An Idiots Guide To Scalping Tickets

Scalper gets busted

By Daren Many


CHICAGO — I pretty much knew things weren’t going according to plan when a Chicago Police Sergeant told me he was pretty close to pulling out the cuffs. This was after his fellow female officer, who was writing me a citation, strung together a sentence full of obscenities that made me feel like I had just stolen a woman’s baby and threw it in the Chicago River.


Wait, let me back up for a minute.


We try to develop a story that transitions to film for each ballpark we visit. It offers a unique look into the game, its surroundings and the people involved. For the Chicago White Sox game we had decided ticket scalping was the story of the day.


It was a great time to breach this subject due to the scarcity of tickets. It was an interleague game between the White Sox and Cubs. A classic city rivalry that involves two teams with tons of history. It divides a city between the north and south sides. It pits couples and family members against each other.  It offers one of the best atmospheres in baseball. That is, if you can score a ticket. That’s where we came in.


Troy and I decided it would be great to get inside the world of ticket scalping. To do this we needed to know how to buy a ticket and how to sell a ticket. We decided before we left the hotel that I would be the one working this experiment even though I couldn’t sell a ladder to a guy trapped in a well.


Phase 1: Buying a Ticket.


This part is pretty easy. No matter what park you go to there are a ton of scalpers around, but they don’t always make themselves easily identifiable.  They’re trying to make a profit, and doing so on ballpark property might be illegal, depending on where you are. Sometimes the scalpers are operating in broad daylight, sometimes they’re clandestine. Today was somewhere in the middle.



All 30 Ballparks in One SeasonIt was my goal to ask around for several tickets to get a feel for the market so I knew how much I could sell for. The problem was I only needed one ticket and they usually come in pairs.  No problem. Within 45 minutes I found a guy who sold me one ticket for $75. It was a lower-level ticket and I felt good to have scored such a good price on such a hot ticket. Just 15 minutes earlier a guy tried to sell me two for $150 apiece.  They weren’t even as good as the one I just bought. Phase 1 was a success. On to phase 2.


Phase 2: Selling Tickets.


This part takes a little bit of finesse and knowledge of the area. I had neither and it would ultimately come back to haunt me. I had been observing other scalpers at work so I went about mimicking their style. This involves asking other people if they have tickets. You can ask people if they need tickets but you better be willing to sell them for face value to avoid any kind of trouble from the law. Once you get someone to acknowledge that tickets are being exchanged you can than ask if they actually have tickets to sell or if they really want to buy tickets. It’s a tricky situation but I got some interest here and there.


Selling Scalped TicketsWe weren’t willing to sell the tickets too low because of the magnitude of the game. I had a couple of guys pass up my offers and I moved along to another area. I decided to walk around the outside of U.S. Cellular Field and get away from the front entrance. People seemed to be passing through this area at a decent rate.


I found two guys who expressed interest right away. They took a look at the tickets and asked me what I wanted. Having grown up in a town of approximately 1,000 people, my street smarts leave a little to be desired. Yet, I knew enough to make them give me a price first. Then after five seconds of going back and forth I forgot my own advice and told them $85 a piece. The face value was $31.


This is when half of the Chicago PD rolled in.


A guy in a blue polo came from behind me out of nowhere. Batman had nothing on this guy. I might have to go back and consult the video (Troy was filming me secretly across the street) but I’m pretty sure the guy came down from the side of the stadium on a zip line.


Almost as fast, another cop rolled up on a four-wheeler. I had just tried to sell my tickets to undercover cops. I was called over to the woman officer on the four-wheeler and given a brisk round of questioning by her and what turned out to be a sergeant of the CPD. They asked me if brokering tickets was my full-time job and if anyone was working with me. I pulled out the “I’m a dumb hick from Colorado” card and “I just wanted wanted to get rid of some extra tickets” line.


This drew some raised eyebrows.  I also asked them how come they were giving me a hard time when there were guys all around doing the same thing.


In hindsight I shouldn’t have said that. After telling the cops how to do their jobs it became quite clear that the sergeant wanted to flex some of his power. He went off. He told me he could put me in bracelets so fast my head would spin. His annoying sidekick on the ATV expressed a deep consternation that involved obscenities as to why I would question their business. I’ve never seen someone enjoy writing a ticket so much.


Of course, Troy was filming this the whole time from across the street so keep an eye out for the video version of this classic moment.  Phase 2 was a complete disaster. On to Phase 3.


Phase 3: Lose Tickets, Get Fined.


So in conclusion I lost both of the tickets, got a fine (which I don’t know the cost of yet), and then had to go inside and get raped again as I bought beer for ridiculous sums of money. We have our counsel Todd working on our case back in Portland as I write this.  It didn’t work out the way we planned but I learned some valuable lessons, such as don’t sell tickets to undercover cops.


As far as the game it was once again another blowout.  The Sox thumped the Cubbies. The atmosphere was incredible, though. It was one of the rowdier games we’ve been to with several fights breaking out in the crowd (we also have those on video).


Baseball in Chicago is for real. The only other city that’s even close from my experience is New York.

Ahhhh. True Love.

Ahhhh. True Love.


My story about scalping might overshadow our experience at Wrigley Field the day before, but in all reality Wrigley is the No. 1 story in my mind. It’s unreal.


If it weren’t for the way people dressed and the lack of horse carriages outside of the park you would think you went back in a time machine to the early 1900s and were watching a game. For the first time on this trip I really, truly felt the history of the game.


Going to Wrigley is an experience unlike any other. It’s like sitting in a living museum and being a part of something you can’t even understand. It transcends baseball and if you’ve never been you need to add it to your list. If or when I ever have kids I will be taking them to Chicago to watch baseball and experience the city.


It’s off to Ohio, but I will never forget these past few days. Not ever.


Mets: Making a push. Only 3 games back.

(There’s more on this and our other adventures at


9 Responses to “An Idiots Guide To Scalping Tickets”

  1. Nice…………..Hope Tod can help. Are the authorities still unawear of the mic? Doesn’t sound like you have much of a defense. 😉

  2. Daren – if you need to hide out from the law, come stay with us in Hawaii. Hope the rest of your trip is more law-abiding!

  3. I’m not sure if I can leave the mainland. Is there baseball in Hawaii?

  4. […] Daren has written a much more titillating summary of his encounter with the Chicago Police Department that you can read here. […]

  5. Daren,

    I attached a link for you to study so you can become a better criminal.

    I hope this helps out in the future.

    After reading Nolan’s blah, blah, blah, blog about his house (I did not know there was a baseball stadium there for you guys to visit), I did notice a glaring oversight on his part. He failed to show the remodeled master bathroom. Here is the link to his new addition.

    Also, I was wondering since nolan is allowed to talk and talk and talk about his home life zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (sorry dozed off there for a second) will you answer random questions about life that I or other faithful readers may have for you?


    Kevin N

  6. Nice job Steve. Hilarious. I’ll answer any questions you may have about life.

  7. […] busted Daren in a scalping sting (if you haven’t heard that story yet, you can read about it here and […]

  8. […] serious attitude when we went there, whether it was the local law enforcement or the fans. Of course it was an interleague series with the Cubs. The area around the field is […]

  9. Excellent blog post. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Stick with it!

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