Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cardboard Keepers - Two Epic Hockey Pulls

Time for the next installment of Cardboard Keepers, a thought experiment in which I theoretically whittle my entire collection down to just 2,000 cards; 1,000 baseball keepers, and 1,000 "other" keepers.

Today I'm going to induct two cards into the non-baseball collection, and they are possibly the two greatest hockey cards I've ever pulled from a pack myself to date!  Let's get rolling...

When I first returned to the hobby as an adult in 2007, I quickly began frequenting a hobby shop in North Providence, Rhode Island.  It's no longer there, though one of the two owners has his own shop now, a town or two over from there.  Anyway, they had a wax box of 1978-79 Topps hockey on the shelf, and if memory serves were asking somewhere in the realm of $4 a pack.  Pretty reasonable if you ask me.

Every couple of times in the store I'd add a pack to the day's purchases, and after opening a few of them I was convinced they were legitimately sealed since the late '70s and hadn't been tampered with.  I was pulling too many stars, and the patterns as to which cards received gum or wax stains were completely consistent from pack to pack.  Even the centering, or off-centering, of the cards within each pack somewhat lined up, to the point where I could tell each time I opened a pack which four or five cards within would be basically in mint condition with perfect centering.

Well, a year or so into picking up the occasional pack I had a little extra money from a work travel stipend, and it hit me that I likely wouldn't have many opportunities to buy packs this old from a trustworthy source at a good price like this.  I stopped by the shop and bought the rest of the box right off the shelf, which had 17 packs remaining.  I held onto them for some time, opening one here or there on a rainy day.

Finally, in April of 2012, nearly 8 years ago now, I hit the jackpot:

Yep, I am able to say that as a collector I pulled a Mike Bossy rookie card, printed up years before I was even born, from a wax pack! 

This was especially cool for a few reasons.  First of all, it's generally regarded as the most desired card in the set, so there was no single card that I was more hopeful to pull than this beauty.  Secondly, it just so happened that it fell in the portion of the pack I referred to above where the cards were absolutely mint and perfectly centered.  Lastly, the owners of the shop were very honest in letting me know that one person had already pulled a Bossy RC from the box before I picked up the rest of the packs.  Given that, it was especially fortunate that this one lay hidden inside the remaining packs.

At the time, this was likely the greatest hockey card I'd pulled myself from a pack, period.  I can still vividly recall the sense of excitement when I came across this card.  I immediately scanned it, then put it in an Ultra Pro One Touch magnetic holder for protection.

Here's a look at the back; again you can see just how crisp and well-centered this copy is.  I won't ever bother to, but I'd wager that if I sent this off to PSA for grading it would come back a Mint-9 at least.

That Bossy remained my greatest hockey card pull for a few years, until the holiday season of 2015.

Having to work for a few hours on Christmas Eve that year, I swung by Target on the way in to pick up a couple of small last minute gifts to finish off my shopping for the year.  While I was there, I grabbed a tin of the 2015-16 Upper Deck flagship hockey set.  Small, metallic tin with a dozen packs included.  Figured it would provide for some fun ripping over holiday break.

Well, lo and behold in the very first pack I came across the card that collectors everywhere were scrambling for that holiday season (and have continued to ever since!)...

Still can't believe, even years later, that I pulled probably the most iconic hockey rookie card of the last 10-15 years in the first pack of this stuff I ever opened.  I have no plans to sell mine, except out of utter desperation/need, but to this day the card still commands $250-$300 on the secondary market all day long.

Two-time leading scorer and already an NHL MVP under his belt, along with numerous other accolades, and McDavid is still just 23 years of age.  He's generally regarded as one of, if not the best individual player in the league at this point, with many years of productivity ahead hopefully.  What he's accomplished in his first five seasons alone already has him in the conversation as far as being a "generational talent" the likes of Crosby, Lemieux, Gretzky, Howe or Orr.

So, there are probably my two greatest pulls, at least on the hockey side of the house.  Chances are they'll remain the top two for a good long while too, as I don't really open very many packs at all these days.  In any event, a pair of very worthy candidates for this experiment, and easy choices to make the cut!

The "other" Cardboard Keepers collection is up to 17 cards in size now, and can be viewed here.  I've still got a long way to go, with 983 non-baseball cards remaining to be selected .  I'll be back soon with the next card or group of cards, but until then thanks as always for stopping by!


Shlabotnik Report said...

Man, unopened 1970's wax for $4... sign me up!

That's a beautiful card of the Capitals' Ron Lalonde... and some stupid overrated Islander. :-P

Chris said...

Wow that Bossy is sharp! I can only imagine how much fun it would be to open a vintage pack of cards. I think the oldest pack I've ever opened is a pack of 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee I bought on eBay. My father-in-law won a pack of 1977 Topps baseball from the 2011 Diamond dig contest. The best card he pulled was Ken Griffey (Sr.)

Billy Kingsley said...

Those are definitely nice pulls! I have never even seen a copy of the McDavid card in person yet.

Elliptical Man said...

That McDavid value blows away anything I've pulled.

(I pulled a football card that got me $60 in trade. Ha.)

Fuji said...

Wow $4 per pack for 1978-79 Topps hockey is a great price. Congratulations on both of these sweet pulls.

gregory said...

We're in the same club! Back in the early '90s my dad bought a few packs of 1978-79 OPC hockey for me at a card show, and in the final pack I pulled a Bossy rookie. It was off-center and one edge was a little rough, but I've still got it and it's a great memory. Congratulations to you!

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