Monday, September 27, 2010

Ticket Stub: April 15, 1947 (Jackie Robinson's Debut) - Amazing Story -


Please do not ask me who sent me this e-mail or how much he payed for this item. He wishes to remain anonymous and I respect that.

Let's call him "Sandy". A mutual friend told me that Sandy had a April 15, 1947 Ticket Stub. I was shocked. I've never seen one. My friend presents me Sandy. I didn't ask him anything about the stub because I was shy and didn't want him to feel uncomfortable.

A couple of days later I ask our mutual friend if he can send a e-mail to Sandy and ask him if he can take a picture of the ticket stub and e-mail it to me. A day later Sandy writes to me and tells me that he wants to remain anonymous but doesn't have a problem in sharing his amazing story right here in my blog.

It's a long story. But it's worth it. From "Sandy":

Hi Roberto,

Attached is a photo of my Jackie Robinson debut ticket and the story of how I acquired it that you requested of me.  I hope you find this interesting.  The entire story took place over most of one summer not that long ago.

Here goes:

Like you I had never come across a Jackie debut ticket in all of my 20 plus years of collecting  Dodger memorabilia.  I even went out of my way to ask ticket memorabilia dealers, ticket authenticators and other memorabilia vendors if they had ever come across such a ticket---or if they knew of someone who had---but the answer was always negative.  Nor did I find one on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY when I visited there.  

I found this very perplexing since this ticket represented the day baseball---and the nation--- changed forever.  I mean this event even had international implications!  I asked myself how then could this ticket be non existent?  But I reasoned that somebody somewhere must have one.  

But it is possible few patrons attending opening day of the 1947 baseball season at Ebbets Field saved their tickets.  After all small Ebbets Field was far short of a sell out for that game. Plus it is documented that the local media didn't make much noise about a black man finally crossing the unofficial color barrier of a white man's game.  So I find it reasonable to assume folks were just slow to grasp the significance of the event---and as a result most of those attending probably tossed their tickets after the game.  And it doesn't help collectors that the event took place over 63 years ago. 

But one day I became aware of a lady who once owned a sports memorabilia shop who was sitting on such a ticket.  

I couldn't believe it!  

After contacting her about the availability of her ticket she went on to tell me she had forgotten she even owned it!  She recalled for me how an older female customer had walked into her store one day years ago with a box of memorabilia she was looking to sell with the Jackie debut ticket inside.  

The store purchased that box (for what amount I do not know) but the box and it's contents were then stored away and forgotten by the shop owner for years!  When the box was finally retrieved the owner no longer possessed her memorabilia store and was surprised to rediscover in that box what she had acquired all those years before.

Finding the ticket the former shop owner reasoned it was now a good time to sell that ticket.  She told me she wanted to use the proceeds from the sale to be set aside for her grandson's college education fund and she was now taking offers.  The owner went on to say she was listening to bids from various folks from all around the country as word spread that this ticket was available.  

But it was frustrating for me to communicate with the owner---a very nice lady who at times I would not hear from for weeks at a time---even after she contacted me requesting that I put forward a bid which I did.  My bid had topped ALL other bidders up to that point.  

Receiving no response I just assumed the owner accepted a better offer and I was crazy to think I even had a chance of acquiring said ticket.

Well once again weeks later and without warning I was contacted by the ticket's owner who apologized to me for her lengthy delay in responding to me.  She explained how stressful the whole ticket sale saga had become for her because she said she was being pushed and badgered (her words) by folks trying hard to acquire this ticket.  She was exhausted from constantly dealing with them.  

The owner described some of these bidders as some well known collectors with deep pockets, some big time auction houses and a prominent MLB executive among others.  The owner would not reveal the names of these bidders to me when I asked.  But I did not question the story's validity because I had encountered other collectors in the past who had expressed to me experiencing similar tactics when selling prized memorabilia.  

Exasperated about the whole experience the owner told me she now really didn't know what she was going to do with the ticket and was contacting me for some friendly advice.  It was my understanding she valued my opinion mainly because I refrained from harassing her about the ticket's sale.    

After I was informed of just who was putting in bids for this ticket I more or less gave up any thought of possibly acquiring it myself.  But I was happy to oblige this lady to advise her about the different pros and cons of different sales options available to her.  I reasoned it would be fun for me to participate in the sale, the proceeds would be going to the worthy cause of her grandson's college education fund---and it would likely be the closest I would ever come to such a desirable piece of memorabilia!  

And I wanted to know what would ultimately happen to this ticket. 

But I purposely refrained from expressing to her my personal opinion of what choice I would make to sell the ticket---and she never asked me.  After all it was this former memorabilia shop owner's ticket and her big decision alone of what best to do for her and her grandson.      

As time went on we communicated rather regularly regarding the sale of the ticket until, once again without warning, I didn't hear from her for weeks.  Later, as before, she contacted me out of nowhere to tell me she had sold the ticket.  Great for her and her grandson I reasoned.  However she wouldn't reveal to me who had purchased the ticket nor how the deal played out when I inquired.

Naturally I was disappointed for myself in missing out on a great opportunity---until this former owner revealed to me something she had never mentioned to anyone before to my knowledge:  

She had a second ticket!  

And that ticket she said was in better shape than the one she had just sold---and it was!!!  

The owner explained it was her original intention to keep the second ticket but she thought better of it reasoning the grandson's college fund could use the extra boost from it's sale.  The owner then asked if I would be interested in acquiring this second previously unknown ticket for a proposed price she then revealed to me. She added that this proposed price was also $300 less than what she sold the original ticket for.  

The owner also mentioned she took note of my fondness for collecting Dodger memorabilia and of being a life long fan of that organization.  She felt then I would most enjoy the ticket and give it a great home so she was giving me first opportunity to acquire it.   

Once again I could not believe what a great opportunity I stumbled upon!  

I didn't dare counter offer her because of fear I wouldn't hear from her again.  So it took me but about a second to accept her offer and close the deal. As you might guess I am very grateful to this day for the opportunity she bestowed upon me.  

What happened to the other ticket you might ask?  

Well just a couple of months later it wound up in one of those auctions run by a huge auction house---and was sold for about a 225% profit over the price the former owner told me she had sold the ticket for.  
I could not believe that either.  

I can only hope the shop owner was actually the one who placed that ticket in that auction.  That was one of the options I suggested to her.  Or at the very least I just hope she never found out about the ticket's sale price realized at that auction.

Meanwhile my ticket is NOT for sale!  



Amazing. After this e-mail, I did ask him how much he payed for it. Sandy responds:

Hi Roberto,

Glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for the kind words. Adventures like this make collecting fun for me.

I do not want to reveal how much I paid for the ticket for a ton of reasons. Nor do I think the previous owner would appreciate me putting out the first---or second---ticket's selling price. That said I don't want to step on her toes---especially if she is unaware of how much the first ticket brought in at auction. For her sake and sanity I hope she never knows.

I respect that. No problem!

It must feel great for a collector to have this item. These are collectible items that should be in a museum or at the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Thanks Sandy! Treasure that forever and I hope one day, the Dodgers can build a museum like Yankee Stadium and you can share your item with the rest of us!

Thanks again!