Go to a sporting event these days and chances are you’ll enter without a physical copy of your ticket. Smartphones and bar codes have turned the ticket collector into an endangered species. Many fans don’t care, but it’s a discouraging development for those who wish the tradition could live on.
While it’s not as easy–or as colorful–as it once was, the World Series ticket is still one of the signature souvenirs from any baseball season. And thanks to the modern collecting mentality, full tickets abound, are almost always in good shape–and cheap.
“You used to have people using stubs for bookmarks but since the mid-80s, you see massive amounts of them online,” said Russ Havens of TicketStubCollection.com. “Everyone sticks them into a card saver to preserve them. You can see people walking around at games with their ticket that’s put immediately placed inside a lanyard. There are no beer or nacho mishaps anymore.”
“Scanning bar codes started in ’98, I believe, so now having a full ticket is no different than having a stub.”
While e-tickets have become the norm, the American League champion Astros,will have hard copy tickets available for games at Minute Maid Park, starting Tuesday and Wednesday.
We asked Havens, whose site is devoted to collecting all kinds of sports ticket stubs, for a list of some of the most popular tickets and stubs from the last 50 seasons. Among his picks:
- 2016 Game 7: Cubs finally end their long drought
- 1977 Game 6: Reggie Jackson‘s three homers at Yankee Stadium
- 1975 Game 6: Fisk’s famous extra-inning homer at Fenway
- 1971 Game 7: MVP Roberto Clemente‘s homer helps Pirates win
- 1969 Game 5: Miracle Mets take it all
- 1988 Game 1: Injured Kirk Gibson‘s walk-off homer off the “unhittable” Dennis Eckersley
While tickets for some of those games can be valuable, especially in high grade, they aren’t rare. The later the ticket, the easier they are to find as word began to spread in the 1980s that sports memorabilia could be valuable.
“No one throws them away,” Havens says. “Everybody keeps everything now. You can buy some recent World Series tickets for five bucks. You can buy a nice Kirk Gibson ticket for less than $200.”
Had Gibson beaten Eckersley today, there might not even be a ticket to remember it by.
“If the Dodgers make the World Series now, you’d really be screwed because they don’t hand out hard tickets at all,” Havens, a long-time fan of the team, lamented. “It’s all electronic or print at home.”
Another downer for World Series ticket collectors is that teams were once allowed to design their own tickets, making those from each year unique and often colorful. Now, it’s usually a generic creation made by MLB.
“Charlie Finley didn’t care what anyone thought. He used to put a kicking mule on his tickets,” Havens recalls of the Oakland A’s owner and his team mascot who adorned the front of the ducats that provided entry to memorable 1970s showdowns at the Coliseum.
Havens says while the market for World Series tickets from the last 20 years is a bit watered down, old stubs are a different story. The chase for stubs and especially unused tickets from historic or sparsely attended games that took place prior to World War II can be competitive. Havens cited the 1919 Black Sox-Reds World Series and Babe Ruth‘s “called shot” homer from 1932 as examples.
The market for post-War tickets isn’t quite as cost-prohibitive.
“Unless they’re really high grade, Don Larsen‘s perfect game tickets are pretty much where they were when I started the website about ten years ago, about $450,” Havens said.
Checking PSA’s population report can help determine which World Series tickets might be undervalued based on availability and what actually happened from the perspective of baseball history.
One such example? Game 2 of the 1972 World Series when Jackie Robinson made what turned out to be his final public appearance, throwing out the first pitch in Cincinnati while encouraging Major League Baseball teams to consider hiring an African-American manager. He passed away just nine days later.