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    The Great One's greatest gamer!

    1979-80 Wayne Gretzky Game Worn Edmonton Oilers Rookie Jersey-Photo Matched to His First NHL Home Game and Others! Ordinarily, you'd have to be dead, or at least dying, to get that kind of treatment. But Wayne Gretzky was still a young man in perfect health when he was bestowed with an honor not offered since Roberto Clemente, and Lou Gehrig before him, sent straight to the Hall of Fame upon retirement without the requisite five year waiting period. And while number four and number twenty-one were retired from the Yankees and Pirates wardrobes respectively to honor the fallen ballplayers, Wayne Gretzky's famous double-nines were declared off-limits for the entirety of the National Hockey League in perpetuity, a distinction previously afforded only to the great Jackie Robinson in the entirety of the four major professional sports.

    So while ownership of a number "99" jersey within the modern NHL is an impossibility, the odds increase only minimally for those battling within the modern sports collectibles market. The man whose career scoring total establishes him as the greatest offensive weapon in the history of the sport has played a mean defense when it comes to his game used gear, creating the widest chasm between supply and demand of any star athlete of the past three decades. Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, Derek Jeter--he's got them all beat. For most jersey collectors, Gretzky will remain nothing more than a dream.

    But even the most fanciful of dreamers have never dreamed this big.

    Heritage Auctions is proud and privileged to present to the collecting community what is arguably the most significant Wayne Gretzky game worn jersey that exists, thus the most significant garment to derive from the sport of hockey, full stop. It was worn by the eighteen-year old prodigy in his very first regular season game in Edmonton, a game that saw his career points total expanded to two of an eventual 2,857 in his NHL career.

    As the old saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that evidence comes in its most undeniable format, ironclad MeiGray matches to photography from the October 13, 1979 visit from the Detroit Red Wings, Gretzky's second NHL contest after opening the season three days earlier in Chicago. It's highly likely that Gretzky was wearing this jersey the following evening when he netted his first NHL goal, though no definitive photo matches have yet been located. Further MeiGray validated matches are made to photography from December 16th vs. the Winnipeg Jets and December 26th vs. the Colorado Rockies. Each of these matches will be available for viewing at our online listing.

    By the time that debut NHL season was complete, The Great One stood atop the standings with 137 points, the first of eight consecutive scoring titles, and eleven for his legendary career. He'd claim his first of nine Hart Memorial Trophies as the Most Valuable Player of the National Hockey League, and first of five Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for sportsmanship. Certainly it could be considered the greatest rookie season of any of the four major sports leagues.

    The experts believe that Gretzky wore just two home jerseys during his debut season, a confidence based upon photographic evidence and the extraordinary game wear apparent. Seven stitched team repairs speckle the left sleeve, with dozens of stick marks, board burns and a scattering of unrepaired holes. Thirteen repairs appear on the right sleeve, along with a similar array of various bruises and fabric runs. The original numbers have been removed and reapplied to the garment, a team-instituted alteration required by the shrinking of these first-year Maska jerseys that resulted in unsightly puckering of the tackle twill identifiers. You'll see this on most Oilers gamers of this vintage, as well as Boston Bruins jerseys from the 1970's. It is important to stress that these are the original digits as worn by Gretzky. Original "Edmonton 1904-79" patches appear at each shoulder.

    The only non-original attribute is the nameplate, which was removed to be reaffixed to a new jersey midseason. Long-serving Oilers employee and noted collector Rick "The Stick" Elaschuk obtained the jersey without the nameplate in 1980 and approached the Oilers' seamstress for a replacement. It is nearly identical to the original, and the alteration must be forgiven as inherent to team policy.

    Heritage Auctions shocked the collecting world in December 2020 when a PSA Gem Mint 10 example of Gretzky's rookie card commanded a winning bid of $1.29 million, the highest price ever paid for a hockey trading card. With the eyes of the Gretzky collecting community locked firmly upon our website, we expect the battle for ownership of this singularly significant jersey to be a fierce one when Platinum Night arrives. LOA (with photo matches) from MeiGray. LOA from Classic/Mark Juteau. LOA from Heritage Auctions.



    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2021
    27th-28th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 7,202

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    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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