He inspired several generations of defensemen, changed the way the game was played, showed an amazing and unique set of skills to NHL fans– and also provided a lot of value for hockey collectors. Next to Wayne Gretzy, Bobby Orr cards are the most popular in the sport.
He played 657 NHL games and produced 270 goals, 645 assists and 915 points. Orr also led the Bruins to the playoffs eight times, and in 74 playoff games had 26 goals and 66 assists. Another impressive number from Orr’s career is from the +/- category. He never had a season when he was in the negative, and his career number is +597.
Orr had a brilliant career but finished his hockey career early due to knee problems, a fact which has left many to wonder “what if” he’d been healthy his entire career and played a few more seasons.
Here’s a look at Orr’s cardboard career.
Bobby Orr Rookie Card
To some collectors, it doesn’t get bigger than the 1966-67 Orr rookie card. That season he had 13 goals and 28 assists, was the NHL’s Rookie of the Year and was named a Second Team All-Star in the end of season awards. The ’66-67 set has a look that separates it from all other NHL sets. The ’66-67 Topps cards have a horizontal design, with a close-up of the player as part of a scene from a game on a television, and has a wood grain border too. They’re very similar to Topps’ 1966 football issue.
Card #35 in 1966-67 Topps, the Orr rookie is extremely valuable in high-grade because of the border’s propensity to show even the smallest touches of wear. PSA has never graded an Orr at a perfect 10. Clearly, high-end examples of this very popular card are difficult to come by.
Orr has two other cards in the set, #118 (Calder Trophy) and #128 (All-Star).
Topps USA Test Bobby Orr
Even more rare is the 1966-67 Topps USA Test Orr. It is very similar to his actual Topps rookie card but was printed in much smaller numbers, and only had English on the back of the card. The Topps rookie card had writing in both English and French, which was a requirement when it came to selling things in Canada.
How limited the Orr Topps Test card is can be seen in the PSA population report. While 486 examples of his rookie card have been graded, only 74 of the Orr Topps Test card have made it to the grading company. The highest grade for a Topps Test Orr from PSA is 8.5, only one card has reached that level of grading. Eight others have been graded at 8.
Other Early Career Cards
Orr is card #2 in both the OPC and Topps sets that were issued in the 1968-69 season. The Topps is valued at about $200 in a NM 7 grade while the OPC is roughly double that. The cards feature an action pose and shows the young star with a big smile.
He also has two additional cards in 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee, #200 (All-Star) and #214 (Norris Trophy). There is also a fun insert to collect, his 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee Puck Stickers.
Orr collectors can also try to track down other similar items from his early career. The 1968-69 Shirriff Coins are small, plastic disks. Orr is #5 in the set.
There are two Orr cards from 1967-68 Post Cereal. His 1967-68 General Mills card shows Orr standing in his uniform with a blue background. A more difficult chase would be to find Orr’s first card, 1964-65 Oshawa Generals Team Issue #1. While everyone, including the Bruins who signed Orr to play for the Oshawa team, knew that Orr as a young teenager was a future star, few knew how great he would be and the Oshawa Team Issue set of 15 cards is a rarity today.
Collectors who want one of every Orr card, for the Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets, from his playing career will need to carefully view the checklists as he did so much on the rink that he always had several cards in every set. In 1969-70 O-Pee-Chee, along with his usual cards there was also his O-Pee-Chee Stamps and O-Pee-Chee Four-in-One available. As well as appearing on common cards and those in the sets for awards, Orr is on many Team Leader and League Leader cards.
Orr’s oldest and most expensive cards featured posed shots, and collectors who want a bit more excitement on the front of the card can look for his In Action O-Pee-Chee from 1972-73. A very affordable card, #58 shows Orr in front of goal with the goaltender sprawled on the ice and trying to get up. Orr’s fast skating was evident on his 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee #30 and 1973-74 Topps #150 cards. The best action shot on the front of one of Orr’s cards from his playing days is that on his 1975-76 O-Pee-Chee #288 card.
As the 1970s progressed, card production numbers went up and that has kept some of Orr’s later cards at lower prices. He is still often the most expensive card in the set unless a star rookie appeared in the NHL that year. In 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee the Orr card can be lower in price than the Guy LaFleur and Ken Dryden rookie cards while the Darryl Sittler and Bobby Clarke rookies from the previous year’s set can sell for what Orr’s card in the set does.
On June 24, 1976 Orr signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent. The move shocked many hockey fans at the time, but card collectors were also given a chance to have Orr cards with him wearing a different uniform. He was in Chicago for three seasons, but didn’t play a single game in 1977-78 and only managed to play 26 games, scoring 27 points.
Orr’s O-Pee-Chee and Topps cards from 1976-77, #213 in both sets, do show him skating in the unfamiliar uniform of the Blackhawks. He had another card in the set, Topps Glossy Inserts #20. Orr also had cards in the next two NHL seasons, and as 1978-79 was the last time he had an O-Pee-Chee card he just missed out on making the 1979-80 set an even bigger set, as that set includes Gretzky’s rookie card.
Something that shows how revered Orr is by hockey collectors is that the price of his final card produced during his playing career, 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee #300, has a comparable price to Mike Bossy’s rookie card from the same set.
There are collectors who want to spend big to get all his cards due to numbers, and there are those who remember special plays from his career, like Orr single-handedly killing an entire penalty by skating around with the puck so the other team couldn’t get it and also his huge goals in important Stanley Cup games.
Bobby Orr cards are revered by collectors in his native Canada, in the United States and around the world, where his legendary exploits are also well-known.
Below is a list of the most watched Orr cards on eBay right now.