The Mark Messier Rookie Card and Other Vintage Cards


Mark Messier Rookie Cards

The 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #289 is the card most recognized Mark Messier rookie and one of the most valuable hockey cards of the 1980s. However, there are some other very cool Messier rookies I’ll discuss in this article. One was released before his 1980-81 OPC rookie and one is about a far away from a card as I’m willing to cover on this site. I’ll also discuss a few other very early Messier cards.

1980-81 Topps Mark Messier - The Best Mark Messier Rookie
1980-81 Topps Mark Messier – The Best Mark Messier Rookie

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #289

The 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier card #289 is one of the most sought after and valuable hockey cards made during the 1980s.
If there ever was a living breathing hockey legend, it is Mark Messier. Messier was such a prominent leader, he was the captain of the Oilers, Canucks, and Rangers during his career. Messier won Cups as captain of the Oilers and Rangers; he was the first player to captain championship teams for two franchises. Messier was born just above Edmonton, Alberta, so him bringing 5 Cups to the city was a true hometown hero story.

Messier was known as the “The Messiah”, because he brought the Cup to New York for the first time in over 54 years. His aggression and strength in the center position also gave him the nickname “The Moose”. Messier started his pro hockey career in the WHA, similar to teammate Wayne Gretzky. When the WHA merged into the NHL in 1979 Messier was drafted 48th overall (3rd round) by the Edmonton Oilers. Messier played well into his forties and when he retired, he was the last former WHA player in the NHL, the end of an important era in hockey. The rookie card of any Hall of Fame hockey player is valuable, but there are additional features that make the Messier rookie even more sought after by collectors.

Other Factors:

  • O-Pee-Chee Only – 1980-81O-Pee-Chee set had significantly more cards, at 396, than Topps – which only had 264 cards. Because Mark Messier’s rookie card is #289, there is not a Topps version of the card. Because of this, anyone who wants a Mark Messier rookie card only has one option.

  • 6 Stanley Cup Championships – Mark Messier was a 6-time Stanley Cup Champion, winning 5 in Edmonton and 1 with the New York Rangers. He was the first player in NHL history to captain two different teams and win a Cup on both. Championships matter to collectors even in team sports. For this reason, Messier cards are more popular than they would be if he didn’t win championships.

  • One of Hockey’s Greatest Players: Due to his intense leadership skill both on and off of the ice, the NHL introduced the Mark Messier Leadership Award back in 2007. The Mark Messier Leadership Award is given annually by Mark Messier to the NHL player who best exemplifies the quality of leadership on the ice, and as leaders in the communities of their teams. Having a prestigious award named after him ensures collectors will always know the name Mark Messier.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Set Details

The 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee hockey set consists of 396 cards and has several subsets. The most valuable card in the set is the Mark Messier rookie (#289), but it also has rookie cards for Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (#140) and Mike Gartner (#195), as well as Wayne Gretzky‘s second O-Pee-Chee card. The base cards are vertical in design on the front and usually have an in-action shot of the player.

Topps also issued a nearly identical set, but with a smaller checklist. In this year Topps introduced a gimmick by placing a scratch off material over the players names on the front of the card. The O-Pee-Chee set didn’t follow suit and Topps abandoned the scratch off for future sets.

  • Year: 1980-81
  • Manufacturer: O-Pee-Chee
  • Number of Cards: 396
  • Card size: 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” (standard size)
  • Subsets:
    • Highlights / Record Breakers (#1-5)
    • All-Star (#81-9)
    • Leaguee Leaders (#161-168)
    • Stanley Cup Highlights (#262-264)

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie Card #289 Details

  • Card no: #289
  • Name on Card: Mark Messier
  • Height: 6’ 1”
  • Born: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Weight: 190
  • Last “Amateur” Club: Cincinnati Stingers
  • Shoots: Right

Front of the card

The front of the 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee cards featured a white border, and on this card and green rectangle that came down in a yellow and blue puck. The Oilers name is in white lettering over a red background. The picture features an action shot of Messier taking a faceoff in the Oilers blue jersey during his rookie season. On the top of the puck, it says the players name, in this case Mark Messier, and in the bottom of the puck it says center and centre, the position name in both French and English.

Note: There is no Topps version of this card.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier rookie #289
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier rookie #289 – Front
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for a 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie card #289 on eBay (affiliate link)


Back of the card

Design: The text on the majority of the back of the 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #289 card is green, with mostly yellow and some white backing. In the top left corner is a puck with the card number, 289. It also says Oilers and center/centre again. Below that are all of Mark Messier’s bio facts, and then below that is another fact about Messier’s play style in both English and French. Interestingly this card features Messier’s WHA stats in Cincinnati and Indianapolis as well as his 1979-80 Oilers stats. There is a neat cartoon of the Northlands Coliseum sign covered in snow that takes up all of the right side of the puck, saying where the Oilers play their home games. It says printed by O-Pee-Chee printed in Canada across the bottom.

The top of the card incorrectly stats that Messier shoots “RIGHT.” That makes this card an error card, however O-Pee-Chee never created a corrected version of the card. The error version is the only version that exists.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier rookie #289 - Back
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier rookie #289 – Back

One of the strongest players on Oilers’ squad, he combines that with outstanding speed & agility. His robust style of play makes him a favorite of the Edmonton fans.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie card #289

Mark Messier 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee (#289) Rookie Card Value

The 1980-81 Mark Messier rookie card is one of the most valuable hockey cards of the 1980s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 11/08/2021. It shows prices for the Mark Messier rookie card in various conditions.

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie Auction Prices
1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie Auction Prices

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 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier Rookie card #289.


Other Relevant Mark Messier Cards

Aside from the 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee card mentioned above, Messier has a couple of other collectables issued in 1979 and 1980 (one is definitely not a card), and some other early cards that are worth discussing.

1979-80 Edmonton Oilers Postcard Mark Messier

In 1979 The Edmonton Oilers issued a team set of postcards. These are standard sized postcards with a glossy photo of the player on the front. Many collectors consider this to be a Mark Messier rookie. They are relatively rare, but not too hard to find. Many of these were written on or discarded, because it is an actual postcard. That makes them harder to find in high-grade condition. The back of the post card has Gretzky’s biographical information on the left and the Oilers logo on the right. It is mostly black, leaving plenty of room to write a note on.

1979-80 Edmonton Oilers Mark Messier Postcard
1979-80 Edmonton Oilers Mark Messier Postcard
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for a 1979-80 Edmonton Oilers Mark Messier on eBay (affiliate link)


1980-81 Pepsi-Cola Bottle Caps – Mark Messier

In 1980 Pepsi-Cola made collectable hockey bottle caps had the head and name of NHL players on the inside of the cap. Pepsi made 20-cap team sets for each of the NHL’s Canadian franchises. These bottle caps are about as oddball as it gets, but since it was released the same years as Messier’s first major-release rookie card collectors need to know they are out there.

1980-81 Pepsi Hockey Cap Mark Messier - Bottom
1980-81 Pepsi Hockey Cap Mark Messier – Bottom
1980-81 Pepsi Hockey Cap Mark Messier - Top
1980-81 Pepsi Hockey Cap Mark Messier – Top
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for a 1980-81 Pepsi Bottle Cap Mark Messier on eBay (affiliate link)


1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #118

The 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #118 is his second major-release OPC card. It’s definitely not a rookie, but it is a very affordable early Mark Messier card. It features a cool photo of a young Messier wearing early 80s version of the Oilers jersey.

1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #118
1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier #118
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Shop for a 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier on eBay (affiliate link)


1981-82 Red Rooster Mark Messier #11

The 1981-82 Red Rooster Mark Messier #11 is not a rookie, but it’s a great early Messier card because of the close up portrait. These cards were distributed in prorated sheets at Red Rooster Food Stores and by police officers. The set is famous for a first printing card of Wayne Gretzky with long curly hair. It was replaced by new photo of Gretzky with short hair in subsequent printings, which makes the long-hair Gretzky card very rare.

1981-82 Red Rooster Mark Messier #11
1981-82 Red Rooster Mark Messier #11
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Shop for a 1967-68 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier All Star on eBay (affiliate link)


Mark Messier’s Legacy

Messier played 24 seasons in the NHL, splitting that time between the Rangers, Oilers, and Canucks. He played the majority of his time in Edmonton but had two stints for the Rangers and retired as a Ranger in 2004. In his final season he scored 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in 76 games. He played 1,756 regular season games in his career, scoring 694 goals, 1,193 assists for 1,887 points. In the post season he played 236 games, had 109 goals, 186 assists for 295 points

NHL honored one Messier with the introduction of the Mark Messier Leadership Trophy in 2007. Since then, Messier has presented the trophy himself to the winning player every season. Messier also serves on the board of the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s benefit fund as Vice President of Community Affairs. Messier has remained very active with the New York Rangers and in the city of New York, participating in the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni game for the Rangers. He has also been helping grow the game of hockey, helping in the development and construction of Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx.

  • 5 time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 15 NHL All-Star
  • 2 time Hart Memorial Trophy Winner (1989-90, 1991-92)
  • 2 time Ted Lindsay Award (1989-90, 1991-92)
  • 3 Gold Medals at the Canada Cup
  • Silver Medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey
  • Silver Medal at the 1989 World Championships in Sweden

Get Your Mark Messier Rookie

Do you want to own a 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee Mark Messier rookie (#289)? 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.

Want Mark Messier Merch?

Amazon.com is the world largest ecommerce market place. They have Mark Messier books, memorabilia, and so much more. See what you can find today.

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All About Mark Messier Rookies Infographic

Mark Messier Rookie Cards Infographic
Mark Messier Rookie Cards Infographic

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