He is also missing one of the potential gems of the entire batch — a ticket from Jordan’s regular-season debut in 1984. This gets deep into the ticket-collecting weeds, but the Bulls produced several types of tickets that season, Goldberg said. There were red ones and blue ones for season-ticket holders, a box-office version and another from Ticketron. The red ticket is the most desirable since red is the team color, Goldberg said, and one was sold about two years ago for $33,000. Goldberg has not seen another available for purchase since. How much would he be willing to shell out to acquire one?
“I don’t think that I could share anything that could end up in print and stay married,” said Goldberg, who has twin 1-year-old sons with his wife, Barbara.
Goldberg can still pick up a run-of-the-mill Jordan ticket for around $5 or $10, he said. And for the record, he said, his hobby has essentially funded itself: He sold his comic books for about $2,000 in seed money, and now he often trades or sells duplicate tickets to fill holes in his collection. (The duplicates, he said, are useful when making deals with other collectors.)
These days, the printed ticket is becoming a relic. Though many sports teams still produce them for season-ticket holders, the broader supply has dwindled in the digital ticket era. Now, most fans simply have a code on their cellphones that ushers scan when they enter the arena.
“It’s a shame because it is an absolutely wonderful piece of history,” said Al Glaser of Professional Sports Authenticator, a memorabilia authentication service. “It’s like having a game-used jersey or a game-used bat.”
The pandemic also was a huge interruption for the collector crowd. The N.B.A. finished last season (and started the current one) without fans — and without tickets.