To someone with no sense of history it was just junk—a ticket to a football game long since passed. To collectors, it might be the holy grain of pro football tickets.
Serious collectors of pre-war football memorabilia will get a chance to own it in February as Heritage Auctions offers the only known full ticket from the 1933 NFL Championship game, the very first playoff contest in the history of the league.
The ticket was retained by posthumous Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and “Father of Professional Football” Joe Carr, whose archives were rescued from a dumpster only last year by the person who has consigned it.
“It’s really remarkable how close this historic item came to destruction,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Heritage Sports Collectibles. “Our consignor fished hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare, early NFL history out of the trash, and this is among the most significant pieces.
The Chicago Bears would defeat the New York Giants at Wrigley Field on Dec. 17, 1933, led by the Hall of Fame talents of ball carriers Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski. Prior to 1933, the league champion was determined by which team had the best regular season record. The Bears-Giants clash marked the first NFL playoff game.
Most of “The Joe Carr Collection” was sold in Heritage’s November 2016 auction, but this ticket was held back so it could have its own spotlight. Heritage officials believe it could fetch over $20,000.
The ticket has a slight crease and was punch-canceled but untorn, and bears a handwritten (and misspelled) “Joe Karr”pencil notation on the back as well as some other writing. The original owner was granted free admission by virtue of the stamping on the back which reads “Complimentary, Present at Pass Gate.”
Bidding for Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports Catalog Auction opens in early February.