Wayne Gretzky Hockey Cards: 21 Of His All-Time Best
Wayne Gretzky hockey cards are easily some of the most expensive and most sought after in the entire hobby.
"The Great One", "Number 99", or simply "Gretzky".
No matter what you know him as, you know him.
Hockey's biggest name comes with a whole lot of story, one that started in the humble town of Brantford, Ontario.
What began as backyard fun would turn into some of the best hockey playing this world has ever seen.
After an amazing career, his status as the all-time greatest hockey player is firmly cemented in history.
And hockey card collectors go crazy for his cards.
In this guide I go over twenty-one of his most desirable and sought after cards that any collector should consider.
1977 – 79 Sportscaster Wayne Gretzky Italy #77-10
The card may not be as pretty as it’s O-Pee-Chee and Topps cousins from the same era, but what it lacks in fancy borders it makes up for in rarity. This card is from an Italian set which makes it a more unique way to start your collection of Number 99. The rookie card marks the start of Gretzky’s career, when he joined the scene as a part of the Indianapolis Racers. Soon after, he would be taken in by Edmonton, a move that would prove to be legendary.
1979 O-Pee-Chee #18 Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card
If you’re looking to own his 1979 O-Pee-Chee rookie card, you better be ready to spend some serious money. Hockey’s greatest player commemorated by the Canadian hockey card company makes for a genuine slice of real history. Mint condition OPC Gretzky rookies typically sell around the $30,000 range. It’s the picky blue border which is prone to chipping that has driven mint cards up so high. That and the cardboard stock isn’t the highest quality either. It’s arguably the most iconic of all hockey cards and rests high atop many collectors’ want lists.
1979 Oilers Postcards
While not quite as valuable as the OPC card from ‘79, the Oilers Postcards specimen features an excellent shot of the young Gretzky. He’s fresh-faced with a goofy grin, a true young pup out on the ice. This card also has his early signature right on the bottom right corner, a nice touch for any collector. Thankfully, you can add this one to your collection for less than $1000, so it’s not quite as painful to your bank account as other pieces of Gretzky memorabilia. Along with Mark Messier's card, this is one of the keys to the 23-card team issue.
1979 Topps #18 Gretzky Rookie Card
The Topps version of Gretzky’s rookie card is almost exactly the same as his OPC rookie but its cardstock and print quality are higher. Finding one in mint condition is therefore slightly easier but will still set you back around $6,000. That’s about five times less than its OPC counterpart in the same condition. Centering is also a tough challenge for this card.
1980 O-Pee-Chee #250
Things get a bit more colorful as we get into the 1980s sets. The #250 Gretzky card has green, orange, yellow and blue in its border, and features an action shot of Wayne on the ice. These cards are more attainable, ranging from $50 up to $2700. This season was a big one for Gretzky, landing him the MVP Hart Memorial Trophy. It was just the beginning of a long chain of honors that make Wayne the most well-known hockey player of all time.
1980 Topps #250
No surprise, the Topps #250 is practically the same card as the OPC version. What makes them even harder to distinguish is the fact that this set doesn’t feature a company logo! The back of this card quotes Gretzky as having incredible instincts and a fine athletic ability, both of which would help him throughout his storied career. One of the most noticeable features of the card is the coating that covers his name in the bottom right corner. To see player names, collectors had to scratch off the coating to reveal them. However, you’ll still see cards from this set with the original coating.
1981 O-Pee-Chee #106
Gretzky’s second season on the Oilers was a smasher. He stole the crown for two different records, one for assists and one for points in a single season. The Great One even managed to get 5 assists during a game against The Canadiens! The card that commemorates this impressive feat can go for up to $2500 if it’s in mint condition. Don’t worry though, you can add a decent card to your collection for under $50. The O-Pee-Chee name is also called out in the upper left corner which makes it very easy to distinguish from the Topps version.
1981 Oilers Red Rooster #99 Long Hair
If you come across the version of the ‘81 Oilers Red Rooster card where Gretzky looks more like a rockstar than a hockey player, consider yourself lucky! Only about 1000 of the 7000 that were printed made it to the public. It seems Wayne didn’t fancy his unruly locks, and wanted the replacement card featuring his clean cut hair-do to reach the masses instead. Unfortunately for him, this has made the long-haired version both more valuable and more memorable.
1981 Oilers West Edmonton Mall
Gretzky’s ‘81 West Edmonton Mall card is on the plain side, featuring a black and white photo and a blank back. Looks aren’t everything though, as this rare collectors item easily goes for $1300 or more! These cards are very condition sensitive as the paper stock on which they were printed can be very susceptible to wear.
1981 Topps #16
Gretzky continued his award winning streak, nabbing the Art Ross Trophy for most points won with an astounding 164! All collectors will be happy to know that the Topps Gretzky card for this season is an easy find with an even easier price. The absolute best condition #16s max out in the $200 range, with reasonable quality cards under $30. The back of the card commemorates Gretzky’s season boasting him as the youngest Scoring Champ ever!
1982 O-Pee-Chee #106
This season was an all-time record breaking extravaganza. Gretzky smashed through records left right and center, starting with most goals in one season, with a whopping 92! Next, he took out most points in one season beating the record by 60 points – a total of 212! He also snatched the least games to 50 goals mark from Mike Bossy, getting 50 in only 39 games. You’ll be happy to hear the Wayne’s record breaking season comes with an affordable card, with top quality specimens coming in at $750.
1983 Belleville Bulls #27
If you want to add another oddball Gretzky card to your collection, check out this rare find! The Belleville Bulls Gretzky card features a standard color photo of Wayne on the front, but it’s the back that keeps things interesting. The card is a “Police Laws and Youth” card, and attempts to link Wayne Gretzky with staying in school and safe bicycling habits. For those who’d like this quirky piece of The Great One’s history, you can buy them for around $100.
1983 O-Pee-Chee #29
The ‘83 Gretzky O-Pee-Chee card shows a mid game Wayne ready for action. The year ended in heartbreak for the Oilers, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals only to lose to New York. It was the first year that Gretzky was the captain of the team, and much if not all of their success was due to him. On a side note, Wayne broke his own record for assists during this season with 125! Centering can be a common issue for this card.
1984 O-Pee-Chee #243
Number 99 had his eyes on the prize during the ‘84 season. Once again he lead his team to the Stanley Cup finals, and the Islanders returned as well. The showdown began, but this time Edmonton took the cup! It was a huge win for the team as they hadn’t been able to nab the cup since being founded in 1972. Gretzky liked the taste of winning, and would go on to show the Oilers just how sweet it could be.
1984 Topps #51
The Topps version of the ‘84 card is the more affordable option compared with its O-Pee-Chee twin. These babies sell for under $20 with the best of the best valued at $200. The card itself has both an action and a posed photo with a border that matches the Oilers’ orange and blue perfectly. The back pays homage to Gretzky’s Stanley Cup winning goal against The Islanders.
1985 O-Pee-Chee #120
Wayne led the Oilers through another successful season, heading once again to the Stanley Cup Finals. This time it was Philly that awaited them. The Flyers only managed to win one game of five, while Edmonton bagged four wins. Gretzky was named MVP and was also the top score for the season.
1985 Topps #120
Just like the O-Pee-Chee version, the Topps styled once again in Edmonton’s colors. It showcases an in-game image of Gretzky and features the team logo in the top right corner. Mid quality versions of this card are definitely affordable, but if you’d like the best of the best, be prepared to spend $500 or more! The back of the card is business only, simply stating stats and numbers from Greatzky’s career. You’ll notice that neither the Topps nor the O-Pee-Chee version features the company logo on the front so you’ll have to flip them over to distinguish between the two.
1986 O-Pee-Chee #3
Collectors beware, 1986 is a tough year to find! The whole set was printed in smaller quantities than the rest of the decade. They were released late and packaged differently than previous years. The #3 Gretzky card was on the bottom row for printing, and because of this is almost always flawed. Wayne’s card is features as a key star card along with greats like Ray Bourque, Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux. The O-Pee-Chee logo is easily identified in the upper left corner.
1986 Topps #3
As usual, the Topps version features the same design but has the Topps identifying logo in the upper left corner. The cost of this card isn’t too steep, so it’s an easy grab for The Great One’s fans. Wayne managed to win both the Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies, even though this season wasn’t at the top of his accomplishments.
1987 Hull Olympiques #9
Wayne bought this Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team in ‘85. He brought on Pat burns as the head coach, and the team was quite a success, winning championships in the league. Wayne didn’t hold on the team for too long though, opting to sell in 1992. The card commemorating him as owner of the team is super rare and can be pricey, nearing the $1000 mark.
1989 Semic World Champion Stickers
The Semic World Champion Sticker set was all about players who went to the world championship to represent their country. Pepsi funded the set, and as such got to place an ad on the back of each card. If you ever find one of these suckers, you may want to nab it. They are definitely one of the harder pieces to come by!
Wayne Gretzky Hockey Cards Wrap-Up
From the moment that Wayne started playing on a team, it was obvious that he was beyond gifted with a puck and a stick.
As the decades passed, that raw talent turned into a legacy that is known by anyone who knows anything about hockey. He blew up in the headlines after being acquired by the Edmonton Oilers, entering true super-star status after his unreal performances.
Wayne left behind a legacy that has yet to be matched. The Oilers reached the spot as the highest scoring team thanks to Gretzky’s leadership. He changed the game of hockey, upping the ante for anyone aiming to leave their own mark in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wayne’s NHL career ended on kind of a sad note. His last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins ended in an overtime loss. But even though the Penguins won, all eyes were on Gretzky in the moments after the game. Wayne has only happy memories of that night, remembering the little things that hockey is truly about. No matter your opinion of Gretzky, you can’t disagree that The Great One has become the stuff of legend.
After a full career on the ice, he would retire while a member of the New York Rangers. It’s no surprise that everything Gretzky has ever touched is now a collector’s item.
So how do you commemorate The Great One?
These 21 of the most important Wayne Gretzky hockey cards are a great place to start!