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We don’t get ticket stubs anymore

Jun 24, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT


At least not usually. These days you’re way more likely to buy your tickets online and get a paper printout instead of a traditional ticket. Paul Lukas, writing at The New Republic, is not a fan of this development. Partially because actual tickets look cool and, in their own way, are almost like little pieces of art. But also because of what they represent:

So the real cost of digital ticketing isn’t just the loss of nicely designed physical items. It’s also the loss of documentation, the loss of personal totems that serve as touchstones to past experiences. Of course, digital tickets are documented too, since every ticket purchase and turnstile scan ends up on a hard drive or server as more data to be mined. But that’s not the same as having an envelope full of stubs that you can pull out of the drawer whenever you like.

I understand that. As a fellow oldster I kinda miss tickets. Missed even more in this vein: LP album art. Yes, I know vinyl is making a comeback but not in anything approaching volume, and not for acts which might make bad album art, which was almost as fun as good album art.

But unlike Lukas, my missing tickets and things is merely a fleeting aesthetic bummer. I don’t feel like we’re short any means of documenting our experiences these days. Quite to the contrary. Paul has a blog. I do too and anyone can have one if they want one. Plus Facebook and Instagram. Plus has the box score, attendance and game time temperature of every game played in our lifetimes. If anything we have a surplus of memory-jogging remembrances of games we attend. Maybe you can’t put that in a drawer, but unlike Lukas, most people don’t keep good track of their ticket stubs and other totems. And given the vagaries of memory, the new manner of documentation is way more detailed and way more reliable.

I went to a Braves-Phillies game in Veteran’s Stadium around the Fourth of July in 1989. I remember being in the park and I have a snapshot of my brother, my cousin and me out in the right field stands but I can’t really remember what was going on when we took the picture. I long since lost the ticket stub. But I can go to and, ah … there it is. I found it because I remember it was a Sunday and John Smoltz pitched, but before I clicked that I had no memory of Lonnie Smith being the offensive hero of the game. My untrustworthy memory probably caused me to block out everything good Lonnie Smith did sometime around October 1991 …

Now think about games you’ve gone to in the past couple of years. You may have checked in at the ballpark on Facebook or Foursquare. If you were so inclined you could have all manner of pictures you captioned in real time. If you’re like me you may have tweeted funny things that happened during the game. You may have a scorebook. Even if you did nothing but sit back, drink beer and watch the game, you still have a comprehensive digital record of it by virtue of the work of online folk and MLB and everyone else keeping track of the game. While you don’t have that satisfying ticket stub any longer, if you wanted to document that game in a manner which helps preserve your memory of it you have more tools at your disposal than you ever did.

Which isn’t to say that old school tickets aren’t cool and that I don’t miss them. It’s just that like autographs and any number of other things, they’re not essential to our memories and experiences. And the things we have which serve their purpose today, however easily mocked as frivolous and disposable, are just as effective in that regard. Maybe even more so.

(via Sullivan)

  1. heyblueyoustink - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    “Yes, I know vinyl is making a comeback”

    Vinyl never left in my life so far, it was merely passed down and shared with those who could appreciate the crackle behind a LP and understand the need for a couple of pennies, a nickel, and a dime right next to the turntable.

    I think I’ll bust out ” The Joker ” tonight.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      Roberta Flack’s First Take with that incredible bass does not translate well to digital. I really think it comes down to the kind of music and the sound whether it needs vinyl or not.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        ” Jumping Jack Flash ” by the Stones is simply awesome on vinyl.

        And as a side note, you clowns with the thumbs down fettish: Good morning to you all! May Steve Miller cheer you up at some point today!

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

        I think anything bluesish or with a strong R&B influence needs vinyl personally. But, I enjoy techno stuff too and that is obviously digital in nature.

        I see your Steve Miller and up you Supertramp’s Breakfast in America.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      I re-raise with “Cheech and Chong’s Wedding Album”, one of the prizes of the collection.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        /looks over the Firestone Christmas album series, original Muppet Movie, Red Box Circle and the Square, and U2’s War and Unforgettable Fire and sniffs

        Have a nice day.

      • Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM

        Firesign Theater on vinyl is curiously indistinguishable from the Firesign Theater on mescaline.

      • historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 6:57 PM

        BTB, I hope you realize I was just playing. I don’t think my collection is really all that.

  2. DD23 - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    I recently looked up one of my best baseball memories as well. I went to an old-school day/night doubleheader with my dad at Yankee Stadium back in 1995 (Aug 10th to be exact). What I remember vividly is Mike Stanley(!) hitting three home runs in game one against the Indians. What I didn’t remember was that the starting pitcher in that game was none other than Mariano Rivera. The 9th of his 10 career starts in fact. Blew my mind when I saw it the first time. Don’t remember anything about him pitching but it’s still fun.

  3. makeham98 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    I used to hang on to ticket stubs and programs till I got married and somehow they disappeared. I can’t say my life came to an end, I mangaed to survive. And my kids couldn’t care less, they have cell phone photos if they really care.

    I used to read Lukas regularly until his site became overwhelmed with basically fan art uniforms that I lost interest in when I was 12.

  4. Ben - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    My souvenir from last year’s Matt Cain perfect game–A crumpled up StubHub printout that I stuffed in my pocket during the first inning. Which makes me a bit sad, I’d love to show that to my kids someday, or something.

    Then again, I wouldn’t have been there without StubHub’s printouts–we bought those tickets last minute for 5 bucks because hey, why not? Let’s go to a game tonight.

    Cuts both ways I guess.

  5. bankboy2012 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    I’ve kept the stubs (and since the advent of bar code scanning, whole tickets) for just about everything I’ve been too, including the first game my father ever took me to. Yes, even the odd print at home jobs.

    Like you said Craig, they’re not essential, but flipping through them is kind of fun, and a tangible reminder of how lucky I’ve been to share these games with my dad (and now my son as well) over 35 years and counting of going to games.

  6. sabatimus - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    The stubs are more likely to survive than anything on the internet after WWIII happens.

  7. dsims000 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Instead of a stub I buy the scorecard (or get one for free) at the souvenir shop and keep score. That’s my move to jog my memory.

  8. tc4306 - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Blue Jays tried some sort of card system this year: all your games were loaded on to a card like a credit card.

    You would present the card, it would be scanned and a stub with your seat location printed out for you.

    Of course the scanners did not work, or they might not have the right kind of scanner at the gate your entered, or there would be one such scanner for the first thousand people.

    I put up with that for two games and then went to customer service and politely but forcefully demanded that they print me tickets. Those remaining are in the drawer.
    Works much better.

  9. josemartez - Jun 24, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Whenever I buy tickets online I get them delivered because I like the physical ticket and not the dumpy looking print out from home. The downside is that the tickets are all pretty generic nowadays (at least the ones I’ve bought), but I still have a memento I can keep.

  10. Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Who needs ticket stubs? We’re getting cut off at the knees by the economy.

  11. historiophiliac - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    I like to keep my tickets (concert, games) up on a board w/ pics and mementos in my office. I hate paper tickets for just that reason and usually avoid printing at home. I’m not much of a picture person (I don’t even own a camera) — I think they never do justice to the memory you have of something, so I don’t take those. I did snap a couple at the game where we were on the second row because when else are you going to be that close to MIggy and get that kind of shot (well, at least, me anyway)? That was a special game though, and I don’t take pics much in other games. Also — and I know this is weird to say as a comment on a blog — I don’t enjoy putting a lot of stuff online publicly. But most importantly, I’m tactile (which is true for a lot of people, I think) and enjoy holding the thing that connects me to that memory. Digital posts don’t give me that.

  12. sdelmonte - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    They still sell scorecards, right?

    And you can get fake tickets from milestone games so easily now that they water down the value of stubs.

  13. shanabartels - Jun 24, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I have a bunch of StubHub printouts in my drawer as (ugly) souvenirs. The two times that I was lucky enough to get invited to a game as a guest of someone who had corporate seats — once at Yankee Stadium in 2011 with my friend who works in IT at Sports Illustrated and once at Fenway this April with my uncle who works for the big utility company in New England — I got an actual paper ticket and an actual stub (and a cushier seat than I could ever have bought on my own). But those two cases are definitely outliers.

  14. sabatimus - Jun 24, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Man. SOMEbody has a serious case of the down-thumbsies.

    • Old Gator - Jun 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      It’s just a thumb harpy.Thumb harpies don’t have a retractable thumb, so they spend most of their time sitting on it. They only take it out when they want to make assholes of themselves.

  15. andycher - Jun 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Print out 2 copies of each ticket
    Leave one home
    Suitable for framing

  16. foreverchipper10 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    Sometimes the stub means more too. I wish I had a ticket stub instead of a printout of the one and only game I attended at Turner Field.

  17. trumpet87 - Jun 24, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I only ticket stub I wish I had was from first game at Target Field. That one is just a stub hub print off and if I am one day fortunate enough to attend a world series game or a no hitter/perfect game otherwise ticket stubs don’t meant anything

  18. bigmacmantle - Jun 29, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    The below NY Times article reminded me of this post.

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