Clicks for tix the new baseball tradition

Clicks for tix the new baseball tradition

Jim Tsaveras is a fourth-generation Yankees fan whose great grandfather, Jimmy Bero, was Babe Ruth's bowling partner.

"Babe was as good a bowler as he was a baseball player," said Tsaveras. "His bowling ball is in the Baseball Hall of Fame."

It is obvious how important baseball tradition is to Tsaveras. He has told a lot of Yankee stories and spent many fulfilling days and nights at the House That Ruth Built. But new traditions are created along the way when you carry that kind of torch for the generations before you, and fans all around Major League Baseball will identify with one important tradition he created.

Tsaveras, 40, a vice president for an engineering firm in Lynbrook, N.Y., is part of today's Online Ticketing Generation. He is a self-proclaimed "Bleacher Creature" who went to yankees.com to renew his season ticket for Section 39 at Yankee Stadium next season. The majority of tickets for Major League Baseball games are now sold through Major League Baseball Advanced Media and its properties at MLB.com and the 30 individual club sites, affording Tsaveras and fans like him the ability to order/renew tickets and even print them at their leisure, and without waiting in lines.

"I renew my tickets through the Yankees' Web site every year," said Tsaveras in an e-mail to MLB.com. "I also buy additional tickets to Opening Day and some of the better games inside the stadium on the presale for season ticket holders, so my son can get closer to the dugout and the infield.

"Ordering online is great. When you order the tickets online, you can print them and have them in minutes. Not only do you get your tickets in hand, you save all those additional handling and shipping fees. And if you lose your tickets, you can just reprint them.

"I have sat all around Yankee Stadium," he added. "The fans who are the most fun and the most aware of what's going on in a game as a group are the ones in the bleachers. Sitting in the bleachers for Yankees-Mets games and Yankees-Red Sox games makes you feel like you're part of the game."

For many, this is the time of year when the excitement of what's ahead is building, and when each club features its season-ticket packages on its Web site. Around the start of the year, most clubs also sell single-game tickets on their sites, at which point it becomes a tradition to start planning those important summer trips and plotting those one-of-a-kind experiences from the comforts of home or from the office computer.

This has become one of the important changes in the life of a typical baseball fan, and the change affects an increasing number of people each year. For millions, it is much different from the days when they might have walked up to the ticket window with their father and asked, "What do you have available today?"

Each of the 30 clubs might operate its online ticketing areas differently, but they all typically feature cutting-edge capabilities and functionality to make the experience even better. You can "see" your seat. You print a ticket, and just take it to the turnstile. You can even find secondary tickets through your favorite club site -- a season ticket holder who can't attend a particular game can make that unused ticket available to the public. There are also kiosks at ballparks that accept credit cards and spit out tickets.

Technology is bringing about new traditions for baseball fans, and the Online Ticketing Generation is one of the most obvious examples. It certainly has worked to the advantage of Bobby Yacuzzo, a Marlins fan who recently moved to Binghamton, N.Y. He e-mailed this story -- one that is typical of many fans of MLB.com -- about his experience ordering baseball tickets online.

"I usually did purchase my Marlin tickets online, including Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cubs back in 2003. I found it so much easier to purchase the tickets online instead of going to the local TicketMaster or driving the 40 minutes to the stadium and spending the time and the gas. Some people are still a little skeptical about this, but I print out my tickets as well instead of getting the actual tickets mailed to me. To this day, I still have the file and the printed ticket. I actually have the ticket in a jewel case with the game on CD that I downloaded from MLB.com -- even though we lost in extra innings.

"Now that I live in New York, the Phillies are about three hours away from me. So we decided to catch the Braves back in September, and I used the Phillies Ticket Marketplace, where season ticket holders sell their tickets when they can't make it. There is a service charge with that, but the Hall of Fame Club at Citizens Bank Park is worth it. That has got to be one of the better ballparks in the league. The tickets were mailed to me quickly -- within a week. The service was so good, I'll definitely use it again this season. I'm spoiled, and with the good seats with the bar right behind me."

Pauly and Holly Cadman are Angels fans who live in Malibu, and they watched the 2005 American League Championship Series against the eventual-champion White Sox after ordering their tickets through the Angels' Web site. They also are a testimony to the increasing power of ticket-exchange availability.

"Our tickets for that game were on the field level, right at the right-field foul pole, about 50 feet from Vladdy [Guerrero] in right," said Pauly. "We had never sat down there before, and although the game was a little hard to follow in terms of pitching, it was a cool perspective. Plus, seeing Vladdy close up was great. And like the emotional 12-year-old that I am, I took my glove. Holly was embarrassed until we got there and she saw that just about every other guy had his, too.

"We order tickets from the Halos' site all the time, but we usually use the Angels Ticket Exchange, a feature that lets fans buy seats from other ticket holders -- usually season ticket holders. The service allows me to get truly great seats right up to just hours before the game. Plus, I can print the ticket in my printer, avoiding all manner of lines, and the Web site has great seating charts and view angles, so we always know exactly where we will be.

"Cheap seats and field-level, behind-the-plate seats are almost always available, even for playoff games. We were able to get great seats for the ALCS just three hours before the game. This is the perfect solution to the old problem of getting tickets from scalpers or ticket agents. It takes all the guesswork and risk out of the deal -- and try paying a scalper with a credit card."

Though printing tickets from home is a tremendous convenience, there are some who will always love the actual feel and artwork of a traditional stadium ticket. Take David Cuevas, another Angels fan.

"Most everything I do regarding tickets is online," said Cuevas. "I might have a little different perspective as a collector of tickets. I seriously hope that they do not completely go away, because I love the season tickets for the artwork and player photos that are on most of them. I do use the ticket exchange through the Angels."

These stories are becoming a new baseball tradition, a new part of the game that is firmly rooted in the overall experience. Joe Boesch, a freelance writer and Federal Express employee in Melville, N.Y., attends five to 10 Yankees games a year and hits the club's Web site ahead of time to order the tickets.

"The evolution of e-commerce has changed how we buy items, including baseball tickets," said Boesch. "How great is it to log onto your favorite team site, search for tickets, check the seating chart and place the order? The one-hour drive to Yankee Stadium or even Shea is not worth it. In a matter of five to 10 minutes, I can have my tickets and have them shipped, or pick them up at the 'will call' window. So e-commerce has changed the face of ordering and baseball. I know several years ago, when I went to Ron Guidry Day at Yankee Stadium, I searched for the seats, found them on the left-field side and got to see Hideki Matsui patrol the outfield, being three rows from the field.

"What an experience, thanks to technology."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.