Of all of the many sports collectibles, from hockey pucks to jerseys to programs, the one that stands out to me is the ticket stub. I believe the piece of paper we use to walk into an event with is the most overlooked and underappreciated collectible in the world of sports.
My History with Ticket Stubs
I was not very athletic. I spent most of my childhood daydreaming of playing professional sports, playing sports video games on my Nintendo and Playstation, and watching game after game on TV. When I turned 19, I got my first “real” job, working at a bank call center as a debt collector.
I absolutely hated it, but I was making good money. To help time go by and to add some enjoyment to my life, I purchased tickets to sporting events online, and a lot of them. From Detroit Lions games to MLB playoff games to local college basketball games, I went to everything I could. It became my primary hobby.
To remember these experiences, I kept the used tickets from each game. While leaving the stadium, I searched through the aisles to pick up every orphaned ticket, souvenir cup, program, and anything else that I thought was worth keeping. You can call me a hoarder or obsessed fanatic, but I felt that there had to be value attached to these tickets. I was right.
While searching eBay one day and dreaming about life after being a debt collector, I people buying and selling used tickets. These little pieces of paper from World Series, Super Bowls, and other significant sporting events were being bought and sold regularly, and in some cases for hundreds of dollars.
I began buying and selling ticket stubs, and I eventually turned this new hobby into a business – Stubs4Sale. I was soon writing articles for leading collectible publications like Tuff Stuff, giving free appraisals, and speaking at events including the National Ticket Summit in Las Vegas.
Ticket stubs have a very special place in my heart, and I believe they should have a more prominent role in the sports collectible market, which still puts autographs and baseball cards on a pedestal.
Why Ticket Stubs are a Truly Unique and Worthwhile Collectible
A ticket stub has the traits of a true collectible that others just simply don’t have, including:
There is a limited number of tickets that can be sold for any given game. Unlike baseball cards, which can be printed endlessly by a trading card company, ticket stubs are limited in total supply. Depending on how long ago an event happened, only a small portion of those tickets may have survived, making them very rare.
For a collectible to have lasting value, it should be relevant to the event or team it’s associated with. For example, one of Ty Inc.’s most successful Beanie Babies® was a Princess Diana bear. While I’m sure there are still some collectors holding onto these little purple bears, there is no actual relevance of a Beanie Baby to Princess Diana and the royal family, and the novelty eventually wore off, making most of these bears worthless. Ticket stubs are a receipt of entry – a piece of that game.
When you purchase a ticket for a sporting event – that is your ticket. This piece of paper serves as the link between you and the event itself. Along with that connection comes a sentimental attachment, even if you weren’t the one attending. Holding a World Series ticket in my hand is surreal, because I know that ticket was actually at that event.
I don’t know about your man cave or basement, but I only have room for so many baseball bats, large posters, and signed helmets. Ticket stubs are small, portable, easy to store and easy to maintain.
I made thousands of dollars from tickets over my few years of buying and selling. Can you guess what I did with the profits? Of course, I attended more sporting events. I saw Stephen Curry lead his team to an Elite 8 berth in Detroit. I saw Peyton Manning lead the Indianapolis Colts to an unlikely comeback in the AFC Championship Game against Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. I was there in person to see my Michigan State Spartans play in the National Championship Game. And for each of these events, I needed to have my ticket stub in order to get in the door.
I still collect ticket stubs, but I no longer buy and sell them. I save them for my own collection and for my kids just in case they are as fascinated with sports and collectibles as I am.
So the next time you’re at a game, don’t toss your stub, keep the evidence that you were there in person to see this event. And who knows, maybe someday it will be worth something.
What’s your favorite sports collectible and why? Comment below!