Tigers fans Terry and Stephanie Rorke of Maybee, Mich., and Jen Hoyer, center, cheer from the bleachers beyond right field. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
There were bargains to be had on the aftermarket ticket sites for Tuesday’s game. They tended to come with nosebleeds or backaches, but they beat paying $1,542 for $170 seats.
Technically, no one actually did that, but it wasn’t for lack of effort by the ticket-holders.
What used to scornfully be referred to as ticket scalping is now done online with gentility and laser printers. For the Detroit Tigers’ first home game of the American League Championship Series against the heathen Boston Red Sox, just one of the sites — StubHub.com — had 3,139 tickets available two hours before game time in a ballpark with a listed capacity of 41,255.
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s more than 7½ percent of the house, still up for grabs after batting practice had started.
Among the unclaimed seats at that point were Nos. 10 and 11, Row K, Section 105, scenically located behind the right-field fence. For a premium game during the regular season, they cost $39 apiece.
Proving conclusively that not all the pirates are in Pittsburgh, Major League Baseball priced them at $65 each for the first round, $105 for this one and $280 for the World Series. In a tribute to optimism, someone was trying to sell them for $3,512.30, peanuts and Cracker Jack not included.
One row in front of that, Jason and Lori Tackaberry of Auburn Hills were on the aisle for $120 each. “I would have gone a little higher,” said Jason, 39, “but I knew in the back of my head she would have killed me.”
Three hundred feet closer to home plate, in the first row behind the backstop, Nos. 5 and 6 in Section 125 were on the market for $1,542 each. By game time, they were occupied — by the owners, a couple from Rochester who have had season tickets since 30-year-old Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was born.
“We knew we wouldn’t sell them at that price,” said the husband, or at least, not to a Detroiter. Considering how expensive things are back East, he said, he figured some sap with a funny accent might accept a trifling markup from the original $170.
Jeff Hannigan of Birmingham has season tickets for Section 129, Row 7, Nos. 7 and 8. He mostly admires them from afar; clients of Hannigan Media have occupied them regularly, but Tuesday was only his second game of the season.
He paid $170 for them this round, but wasn’t even sure of the price, since season ticket holders buy an entire postseason’s worth at once and wait for a refund for any unused games. “It’s a great deal,” Hanningan noted, “if you’re an Ilitch.”
The two seats to the left of Hannigan’s 13-year-old, Caitlin, were listed on StubHub for $497. Half an hour before the first pitch, they were empty.
“I wouldn’t sell them for $497,” said Hannigan, 49, “but I wouldn’t buy them for $497.”
The best deals were for the worst seats and the non-seats. In the deep recesses of the third deck along the left field line, after-marketeers were selling $85 tickets for as little as $51.50, and in front of the swells in the Tiger Den, Kate Clay of Warren reported spending only $40 for a $50 place to stand.
John Pettit, 53, and his son Tyler, 24, paid full price online for no-frills admission with no complaints. They rolled in from Grand Rapids and were happily propped against a concrete wall, beers in hand.
“The guy behind us paid $160 to sit there,” Tyler said. “I paid $50 to stand in front of him.”