For ticket collectors, Russ Havens’ new self-published book is the ultimate stub hub.
The “2016 Illustrated Ticket Stub Price Guide” was released last month. It’s a colorful, 136-page book that displays a cross-section of more than 700 event tickets throughout history. The subject matter is mostly sports — the World Series, Super Bowl, college bowl games, championship boxing matches, basketball, hockey and auto racing — but there also is a section devoted to famous concerts.
Every ticket has recent eBay auction prices included, giving the collector an idea of its general worth. It’s also a nice guide for collectors who want to insure their tickets.
Prices for the book on Amazon range from $69.98 for paperback and $85.70 for a hardback edition (it’s available here).
Havens, who turned 51 on December 7, has been a business journalist for nearly 28 years and currently works in the circulation business development department at the San Diego Business Journal. He writes a very topical blog about tickets on his website and said his personal collection numbers in the thousands.
“I love curating. I like putting groups of things together,” Havens said. “It’s tangible, it’s tactile.”
Havens self-published his first edition of the ticket guide in 2011, a book that contained 300 stub photos and prices spread across 66 pages. This year’s edition is twice as large, and Havens is hoping to publish an annual updated guide.
He calculates the stub prices from the last 12 months of closed auctions on eBay.
“I based it on what was probably just a typical sale,” he said. “There are 70,000 different (ticket stub) auctions on eBay, so it’s a robust market.”
Havens’ love for ticket stubs began when he was a kid growing up on the outskirts of Los Angeles.
“We had to go to a department store to get tickets. It would sit on my bulletin board for months (until we went),” he said. “There was this anticipation, it’s being there, it’s a document.”
“A lot of baseball teams still put out some beautiful tickets.”
Some vintage tickets were even die-cuts. “The Brooklyn Dodgers did one in the shape of a catcher’s mitt for Opening Day in the 1940s,” Havens said.
All the coveted baseball tickets you might expect are there — a ticket from Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, when Babe Ruth called his “shot,” can fetch $1,500. So can a ticket from Game 3 of the infamous 1919 World Series. A stub from Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series can bring $500 (“that one is traded pretty frequently”) and the ticket from the night Hank Aaron broke Ruth’s career home run record is surprisingly affordable at $255.
A graded ticket from Game 3 of the 1915 World Series (Grover Cleveland Alexander was the losing pitcher that day in his second Series start) can bring in $2,500.
“One thing that does drive prices higher is the grading services,” Havens said of the relatively new option for collectors or those looking to sell. PSA will encapsulate and sell virtually any ticket or stub. For obvious reasons, most vintage stubs are hard to find in high grade.
Havens said his research in finding interesting tickets was surprising in one sport — boxing.
“Boxing has got a fervent group of people,” he said. “There were some neat tickets in the 1940s. The borders were really ornate, they sort of looked like currency.
“The tickets for the Rumble in the Jungle (Ali-Foreman in 1974) were bright green.”
Havens noted that pro football teams have had some innovative tickets. “The Tampa Bay Bucs’ early tickets mimicked the Dallas Cowboys tickets,” he said. “The overall graphics were the same.”
The Bucs, however, were unable to mimic the Cowboys’ success on the field.
Havens’ professional career has revolved around business and journalism. He received his bachelor’s degree in advertising from San Jose State in 1988, then spent nearly eight years at the San Jose Business Journal, where he became the director of marketing and circulation.
He traveled overseas in February 1996 and spent nine months in the Czech Republic as marketing director of the Prague Business Journal.
“Prague was like a jewel box, a beautiful city,” Havens said.
But after nine months the parent company of Prague Business Journal — New World Publishing, a publisher of business journals across Central Europe — offered him a job as publisher of five English-based publications in Poland, including the weekly Warsaw Business Journal, the monthly Warsaw Insider and a daily bulletin, Polen am Morgan.
He met his wife, Judit, while at a fifth anniversary party for another New World Publishing affiliate in her hometown of Budapest, Hungary. He proposed to her in Warsaw during a mass given by Polish native Pope John Paul II in Warsaw in 1999, and they were married in Budapest soon afterward.
After four years in Poland, Havens returned to California to be closer to his aging parents, taking a job with the Pacific Coast Business Times in Santa Barbara.
He joined the San Diego Business Journal in 2004 for the first of two stints, serving as marketing director for eight years. He returned to the publication in August 2013. Finishing the book has since been a labor of love…one that’s not all sports related.
Havens devotes 15 pages to concert tickets, which include the Beatles’ final live show in San Francisco in 1966. Spending time in Europe during the 1990s allowed him to collect some interesting tickets.
“There were some major acts that played in Warsaw,” he said, including the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
“There was a cool stub for the Springsteen show. The seat, row and aisle were handwritten on the ticket.”
Havens also collected tickets from Prague concerts he attended that featured Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and the Sex Pistols.
In sports, he owns a ticket from a World Cup hockey game that pitted Sweden against the Czech Republic in Prague.
His most treasured ticket? Being a big hockey fan, he mentioned the San Jose Sharks’ first game, on October 4, 1991, at Vancouver. That was the night his friend and former high school classmate, Sharks’ center Craig Coxe, scored the first goal in franchise history.
“It doesn’t have a lot of monetary value,” Havens said.
But it has a lot of sentimental value, and he hopes his children — 13-year-old Bella and 9-year-old Charlie — someday will enjoy the nostalgia of old ticket stubs.
“I keep a folder of the events they attended,” Havens said.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I just like old paper,” Havens said. “It was meant to be thrown away but it was some great art.”
That’s the ticket.