Undated Yankee tickets have perplexed memorabilia experts and ticket collectors for decades.
As early as 1915, the Yankees included the year on their season ticket coupon booklets and coupons. And at least as early as 1918, the box seat tickets included the month and day, from which the year could often be determined.
After moving into Yankee Stadium in 1923, "Box Chair" seat tickets and "Reserved Seat" tickets consistently included the day of the week, the month and the day (e.g., Saturday, July 19). The year appeared on the end of the "Box Chair" and "Reserved Seat" tickets kept by the ticket taker. However, since few full Yankee tickets have survived the passage of time, this information source is rarely available.
For decades, "Stadium" seat tickets (referred to as "Grandstand" tickets as of 1940) and "Bleacher" tickets carried no dating of any kind. Collectors were left to rely on information that a fan wrote on the front or back of the ticket-hopefully in "period" ink to determine the date of the ticket stub.
The date identification of Yankee tickets is especially important to memorabilia collectors because of the team's rich history and the significant number of Hall of Famers who played in the early decades of the 20th century. The difference between a Yankee ticket for which one can determine the date and one that is unidentified can be the difference between a ticket valued at $25 and one valued at $12,500. It can mean the difference between an uneventful game and one where Babe Ruth hit three home runs.
The groundbreaking research shared in this article allows collectors of New York Yankee tickets to positively identify most of the undated Yankee tickets over a 15-year timespan. While this 15-year period does not include the Yankee glory years of the 1920s, it does include some highly significant games played at Yankee Stadium and, thus, highly desired tickets from those games. This list includes:
October 1, 1933, Home Game 77, Letter A: Babe Ruth's last game to pitch and win in the Major Leagues. (Ruth pitched a full game, and he batted third in the lineup and hit a home run in the game.)
May 5, 1934, Home Game 9, Letter B: Babe Ruth's last two home run game at Yankee Stadium.
September 3, 1934, Letter B: Babe Ruth's last home run at Yankee Stadium.
September 24, 1934, Letter B: Babe Ruth's last Major League game played at Yankee Stadium.
May 3, 1936, Home Game 11, Letter D: Joe DiMaggio's debut in the Major Leagues.
August 5, 1937, Letter E: Lou Gehrig's last two home run game at Yankee Stadium.
September 27, 1938, Letter F: Lou Gehrig's last home run at Yankee Stadium.
April 20, 1939, Home Game 1, Letter G: Ted Williams' debut in the Major Leagues.
April 29, 1939, Home Game 7, Letter G: Lou Gehrig's last hit in the Major Leagues.
April 30, 1939, Home Game 8, Letter G: Lou Gehrig's last game in the Major Leagues, ending his consecutive game streak at 2,130.
May 16, 1939, Home Game 9, Letter G: The first Yankee home game in which Lou Gehrig did not appear after his 2,130 consecutive games played.
April 15, 1941, Home Game 1, Letter J: Phil Rizzuto's first game at Yankee Stadium.
May 15 - July 16, 1941, Letter J: Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak, with 28 ticket possibilities from Yankee Stadium.
- Home Game 11, May 15, Game 1 of streak
- Home Game 12, May 16, Game 2 of streak
- Home Game 13, May 17, Game 3 of streak
- Home Game 14, May 18, Game 4 of streak
- Home Game 15, May 19, Game 5 of streak
- Home Game 16, May 20, Game 6 of streak
- Home Game 17, May 21, Game 7 of streak
- Home Game 18, May 22, Game 8 of streak
- Home Game 19, May 23, Game 9 of streak
- Home Game 20, May 24, Game 10 of streak
- Home Game 21, May 25, Game 11 of streak
- Home Game 22, June 14, Game 27 of streak
- Home Game 23, June 15, Game 28 of streak
- Home Game 24, June 16, Game 29 of streak
- Home Game 25, June 17, Game 30 of streak
- Home Game 26, June 18, Game 31 of streak
- Home Game 27, June 19, Game 32 of streak
- Home Game 28, June 20, Game 33 of streak
- Home Game 29, June 21, Game 34 of streak
- Home Game 30, June 22, Game 35 of streak
- Home Game 31, June 24, Game 36 of streak
- Home Game 32, June 25, Game 37 of streak
- Home Game 33, June 26, Game 38 of streak
- Home Game 34, July 1, Game 43 of streak: Not a scheduled doubleheader, so it had only one game number.
- Home Game 35, July 2, Game 45 of streak
- Home Game 36, July 3 - Rained out.
- Home Game 37 and 38, July 4: Never printed tickets. Instead, there was a no game number, special memorial ticket used, but it was rained out against Washington.
- Home Game 39, July 5, Game 46 of streak
- Home Game 40, July 6: We're not sure if this ticket was ever used as we have never seen one. Over 60,000 people attended Yankee Stadium, the largest crowd of the year, using the July 4th Lou Gehrig Memorial ticket to see both games.
- 1941 Lou Gehrig Memorial Game Ticket: On the two-year anniversary of Gehrig's heart wrenching "Luckiest Man" farewell, the Yankees scheduled an event to honor their captain once again, this time with even greater sadness in their hearts following the report of his passing a month earlier. The Independence Day game was rained out and, as such, was re-scheduled for July 6, when fans were treated to the 47th and 48th games of Joe DiMaggio's famous hitting streak in a doubleheader against the Athletics. (These hits in the two games were the last of the streak at home.)
July 16, 1941: Yankee Stadium streak ends.
June 29, 1946: Red Ruffing's last game in a Yankee uniform.
September 22, 1946: Yogi Berra's debut in the Major Leagues.
The 1933-1943 Era
Until the publication of this article, one of the unresolved issues surrounding the "Stadium/Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets of the 1933-1943 era pertained to the significance of the capital letter underneath the game number. Not all tickets of this era have the capital letter, but nearly all of these tickets include a letter. The letters range from "A" to "L," but without an "I." Why there are no "I" tickets, we do not know-perhaps it was because a "1" and an "I" are so similar.
Some have theorized that the letters indicated a higher print run on tickets for particular games. But our study of many tickets from this era does not confirm this conjecture. For example, there are higher letters in the alphabet for low attendance games. As a result, we are convinced that the letters have no relationship to print runs.
By comparing and contrasting tickets in our two collections and other available images, it is now conclusively clear that letters under the game numbers in the 1933-1943 era strictly correlate with the year of the game played. This dating discovery unlocks the identification of most "Stadium/Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets in this 11-year timespan.
The table below shows how the lettering system used by the Yankees and their ticket printer, Divinne-Brown Co. (1935-42) and Brown Ticket Corp. (1942-51), is applied to the "Stadium/Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets.
From 1933 to 1938, Yankee tickets bear the name of Jacob Ruppert as president. Following Ruppert's death on January 13, 1939, the tickets reflect the name of E. G. Barrow as president.
While there are some slight variations of color shading, the tickets for this 11-year era have distinctively different colors:
"Stadium/Grandstand" Tickets: 1933 tickets are Blue; 1934 tickets are Blue or Grey; 1935-1943 tickets are Grey
"Bleacher" Tickets: Light Pink
The following information was used to draw the above conclusions about the letters and the year of the tickets:
- We have many tickets from the 1933-1943 era, many of which have period dating. These tickets are consistent with the letter equating to a specific year concept.
- PSA's research correlates with the above Yankee ticket period dating.
- The changes of the "bars" or "lines" above and below the "Rain Check" graphic were taken into consideration. For example, 1939 was the last year that the "Stadium" tickets had a line above and below the "Rain Check" graphic. These bars or lines continued on the "Bleacher" tickets through 1946.
- The term "Stadium" ticket was not used after the 1939 season, when it was changed to "Grandstand."
- A careful review of period-dated New York Giants tickets (the Giants used the same printers during this era) revealed that the Giants used the same letter concept to identify tickets by year. This determination also unlocks the identification of Giants tickets in this era.
- In 1944, the "Grandstand" ticket prices increased to $1.20 from the 1941 price of $1.10.
- The "Important Notice" is shown only horizontally on the back of the "Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets through 1940. Beginning with 1941, the ticket backs reflect the "Important Notice" printed horizontally and the line "This ticket must not be resold or offered for re-sale" printed vertically.
- None of the tickets in this 11-year era mention the Revenue Act of 1926 or 1928, while certain tickets from previous years did reference these Revenue Acts.
- Through 1929, the Yankees reflected the word "BASE BALL" as two words in the header on "Stadium" and "Bleacher" tickets. Beginning in 1930, and thereafter, it is shown as one word: "BASEBALL."
- The five-digit serial numbers on the "Stadium/Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets were printed in black ink through 1939, after which the serial numbers are reflected in red ink.
The 1944-1947 Era
1944 Tickets: The 1944 "Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets do not have a letter under the game number. This is the last year Yankee tickets bear the name of E. G. Barrow as president.
1945 Tickets: The 1945 tickets are the first ones to reflect the name of L. S. MacPhail as the Yankee president. The 1945 tickets are similar to the 1944 "Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets in that there are no letters under Game No.
1946 Tickets: For the first time, the 1946 "Grandstand" and "Bleacher" tickets have the Yankee logo-a top hat and bat in a circle. Only for 1946 was the knob of the bat inside the circle. Many of the 1946 "Bleacher" tickets say "Series A" underneath the Game No., while the "Grandstand" tickets do not. The "Series A" designation is not unique to 1946 tickets as some 1947, 1948 and 1949 tickets have the "Series A" designation. The 1946 tickets bear the name of "L. S. MacPhail, President."
1947 Tickets: The 1947 "Grandstand" and "Bleacher" ticket design is virtually the same as the 1946 tickets except the bat knob extends below the logo circle. The 1946 tickets bear the name of "L. S. MacPhail, President." This is the last year MacPhail's name is on the tickets, as the 1948 tickets show the name of "Daniel R. Topping, President."
How to Use This New Information and Contribute to Our Research
Review your ticket collection and compare the information written on tickets against what we have shared. Share your findings with us. Compare letters and game numbers with Yankee schedules to determine the date of games. A list of games played in a season is very different from games scheduled. A common error is to assume a listing of games actually played equates to the sequence of game numbers on tickets.
There are still many perplexing questions about the dating for pre-1933 Yankee tickets. While we have many examples of these tickets, we need more. We need high-quality scans of your tickets for the pre-1933 years. Only by helping each other can we more completely unravel the mystery of Yankee ticket dating.
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