PSA Set Registry
A Moment in Time
The Emergence of Ticket Collecting
by Kevin Glew
If you're at a standstill with your card collection, waiting months for that elusive single you need to finish your registry set, this might be "just the ticket" to quench your collecting fix.
An increasing number of PSA Set Registry enthusiasts have started creating and collecting their own ticket sets.
"There are a lot of ticket collectors that are into cards, but some of them are just straight ticket collectors," said PSA ticket authenticator Al Glaser, who's a passionate collector himself. "I see a lot of card sets that are getting very expensive to put together, and in many cases, tickets aren't that expensive yet."
PSA President Joe Orlando is seeing more hobbyists branch out into ticket collecting.
"What I have noticed is that more and more collectors are buying tickets as a complement to their existing collections," he said.
Brian Allen is one such collector. After building the top Rick Reuschel card sets on the registry, he decided to collect a ticket from every one of the underrated right-hander's 214 major league wins, and he launched a corresponding set on the registry.
"I have every licensed card of Paul and Rick Reuschel and another set of [the same cards] autographed," explained Allen, who grew up in Clayton, Illinois, a small town not far from Reuschel's hometown. "I have 400 or 500 items, so when I ran out of cards to collect and had achieved getting them all autographed, that's what prompted me to get into tickets."
Ryan Timmer is pursuing tickets as a complement to his unopened pack sets on the registry. His ticket collection focuses on his favorite athletes like Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Phelps.
"When I started the [2008 Gold Medals] Phelps ticket set, there really weren't any Olympic sets out there, except for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team set, so I thought it was an interesting idea," he said. "I think with baseball player sets, the cards are primary and the tickets are secondary. But I think with an Olympian like Phelps, the tickets are primary and then he has a couple of cards out there that are secondary."
Orlando notes that some of the most common ticket sets on the registry focus on championship games such as the World Series or the Super Bowl.
"Completing a run of tickets from every Super Bowl is, in my opinion, the most popular of all ticket collecting themes," he said. "It is challenging but feasible. The feasibility factor is very important. It may be difficult, but it has to be attainable in order for a set to remain popular."
"Super Bowl tickets and World Series tickets are the two biggest [sets on the registry]," he said. "The World Series, of course, spans a longer period of time, so the earlier tickets are very difficult to find even in stubs, whereas the Super Bowl set would be considered a modern set, given that it only started in 1967."
Glaser initiated the registry's Super Bowl Master Set, which includes all of the color variations of the tickets. Some of these can command thousands of dollars, but the great thing about creating a ticket set on the registry is that you can also develop a smaller, more affordable subset.
For example rather than collecting the entire run of World Series tickets, hobbyist Andrew Jenkins has created sets that focus on the Cleveland Indians' Fall Classic appearances in 1948 and 1954. He's also tracking down tickets from the Tribe's 1995 and 1997 World Series appearances.
If you're thinking about starting a ticket set on the registry, Orlando points out that the main difference between a ticket set and a card set is that collectors have to define their ticket set and work with PSA to finalize its composition.
"With tickets, there aren't 'natural' sets as there are in the trading card world," explained Orlando. "For example, the 1952 Topps Baseball set has 407 different cards in it. This is created by the manufacturer of the set. Sets that are issued by a manufacturer have an inherent checklist, the exact items needed to complete it. With tickets, like most other forms of memorabilia, collectors have to be creative or inventive in dreaming up themes. Whether the set is based on collecting a ticket from every Super Bowl game or every no-hitter ever thrown, the collector gets to shape his or her own destiny."
Allen enjoyed working with PSA to create his Reuschel Winning Games ticket set. He made a spreadsheet of Reuschel win dates and then collaborated with PSA staff to finalize the registry set.
"It was actually fun [creating the list]," said Allen. "I learned a lot about how many career shutouts and strikeouts he had and about his milestone games."
Jenkins also had a positive experience setting up his Indians World Series ticket sets, as well as his Indians No-Hitter and Home Opening Day Games (1930 to present) sets.
"When I communicated with the PSA staff, they were very helpful," said Jenkins. "It was not a difficult process. It went smoothly and it only took a couple of months, and I was very happy. I thought it was great that you could develop your own set."
And being able to create a set from scratch is part of the appeal of ticket collecting, as is their historical significance.
"Tickets are actually part of the event; they are part of history," said Orlando. "Tickets transport you back to a specific moment in time. To me, that has a lot to do with the allure of the tickets."
Glaser compares tickets to game-used items.
"People collect jerseys and bats that are game-used, and I think a ticket very much falls in the same category," he said. "A ticket is a remembrance of an event."
And as with most collectibles, the thrill of the hunt also drives these collectors.
"In many cases, the tickets aren't that expensive. The difficulty is in finding them because they were never intended to be a collectible; they were a consumable," noted Glaser.
Timmer offers similar observations.
"With cards, if you're willing to spend a certain amount of money, you can generally get to the top of the registry. With ticket sets, that tends not to be the case," he said. "It's more about persistence. Even if you have unlimited funds, you still can't find the tickets for some of these sets."
"The biggest challenge for me has been the accessibility of the tickets," he said. "Although you might have put a card in your bike spokes, you probably still have that card, whereas ticket stubs just ended up on the floor [at the stadium]."
And finding older tickets in high grade is even more challenging. That's why full tickets generally command a premium over stubs.
"The 1970s tickets I find are usually stubs, and sometimes they're not even ripped along the line," said Allen. "You do find the occasional full ticket from the 1980s. I have several of those, but the full tickets are much rarer. However, when you're compiling a set like I am, condition really isn't as important as just getting the ticket itself. I have some tickets that look just awful, but they're dates that I need, so I'm keeping them."
Hobbyists, of course, face more competition for tickets from games in which a particularly historic event took place. For example, Jenkins needed to acquire the Game 1 ticket from the 1954 World Series for his Indians set. That game pitted the Indians against the New York Giants and is most remembered for Willie Mays' tremendous over-the-shoulder catch that robbed Vic Wertz of an extra-base hit in the top of the eighth inning when the score was tied. The Giants eventually won 5-2. That play is simply known as "The Catch" and tickets from that contest are widely coveted.
"I've had my ticket for quite a while, but the value of it has gone up exponentially," said Jenkins.
Timmer also likes the fact that counterfeits are not as prevalent with tickets as they are in other segments of the hobby. Glaser agrees that forgeries aren't as rampant, but he encourages collectors to educate themselves.
"The main problem is not the maliciously-made counterfeits; it's the replica tickets that look very close to a genuine ticket from a game," he said.
One way to ensure that a ticket is the real deal is to buy it in a PSA holder. This not only affirms its authenticity, but it also preserves the ticket and makes it a nice display item.
"I think it's pretty cool that I have my tickets in a PSA holder and they're protected," said Jenkins. "Eventually I'm not going to be here, and with the tickets in holders, my kids won't have to worry about them and they can do what they want with them at that time."
Timmer shares similar thoughts.
"The tickets just look so much nicer in the [PSA] case, and they also describe the exact event [on the label] so that you don't have to have a bunch of writing on your ticket," he said. "PSA does a nice job of labeling exactly what the ticket is for you."
With all of this in mind, starting a ticket collection might be "just the ticket" for PSA Set Registry enthusiasts that are at a standstill with their card sets or for hobbyists looking to add a creative facet to their collections.
"A lot of collectors are assembling player sets on the card registry, so why not a player ticket set as well?" said Glaser. "It's quite a bit more challenging, but if that's your favorite player, it's just natural that you might collect a ticket from every game they played in or every game they hit a home run in."
Orlando offers a similar take.
"There are so many interesting themes a hobbyist could come up with," he said. "The beauty of ticket collecting is that, while many trading card sets require 500, 600, 700 or more cards to complete it, ticket sets can be relatively small if one chooses. For example, a collector could attempt to acquire a ticket from each of Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters. It may only require seven total items, but no one would ever question the importance of the set."
To learn more about the ticket collecting hobby and tickets in general, please visit the www.PSAcard.com/TicketFacts website. Get started on your PSA Set Registry ticket set today by visiting www.PSAcard.com/PSASetRegistry/.
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