What's tying-game ticket worth? $9, for some

September 06, 1995|By Michael James and Peter Hermann | Michael James and Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writers

On the day when Cal Ripken immortalized himself alongside Lou Gehrig in the annals of baseball history, Avrum Weiss got himself a ticket to the game for only $9.

"I just want to pay face value. I'm a taxpayer," said the 48-year-old Northwest Baltimore resident as he stood in the scalp-free zone outside Camden Yards before the game. "I'm not a big baseball fan. I want to be here for the history of the great moment. But I'm not going to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket."

Despite all the pageantry of the record-tying game, tickets were readily available for those willing to wait patiently in the scalp-free area.

Police arrested 14 people for scalping tickets. They attemped to charge anywhere from $100 to $250 for a ticket, said Lt. Russell N. Shea, commander of police security at Camden Yards. He said 14 is an unusually high number of arrests -- there are two or three on a normal night at the park.

Some fans spoke of scalpers getting anywhere from $300 to $600 a ticket, but "professional" ticket brokers said last night's game was not commanding as high a price as some fans were expecting.

"I had a guy who came up to me with a pair of club tickets and he wanted to sell them to me for $1,500 apiece," said a man holding a sign saying "We need tickets" on Howard and Pratt streets. "I laughed at him. I said, 'It's not like Cal's going to hit a home run every time up. All he's got to do is show up. That's not worth $1,500 a ticket.' "

The man wouldn't give his name, but said he was working for a ticket broker. He said the "true market value" of two tickets behind home plate for last night's game was about $150 apiece.

But Keith Heagey, 42, of Timonium, fetched a fancier price -- he got $500 for a pair of upper box seat tickets for tonight's game from someone who answered his classified ad in the paper. He kept two tickets for himself.

"My wife's going to divorce me, because I'm not taking her to the game," Heagey joked. "I'm taking my brother-in-law instead. He's more of a baseball fan."

Heagey said he was surprised he got so much for the tickets. "I took my money and ran," he said.

Tony Murphy, a 30-year-old construction worker from Overlea who got two tickets for last night's game as a gift from a friend, said he saw an ad in the newspaper from someone asking for $6,000 for four tickets to the record-breaking game, complete with parking pass and dinner at the Camden Club.

"I'm a fanatic, and this game tonight means a lot to me, but that's crazy," said Murphy. "I can't afford $300 a ticket, much less $1,500."

But for some the opportunity to be at Ripken's record-tying or record-breaking game is priceless.

"I wouldn't sell this ticket for a million dollars," said 37-year-old John Murphy, a Baltimore native who now lives in Ashburn, Va. "Cal is Baltimore. And this is a record that will never be broken."

While Murphy stood at Pratt and Hanover streets, two men stood nearby wearing yellow signs saying, "I'll buy your used tickets."

One of those men, Tony Diggs, 26, said he was paying $5 for a used ticket on behalf of a memorabilia shop.

He stood outside the ballpark two hours before game time to remind people that he would gladly buy their tickets after the game.

"They'll turn that $5 into $50 tomorrow. Everybody's out to make a buck," Murphy said.

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