The Notoriously Difficult High-Grade 1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic Rookie Card

I first wrote about Joe Sakic’s Topps rookie card in an article about 6 Pricey Junk Era PSA 10 Graded Cards. At the time, I shared that a 1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic rookie card in PSA 10 was just under $1000. I’ve wanted to revisit the card in more detail since a few sales have exceeded the $1k price point since I wrote the original junk era article in July 2020. First, I’ll give some basics about Joe Sakic, the player, the 1989 Topps set, and finally the population and sales prices for graded copies of Sakic’s 1989 Topps #113 rookie card.

1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic – Front
1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic – Reverse

Today, hockey journalists consider Sakic the best player drafted in the 1987 class, and he slipped to 15th overall to the Quebec Nordiques. He debuted during the 1988-89 season and played his entire 21-year career with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise. Over his career, he scored 625 goals and had 1016 assists. He was known for elevating his team’s play. He won two Stanley Cup titles, was the MVP of the NHL in 2001, and played in 13 All-Star Games. He also led Canada to a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. Combining his accolades, it should be no surprise that his rookie card is popular.

1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic – PSA 10

The 1989 Topps hockey set wasn’t as overproduced as many others from the era; BBCE authenticated wax boxes are ~$150, and unopened cases only come to market every few years. 

1989 Topps Hockey Wax Box

But with only 198 cards in the Topps set, you’re bound to get a few of most players in a box, including Sakic. The thing is the bright blue top and bottom border show print defects (and centering issues) in a glaringly obvious way.

So are the packs worth a rip? On a forum, back in 2013, a collector wrote that they had busted close to a case of them and had to buy a PSA 9 copy like anyone else who wanted one. They thought the blue borders and centering issues made a rip a losing proposition. Another collector weighed in, saying they had about 25-30 Sakic rookies that would all grade between PSA 6 and 8 straight out of the pack and therefore were not worth subbing.

The Sakic is so tough to pull in PSA 10 condition. There were only 1-3 of them in the population report for a very long time; it went to 2 in 2013.

1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic – PSA 10

The print bubble defect makes this such a tough card. And it’s clear that while Topps didn’t print hockey cards numbers similar to baseball at the time, there are still a lot of raw Sakic’s out there. COMC has 12 raw cards, SportLots has 17, and an eBay search for “1989 Topps Sakic 113” yields 161 results (some graded, some raw, some in sets, some boxes, and some OPC results come through, though). The bottom line is the card isn’t THAT rare.

1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic – Print Bubble Defect on Bottom Blue Border

Now let’s look at the card’s PSA population data. There are over 1400 graded copies with 17 PSA 10s, 146 PSA 9s, 13 PSA 8.5s, and 713 PSA 8s. The PSA 10 hit rate is just over 1%!

All the PSA 10s dating back until January 2018 were sold by pwcc_auctions or pwcc_vault, so who knows how accurate they are, but the sales were for $626 in February 2018, $765 in April 2018, $910 in July 2018, $1400 in October 2020, $2551 in Oct 2020, and $2600 in November 2020.

Ultimately, the 1989 Topps #113 Joe Sakic card is important in the modern hobby. Sakic was a bonafide superstar, and the card is incredibly scarce in Gem Mint condition, so you’re going to have to pay up for one. And honestly, no matter how many Sakic’s collectors pull from packs, I don’t think it will significantly impact the price, and I suspect the subsequent sale of a PSA 10 will exceed $2k.

If you’ve ever tried to rip a Sakic rookie from a Topps pack, or are looking to acquire one, let me know your story in the comments or over on Twitter, and happy collecting! 

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