Other than a worn jersey or game-used piece of equipment, there is no better piece of sports memorabilia that can link the fan to an event like a ticket stub.
A ticket stub acts as an indisputable form of proof that the original owner attended the game. Whether it’s a Shea Stadium stub from Bill Buckner’s infamous error game or a ducat that put you in the seats at Candlestick Park to witness Dwight Clark’s “Catch,” ticket stubs are some of the coolest memorabilia out there.
Ever since PSA started slabbing tickets a few years ago, these cardboard relics have been gaining popularity at a tremendous rate. Surprisingly, you can still find stubs from significant sporting events at fairly reasonable prices.
Later in this article, I will pick my top 20 ticket stubs that can be purchased on a limited budget. But first, let’s get into some basics about my favorite form of memorabilia.
What to watch for
Obviously, unused tickets – sometimes referred to as “full tickets” – are more valuable than a torn “stub,” so be on the lookout for “full stubs.” Several years ago, some stadiums started scanning tickets instead of tearing them, so in theory, all tickets from the game would appear to be full tickets. There is nothing wrong with full tickets that were scanned. The only thing that you should be aware of is that all tickets from a game where they scan the tickets will be full and appear unused. For instance, tickets from Barry Bonds’ 756th home run game were scanned, so there are a lot of these untorn tickets floating around.
When Henry Aaron hit home run No. 755, the ticket takers tore each ticket, essentially ensuring that all fulls from that game would be much more rare than if it were an event that scanned tickets.
I would not deter anyone from buying an untorn ticket from an event that scanned them. I would just advise collectors to be aware that scanned full tickets are always available in large quantities, as compared to full tickets from an event where they were torn. The abundance of these examples usually keeps values down considerably.
Another tidbit that all ticket collectors should be aware of is that graded tickets do not carry the same rules as graded cards. If you have a baseball card that has been graded a “5” or “6,” those mid-grades are almost always unimpressive. Tickets are different. There are many tickets that have been graded a “5,” “6” or even less that are the highest known examples. For instance, the highest graded stub from Roger Maris’ 61st home run game is graded less than a PSA 5 (it is either graded a 3 or 4, but PSA’s website doesn’t specify). Point being, just because a particular stub is graded low, don’t let that turn you off.
Also, sometimes you might want to opt for PSA’s “authenticating” service. For this service, you can choose to get the ticket slabbed with an “authentic” designation and not have the company assign it a grade. This service is popular for rare tickets that have paper loss, staple holes or writing, all defects that will almost guarantee a \ticket will get a low grade.
Another thing to watch for is the different versions of tickets. Almost always, “season ticket holder” versions are the most valuable and usually the most attractive. There is no one rule to determine what tickets are season ticket holder examples. Just ask a lot of questions before you purchase a stub.
The second version you might run into is a “box office” example. These are usually the second most valuable type of stubs, and they are also normally attractive. Problem is, just like the season ticket examples, there is not one rule to use when determining what stubs are box-office examples.
The last example you can find is a “third-party example.” These are sometimes called “Ticketmaster tickets,” mainly because many third-party examples are sold by Ticketmaster. These can be easily spotted, as they are the most unattractive of the three and usually have no colorful pictures or team logos.
Now that I have given you some things to keep in mind when venturing into the world of ticket stub collecting, here are 20 stubs that will give you the most bang for your buck:
Michael Jordan’s final game
April 16, 2003 – The game was played in Philadelphia, but neither Jordan nor Allen Iverson are pictured on this ticket. It is the rarely collected former Sixer Eric Snow on this voucher. Keep in mind that all of these are full stubs (shown at left). However, the majority of these have a horizontal fold through the center, giving Mint, unfolded examples a higher premium. As an example, PSA 10s for this ticket sell for $400. Creased stubs sell for $20.
Cal Ripken game streak
Sept. 6, 1995 – This is from probably one of the most respected records of the modern era, and this ticket (shown at left) won’t break a collector’s bank. I have heard of season ticket holder versions from this event, but I have never seen one offered on the secondary market. The only ones I have seen are the box-office versions, such as the one pictured, which sell for $100-$150.
Jan. 10, 1982 – This nice looking red-and-white ticket, with a 49ers helmet in the middle, is from the 1981 NFC Championship Game. As is pretty normal for playoff tickets, no mention of the opposing team is mentioned. When they surface on eBay, these can be purchased for under $100.
1986 World Series Game 6 – Buckner
Oct. 25, 1986 – If you don’t pay attention, this one might slip through your legs. Many times when someone sees a World Series ticket, they think of it as another game in the championship series and forget what actually happened in the game. This ticket is from one of the most famous tragedies in Boston Red Sox history, and from time to time, it can be picked up on eBay for a bargain. I have seen them sell for well under $100, and occasionally less than $50. One recently sold on eBay for only $29.
1982 NCAA Finals – MJ game winner
March 29, 1982 – These come in a variety of colors, with my favorite being the powder-blue version. Because this is possibly the biggest shot MJ ever hit, and because it put him in the public eye for the first time, these stubs have been selling for around $125.
Brett Favre’s first start vs. Steelers
Sept. 27, 1992 – Ever since this milestone game, Brett Favre has started every game for the Packers. This quarterback record could arguably be more impressive than Ripken’s consecutive game streak. These (shown at right) usually go for about $200, but they can be picked up around $100-$150 on occasion.
Barry Bonds’ home run No. 756
Aug. 7, 2007 – This is baseball’s most cherished record, and yet this baby sells for less than $100. It is my understanding that there are three versions – a season ticket holder example (sells for around $100), box-office example (sells for around $50) and a third-party company example (Ticketmaster type – sells for about $30).
Hank Aaron’s home run No. 715
April 8, 1974 – No matter what Bonds does, baseball traditionalists will always remember Aaron’s No. 715. The full ticket from this game came in several portions, but an actual stub from the milestone event is very small. On eBay, they sell for only about $125, but don’t expect the price to stay that low. After all, the ticket is more than 30 years old.
Tiger Woods’ first pro tournament
August 1996 – An attractive powder-blue and pink voucher (shown at right), most of these stubs that I have seen could be used for one day of the four-day tournament. Amazingly, Tiger hit a hole-in-one during the event, despite finishing tied for 60th place. Examples rarely hit eBay, but when they do, expect to pay around $75-$100.
Alex Rodriguez’s home run No. 500
Aug. 4, 2007 – Third-party and season ticket holder examples of this ticket exist. You’ll want the one with the Yankee helmet near the top of the stub.
You can pick up the season ticket holder version for $50 all day on eBay, with the stub of lesser desirability for about $20. Both versions were scanned, so only full stubs should hit the market.
2004 World Series Game 4, Red Sox win
Oct. 27, 2004 – With the Red Sox possessing such an enormous fan base, you would think that the stub from the clinching game of 2004 World Series would be worth hundreds. However, for some reason, these can still be picked up for less than $100.
Kareem breaks NBA scoring record
April 5, 1984 – This stub sometimes slips through the cracks because the game was played in Las Vegas. This is one of the NBA’s most significant records, broken by one of its most popular players – yet I have seen these sell for less than $50.
Peyton Manning breaks TD mark
Dec. 26, 2004 – It’s one of the NFL’s most popular and exciting quarterbacks, and a ticket from one of its most exciting records – and still, I did an eBay search and there is a “Buy It Now” for a Mint example (full ticket because of barcode) for $29.99.
Lebron James’ first NBA game
Oct. 29, 2003 – You probably won’t have a chance to ever obtain a ticket from Jordan’s first game. This might be the next best thing. You can purchase a ticket from Lebron’s first game for about $150.
1988 World Series Game 1 Gibson HR
Oct. 15, 1988 – Exciting World Series moments are usually reserved for one of the final games of the Fall Classic. However, in 1988, one of the most breathtaking events in World Series history took place when the injured Kirk Gibson sent a game-winning homer over the wall to give his Dodgers the victory, essentially setting the tone for the rest of the series. These stubs have been selling for $75-$100.
Michael Jordan ‘The Shot’ vs. Jazz
June 14, 1998 – Part of the challenge in obtaining specific NBA Finals tickets is that they don’t always list a date. The only way to determine what game the stub is from is to know what number, or in the case of “The Shot,” what letter should be listed. This important championship clinching ticket (shown lower left) is from Game K. Another little tidbit to is that the letter “I” is almost always skipped to avoid the confusion of it being a numeral “1.”
If you get lucky, you can still pick them up for under $50, and sometimes as low as $25.
Michael Jordan career-high 69 points
March 28, 1990 – Many times, the key to the stub-collecting game is knowing dates. To an unknowledgeable collector, this ticket appears to be a normal, regular-season game. However, to the savvy ticket collector, 3/28/90 means Jordan’s 69 points vs. the Cavs. Don’t let this one slip away.
1975 World Series Game 6 Fisk HR
Oct. 21, 1975 – How many replays of this historic home run have you seen? Probably many more times than you have seen this ticket stub for sale. Still, you can pick one up for $50-$100.
Barry Bonds home run No. 73
Oct. 7, 2001 – Both the season ticket and box-office variations of this milestone voucher were scanned. There is plenty to go around for the collecting community. Expect to pay about $100 for the season tickets and less than $50 for box-office tickets.
Mark McGwire home run No. 70
Sept. 27, 1998 – There was a time when this ticket went for about $300. Now, a full PSA 9 example recently sold on eBay for $51. u
Thanks to collectors Erik Olson, Penny Philippi, David Maus, Jim Lepley and Jordan Tubiolo with their contributions with images for this article.