Wednesday, 20 March 2013

That Time in 1991 When I Got Paul Coffey's RC for FREE

WHO:      A 7 year-old Card Bored Collector
WHAT:    1981-1982 O-PEE-CHEE Paul Coffey's RC
WHERE:   A card show in an empty store front in a strip mall in Scarborough, Ontario.
WHEN:    The summer of 1991
WHY:       Because who didn't collect Hockey cards in 1991?
HOW:       The roll of a dice

In 1991 my family took me to a local card show hosted by small stores and private collectors in the area. There were maybe 20 vendors crammed in an empty store front, in a strip mall next to a grocery store. The doors opened at 9am but I dragged my parents there for 7am because the flyer for the show stated that the first 10 people in line would get a "prize" and there was no chance I was missing out on the chance at a "prize". We were the first one's there, if my memory serves me well we were there before most of the vendors. When they finally open the doors my parents and I were presented with our "prize" a raffle ticket to play a dice rolling game. 

The game was simple you rolled 6 dice and the sum of your roll got you a prize that corresponded with the total you just rolled.  Obviously the bigger prizes were located in the harder to roll numbers and the junk prizes were located right in the middle. I was the first on through the door so I went to the game with my ticket and asked if I could take my roll. The guy took my ticket, handed me a cup with 6 dice in it and wished me luck.

I shook the dice it the cup and rolled them across the table, six 6's. I rolled the highest number you could possibly roll. I was ecstatic. I was no more than 12 steps into the show and I just won a huge card at the time. The guy reluctantly handed me my prize in one of those massively thick screw down cases that looked like the card was embedded in diamond. I remember taking the card and feeling like a king. I remember the guy running the booth offering me 5 roles in exchange for the Coffey RC card and I declined. I was just the owner of a card with a book value in the three digit range and I couldn’t wait to show all my card collecting friends at school and my cousins.

What my parents would tell me later in my life was that the guy running the booth was no more than 18 and he that he was on the verge of tears when I won the Coffey. That card was his main draw and he was hoping the game would offset his costs of hosting the show and help him turn a profit. They also told me that they turned in their door prize tickets because “They felt bad for the kid.”

The Coffey rookie card will always hold a special place in my collection and my heart. Every time I win something be it a free coffee in Tim Horton’s roll-up the rim or a few dollars on a slot machine my family always tells me that I am lucky and use this story as a bench mark. 


  1. Great story... and that poor kid. :)

  2. As an adult I felt awful but when I was a kid that single event made my childhood.

  3. Hey, if he didn't want to lose it, he shouldn't have put it up for collateral. His loss, your gain. That's an awesome card that I still don't have a copy of.

  4. Great card and even greater story! This one is still on my to-get list. Someday...

  5. Dude, that's awesome. It kind of ruined his game, seeing as how you went first, but who cares? Plus, it TOTALLY made it worthwhile to drag your parents there at 7am.

  6. I never win at those. Good on you, though I can feel bad for the kid running it.

    I once traded away a stack of '80-81 and '81-82 cards that I purposely loaded down with Oilers. Wonder how many Coffeys were in that lot? :)

  7. What are the chances of all 6s? If my math is correct, 1 in 46,656... and the first role, a seven year kid, wins it. No wonder the guy was in tears. That had to be his worst nightmare.
    I remember when I was a kid there was a dice game at a flea market at where the top prize was a Patrick Roy rc. That seller must have had better luck since I am pretty sure the Roy was there for a couple of years.