Born in Ontario, Gretzky learned to skate on ice at the age of two years and ten months. He also participated in early hockey games with older boys and early demonstrated his skill and his intelligence of the game.
His vocation is assured: he will become a professional. At that time the World Hockey Association (WHA) is a competitor to the NHL. Unlike the NHL, the WHA does not require a minimum age for its players. Gretzky signed in June 1978 a first contract with a WHA club, the Indianapolis Racers. This club close to bankruptcy transfers the young player to the Edmonton Oilers. A ten-year contract is signed in January 1979.
Gretzky meets all his promises as an outstanding player in the 1978-1979 season which is the latest of the WHA. The Oilers are then admitted to the NHL, enabling him to become a NHL professional before reaching the legal age required by this league.
Editors of sports cards are willing to highlight future stars. The market leader for ice hockey cards is a coordinated operation between two industrialists of the gum: the American Topps publishes cards with an English back and the Canadian O-Pee-Chee the same cards with a bilingual back.
The card number 18 prepared for the 1979-1980 season is the first to show Wayne Gretzky, with the sporting records of his first professional year. It announces Wayne as the best professional prospect since Guy Lafleur. It is not rare but only one O-Pee-Chee copy has been graded GEM MT10 by PSA, meaning a perfect condition of color printing, centering and cutting, without any defect.
The perfect card honoring the rookie year of the most impeccable ice hockey player was sold for $ 94K including premium by SCP Auctions on May 1, 2011. The enthusiasm of cartophiles for various sports is growing. It is now estimated $ 400K for sale by Goldin in Atlantic City on August 4, lot 25.
SOLD for $ 465K including premium