Iconic 'Miracle on Ice' Sports Illustrated Graded by CGC Offered in Heritage Sale

Posted on 5/3/2024

The mid-May auction also features other great CGC-certified rarities, such as Mickey Mantle and Michael Jordan's cover debuts as pros.

While many of the most famous Sports Illustrated magazines feature individual sports icons on the front cover, sometimes an event outshines any single player. That was the case during the 1980 Winter Olympics when the United States hockey team beat the Soviet Union in what is known as the "Miracle on Ice" — one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

The March 3, 1980 issue of Sports Illustrated commemorated the iconic win and a high-grade example of the magazine estimated to be worth tens of thousands of dollars is among the sports collectibles graded by Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) in Heritage's Spring Sports Catalog Auction #50069, which will be held on May 16-18, 2024.

Click images to enlarge.

One of the top CGC-certified lots in the auction is a Sports Illustrated v52 #9, March 1980 (Miracle on Ice cover) graded CGC 9.8 (lot 82552), with an estimate of at least $40,000. The famous front cover shows the US players celebrating on the ice immediately after they defeated the heavily favored Soviet team, 4-3. The American hockey team would go on to beat Finland for the gold medal, solidifying the team's place in sports history. This example stands alongside one other as the highest graded of 104 examples of this particular March 3, 1980 issue in the CGC Census.

Consisting of mostly amateur players, the US fielded the youngest team in the Olympics and in US national team history that year. In comparison, the Soviet team, stacked with international pros who were four-time defending champions, had won the gold medal in five of the last six Winter Olympic Games. Once again, and for good reason, the Soviets were the favorites for gold in Lake Placid, New York, in 1980.

Led by head coach Herb Brooks, the young US team surprised many with several unexpected performances that included a 2-2 draw against Sweden and a 7-3 upset over second-place favorite Czechoslovakia. Both the US and Soviet teams were undefeated heading into their historic matchup. The two teams were all even at 2-2 at the end of the first period. The Soviets led 3-2 at the end of the second period, but the US came back and scored two goals in the third period to take the lead and the game, pulling off arguably the greatest upset in hockey ever.

The unlikely win immediately became iconic, and so did Al Michaels' call on television during the final seconds of the game when he exclaimed, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" Sports Illustrated showcased the moment in the now-legendary front cover photo of their March 3, 1980 issue, and in 1999, the publication also named the "Miracle on Ice" game as the top sports moment of the 20th century.

Other CGC-certified collectibles in the auction include:

  • a Sports Illustrated v61 #26, December 10, 1984 (Michael Jordan rookie cover) graded CGC 9.6 (lot 82349), with an estimate of at least $20,000
  • a Sports Illustrated v4 #25, June 18, 1956 (Mickey Mantle cover) graded CGC 8.5 (lot 82051), with an estimate of at least $10,000
  • a Vancouver Canucks v16 #40, April 6, 1986 (Wayne Gretzky NHL Single Season Record 215th-Point Program) graded CGC 9 (lot 82554), with an estimate of at least $10,000
  • a Playboy v1 #1, December 1953 (Marilyn Monroe cover) graded CGC 6.5 Restored (lot 82600), with an estimate of at least $8,000
  • a Sports Illustrated v1 #1, August 16, 1954 (Eddie Mathews cover) graded CGC 9 Qualified with an autograph (lot 81985), with an estimate of at least $4,000
  • a SLAM #191, September 2015 (Stephen Curry cover) graded CGC 9.8 (lot 82352), with an estimate of at least $4,000
  • a Sports Illustrated v4 #20, May 14, 1956 (Al Kaline and Harvey Kuenn cover) graded CGC 9.4 (lot 82052), with an estimate of at least $3,000
  • a Sports Illustrated v99 #16, October 27, 2003 (LeBron James rookie cover) graded CGC 9.8 (lot 82350), with an estimate of at least $3,000

Estimates are provided by the auction house. The $ symbol represents US Dollars.

About CGC

Since revolutionizing comic book grading in 2000, CGC has grown to include certification services for many other types of pop culture collectibles. These divisions include CGC Cards, CGC Video Games and CGC Home Video. CGC Cards provides expert card grading for TCGs, sports cards and non-sports cards. CGC Video Games is dedicated to video game grading for the most popular consoles, including Nintendo, Sega, Atari, PlayStation and more. The newest division of CGC, CGC Home Video, provides expert VHS grading in addition to other types of home media.

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