Old School Yearbook Shows Even ‘The Great One’ Wayne Gretzky Got No Respect As A Kid
Look, I get it. I coach my son’s little league team and I wouldn’t have the first clue who the best hockey-playing kid is in my town. However, if I worked in a school system, in a hockey-mad town, and one of the students was say, Wayne Gretzky, I bet there’s a pretty good chance I would know who this kid is.
That’s because even at the age of just six Gretzky was already looking like a once-in-a-lifetime talent on the ice.
The team that Gretzky played on at age six was otherwise composed of ten-year-olds. His first coach, Dick Martin, remarked that he handled the puck better than the ten-year-olds. According to Martin, “Wayne was so good that you could have a boy of your own who was a tremendous hockey player, and he’d get overlooked because of what the Gretzky kid was doing.” The sweaters for ten-year-olds were far too large for Gretzky, who coped by tucking the sweater into his pants on the right side. Gretzky continued doing this throughout his NHL career.
By the age of ten, Gretzky had scored an astonishing 378 goals and 139 assists in just one season with the Brantford Nadrofsky Steelers. His play now attracted media attention beyond his hometown of Brantford, including a profile by John Iaboni in the Toronto Telegram in October 1971. By age 13, he had scored over 1,000 goals. His play attracted considerable negative attention from other players’ parents, including those of his teammates, and he was often booed. According to Walter, the “capper” was being booed on “Brantford Day” at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in February 1975.
That’s right, by age 13 Gretzky was so freaking good he was getting booed.