The Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card – Buyer’s and Collector’s Guide

Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Info

The 1958 Topps Jim Brown Rookie Card, #62, is one of the most recognizable cards in all of sports. The card features Jim Brown running in what can be described as a near-Heisman pose. The NFL doesn’t have a single player with the statue of Babe Ruth, but Jim Brown is likely the closest player football has to offer. His career was relatively short, but completely dominant. He led the league in rushing each year he played in the NFL except for 1962. Any rookie football card of a skill-position hall of fame player would be worth a lot, but there are other factors that make the 1958 Topps Jim Brown card even more sought after:

Other Factors:

  • The Great One: There is almost never a consensus among fans on who the all-time greatest player at a given position is. That is also the case with NFL running backs, but Jim Brown is the most popular pick. He held the rushing record for many years, and was the leagues best rusher almost every year he played. This ensures that Jim Brown cards are very popular with collectors to this day.

  • O-Pee-Chee Version takes Center: Jim Brown’s rookie card is from the 1958 Topps set. One unique thing about this set is that the back of the cards had a rub off game. Each card back had a “Football Fun” trivia question. To get the answer, collectors had to rub off a film with the edge of a coin. Many fans did this to the cards, which makes it more difficult to find them in mint condition.

  • The Auction Prices speak for themselves: After Jim Brown retired from football he went on to have a long career as an actor. He starred the Hollywood blockbuster The Dirty Dozen and went on to play the lead role in more that 15 films. HIs first role was in the 1964 movie Rio Conchos and he has acted as recently as 2014. Players who remain in the spotlight after their playing years are over often attract more interest from collectors.

1979 O-Pee-Chee (and Topps) Hockey Set Details

The 1979 O-Pee-Chee hockey set has 396 cards. It is a lot different visually than the sets that preceded it because of it’s border to border color. The sets leading up to it all had a simple design with a white border.

The front of the card is identical between the O-Pee-Chee and Topps, but the backs are different in that the text on the O-Pee-Chee version is bilingual (English and French) in some parts. Player photos in this set are a mix of posed and in-action shots. The set is famous for containing Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card, but it also featured the final cards of the playing careers of Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull.

  • Year: 1979
  • Manufacturer: O-Pee-Chee
  • Number of Cards: 396

Card Details

  • Card no: #18 of 396
  • Name on Wayne Gretzky
  • Position: C “Center”
  • Team: Edmonton Oilers
  • Height: 5′ 11″
  • Weight: 165
  • Shoots: Left
  • 1st Pro Season: 1978-79
  • Acquired: Purchased from Ind: 11-2-78
  • Born: 1-26-61, Brantford, Ontario
1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Back
1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Back

Front of the card

Design: The front of the 1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie card (#18) is a horizontal layout and is easily the most recognizable hockey card ever made. The card features a light blue background with a banner going across the top, down the right side, and making a circle around the Edmonton Oilers logo. The top horizontal section of the banner has the team name “Edmonton Oilers” in black and red text. On this card the banner is white, but the color varies from card to card. Above the banner at the top of the card is the “Wayne Gretzky • C”. The “C” is for his position of center.

The photo on the card is in the shape of a rectangle with rounded borders and a cutout in the lower right corner for the logo. IT has a white boarder with a black line around it. The photo, itself, is of a young Wayne Gretzky skating and looking in an upward direction – probably at a scoreboard. Gretzky’s body is at an angle and he’s waring a red, white and blue Oilers jersey.

1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Front
1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Front

Back of the card

The back of the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card #16 has a unique design for a card of this age. Most of the content of the card fall inside an ice skate graphic that covers most of the card. The card number is in the upper left corner. The top of the skate has Gretzky’s height, weight, rookie year, shooting orientation, how he was acquired, born and home. His statistics for his rookie year com next, followed by a very brief bio. The copyright information falls in between the bottom of the skate and the blade.

The only thing outside of the skate graphic is a cartoon in the upper right corner. It depicts a hockey player trying to control a puck and it reads, “Wayne deputed in WHA at age 17 * Wayne debuta dans l’association  Mondiale à l’âge de 17 ans.”

1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Back
1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie Back

The back of the 1979 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie card (#18) has the same design, but there are minor differences. The font is different in spots and the Topps version of the card doesn’t have any French test. The copyright is different, of course.

1979 Wayne Gretzky Topps Rookie Back
1979 Wayne Gretzky Topps Rookie Back

Wayne is considered the best prospect to turn professional since Guy Lafleur * On considere que Wayne est le mellieur espoir professional depuls Guy Lafleur.

1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee Rookie (#18)

Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card Value

The Wayne Gretzky rookie card is the most valuable hockey cards of the ever made. This chart below is from the popular card grading site (10/05/2021), PSA. It shows prices for the Wayne Gretzky rookie card in various conditions.

1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Price Guide
1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Price Guide

Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1979 Wayne Gretzky rookie card.

Other Relevant Wayne Gretzky Cards

Wayne Gretzky has two cards that are widely accepted as rookie cards. Those are the 1970 O-Pee-Chee and Topps cards. However, there were other cards issued during 1979 that are scarce and sought after by collectors. Here are a few other cards that should be on the radar of collectors interested in Gretzky rookies and early cards:

1977-79 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster Series 77 (#10)

The 1979 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster series 77 card #10 was an oversized card from a multi-sport mail order set. The cards measured 4 3/4″ x 6 1/4″ and there were more than 2,000 different cards in this huge set. Each month 24 cards were sent to subscribers for a fee of less that $2 per month. The cards featured athletes from many sports, but also featured teams, locations, and other sports topics. Cards were distributed via mail for two years, but the Gretzky card was issued in 1979.

1977-79 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster - Front
1977-79 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster – Front
1977-79 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster - Back
1977-79 Wayne Gretzky Sportscaster – Back

1979 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Postcard

In 1979 The Edmonton Oilers issued a team set of postcards. These are standard sized postcards with a glossy photo of the player on the front. Many collectors consider this to be a Wayne Gretzky rookie. They are relatively rare, but not too hard to find. They are not as expensive as his O-Pee-Chee or Topps rookie card. Many of these were written on or discarded, because it is an actual postcard. That makes them harder to find in high-grade condition.

1979 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Postcard - Front
1979 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Postcard – Front

The back of the post card has Gretzky’s biographical information on the left and the Oilers logo on the right. It is mostly black, leaving plenty of room to write a note one.

1979 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Postcard - Back
1979 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky Postcard – Back

1980-81 Wayne Gretzky Topps & O-Pee-Chee #250

The 1980-81 Topps Wayne Gretzky card #250 is almost identical between Topps and O-Pee-Chee, but Topps had to go and make it weird. Both cards have the same photo of Gretzky in action with the tame name at the bottom of the card. Both cards have a hockey puck graphic in the bottom right with the player’s name and position on it. The Topps version of the card added an element to it where the collector has to scratch off the top of the hockey puck to see the players name. This idea, while not a great one, makes unscratched versions of the card more valuable.

The cards also have differences on the back. The O-Pee-Chee version uses a lighter colored card stock and repeats some of the text in the French language.

1980-81 Wayne Gretzky Topps #250
1980-81 Wayne Gretzky Topps #250

1980-81 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee #250
1980-81 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee #250

Wayne Gretzky’s Legacy

Most football historians consider Jim Brown to be the greatest running back in NFL history. He retired when he was only 29 years old after he had just led the league in rushing yards (1,544) and touchdowns (17). Jim Brown only played nine seasons in the NFL, but he lead the league in rushing yards in every season he played but one. At the time of his retirement he was the leading rusher in NFL history, a record he held until it was broken by Walter Payton in 1984. Walter Payton had the advantage of playing mostly 16-game seasons, while Jim Brown set his record playing seasons that only had 12 or 14 games.

Jim Brown walked away from football in 1965 while he was still at the top of his game. It’s very likely that he could have continues playing at a high level for several more years, but his strained relationship with Browns ownership and his budding movie career was enough to convince him to retire. Here are some of Jim Brown’s career accomplishments:

  • 16 time assists leader
  • 11 time points leader
  • 5 time goals leader
  • 3 time hat tricks leader
  • 12 time assists per game leader
  • 11 time points per game leader
  • 15 time All Star
  • 4 time Stanley Cup Winner
  • 5 time Lady Bying Memorial Cup Winner
  • 5 time Ted Lindsay Award Winner
  • 9 time Hart Memorial Trophy Winner
  • 10 time Art Ross Trophy Winner
  • 2 time Con Smythe Trophy Winner
  • Inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1999

Get a Wayne Gretzky Rookie for Your Collection

Do you want to own a 1970 Topps or O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie (#18)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.

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