December 10th, 2023 Holiday Auction (#61)
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This lot is closed. Bidding ended on 12/11/2023.
Well before he became the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and points leader, Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky (aka “The Great One”) was just a young skater and hockey player from Brantford, Ontario, Canada. As he continued to finesse his game, however, he blossomed into Canada’s most sought-after Minor League hockey players. By the age of 10 he scored an astonishing 378 goals and 139 assists in just one season with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. His prolific scoring attracted media attention well beyond his hometown of Brantford. Featured here is a hand-written letter Gretzky penned when he was 16 years old to friends of the Gretzkys (the Cornish Family) in Rexdale, Ontario, Canada. The letter describes the intensity of his time spent practicing and competing in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). His very legible script writing in blue ink is on full display on both sides of a 3 hole lined loose leaf piece of paper. The second paragraph reads: “We have been on the ice twice a day for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. The fans up here are just super. My right winger played on the Western all-stars in Major ‘A’ last year against the Russian juniors.” The next sentence he wrote is quite telling: “They have decided to let me wear number 99.” He ends the letter by writing “Sincerely Yours/Wayne.” In our opinion, the signature rates a 9. The letter is part of a larger, double-sided framed and matted montage that includes the actual stamped envelope Gretzky used to mail the letter; a signed and inscribed black-and-white photo – “To the Cornish’s/Yours Always/Wayne Gretzky” – showing him competing for the Soo Greyhounds (wearing No. 14); and a smaller color photo of Gretzky playing for the Edmonton Oilers. The flipside of the montage reveals: the letter’s closing paragraph; the reverse side of the envelope; a copy of a doodle drawn by Gretzky; and a black-and-white pic of “The Great One” at 17 starting his professional hockey career at practice with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA. The overall framed piece measures 32” wide by 17” high. It’s interesting to note that Gretzky’s uniform number evolution to his famous No. 99 really started with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL. Apparently early in his tenure with the team, Gretzky, wearing No. 14, requested a number change to his coach, Murray “Muzz” MacPherson. He wanted No. 9 (which he wore in previous leagues as a tribute to his idol, Gordie Howe), but that number was already taken. He contemplated the No. 16, but that was spoken for as well. As MacPherson grew more and more impatient listening to Gretzky rattle off numbers, the coach finally blurted out: “Jesus Christ! Why don’t you just wear two nines?” And that’s how The Great One’s trademark No. 99 came to be. In the end, he’d wind up beating his idol in every scoring category. Accompanied by a Letter of Provenance from the Cornish Family, as well as a full JSA LOA.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,000
Price Realized: $8,098
Number Bids:21
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