Tuesday, August 9, 2016

On This Day 28 Years Ago....

The greatest player ever to play hockey was traded and eventually one of the most iconic non-rookie cards from the 80's was born.

For those who aren't in the know, Wayne Gretzky who was smashing just about every NHL offensive record was traded to the LA Kings for a number of players and draft picks and $25 million dollars. The key piece other than the money was Jimmy Carson who in all fairness was a fledgling superstar. Jimmy was the second overall pick in the 1986 and already had a 55 goal season in just his second year in the NHL. Alas poor Jimmy made the mistake of demanding a trade out of Edmonton after putting up great numbers in his first year with the club and his career was never the same after that.

Wayne on the other hand excelled in LA and made stars into superstars.

The above card is often known as the Gretzky sweater card in the 88-89 Topps set. What is most interesting about this card to me is it's place in history and it's place among collectors. Once upon a time, the 88-89 OPC and Topps sets were heavily coveted during the collecting explosion of the early 90's, I remember the Hull Topps rookie trading for about 50 dollars and the OPC pushing 150 dollars. However, thanks to the bubble bursting and the internet, many prices of 80's cards have dropped steadily over the past 20 years instead of increasing in value like so many envisioned and hoped for. What I find very cool is the value of this particular card hasn't changed and is actually the highest listed card in the 88-89 Topps set ($20 dollars). It's more valuable than a Brett Hull rookie, Brendan Shanahan rookie or even a Joe Nieuwendyk rookie. Wayne Gretzky's 9th year card is more valuable than each of those three Hall of Famer's rookie cards.

Here is the back side of the card.

What is also impressive is the Gretzky Sweater card is considered even more valuable than it's OPC counterpart.

 See anything missing on this card? Compare the two and look by the push pin!

OPC decided to run with a different photo than the Topps card and went with a posed photo of Wayne wearing his Kings jersey and forever changed the 88-89 release. Collectors appreciate Wayne in uniform but it seems that the Topps card from the news conference trumps this one and it's pretty much the only case in the 80's where a Topps card is more valuable than it's OPC counterpart (with the exception of the 89-90 sets where OPC was over produced). While I like the above card, the Topps card just seems so much more interesting and magical. It is almost a better representation of the most shocking trade I have ever experienced in my life.

 Here is the backside of the OPC card.

So where were you when the trade happened? Did you collect or try to collect these cards? Personally I remember the trade well and I grew to really like the Oilers during the 87-88 season because after the Devils got bounced I cheered for the Oilers to bounce the Bruins which they were able to do and while they would win again in 1990, the Dynasty was over and things were never the same again.

I have owned the Topps card pictured here since the early/mid 90's when I bought the whole set for 60 dollars which seems silly since they can be had for much less now but the years of enjoyment have been worth it! The OPC version is apart of my OPC set which I bought a couple years ago because I have a pretty big sentimental attachment to the set as a whole which I will hopefully share some day in another post.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and here's hoping we never see a trade like this again.....ever!


  1. I was 5 years old so I can't honestly say I was even aware of it. Just a year or so later though I was playing hockey non-stop and began collecting cards and recall the 88-89 Topps Gretzky so well. I've got two copies today, one raw one PSA 9.

    1. I hear you, a couple years difference in age matters greatly when you are 5 vs 8. I'm very jealous of that PSA 9, it must be a beauty!