At this point in my purchases I've tried scraping deals and getting mediocre cards for a fairly cheap price. I wanted to mix it up so I made a generic search of "hockey cards" and sorted them by "ending soonest". After scanning through some nice looking cards I found one that stood out to me. Not because of a multi-coloured patch or a super low numbered card, but instead it was because of the signature.
This card is also BGS graded (no clue what BGS stands for) but it's in the plastic casing with a nice number 9 on top with the word "mint" below it. What really attracted me was the gold square beside the number 9 - a 10. The square rated showed a 10/10 Beckett Autograph. From the scan above you can tell why. That is by far the classiest and most cared for signature in my collection. No sloppy or lazy letters and he even included his nickname "cat".
If you can't tell who this card is signed by from the signature (which isn't that hard) it's signed by Emile "Cat" Francis. It's safe to say I didn't know much about this goalie from the late 40's to early 60's so with about 20 minutes before the auction ended - I did some research.
Francis' stats go back from his times with the North Battleford Beavers (N-SJHL) in 1941-42 all the way to 1959-60 with the Seattle Totems. Throughout his career he played in a variety of leagues from the NHL to USHL. Probably the most interesting fact for me personally was his stint with the Vancouver Canucks (WHL) in 1952-53. This was a pretty cool fact to stumble across and this pretty much sealed the deal.
As you can see the card is from the 2006-07 Between the Pipes set by ITG and rings in around 12 bucks BV (not graded). Does the fact that it's graded make this card even more valuable BV wise? To me it really doesn't make a difference because I did the rare act and purchased this about the BV price. You could say I really fell in love with this card. What's there not to like? A Hall-of-Fame goaltender from over half a century ago, along with his personal on card signature and graded "mint" on top of that? I'll take this card any day of the week.
Francis in net along side Bill Gadsby on the right.
This picture is basically why Francis is in the Hall-of-Fame. He was in inducted in 1982 as a builder. In 1945 Emile was the first goalie to wear a baseball glove with a protective cuff at the wrist. Before that, goalies would were the same gloves as their team mates! Could you imagine that in the modern NHL? Goalies would have broken hands and fingers every other night. Thanks Emile!
I believe this is the exact photo that was put onto the card. "The Cat" was a back-up goalie with the Rangers after being the primary keeper in Chicago.
Finally for those of you old enough to remember (which I certainly cannot attest to) Francis was also a coach. He coached the OHA's Guelph Royals, the NY Rangers ('65-'75) and the St. Louis Blues. He was also the GM of the Hartford Whalers from 1979-1988.
Overall this card will now act as a centre piece for my collection. It's one of those rare cards from an era I can only really imagine and it makes me appreciate this great games history. If it wasn't for guys like Emile "The Cat" Francis, who knows what our NHL would be like?
(1.02 + 3.05 Shipping) 2010-11 Ultimate Collection Nazem Kadri "Debut Threads" /200 (DT-NK)
(11.64 + 2.52 Shipping) 2006-07 ITG Between the Pipes "Autographs" (A-EF)
GO NUCKS GO!