When I was younger I never gave much thought to the printed ticket stubs I received and used for sporting events, concerts, etc. I have been to countless sporting events in my life from the historic Fenway Park in Boston, all the way down to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida; and I have always had physical tickets for these events. Being an avid sports fan, as a spectator you are always looking to be part of something great when you go to a sporting event. For baseball, some of the rarest events are no-hitters or perfect games. There is absolutely no predictability to when these magical events occur but believe me if you happen to be a witness to one, you are truly lucky. My opportunity to witness history came on October 30, 2013 when the Boston Red Sox clinched their first World Series title at home since beating the Chicago Cubs in the sixth game at Fenway back in the 1918 World Series. Prior to attending this game, all the past ticket stubs that I had always gotten for a game didn’t mean much to me. Suddenly, on that night, the value of a printed piece of paper achieved an unimaginable level of relevance for me as I looked down at my World Series ticket and realized I was a part of history and I had a way to remember it forever.
Earlier this week one of my co-workers brought in a bag full of unused Red Sox season tickets from 1986, 87, and 88. The bag also contained unused Stanley Cup Playoff tickets from 2002 and 2003. To a sports fan like me, this bag is a gold mine! The tickets are in great condition and you can easily go online to research what happened at the event that any of these unused tickets represent. Today, after almost 30 years, you can make everything out perfectly. My co-worker even has the unused tickets from 1986 on the night Roger Clemens struck out 20 batters for the first time. They are framed and hanging on a wall in the “man room” at his home (now this is a guy I can relate to!).
After viewing and enjoying these artifacts of sports history, I got to thinking about how technology is beginning to eradicate these classic pieces of memorabilia. Last summer my brother-in-law and I went to a Washington Nationals baseball game in Washington DC. I didn’t have a printed ticket, just a text message on my cellular phone that contained a link to a bar code to be scanned when I entered the ballpark. Had something magical happened that night I would have had nothing to remember it by, and no physical proof that I was there that night. Luckily, nothing historic happened, it was just a regular game that was fun to watch. It never dawned on me that other than the couple of photos I took with my camera and a post I made on Facebook about being at the ballpark, I could have been virtually anywhere.
Having had the opportunity to attend that World Series game last October as well as having attended the Red Sox game on Marathon Monday last year, I will frame these ticket stubs along with two Sports Illustrated Covers, one of the iconic photo of the 3 police officers just after the Marathon bombs went off, and the other with those same 3 officers and Red Sox star David Ortiz after the World Series. This will provide me with an heirloom quality piece of history to hang on my wall at home memorializing the events of last year. Now imagine trying to accomplish the same results with electronic tickets combined with a digital subscription to Sports Illustrated!
Print is around us everywhere, and in everything we do. The box your morning cereal comes in is printed, the instructions for that new gadget you bought, the owner’s manual for your car, I could go on forever. For me, I don’t believe the true impact print has on events ever hit home more than what I felt when seeing all those tickets. I was like an excited little boy and it brought back so many memories of attending games as a kid, and now as an adult. In 10, 20, even 30 years from now I will look at that framed collage from 2013 and remember what a great night it was to attend the World Series, how much fun it was hanging with a bunch of my friends, and having the proof that I witnessed history that night. I plan on taking my daughter to her first Red Sox game in May, and believe me, I will save that ticket stub to remember the day and tell her about it when she is older. Print is the best way to memorialize these different events; so much more reliable than a digital photo or a post to a social media website that could disappear tomorrow. Print is going to be around forever, these electronic mediums will come and go as society’s demands change. These tickets are proof of just how valuable print can be, and how just a simple strip of unused tickets can bring such joy to an individual.
So consider this for a moment – imagine having ticket stubs from September 9, 1918, Game 4 of the 1918 World Series when a Red Sox player by the name of Babe Ruth hit a two-run triple and pitched 8 innings in a win over the Cubs 3-2. Some lucky people have those stubs hanging on their walls as a result of a great-grandparent (or great-great) that saved their printed ticket.