Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards Checklist and Hockey Card Guide
Wayne Douglas Gretzky, or better known as "The Great One," is arguably the most accomplished, prolific, and skilled hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates. Old-school fans might argue that Gordie Howe or Bobby Orr hold the distinction of being the best-ever, but what cannot be argued is Gretzky's impact on the game and the record book.
Gretzky's accomplishments and statistics, speak for themselves. He holds 40 regular-season records, 15 playoff records, and six All-Star records. He is the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season, a feat he accomplished four times. He also scored over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutively. In his career, Gretzky earned nine Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player, ten Art Ross Trophies for leading scorer in a season, five Lady Byng Trophies for sportsmanship and performance, five Lester B. Pearson Awards, and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP. He led the Edmonton Oilers during a dynasty that saw them capture four Stanley Cups in five years.
Gretzky's jersey number, 99, has been retired by all teams in the NHL. He was voted one of six players to the International Ice Hockey Federation's Centennial All-Star Team in a poll conducted by a group of 56 experts from 16 countries. Upon his retirement in 1999, the Hockey Hall of Fame and the NHL waived the customary waiting period for enshrinement and Gretzky was voted in unanimously.
Gretzky has two rookie cards that are virtually identical: 1979-80 Topps Hockey and 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. Because he is such a celebrated athlete, Gretzky also has a couple of other pieces of early ephemera that are highly sought after. His over-sized 1977-78 Sportscasters card is part of a massive multi-sport series that covered sports from all over the world. Tough to find in good condition because they were often pinned to walls, Gretzky's 1979-80 Oilers Postcard features an in-action "Great One" on a black and white photo.
Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards
One of the most iconic hockey cards ever produced, Gretzky's most important rookie card is his 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. The easily damaged blue borders and notoriously low tech cutting methods used by the company make this an extremely condition-sensitive card. Versions that are legitimately high-grade grab premiums. Over the years, this card has been counterfeited, which might make cards graded by major grading companies an option to consider for added piece of mind.
The 1979-80 Topps Hockey Gretzky rookie features the exact same design and number as its OPC cousin. The biggest difference can be found on card backs where the text is just in English on the Topps card and both English and French on the OPC version. As is usually the case when there are both Topps and O-Pee-Chee versions of a hockey card, the Topps card is valued the lesser of the two. However, when you're looking at a hockey card of this stature, Gretzky's Topps rookie is still very much in demand.
Learn more about Wayne Gretzky cards and collectibles with these in-depth guides: