'JUST THE TICKET'
Ticket Stub Collectors
If you're looking for an alternative to card collecting, this group of baseball enthusiasts may have just the ticket.
With collections that would make the most cynical fan feel nostalgic, ticket collectors have quietly established their place in the world of baseball memorabilia.
"My favorite ticket is from Game 3 of the 1932 World Series," says Evan Sirkin, who has collected for nearly 30 years. "That was the game that Ruth called his homerun."
Rick Traugott, owner of close to 1000 tickets, counts his ticket to the Montreal Expos' first home game as one of his favorites. He says collecting tickets gives him a "real" piece of memorabilia from a sporting event.
"Tickets are the ultimate souvenir from the games themselves," says Traugott. "They're not manufactured memorabilia like baseball cards; they're the real thing."
This feeling is common amongst ticket collectors, says Dennis Jose of ChicagoTix.com, one of North America's largest ticket dealers.
"It's the strong connection of the tickets with the game itself that resonates with collectors." says Jose.
"Scarcity" is another reason why people save tickets. Collectors are quick to point out that ticket production is limited to the number of seats there are in a stadium.
"For historical games and events, the ticket represents a limited addition item from the event. In that sense, they are actually rare compared to baseball cards," says Sirkin.
Traugott agrees, "I acquired an Opening Day ticket from Seattle this year that has Ichiro on it. I know there are only about 50,000 of these. How many Upper Deck cards are printed of him?"
Tickets from games where records are broken or milestones are achieved are popular amongst collectors, as are All-Star Game and World Series tickets, says Jose. He also has customers who collect tickets from significant games in a player's career.
Michael Freres is attempting to collect a ticket from every one of Roger Clemens' major league wins.
"Right now I need 111 more tickets," says Freres. "I need a bunch from his season with Toronto in 1997."
Ron Killian has undertaken an even larger quest; he is attempting to collect a ticket from every game in Cal Ripken's consecutive game streak.
"I have over 1800 different streak tickets - stubs and fulls," says Killian, "I still need a lot of his road tickets though."
Finding these tickets has become easier thanks to the internet. Large volumes of tickets are sold through eBay and other online auctions.
One of the hobby's leading websites is www.ticketstubcollector.com. This site was created by Detroit Tigers collector David Anzicek to give collectors a form to share collecting tips and trade tickets.
The site contains a message board, as well as information on how the value of a ticket is determined -with no uniform price guide this has become a contentious issue. Factors that affect a ticket's value include the game's historical significance, the ticket's condition, and if it's a full ticket or a stub (full tickets are worth more). All of these considerations are taken into account by Jose when he prices his tickets. He also does some of his own research.
"It's a little like the early days of baseball cards," says Jose. "I have to do research to determine my prices I check out other websites and online auctions and there is a 'skinny' section in Sports Collectors Digest that I look at."
Like any hobby, ticket collecting is as expensive as you want it to be, says Traugott.
"A common stub from a Toronto Blue Jays game last week is inexpensive, but a World Series ticket from 1956 is very expensive," says Traugott.
But for these collectors it's clear that the ticket's value is secondary to its link to baseball history.
"I'm in awe of the fact that these tickets were part of baseball.I look at the tickets in my collection and think about the games that they represent and the players who would have played in those games," says Traugott.
Sirkin's feelings are similar when he reflects on his collection.
"When I'm looking at the tickets I get a feeling of being connected to the event. It is something tangible that is left from what is now just a memory, a story, a ghost. For example, when I look at the ticket to Game 1 of the 1954 World Series with the Giants logo and the words "Polo Grounds" I imagine the view of the person sitting in that seat at the moment Willie Mays made his famous catch. I get an adrenaline rush from it because of my love for the game."
Kevin Glew is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario - he can be reached @ email@example.com
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