Derek Jeter is just the ticket

Leave it to a Yankee to spotlight the absurdity of Massachusetts ticket scalping and reselling laws.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer, announced the upcoming season – his 20th in professional baseball – will be his last. Predictably, all seats that were available for the final series at Yankee stadium were scooped up and online prices at resellers skyrocketed. Jeter is an icon, the one everyone points to as representing all things Yankee. Five-time World Champion, post-season MVP, 11-time All Star, captain of one of the most high-profile teams in the history of sports in one of the world’s most famous cities.

But that final series in New York is just the penultimate regular season series. Jeter will end his career on the grass at Fenway Park against his longtime foe, the Boston Red Sox, on September 28. Once word got out that Jeter was retiring, the cost of tickets for that game and that series have spun off into the stratosphere in the time it takes to complete a 6-4-3 double play.

Red Sox individual games have not gone on sale yet but as they have over the past few years, the team has offered a “Double Play Pax,” pairing a hard-to-sell midweek game against a foe such as the Baltimore Orioles with a high-demand game against the Yankees. Sox officials say the package with the September. 27 and 28 games against the Yankees sold out in two hours. There is more demand and higher prices for those games than the Opening Day ring ceremony for the World Champion Red Sox.

But don’t despair; those same tickets will somehow miraculously find their way to your friendly licensed ticket reseller in Massachusetts who will legally charge two, three, even four times as much as face value, because they can. But you season ticket holder or lucky individual who scored tickets early and wants to make a little extra cash? Don’t even think about it because that is illegal. In fact, it is technically illegal for you to resell your tickets even at face value.

According to Massachusetts law, a licensed ticket reseller, who pays an annual $250 fee for the license, cannot charge more than a $2 service fee above face value. They can, however, recover what they say are costs of obtaining the tickets with expenses such as courier fees, gas, postage, long distance calls (does anyone charge for that these days?), and “costs attributable to resale.”

TiqIQ , a national clearinghouse for tickets and resellers, said at 2 o’clock yesterday, just before Jeter made his announcement, buyers could score a seat to the final Yankee home game for as little as $26. An hour later, there was nothing available for less than $200 and by last night, the average price for a ticket to the game was more than $1,150.

Ace Ticket also immediately increased their online prices. The reseller nearly doubled the price of Fenway bleacher seats, hiking them from $129 to $249 and a field box went from $275 to $349. Face value for those seats are $40 for the bleachers ($20 for the upper section) and $165 for the field box. Those prices, by the way, are higher than other games because the Sox this year instituted a tiered pricing system that varies cost by opponent and day of the week.

Those tickets appear to already be in the inventory, so it’s hard to fathom what the added costs entailed that justifies the price hike. But it’s doubtful anyone in authority will do anything about it. While Boston police do the occasional crackdown on illegal scalpers (i.e., those who don’t fork over $250 for the right to gouge), there’s little appetite to enforce the reselling laws because of the vagaries of what constitutes legitimate costs. CommonWealth contributing reporter Colman Herman made it a pet project for years to try to shine a light on the situation but he was rebuffed by the courts.

Generally, the thought goes, no one is being hurt because it’s a deal between a willing buyer and a willing seller. The only thing you need is deep pockets to be a willing buyer.

–JACK SULLIVAN  

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick goes one-on-one with Emily Rooney to talk about the problems at the Department of Children and Families as well as the recent spike in heroin use locally and nationally. Things must be bad, because he also travels to WBUR to talk to Bob Oakes.

Another day, another State House hearing where lawmakers unload on a Patrick administration official. Yesterday’s debacle de jour: The Health Connector website.

Former state rep John Fresolo, who resigned from the House last year amid an ethics probe, said he has taken out nomination papers and is leaning toward a run, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

The Brockton Enterprise editorial page is the latest to implore Patrick to use his influence to get former House speaker Sal DiMasi a compassionate transfer to the medical facility at the federal prison in Devens.

The Berkshire Eagle cries foul on the medical marijuana licensing process and wants a “do-over.” State House heavies could be buzz-kills in demanding more follow-up on whether firms awarded marijuana dispensary licenses were completely truthful on their applications.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Globe catches up with this recent reminder from CommonWealth and this bit of inconvenient truth-telling from BoMag’s David Bernstein: Boston’s newly-announced gun buyback program is not likely to do anything to quell gun violence.

Former Boston City Hall watchdog Joe Slavet tells the Herald he hasn’t ever seen the scale of buyouts Tom Menino handed to top aides.

The audit of the much derided Boston Redevelopment Authority that then-mayoral candidate Marty Walsh promised is now underway.

Boston City Council President Bill Linehan, who hinged his unsuccessful bid to wrest the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast from Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry on his status as the “dean of the local delegation,” won’t celebrate St. Paddy’s with any locals this year. He’ll be in Limerick, Ireland.

Boston’s Chinatown residents seek relief from rising rents.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Check out this map showing the comparative wealth of the United States. Where the names of states would normally go, the names of countries with similar gross domestic products are listed. Thailand, for example, is substituted for Massachusetts.

ELECTIONS

Joan Vennochi explores the dicey world of political consultant Doug Rubin, who is working for Mohegan Sun, which got all indignant about criticism that it puts liens on homes of overextended gamblers, while he also bills Martha Coakley, the AG and gubernatorial candidate, who is one of those getting indignant and demanding that casinos in Massachusetts come with a no-lien guarantee.

The Wall Street Journal spotlights a gay Republican who is running to join a Tea Party-heavy House in Washington from California by putting his partner and a gay pride parade in a television ad; the Journal also speaks with Richard Tisei, who’s waging his second campaign for Congress.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page calls Sen.Ted Cruz “the minority maker” for forcing a debt ceiling debt on his Republican colleagues.

MARATHON BOMBINGS

The first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings will be marked by a ceremony on April 15 at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Comcast Corp. , the nation’s largest cable television company, agrees to buy Time Warner, the No. 2 operator, in a deal valued at $45 billion, the Associated Press reports.

EDUCATION

Charitable contributions to colleges increased by 10 percent last year, according to a survey by the Council on Aid to Education.

The New Bedford school superintendent is seeking $4.6 million more than the state requires the city to spend in an effort to push reforms in the struggling school system.

Braintree officials are cracking down on out-of-town students in the schools, kicking out children from five families they determined were not town residents.

UMass Lowell is preparing to transform an honors program into an Honors College within the school, the Sun reports.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Worcester jury finds Julie Corey guilty of killing Darlene Haynes and cutting the unborn baby from her womb, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

MEDIA

Slate attacks Sports Illustrated’s coverage of Michael Sam.