Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Grabbing Gretzkys - It Seems I've Got Some Competition!

I've got a pair of recent pick-ups to share today in my never-ending quest to improve my Wayne Gretzky collection.  These two come with a story about some apparent eBay competition that I'm up against!  I'm curious as to whether any of you have experienced anything similar to this...

Since deciding to really try to improve the focus of my collection and even minimize its size these past couple of years, I determined that better filling out my Wayne Gretzky collection was going to remain a priority.  Arguably the greatest hockey player of all-time, and certainly the greatest hockey player of the generation that I grew up watching as a kid, his cards still bring me a lot of joy.  Believe it or not, I really still think they're under-valued in the hobby too, when you see what other "GOAT" players like Jordan, LeBron, Brady, Trout, etc command in the marketplace.

I could obviously never hope to obtain every Gretzky card, nor can I afford to keep up with the super collectors who chase autographs, patches, 1/1's etc.  That's not the only way to collect though, although I certainly don't knock those who enjoy that aspect of our hobby.  For me, I decided to settle on some mid-range goals that were certainly more reasonable and affordable, yet still quite challenging.

One of those goals was completing a run of Wayne's flagship Topps cards from his '79-80 rookie through the 1980s, finishing with the 1989-90 card from the first set I ever collected as a kid.  Certainly an attainable goal; given the lack of a Topps set in both '82-83 and '83-84 we're only talking nine cards to complete this task.

Well, recently I thought it would be wise to increase the scope of that collection to include all of Wayne's Topps and O-Pee-Chee cards from his '79-80 rookies through the '89-90 sets.  This meant not only adding a new brand to chase in O-Pee-Chee, but also including all of the many, many subset cards that Wayne appeared in throughout the '80s, like Record Breakers, Highlights, Team Leaders, League Leaders, All-Stars, and so on.

So, I frequently search out these cards, often in PSA 9 mint slabs, and keep probably 20-30 of the cheapest available copies that I'm still looking for on my eBay watchlist.  Every so often, I pluck a couple of them when I have the funds to divert to the project. 

Recently I scored a pair of them from the '84-85 O-Pee-Chee set, in matching PSA 9 slabs.  First up, the 1984-85 Oilers Leaders card.  I always liked that Topps and O-Pee-Chee included team leader cards like these throughout most of the '80s, and of course Wayne graced the Oilers versions in just about every single case.

I really like the design and layout of this card.  There's a lot of information crammed on here, yet it doesn't feel overwhelming, still easy on the eyes.  It's also a cool card because it is not featured in the '84-85 Topps set, only in the O-Pee-Chee release.  For many years Topps had a condensed hockey set compared to its Canadian counterpart (sort of the inverse of Topps vs. O-Pee-Chee baseball sets I suppose).  In the '84-85 Topps release there are only two Gretzky cards, his standard card and his All-Star subset card.  By contrast, there are ten in the same year's O-Pee-Chee release if my count is correct!

The back of this one is also great, because it showcases something that I highly doubt we'll see in the NHL ever again...a 200-point season!  Holy smokes.  Just unreal.

Here's the other card I picked up, another of the ten Gretzky's in that '84-85 release.  This one is the NHL Power Play Goal Leader card.  Wayne paced the league with 20 PPGs in '83-84, earning himself this card in the following year's set.

Some of the other names on the PPG leader list were a surprise to me.  Would never in a million years have guessed that Pierre LaRouche of all people tied for second in the league with 19 PPGs in '83-84.  The things you learn.

Anyway, back to my story.  I'm extremely grateful to have landed these two, from the same seller, when he accepted my best offer of $20 each, $40 for the pair.  Over the next 48 hours or so after this purchase, I watched in horror as every single 1980s Gretzky PSA 9 that I had on my watchlist disappeared in rapid fire succession.

It's as if someone else had the same collection idea that I did, got panicked when I picked up the two I landed, and grabbed every other semi-affordable PSA 9 slabbed Gretzky in sight!  The well dried up so quickly that within just a day or two cards that I could have acquired for less than $30 are now available only at price points of $99.99 or greater.  Insanity.

The way I see it, it could be one of two things.  A collector like me who shares my goal of acquiring these cards in mint graded condition, and who like me feels they are presently very under-valued, scooped them all up for their personal collection while they could.  Or, maybe it's one of these sports card investors who have flooded the hobby recently seeing an opportunity to drive up the market single-handedly?  Either way, more power to them, I guess.

Thankfully, while I'd prefer to find PSA 9 slabs for this project, I am certainly not limiting myself to graded cards only.  I'm very appreciative that I landed these two before things got crazy, and I'll certainly keep my eyes open for cheap slabs in the future, but in the meantime I'm more than happy to find raw cards to keep checking the boxes on this initiative.

How about you, have you ever experienced something like this where a particular player, set or other collecting goal that you were working on just exploded right in front of your eyes price-wise?  If so, I'd be interested to hear your story in the comments.


In case you have not heard, the English Premier League is returning today to finish out their 2019-20 season!  Albeit without fans, but I don't care.  I am absolutely ecstatic for many reasons, not the least of which are A) I'm a Liverpool fan, and for the first time in my lifetime they were a lock to win the table before this season went on hold, looks like they'll actually have a chance to do so now, and B) I've enjoyed the Premier League for almost ten years now and would record as many games as I possibly could each week, so I'm just thrilled to have any sport that I enjoy available to watch again at last!

As a tribute to the return of the league, here's a sweet 1977-78 Topps Footballers card featuring one of the four teams in action today, Sheffield United:

These are obviously inspired by the 1976 Topps baseball design.  I love all of the Topps soccer cards from the '70s like this one, but they're actually surprisingly tough to find.

Amazing card backs as well.  Imagine if the '76 baseball backs looked like these?!?!  Would be quite an improvement, no?

If you've been curious about professional soccer but have never checked it out, or even if you can't stand soccer but are completely starved for live sports of any kind, why not check out the games today?  If you're a dinosaur like me who still has cable you can watch on NBCSN, or if you've cut the cord you can watch live at

That's all for today, thanks as always for stopping by!


Brett Alan said...

Yeah, I normally only watch soccer for the major international competitions, but I've caught some of the Bundesliga, and I'm definitely going to watch a good chunk of the Man City/Arsenal game coming up today.

Commishbob said...

I watched the bulk of both matches today. Man City was in top form but your boys are not going to be caught. LOL And you can bet I'm ready for Friday and Man U back in action. The bar where we always watch is open at 50% capacity but I'm just not ready for that sort of thing at this point. I've got a couple of Guinness in the fridge all ready to go.

Fuji said...

I won't say that I'm a huge collector... but I was trying to stock up on Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan cards in anticipation of them enter the Hall of Fame this summer. I did manage to buy some, but then things started escalating exponentially. Even if things settle down eventually... it'll never go back to the prices I was trying to pay last year.

Billy Kingsley said...

I've been pretty much shut out of the NBA this year due to Zion mania. Blasters of hoops are being scalped for $90 or more. I won't play that game.
The sad thing is that most of the people doing that aren't NBA fans and only care about one card...I'm trying to build the set, as I always do.

Shlabotnik Report said...

In my quest to have at least one of the various 1970s A&BC and Topps Footballers cards, I think that 1977-78 set is the only holdout. They *are* hard to find, I'm going to have to adjust my pricing expectations, I think.

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