Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Legend of Bill Barilko And My Favorite Hockey Song

(1992 Pro Set Hockey #340 [front])
The trading cards produced in the late 80's and early 90's are notoriously known as "junk wax". I've always disliked that term. I certainly understand the monetary value isn't there, but I also think there is more to trading cards and memorabilia in general than simply dollars and cents. There's a story to every player and every moment in sport. That's part of the fun and intrigue of sport and certainly our hobby. Those stories are sometimes fresh in our minds and easy for us to rehash, but sometimes they're a little more hazy.

I am a hockey fan, but I don't know the history of the game as much as I do other sports like basketball. Fortunately, I appreciate the aforementioned "junk wax". A simple turn of a card reveals a very undervalued aspect of a trading card, the back. I started reading the back of this '92 Pro Set card and not only did I learn about the legend of Bill Barilko and the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals, but the story also sounded very familiar. Turns out, this is the story that inspired one of my favorite songs.

(1992 Pro Set Hockey #340 [back])
The Tragically Hip are an alternative/rock group from Kingston, Ontario in Canada. They're very popular here in the Buffalo, NY area and have been producing fantastic music since 1983. One of their most popular songs is entitled, "Fifty-Mission Cap", which chronicles the legend of Bill Barilko. The cool thing for collectors is that lead singer, Gordon Downie, exclaimed in the song that he read the Barilko story on the back of a Hockey card and this #340 Pro Set card is that hockey card.

Hope you enjoyed this little piece of hockey, music and trading card history. Here's the "Fifty-Mission Cap" song by The Tragically Hip.


  1. Wow... that was a great history lesson... the things we learn from cards. I never heard the story before now... but that was definitely interesting. Pro Set might have overproduced their products... but I loved their early designs.

    FYI... I sent you an email with some cards I can use from your bucket... lmk... if we can work something out.

  2. Sorry for the delay Mark, I'll get back to you soon. Thanks