Bob Ryan

Doing away with paper tickets for sports events is a mistake

barry chin

The Boston Bruins have eliminated paper tickets. Thus does the decline and fall of Western Civilization accelerate.

For if there are no paper tickets, there are no ticket stubs. And for so many people, possession of ticket stubs enables them to hold on to the pleasant memories that make the sports fan experience distinct and pleasurable.

That would include me. And I have proof.

1. Oct. 17, 1964, Boston Garden


My first home Celtics game. You think I was going to pass this one up? Got there as soon as the doors opened. Got a nice first balcony seat. These were the Bill Russell/Red Auerbach Celtics at the peak of their glory. Detroit was the hapless foe. Celtics 112, Pistons 81. Russell had 19 points and 22 rebounds. This was the first of 62 triumphs as the Celtics rolled to their seventh straight title.

2. Nov. 28, 1964, Alumni Stadium, Boston College

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BC-Holy Cross was still very much a big deal, and this was my first one. BC 10, Holy Cross 8. The only touchdown was a pass from Eddie Foley to Bill Whalen. Holy Cross lost a chance for a winning field goal via a botched snap. BC fans were irked because Holy Cross quarterback Jack Lentz won the coveted O’Melia Award as the game’s MVP, rather than their choice, BC’s Don Moran. This was the final game for legendary Crusader mentor Dr. Eddie Anderson. Ticket price? $5, a dollar bump-up from the other BC home games.

barry chin

3. April 12, 1966, Convention Hall, Philadelphia

I was home in Trenton, N.J., on a spring break and really have no idea how I wound up at the deciding Game 5 of the Celtics-76ers Eastern Division finals, or with whom. Boston 120, Philly 112. Wilt Chamberlain went for a perfunctory 46. I identified the Celtics’ high scorer with 32 on the back of my stub as “JJ the BB.” That would be John Havlicek, whom Johnny Most often referred to as “Jarring John, the Bouncing Buckeye from Ohio State.”

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4. April 28, 1966, Boston Garden

Red’s last game. Celtics 95, Lakers 93. I was the recipient of a ticket thanks to a lottery. When the Lakers won Game 6 to even the series, we sent an envoy — I think it might have been Nick Mattia — to spend the night in a ticket line at the Garden. You got four tickets per customer, so of course he got one. The rest were distributed by lottery. The game had a wild ending as the crowd surged around the court in the final two minutes. Havlicek picked up a towel to wipe up spilled beer or soda. Trust me on this one: Sam Jones made a two-hand set — the gospel truth — for the Celtics’ penultimate basket and I can still hear Most yelling “ . . . from 40 feet away!” on the epic “Havlicek Stole The Ball” album.

5. May 21, 1967, Fenway Park

Took my then-girlfriend, now wife of 50 years, Elaine Ryan to a Sunday doubleheader. Red Sox 4, Indians 3 (on a George Scott home run) and Red Sox 6, Indians 2. We sat in the bleachers for a buck apiece. I didn’t know these would be the first two of 27 games I would attend that magical summer.

6. Oct. 1, 1967, Fenway Park


Red Sox 5, Twins 3. Bought the tickets during a lunch hour six weeks earlier. Looked up at the big board at the ticket office and noticed the Sox were playing the Twins the final day of the season. “That would be nice,” I said. And so we were behind the plate on one of the greatest days in Red Sox history. As memorable as the game was the postgame, riding back to Brighton on the T with multiple transistor radios bringing us the Tigers-Angels game on WHDH. Detroit had to lose for the Sox to avoid a playoff game the next day. When Dick McAuliffe hit into just his second double play of the year, the pennant was ours.

7. Feb. 10, 1969, Memorial Coliseum, Lexington, Ky.

I was on a weekend pass from Fort Knox while on Army Reserve active duty. The game was officially sold out, but I was told there would be turnbacks from Mississippi State, and indeed there were. Kentucky predictably trashed the Bulldogs, 91-69. Dan Issel, one of my all-time favorite players, had 26. For a lifelong college basketball fan, this was an unimaginable thrill.

8. Feb. 14, 1970, Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles

Our first trip to California. Young and innocent, we didn’t even have credit cards. Anyway, we headed directly from the airport to Pauley Pavilion for a 2:30 start, throwing our bags into the hotel along the way. This was the Sidney Wicks-Curtis Rowe team, when we actually liked Wicks and Rowe. It was UCLA 101, Washington 85. And guess whom we saw dining at the same restaurant as us that evening? John Wooden, that’s who. It was a very memorable first day in California.

Here’s hoping the Bruins reconsider. They’re messing with the experience.

Bob Ryan’s column appears regularly in the Globe. He can be reached at