One of the fastest-growing – and most fun – elements of the hobby has to revolve around collecting passes and tickets. Five years ago, ticket collectors were few and far between. Today, it seems that everyone is seeking a ticket or a stub to add to their collection. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in interest, and we’ve tried our best to always have an interesting group of tickets and passes included in our catalog auctions.
Someone recently asked us “What is it about tickets that you find so interesting?”
It was a good question. There are usually no pictures of players on tickets. No stats. There’s no information about the individual players that we try and collect, and in most cases, you can’t glean any information about the actual game from the ticket itself.
Then again, tickets and passes have a lot going for them.
Vintage tickets are beautiful. Really, they’re works of art. They were exquisitely designed, usually printed in multiple colors, and they feature fantastic typography. For anyone interested in the graphic design of yesteryear, it’s on full display with tickets.
Vintage tickets are rare. Unlike cards, tickets were distributed to be used as a pass to get into a game, and then discarded. If 10,000 people attended a meaningless May game at Wrigley Field in 1920, how many saved their tickets? And how many of those tickets survived to 2017?
Vintage passes are interesting. Above is an image of Charles Comiskey’s season ticket book from 1909. To see the White Sox. Why did Charles Comiskey have a season ticket book to his crosstown rivals? Passes also have a certain mystique to them, because they were ostensibly owned by someone who was important enough – or enough of a fan – to receive a pass to see every game. Our current auction includes three different season passes to see Yankee games that were issued to Bill Dickey’s wife. There’s also Mel Allen’s pass to the 1953 Yankees. A pass owned by Boston superfan Lolly Hopkins to see the Red Sox in 1956, and a lifetime pass owned by former Major Leaguer Les Nunamaker. The stories these passes could tell.
Vintage tickets commemorate events. What happened at the game? What did the person who owned that ticket see? Did Babe Ruth hit a home run? Did Nolan Ryan pitch a no-hitter? Did the Yankees lose a tight game in extra innings? Our current auction includes a minor league ticket to see the 1910 New Orleans Pelicans. Someone in attendance at that game could not possibly have understood that they were seeing a young Shoeless Joe Jackson in that game. Similarly, the person possessing the 1972 Pittsburgh World Series ticket could not have known that it would be Roberto Clemente’s final game. Or that the 1947 Army/Columbia tickets in this auction would admit the bearer to see the “Upset of the Decade,” as Columbia handed Army its first loss in 33 consecutive games.
Tickets and passes are excellent companion pieces. Are you a collector of the 1953 Topps baseball set? Why not pick up a season pass from that season, or a World Series ticket? Do you collect a certain player? Why not challenge yourself to try and find one full ticket from each season that player played – or even more challenging, one ticket from every game that player hit a home run? Are you just a fan of the game? Why not add a run of World Series or Super Bowl tickets to your collection? It adds another dimension to the hobby.
Stubs are as cool as tickets. In a hobby driven by condition, the concept of the ticket stub is an interesting one. Full tickets are beautiful, sure. But at last year’s National, we were involved in a conversation about the ticket hobby with a well-known ticket collector. It turns out that he doesn’t like full tickets – he prefers the stub, and actually seeks out stubs over full tickets. This seemed counterintuitive – our hobby prizes condition, and a ticket stub is a full ticket, torn in half. When we mentioned this to him, he agreed – but followed with “But the full ticket didn’t go to the game.”
Which, of course, is true.
In any event, please do check out the assortment of tickets and passes featured in this auction. We hope it serves as a great introduction to a fast-growing segment of the hobby.