Wayne Gretzky Indianapolis Racers “pre-RC” from the 1990s
In the early 1990s, a different kind of fake Wayne Gretzky card surfaced. Instead of counterfeiting Gretzky’s 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card, an enterprising crook decided to take things one step further, and make a card of Gretzky as a member of the Indianapolis Racers.
Now, pretty much every hardcore hockey card collector knows that the card is a fake. Gretzky never appeared in any World Hockey Association trading card sets. Nor did the Indianapolis Racers ever release a team set. But if you have not seen this red-bordered phoney, let me assure you that this card is as fake as a $3 bill…and only worth as much, as it is an unlicensed item. I got this card for $1 in 1991. Many publications at the time warned collectors of this fake.
The front of the card features a black and white photo of Gretzky that has been colorized, much like the old cards from the 1950s. Interestingly, on his left sleeve you can see a bit of his uniform number-but it is not his familiar 99. Some photos used for press materials have shown Gretzky wearing number 20, though I can’t really tell if that is part of a 2 or a 7.
The back of the card details Gretzky’s contract with millionaire Nelson Scalbania (the Racers’ owner) and his subsequent trade to the Edmonton Oilers. The fine print at the bottom says © National Sports Cards. And while there is a “1” in the upper right corner-implying that this card is part of some set-no other wannabe cards have surfaced from this “set”.
I’m not sure what the counterfeiters’ intentions were. The card looks too “new” to be mistaken for something that is old and therefore valuable. Perhaps they figured they could print a million of these cards and sell them for $3 each to unwitting hockey card “investors”.
While I don’t advocate buying fake stuff, this card is just odd enough to shell out a few bucks for. I mean, how many times do you see a picture of Gretzky as a Racer? ■