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Most Expensive Sports Ticket Sales: February 2022 Update

Most Expensive Sports Ticket Sales: February 2022 Update
February 28, 2022
Dylan Dittrich

The last time we compiled our rankings of the most expensive sports ticket sales in December, we marveled at the fact that eight of the top ten sales of all time took place in 2021. Here we are, just two months into 2022, and five of the top ten sales have taken place this year, including three of the top five. The ticket that spent the vast majority of last year at #1, the Masters Debut ticket, is now ninth. Sales breaking into six figures, occurring just once before the autumn of 2021, were achieved seven times so far in 2022, and not even all of them make the top ten!

With today's update, we once again usher in a new #1 ticket, and we celebrate the first two tickets to clear both $300k and $400k.

One note before we begin: Leland's sold a Wilt stub (graded PSA 3), alongside a signed program from his 100 point game, for $137,521 in January. However, as an unsigned program sold last night at Heritage for $49,200, it's likely reasonable to conclude the isolated stub sale would not currently make the top ten.

The Top Ten


Mickey Mantle MLB Debut Ticket Stub (PSA FR 1.5)

April 17th, 1951

Sold for $115,200

2/5/2022 with Goldin Auctions

When Mickey Mantle took the field against the Boston Red Sox in April of 1951, he was wearing the number 6 instead of his now famous number 7. Maybe the number was the problem, because though he notched a single in his first at-bat, his initial stint with the Yankees was perilous. Mantle was demoted to Kansas City and struggled to such an extent that he considered quitting the sport altogether, before eventually reclaiming his form and returning to New York to make all kinds of history. An icon that transcended the sport and reigns supreme over the Hobby.

Interestingly, there are earlier stubs from Mantle's first ever games as a Yankee. Mantle was called up at the end of the 1950 season, but he rode the bench and did not appear during that stretch. Leland’s sold a number of those stubs in the late 2010s, but never for more than $1,000.

The game carries a PSA population of 17, with one graded a 2, three graded a 3, and one a 5 with a qualifier. This is the only 1.5. Before the fall of 2021, the previous high for a sale of one of these stubs was for an Authentic stub at Heritage this June for $16,800. Leland’s also sold an Authentic stub back in 2014 for $3,409. And then, in September of 2021, Leland's sold a PSA 3 example for $101k, marking just the second ticket to cross the $100k threshold. With that, the key ticket of a Hobby darling was cemented as a new grail, which sees this PSA 1.5 easily surpass the higher graded sale from just 5 months ago. The Mantle grail card, his 1952 Topps, has a total PSA population of about 1,800. His true rookie, the 1951 Bowman, has a total population of about 2,450. But he only made his major league debut once, and only 17 tickets from that game were carefully and dutifully nurtured and preserved for decades before finding a home in PSA encapsulation. And that’s why this sale makes our top ten, despite not even being the most expensive ticket from that game.


1934 Augusta National Invitational Tournament Single Day Ticket

March 25th, 1934

Sold for $116,075.25

4/15/2018 with The Golf Auction

"A tradition unlike any other" began in 1934, as the "Augusta National Invitational Tournament". Augusta National Golf Club was an idea conceived by Bobby Jones following his retirement, and with the help of Clifford Roberts, he located the perfect patch of land in Georgia to develop a golfer’s heaven. The pair decided to host an annual tournament beginning in 1934, though the Masters title wasn’t adopted until 1939 (Jones found it presumptuous at the event’s inception).

Jones had retired in 1930 at age 28, having won golf’s Grand Slam that year (at that time, it was the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open, and the U.S. Amateur. He would, however, come out of retirement to play in the inaugural Augusta National Invitational Tournament, and many Masters Tournaments afterwards. The 1934 tournament was not the draw it is today, with many players including Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson not in attendance. While the return of Jones was worthy of some attention, the relative lack of fanfare contributes to the dearth of memorabilia from the event.

It’s believed that no more than 10 tickets to the event exist, inclusive of single-day passes and full-week passes. This example is a badge corresponding to the Sunday session, preserved in terrific condition. It’s the precursor for all of the Masters Sundays to come: those thrilling moments that saw the Golden Bear find himself in the Green Jacket again and again or Tiger leading the pack in his Sunday red.

The Golf Auction has handled a few sales of 1934 Sunday passes, though this particular example previously sold in April of 2013 for $19,860.50. The 2018 sale represents a 484% increase over that figure, or 42% annualized. 2012 saw a higher sale of a different copy for just under $32k. The record sale stands as somewhat of an outlier, with no other examples nearing that level – it’s particularly notable that the rarer full-week pass sold for less than half of the value a year later. Still, a tradition unlike any other spawned a ticket unlike any other, and though it has now placed the Green Jacket on the shoulders of a new champion, it was a worthy wearer while it sat atop our rankings for much of 2021.


1951 Mickey Mantle Major League Debut Ticket Stub (PSA VG 3)

April 17, 1951

Sold for $141,394.80

10/27/2021 with Classic Auctions

We covered the Mick’s debut just two spots up. This is the highest sale of the three recent Mantle debut stubs to clear $100k. Clearly, the first, in September at Leland’s, drew attention to the potential of tickets linked to key moments of Hobby icons. So, just a month later, a ticket from the same game in the same grade drew $30k more at auction. As mentioned above, the population of stubs from his debut is low, with those numerically graded even lower. Should the third PSA 3 come to auction, or even better, the highest graded PSA 5, it seems likely that we’d be restoring a ticket from this game to the top five.


Tom Brady Signed First TD Full Ticket (PSA 10, PSA/DNA 10)

October 14th, 2001

Sold for $144,000

11/20/2021 with Heritage Auctions

Weeks after replacing the injured Drew Bledsoe against the Jets, Tom Brady finally struck pay-dirt. Against the Chargers in October of 2001, Brady threw his first of what would be over 700 touchdown passes in a long, illustrious, and unparalleled career. That it took until his fourth career start suggests that his future stardom remained a great unknown. At that point, he hadn't even claimed his early career reputation as “Tom Brady, game manager.” 

Despite the fact that Tom Brady was no longer a complete no name in his fourth start, the population from this game is, remarkably, lower than that of his NFL debut There are just three full tickets (two autographed) and 14 stubs (two autographed), for a total of 17. Contrast that to 26 for the debut. Of course, with both the ticket and the auto graded a 10, this is the very best example, standing alone atop the pile. 

At the $144,000 value at Heritage, it was essentially double the next highest sale of a Brady ticket at the time, which was a sale of a signed debut ticket just a month earlier. No tickets from this game have come even near the dizzying heights reached here. For reference, a PSA 4 stub sold at Heritage in September for a mere $690.


2000 Tom Brady NFL Debut Full Signed & Inscribed Ticket (PSA 7, PSA/DNA 10)

November 23rd, 2000

Sold for $153,600

February 24th, 2022 at Goldin Auctions

It’s infamous now. Jets linebacker Mo Lewis levels Drew Bledsoe along the sideline, Bledsoe is knocked out of the game, and a young and clumsy-looking Tom Brady jogs onto the field to see out a 10-3 loss. What happened in the weeks, months, years, and decades to follow is football history. The only thing is: that wasn’t Tom Brady’s NFL debut.

A bit less than a year earlier, as families nationwide turned their attention away from the Thanksgiving blowout of the Patriots by the Lions (that feels weird to even type) in favor of some appetizers or an embarrassingly early dinner, rookie quarterback Tom Brady took the reins for garbage time. It was clear right then and there…that Brady would have to prove his greatness another day. He finished the game with one completion on three attempts for six yards in a 34-9 loss.

Nonetheless, in sports memorabilia, it pays to have the first. And that’s exactly what this ticket is: the ticket from Brady’s first ever official NFL action, signed and inscribed “NFL Debut” by the GOAT himself. There are fifteen full tickets graded by PSA from this game, nine of them signed, with five graded higher than the example sold here. There are also twelve stubs, three signed.

The trajectory of signed tickets from this game has been stratospheric. In September of 2020 a full, inscribed ticket graded an 8 sold for $7,200. In March of 2021, about a half year later, a PSA 7 signed and inscribed full ticket sold at Goldin for $15,600. Another signed full ticket with a similar inscription, this one graded authentic with a 10 auto, sold for $49,200 in August 2021 at Heritage. Then, in October, Goldin sold a PSA 6, PSA/DNA 10 for $73,200. Of course, market values multiplied once again, with this sale coming in at approximately 10x that March 2021 Goldin sale. This isn't the last you'll hear of tickets to this game in our rankings.


1903 World Series Game 3 Ticket Stub

October 3rd, 1903

Sold for $175,000

10/6/2021 with Christie’s & Hunt


When baseball’s National League contracted from twelve teams to eight in 1900, the door was opened to competition from other leagues, and Ban Johnson strolled right through that door to form the American League. After the bitterness created by aggressive raids of National League talent simmered, leadership of the leagues’ respective pennant winners ironed out plans for the first ever World Series in 1903 – a best of nine affair between the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL and the Boston Americans of the AL. That the initiative was taken by the two clubs, rather than the leagues, meant that the series was not yet formalized as a fixture of the season, and a follow up encounter did not take place in 1904, before it was indeed formalized in 1905. In 1903, the Americans would ultimately triumph five games to three, with Cy Young earning two victories on the mound for the Americans and Honus Wagner struggling at the plate for the Pirates.

Sold at Christie’s was a stub to game 3 of the 1903 Series, held at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston (where Northeastern University facilities stand today). Despite the best efforts of Boston’s “Royal Rooters” – which we now affectionately know as “Massholes” - Pittsburgh would win the game four to two. The ticket stub is ungraded and, considering, in remarkably good condition for a piece of paper from 1903 (it has had conservation and restoration work done). PSA has only authenticated two tickets from the series. This particular stub comes from the collection of baseball fanatic Charlie Sheen. Talk about provenance – winning!

Programs from the series have previously garnered six figures as well - $144,000 in 2018 for the clinching game eight and $131,450 in 2016 for game three, both at Heritage, while a scorecard from the game one program sold for $109k back in 2014. This exact stub sold for $11,750 back in 2004 with Leland's; this result represents a 17% annualized increase.

It’s fitting that this stub claimed the top spot in our rankings as the October baseball playoff action was heating up. The memories of October playoff drama are unmatched, with America's pastime reaching its seasonal fever pitch in the colder fall months, the last vestige of the summer that was and the harbinger of the long winter to come. All of those moments – the glorious walk-offs and the miseries of defeat - are preceded by the 1903 Series, where the stub that briefly held the title of most expensive ticket ever was in the house.


2000 Tom Brady NFL Debut Full Signed & Inscribed Ticket (PSA 7, PSA/DNA 9)

November 23rd, 2000

Sold for $175,200

February 6th, 2022 at Goldin Auctions

We covered the Brady debut up above, so we'll be brief. Despite this ticket having a lower auto grade than the ticket further up our rankings, it achieved the higher sum by nearly 16%. The difference is likely due to auction venue rather than market cooling, with the prior ticket selling on a Thursday night in a lighter auction for sports and this one selling in the midst of the Goldin Elite Winter Sports Auction. This result nearly 12x'd the March 2021 Goldin sale in well under a year.


1984 Michael Jordan Debut Ticket (PSA EX-MT 6)

October 26, 1984

Sold for $270,600

12/16/2021 with Huggins & Scott

Photo: Huggins and Scott

When Michael Jordan took the floor at Chicago Stadium on October 26th of 1984, few in attendance could possibly fathom the incredible scope of what he would accomplish over the course of the most illustrious career in professional basketball history. Though his arrival in the NBA was more highly anticipated than that of other #3 draft picks and college players of the year, the heights he would reach as a cultural icon could not have been predicted, and his debut performance, while strong, would have done little to make such predictions reasonable. It was a modestly successful game by his own standards: 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists in a 109-93 win over the Bullets. Still, it wasn’t long before it became abundantly clear that his star was one very much on the rise.

Consider this: there are 22,864 PSA slabbed Michael Jordan Fleer rookie cards. Those cards are from 1986, when Jordan’s stardom and significance was already increasingly apparent. There are just 31 slabbed Michael Jordan debut tickets . The population is approximately 0.1% of the size of his rookie card population; it’s even just 9% of the PSA 10 population.

Back in November, the sale of a PSA 5, which has a population of 1 with just this ticket and one other PSA 6 graded higher, dropped off of our rankings. That sale was for $56,400 at Heritage Auctions in May of this 2021. Up until then, we pondered how the record sale for Jordan’s debut ticket could sit at just 7% of the record for one of his rookie cards given the discrepancy in scarcity. With this result for the PSA 6 more than quadrupling the PSA 5 sale just seven months later, that gap not only closed significantly, but it also brought the top ticket sale nearly in-line with recent sales of the PSA 10 Fleer card.

Of course, the stub's reign as both the most expensive ticket and most expensive Jordan ticket of all time would be short lived...


1984 Michael Jordan Debut Full Ticket (PSA Authentic)

October 26, 1984

Sold for $468,000

2/26/2022 at Heritage Auctions

Up until this auction, we didn't know that a full ticket to this game even existed. Nearly fourteen thousand people attended that debut game. Among them: a Northwestern freshman who had secured two tickets. Apparently, his buddies didn't want to witness the birth of the greatest career in NBA history, and so he found himself with a keepsake. A keepsake that, when news hit of record breaking stub sales in 2021, was suddenly very valuable. Not only is this the only known full ticket to the game, but it was actually in the arena to witness it, checking the boxes of both full ticket and stub allure. One year ago, a nearly $500k ticket would've seemed foolish. Today, it's a reality of the ticket market and its meteoric rise.


1947 Jackie Robinson MLB Debut Ticket Stub (PSA GOOD 2)

April 15, 1947

Sold for $480,000

2/26/2022 at Heritage Auctions

The home opener for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in 1947 is an event which will live on in not just sports history, but world history for eons to come. On that day, Jackie Robinson, aged 28, made his official Major League Baseball debut, breaking the color barrier in the process. Despite being the subject of persistent and venomous derision, Robinson quickly came into his own on the diamond, finishing the year with a .297 batting average and earning the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year award.

Robinson would later add MVP, batting champion, World Series champion, and six-time All-Star to his resume. His number 42 was retired across all MLB teams in 1997, the first such instance in any professional sport. For his incredible achievements in challenging segregation and advancing the Civil Rights Movement, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

While Robinson made his first Dodgers appearance at Ebbets four days earlier for a pre-season game, it’s this stub that is most sought-after. Last February, a PSA authentic stub missing the entire top left-hand corner, sold for $40,800 at Heritage, surpassing a 2018 sale of a SGC authentic stub in better condition for $28,800, and the 2017 sale of a well-preserved PSA authentic stub for $20,400. With just 7 PSA certified stubs from the debut though, and all but two of them being authentic, this stub takes top billing, with the sales record to match. A moment of greater cultural significance in sports would be difficult to find, rendering this stub an excellent choice for the most expensive sports ticket ever sold.

Dropping Out - February 2022

1979 Wayne Gretzky NHL Debut Ticket Stub (PSA VG 3)

October 10th, 1979

Sold for $101,567.25

11/11/2021 with Mile High Card Company

1951 Mickey Mantle Major League Debut Ticket Stub (PSA VG 3)

April 17, 1951

Sold for $101,269.20

9/25/2021 with Leland's Auctions

1939 Lou Gehrig Day Ticket Stub Signed by Lou Gehrig (PSA/DNA Authentic)

July 4, 1939

Sold for $95,600

8/1/2014 with Heritage Auctions

1982 NCAA Finals Ticket Signed by Michael Jordan (PSA Authentic, PSA/DNA 10)

March 29th, 1982

Sold for $90,000

5/8/2021 with Heritage Auctions

1962 Wilt Chamberlain 100 Point Game Stub (PSA Authentic)

March 2, 1962

Sold for $87,330

8/7/2021 with Goldin Auctions

Dropping Out - December 2021

Tiger Woods Professional Debut Full TIcket (PSA 8)


Sold for $87,000

11/20/2021 with Heritage Auctions

2000 Tom Brady Signed & Inscribed NFL Debut Full Ticket (PSA EX-MT 6, PSA/DNA GEM MINT 10)

November 23, 2000

Sold for $73,200

10/23/2021 with Goldin Auctions

1923 World Series Game 6 Ticket Stub Signed by Babe Ruth (PSA/DNA 9)

October 15, 1923

Sold for $71,700

8/1/2014 with Heritage Auctions

Dropping Out - November 2021

1984 Michael Jordan Debut Ticket (PSA EX 5)

October 26, 1984

Sold for $56,400

5/8/2021 with Heritage Auctions

1969 Super Bowl III Yellow Variation Full Ticket (PSA EX-MT 6)

January 12, 1969

Sold for $59,098

1/21/2017 with SCP Auctions

1967 Super Bowl Ticket (PSA NM-MT 8)

January 15th, 1967

Sold for $66,000

2/24/2019 with Heritage Auctions

Dropped Out - October 2021

1967 Super Bowl Ticket (PSA NM-MT 8)

January 15th, 1967

Sold for $54,000

10/29/2017 with Robert Edward Auctions

Dropped Out - September 2021

1934 Masters Tournament Series Ticket

March 1934

Sold for $53,725.20

8/17/2019 with Golden Age Golf Auctions

Dropped Out - August 2021

1962 Wilt Chamberlain 100 Point Game (PSA Authentic)

March 2, 1962

Sold for $44,400 (with piece of Hershey Arena Floor)

5/7/2021 with Heritage Auctions

1969 Super Bowl III Yellow Variation Full Ticket (PSA EX 5)

January 12, 1969

Sold for $44,401

3/24/2018 with SCP Auctions

1919 World Series Game 8 Ticket Stub (PSA GOOD 2)

October 9, 1919

Sold for $48,000

8/15/2021 with Robert Edward Auctions

Jackie Robinson Debut Ticket

April 15, 1947

Sold for $50,000 (included with signatures from Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Eddie Stanky, and Spider Jorgenson)

9/13/20 with Hunt Auctions

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