Mario Lemieux Rookie Cards
The 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee (and Topps) Mario Lemieux are the cards that most hobbyists think of as the Mario Lemieux rookie, but there is more to the story. The #9 solo card wasn’t his only card in these sets and there were other Lemieux in 1985 and one card that pre-dates all other Lemieux rookies by 2 years! I’ll talk about all of these in this post.
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Card #9
The 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux (card #9) is one of the most valuable hockey cards of the 1980s and for good reason. Lemieux is regarded as one of the best hockey players to ever grace the ice. Despite his large size (6′ 3″), he was an extremely fast skater who could beat defensemen with his speed and also had the technical skills to beat them with dekes and fakes. His per-game averages for assists and points are historic as are his lifetime totals. He was plagued with injuries throughout his career, never playing a complete season, and that cost him even a higher spot on the lifetime totals list.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame immediately upon his retirement when the typical three-year waiting period was waived. However, he returned to the ice for several more seasons making him one of the few players (along with Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) who played as an inducted Hall of Famer. The rookie card of any player with these accomplishments would be valuable and collectible, but other factors make the Mario Lemieux rookie even more sought after.
- Comparison to Gretzky: There is no doubt that Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time. He is so highly regarded that it adds credibility to the careers of the few players whose accomplishments aren’t dwarfed by those of “The Great One.” This plays to Lemieux’s favor because he finished his career second only to Gretzky in Points Per Game and Assists Per Game.
- O-Pee-Chee Cutting Issues: There are two versions of this card that are very similar: the O-Pee-Chee version and the Topps version. The O-Pee-Chee version of the card is plagued with cutting issues that often left the side of the card jagged instead of smoothly cut like the Topps version. It’s much easier to find high-grade Topps cards, which makes high-grade O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux rookies more rare and valuable.
- Penguins Owner: Home Hall of Fame players fade into the background after their careers are over while others manage to stay in the spotlight. Mario Lemieux took an ownership role with the Penguins while he was still playing and became the team owner after his career was over. Remaining in the public eye long after his career was over helped Lemieux not to be forgotten by collectors.
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Set Details
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Hockey set was smaller than what OPC had been releasing during this era. It only has 264 cards instead of the typical 396 that was included in OPC sets for the decade before this set. The cards measure 2 1/2″ x 3 1/3″ (standard size) and are anchored by the Mario Lemieux rookie card #9, which accounts for a large portion of the set’s value. There are not a lot of other key rookie cards in this set, but it does have rookies of Hall of Famer Al, MacInnis, All-Star Al Iafrate, and Thomas Sandström who was named to the 1984-85 All-Rookie Team with Lemieux.
- Year: 1985
- Manufacturer: O-Pee-Chee
- Number of Cards: 264
- Card Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)
- 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Subsets
- NHL Leaders – #257-264
The 1985-86 Topps Hockey set only included 165 cards.
1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie Card #9 Details
- Card no: #9 of 264
- Name on Card: Mario Lemieux
- Height: 6′ 4″
- Born: 10/05/65, Montreal Quebec
- Home: Montreal Quebec
- Weight: 200
- Last Amateur Club: Laval Voisins (1983-84)
- Shoots: Right
- Acquired: 1st Round Choice (1st overall) 1984 Draft
Front of the card
The 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie Card #9 has a vertical layout with a white border. The layout is rather simple with the biggest design element being where the border curves into the photo to in the upper right corner to allow enough room for the Pittsburgh Penguins logo. The photo is an in-game shot of Lemieux skating with a serious look on his face. Mario Lemieux’s name and his position (C for center) are at the bottom of the card just below the photo on a yellow stripe.
Note: There is a Topps version of this card that looks identical on the front.
Shop for a 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie card #9 on eBay (affiliate link), because this card (along with the Topps version) is the most recognized version of his rookie card.
Back of the card
The back of the 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie Card #9 is mostly red printed on light color cardstock. The card number and Mario Lemieux’s name are printed at the top of the card in blue ink. Below that is Lemieux’s size, birthdate, home, the most recent amateur team, and how he was acquired by the Penguins. The left side of the bottom half of the card has the NHLPA, NHL, and O-Pee-Chee logo. His stats from his rookie year and a blurb (written in both English and French) are on the right side.
The Topps version of his card is nearly identical but printed on darker gray cardstock. This US version of the card has the Topps logo instead of the O-Pee-Chee logo and only has the blurb in English.
Mario converted a Boston mistake into his 1st NHL goal, during his 1st shift on the ice, 10-11-84. He netted an overtime goal vs Winnipeg, 11-14-84. Scored a penalty shot vs Quebec, 12-29-84.1985 Topps Mario Lemieux Rookie card #9
Mario Lemieux 1985 O-Pee-Chee (#9) Rookie Card Value
The ’85 OPC Mario Lemieux rookie card is one of the most valuable hockey cards made in the 1980s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 10/27/2021. It shows prices for the Mario Lemieux rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie card #9.
Other Relevant Mario Lemieux Cards
The front of the 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie Card #9 is the primary Mario Lemieux rookie card, but several other cards are reasonably considered to be Mario Lemieux rookies. Let’s take a look at some of these early Mario Lemieux cards:
1983 Canadian National Juniors Mario Lemieux
The 1983 Canadian National Juniors Mario Lemieux is an incredible card of a 17-year-old Lemieux that predates his OPC rookie by 2 years. This set of postcard-sized cards (5″ x 7 1/4″) was loaded with future NHL players including eventual Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman. There are 21 cards in the set, 19 of which are player cars.
Shop for a 1983 Canadian National Juniors Mario Lemieux on eBay (affiliate link), because this one features a 17-year-old Lemieux.
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Box Bottom Mario Lemieux Card #I
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee hockey wax packs came in a box that had cards on the bottom that could be cut out by hand. One of the sixteen players featured happened to be Mario Lemieux. The back of the card is the same as the regular O-Pee-Chee card except instead of the number 9 it is the letter “I”.
There is also a Topps version of this card that seems to be rarer than the O-Pee-Chee version.
Shop for a 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Box Bottom Mario Lemieux on eBay (affiliate link), because it is rare.
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Sticker Mario Lemieux #97
In 1985 O-Pee-Chee issued packs of stickers that were smaller than cards and intended to go into a specific place in a sticker album that was sold separately. There is also a leader’s sticker that features Mario Lemieux and Daune Sutter (#199/#72).
Shop for a 1985 O=Pee=Chee Mario Lemieux Sticker #97 on eBay (affiliate link)
1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Rookie Scoring Leaders Mario Lemieux #262
The 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee card #9 isn’t the only Mario Lemieux rookie card in the set. Mario Lemieux also has a “leader card” in the set’s only subset, because he led all NHL rookies in scoring. This card is less expensive than the #9 card, but if you look at the combined population (OPC and Topps) it’s rarer because there is not a Topps version of the card.
Mario Lemieux’s Legacy
Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest hockey players in NFL history. He was incredibly fast and agile for a player of his size. Nicknamed “The Marvelous One” and “Super Mario”, he ranks as a top 10 player even though he never played a complete season due to injuries. His per-game averages for assists and scoring are second only to Wayne Gretzky in NHL history. During his career, he was the scoring leader and NHL MVP on multiple occasions. After his playing career, he became the owner of the team he played for – the Pittsburgh Penguins. Here are some of Mario Lemieux’s career accomplishments:
- 3 time Goals leader (1987-88, 1988-89, 1995-96)
- 3 time Assists leader (1988-89, 1995-96, 1996-97)
- 6 time Points leader
- 4 time Hat tricks leader (1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89, 1995-96)
- All-Rookie Team (1984-85)
- 9 time All-StarCalder Memorial Trophy (1984-85)
- 2 time Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1990-91, 1991-92)
- 6 time Art Ross Trophy winner (1987-88, 1988-89, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1995-96, 1996-97)
- 3 time Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1987-88, 1992-93, 1995-96)
- Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner (1992-93)
- 4 time Ted Lindsay Award Winner (1985-86, 1987-88, 1992-93, 1995-96)
- 2 time Stanley Cup Winner (1991, 1992)
- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997
Get Your Mario Lemieux Rookie
Do you want to own a 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux Rookie (#9)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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All About Mario Lemieux Rookies Infographic
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