Ticket Stubs: A New Category of Sports Collectibles is Hot

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

In 2019, the sports trading card market started to heat up again. A rush of nostalgia and drive to acquire cards of favorite athletes triggered the revival of the sports card market that’s expected to continue growing for years to come.  

Since 2019, trading card market preferences have evolved — from prospecting on rookie players to buying Pokemon cards to funneling back to vintage cards and accomplished veterans and now . . . to ticket stubs. 

Graded ticket stubs have been on the minds of serious collectors for the past year (and beyond) and recent sales confirm the interest from a wider group of collectors. 

Ticket stubs offer a fascinating dimension to collecting trading cards because they are physical items from a specific meaningful event, and they are hard to find in good condition. 

This creates scarcity (low supply) and as demand grows, we’ve seen some eye-popping prices from decades-old tickets to games that turned out to be historically relevant. 

We’re going to dive into 10 recent ticket-stub sales that show the expansion of the market and interest in a wide variety of sports collectibles. 

1. Michael Jordan 1984 NBA Chicago Bulls Debut Ticket Stub PSA 6 — $264,000

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We’ve seen plenty of headlines for all-time high sports card sales, but this PSA 6 ticket from Michael Jordan’s debut game sold in December now holds the record for most expensive ticket stub ever sold. 

Michael Jordan was ranked the best NBA basketball player of all time by ESPN and this is the ticket stub from his first-ever NBA game. Jordan scored 16 points, had 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals in that game. 

This is the highest-graded ticket stub from that game and it sold in December for a record $264,000.

2. Tom Brady 2001 First Career Touchdown Pass Autographed Ticket PSA 10 — $144,000

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Tom Brady has won 7 Super Bowls, but his first-ever career touchdown pass came in his second season against the San Diego Chargers on 10/14/2001. 

Brady threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots defeated the Chargers 29–26 in overtime.

Heritage Auctions sold this PSA 10 ticket stub with Brady’s autograph in November for $144,000. 

3. Wilt Chamberlain 100-Point Game Ticket Stub PSA Authentic — $85,200

Goldin Auctions

ESPN ranked Wilt Chamberlain the 6th best NBA player of all time and this ticket stub comes from his March game against the New York Knicks in 1962 when he scored a record 100 points. He led the Philadelphia Warriors over the Knicks with a final score of 169–147. 

A PSA authentic ticket from that game sold for $85,200 at Goldin Co. this past August. 

4. Tom Brady NFL Debut Ticket Autographed PSA 6 — $73,200

Goldin Auctions

On November 23rd, 2000, the sixth-round pick who would go on to win 7 Super Bowls stepped onto the field for the first time to play the final series of a Thanksgiving day game against the Detroit Lions. 

The Patriots lost that game but Brady threw 3 passes and completed 1 for 6 yards. 

An autographed ticket from that game (graded a PSA 6), was sold via Goldin Auctions for $73,200 in October. 

5. Mickey Mantle Debut Ticket Stub PSA 1.5 — $67,200 (currently at auction)

Goldin Auctions

Mickey Mantle won seven World Series with the New York Yankees and was ranked the 6th best baseball player of all time by ESPN. Mantle debuted for the Yankees against the Boston Red Sox on April 17th, 1951. 

The Yankees beat the Red Sox 5–0 and Mantle was 1–4 with an RBI and run scored. 

The card is currently live on Goldin and has a bid (that includes buyer premium) of $67,200 with 19 days left in the auction.  

6. Tom Brady 2001 New England Patriots vs. New York Jets Autographed BGS Auto 10 — $44,400

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Goldin Auctions

Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round by the New England Patriots in 2000 but didn’t have any notable playtime until the second week of the 2001 season. Drew Bledsoe, a former 1st overall pick who led the Patriots to a Super Bowl (but lost) suffered an injury and was replaced by Brady, who had thrown only 1 pass up until that point. 

He came in with the Patriots down 10–3 and couldn’t pull off the upset, but went 10–3 the rest of the regular season and led his team to a Super Bowl Victory over the St. Louis Rams. 

Since that season, Brady has won 6 additional Super Bowls and is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time. 

A signed ticket stub inscribed “The Beginning” from that game sold for $44,400 at Goldin Co in January of 2022. 

7. Pelé 1958 World Cup Sweden Ticket Debut PSA 1 — $36,000

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Goldin Auctions

Pelé won 3 World Cups and is often recognized as the best soccer player in history. He was declared a national treasure by Brazil and scored 3 goals in his World Cup debut at just 17 years old. 

A PSA 1 graded card from his World Cup debut sold at Goldin Auctions for $36,000. 

8. Diego Maradona Argentina Ticket Stub From International Debut PSA 2 — $33,720

Goldin Auctions

Sports Illustrated ranked Diego Maradona ahead of Pelé as the greatest soccer player in history after playing professionally for 21 years. Maradona debuted with the Argentinian national team on February 27th, 1977 vs. Hungary at just 16 years old as a sub in the second half. 

Goldin Co. sold a ticket stub (PSA 2) from that debut game for $33,720 in January. 

9. Kobe Bryant Signed NBA Debut Ticket Stub PSA/DNA Authentic — $33,600

Goldin Auctions

ESPN ranked Kobe Bryant the 9th best basketball player in history after 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, 5 NBA Championships, a league MVP award, and an 81-point game. 

Bryant was drafted to the NBA straight from high school as the 13th overall pick. On November 3rd, 1996, he came off the bench against the Timberwolves and had 1 rebound, but didn’t score any points. 

In May of 2021, Goldin Co. sold an autographed PSA authentic ticket stub from his debut game for $33,600.

10. Ken Griffey Jr MLB Debut Ticket Stub (1989) PSA FR 1.5 — $20,400

Goldin Auctions

Ken Griffey Jr. played 22 seasons in the MLB, is a Hall of Famer, 13-time All-Star, won 10-Gold Glove Awards, and ranks 7th all-time in Home Runs. Unfortunately, Griffey Jr. never won a World Series. 

He debuted for the Seattle Mariners on April 3rd, 1989, and hit a double on his first at-bat helping the Mariners defeat the Athletics 3–2. 

Goldin Co. sold a ticket from Griffey’s debut (PSA 1.5) for $20,400 on January 9th, 2022. 

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