Taking Bobby Orr to SoCal

ANAHEIM (Aug. 24) — As I write this blog from a hotel room two blocks south of Disneyland, I’m still rather incredulous about flying nearly five hours from Toronto to Los Angeles on Tuesday to deliver a small piece of cardboard. An item that may have cost me four dollars in postage to the same California address.

If you follow this corner to any degree, you’ll know that I have chosen to auction off my 1966–67 Topps Bobby Orr rookie card. Not that I’m particularly enthusiastic about relinquishing an important piece of my hockey collection — or breaking up the full set of ’66–67 cards that I purchased at a Toronto memorabilia show in 1988. But, my $180 investment of 28 years ago is worth considerably more today, and vintage hockey cards are rather hot at the moment after a pair of Wayne Gretzky rookie items recently sold for more than $750,000 U.S. — including a $465,000 windfall by the auction company that will handle my Orr card.

I’m not expecting anything even close to that number, but the Orr docket is in terrific shape for a 50–year–old collectible and I’ve been strongly encouraged to have it appraised. Under no circumstance would I forward the card by mail or courier, even though 90 percent of memorabilia is safely maneuvered between parties in such a manner. The Orr card, however, is worthy of an heirloom. Thus the trip here to SoCal and a visit to Professional Sports Authenticator (known as PSA) in nearby Santa Ana — the industry standard for assessing baseball and hockey cards at a valuation of 1 to 10. To indicate the rarity of a 1966–67 Bobby Orr in absolute–mint condition, there are only three–such items in the world right now graded a perfect–10.

Mine has no chance of joining that select group.

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DRIVING SOUTH, TUESDAY AFTERNOON, ON INTERSTATE–405 (THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY) TOWARD SANTA ANA IN ORANGE COUNTY TO PERSONALLY DELIVER MY 1966–67 BOBBY ORR ROOKIE CARD.

Though the corners are sharp and the image is nicely centered, there are slight imperfections to the naked eye. Who knows what PSA could discover under its microscope? Those that are more versed in the trading–card industry — such as my friend, Ken Reid, of Sportsnet — suggest I have an outside shot at an 8. Which would put the card–value at a minimum $30,000 U.S. An 8.5 would lift that amount to $37,000. I’m anticipating a 6 or a 7… and hoping for higher. I suspect (and others agree) the auctioneer would not be interested in anything less, and he has seen a very detailed, close-up view of the card. So, now we wait.

Of course, I had my trusty NIKON with me on the trip here yesterday.

You might enjoy some of these images:

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EASY TRAVEL STARTED WITH AN ON–TIME DEPARTURE (10:07 a.m.) OFF RUNWAY–23 AT PEARSON AIRPORT. ROUGHLY 3½ HOURS INTO THE FLIGHT — AS WE NEARED LAS VEGAS — THE COLORADO RIVER MEANDERED WONDROUSLY BETWEEN DESERT LANDSCAPE.

HOCKEY ON THE STRIP

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WE PASSED JUST SOUTH OF LAS VEGAS, PROVIDING A STUNNING VIEW OF HOTELS ALONG THE STRIP. THE CIRCULAR STRUCTURE IN THE ABOVE PHOTO IS T–MOBILE ARENA — HOME OF THE NHL EXPANSION TEAM TO BEGIN PLAY IN 2017–18. IT STANDS ADJACENT TO THE NEW YORK NEW YORK HOTEL & CASINO AND KITTY–CORNER TO THE MONTE CARLO (BEIGE, Y–SHAPED BUILDING). AT FAR–LEFT IS THE PYRAMID–SHAPED LUXOR HOTEL; THEN THE EXCALIBUR HOTEL & CASINO (WITH COLORED POINTS ON ROOF). THE WHITE STRUCTURE ACROSS FROM THE EXCALIBUR IS THE VENERABLE TROPICANA HOTEL (WHICH OPENED IN 1957). NEXT TO THE TROP, AT FAR–RIGHT IS THE MGM GRAND.

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WIDE SHOT (TOP–LEFT) OF THE LAS VEGAS STRIP AND RUNWAYS AT McCARRAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. THEN A CLOSER VIEW OF THE ARENA; EXCALIBUR AND NEW YORK NEW YORK.

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ON FINAL APPROACH TO L–A–X, THE BUILDINGS OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES.

NEW STADIUM SITE

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JUST BEFORE LANDING ON THE SOUTH RUNWAY OF LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL, WE PASSED OVER THE CITY OF INGLEWOOD. AT TOP IN THIS PHOTO IS THE CIRCULAR L.A. FORUM — HOME OF THE NHL KINGS AND NBA LAKERS FROM 1967 TO 1999. THE CONSTRUCTION SITE IS THE REMNANTS OF THE OLD HOLLYWOOD PARK RACE–TRACK, WHICH OPENED IN JUNE 1938 AND CLOSED IN DECEMBER 2013. IT HAS BEEN DEMOLISHED TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE STADIUM THAT WILL BE HOME TO THE NFL LOS ANGELES RAMS (EXPECTED TO OPEN FOR THE 2019 SEASON). THE RAMS HAVE MOVED BACK TO L.A. FROM ST. LOUIS AND WILL PLAY AT THEIR FORMER GROUND — THE LOS ANGELES COLISEUM — UNTIL THE NEW FACILITY IS READY. COMPARE THE CONSTRUCTION SITE TODAY TO THE PHOTO I SNAPPED, BELOW, OF THE FORUM AND HOLLYWOOD PARK WHILE COVERING THE 2012 STANLEY CUP FINAL.

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THE FORUM, BUILT BY TORONTO BUSINESS–TYCOON JACK KENT COOKE, IS NOW OWNED BY THE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN COMPANY, WHICH FINANCED MOST OF A $50–MILLION RENOVATION IN 2013. THE EXTERIOR “ROMAN RED” HAD BEEN PAINTED BLUE DURING THE PROPRIETORSHIP OF GREAT WESTERN SAVINGS & LOAN, WHICH BOUGHT THE NAMING RIGHTS UPON THE ARRIVAL OF WAYNE GRETZKY FROM EDMONTON IN 1988. THE ORIGINAL COLOR RETURNED FOR THE 2014 RE–OPENING.

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FLYING OVER INTERSTATE–405 (THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY) JUST BEFORE TOUCHING DOWN AT THE AIRLINE MELTING–POT OF LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

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DRIVING ON THE SOUTH–405 TOWARD THE PSA OFFICE. TRAFFIC STOPPED FOR A FEW MOMENTS IN LONG BEACH, WHICH ENABLED A NIFTY VIEW (BELOW) OF THE MOORED GOODYEAR BLIMP.

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OUTSIDE AND ONE BLOCK EAST OF MY HOTEL IS THE HOME OF THE ANAHEIM DUCKS.

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NO ANAHEIM NIGHT IS COMPLETE WITHOUT A FIREWORKS SHOW AT DISNEYLAND — AS VIEWED AROUND 9:30 P.M. TUESDAY FROM MY HOTEL WINDOW.

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EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

3 comments on “Taking Bobby Orr to SoCal

  1. Hi Howard: The company you mention in your article that you traveled to have your card appraised… are they the best in the business for sports card appraisals or are there others? I have several cards as well, and at some point may consider having them appraised. What is your take on that? Thank you.

  2. very happy that you were able to make the trip with “BOBBY ORR!!” Looking forward to hearing about the successful sale of your precious card. It should bring a sizeable sum for you. Best Wishes. L.B and RVB

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