The April Spring Showcase hosted by Heritage Auctions features high-profile cards and collectibles across all major sports - from hockey and baseball to football and basketball. In this edition of Auction Action we preview three lots worth watching as the final bids come through.
Widely considered one of the most sought-after sports cards, the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky Rookie Card combines the greatness of 'The Great One' with extreme rarity.
For historic reference, in the late 1970s, O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian company that produced trading cards, stickers, and other collectibles as an arm of the O-Pee-Chee Gum Company which was founded in 1911. In 1979, they released a set of 396 hockey cards, including a rookie card for Wayne Gretzky, who was then playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA).
At the time, the WHA was a rival league to the National Hockey League (NHL), and Gretzky was already making a name for himself as one of the best players in the league. But few people could have predicted just how dominant he would become in the years to come. In March 1979, the WHA/NHL merger was officially approved and with it, Gretzky became an Edmonton Oiler.
The 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card features a photo of the young star wearing his Oilers uniform, with his name and team logo printed in bold letters at the bottom. The back of the card includes stats from his first season in the WHA, as well as a brief bio and trivia questions. In 2020, Heritage sold a PSA 10 graded copy, one of two known to exist, for $1.29 million and in 2021, a private sale reached $3.75 million. While PSA 9 examples have surpassed $270,000, recent sales have pinned the valuation closer to $150,000 and this particular card has reached six-figures heading into the final days.
On April 13, 1954, baseball legend Hank Aaron made his Major League debut with the Milwaukee Braves, marking the start of one of the most storied careers in baseball history. And now, collectors have the chance to own a piece of that history with a 1954 Hank Aaron Major League debut ticket stub.
This particular ticket stub being offered through Heritage is graded as PSA Authentic, and is one of four with just seven graded higher.
This historic stub features the ticket price of $2.00, and the seat number of section 22, row N, seat 18. While the damaged paper may seem unassuming, its significance cannot be overstated. Hank Aaron went on to have one of the most remarkable careers in baseball history, breaking numerous records and earning a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Aaron's debut game on April 13, 1954, was not his most memorable performance, but it did mark the beginning of his incredible journey. In that game, Aaron went 0-5 at the plate, but he did score a run in the fourth inning after reaching base on a fielder's choice.
Over the course of his career, Aaron would go on to amass 755 home runs, a record that stood for over three decades until it was broken by Barry Bonds in 2007. He was a 25-time All-Star, won three Gold Glove awards, and was named the National League MVP in 1957. Aaron also played in two World Series and was a member of the 1972 Atlanta Braves team that won the National League pennant.
Inside the box are 24 unopened packs of 1976 Topps baseball cards, each containing 18 cards. The 1976 Topps set is notable for featuring rookie cards of several future Hall of Famers, including Dennis Eckersley, Ron Guidry, and Robin Yount, among others.
The 1976 Topps set also features several iconic cards, such as the Hank Aaron "record breaker" card, which commemorates Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record. Other notable cards in the set include the Reggie Jackson "The Greatest" card, the Pete Rose "Record Breaker" card, and the Thurman Munson "Most Valuable Player" card.
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