Wayne has a more common bronze card in this release also (because of course Topps went out of their way to get him on the checklist twice in a small, 191-card set), and even the refractor version of that card routinely gets up into the triple digits. This Gold Refractor doesn't get any easier to find or cheaper, that's for sure.
I actually love that the card pictures Wayne's often-forgotten short stint with the St. Louis Blues. I've got a ton of Gretzky cards from his time with the Oilers, Kings and Rangers, but very few from his brief St. Louis stop. This is without a doubt the best Blues Gretzky card that I own, and probably always will be.
Someday I'd love to pick up Wayne's 1994-95 Finest Refractor to pair with this one, and I guess to a lesser extent his '98-99 to round out the trio. If I had to pick just one though, this would certainly be it...
Set-completion, Canadian-style - Happy Canada Day to my north-of-the-border readers! It's tradition around here to try to acknowledge this day -- since I practically live in Canada acco...