The World Series is baseball’s grandest stage. Tens of thousands of people are making their way towards Fenway Park, tickets in hand, with only one game in mind. But outside Fenway, another type of game is well on display.
It’s the game of getting in at the last minute, and one famous – or infamous – way to do that is through a scalper.
At the corner of Brookline and Lansdowne, right outside the Cask ‘n Flagon bar, the black market for World Series tickets is up and running.
Nearly a dozen scalpers pace the corner, calling out what they have for sale like a regular vendor, except instead of a $5 program, it’s tickets worth hundreds of dollars apiece. Some, who can’t unload their tickets, huddle together, commiserating on the slow night.
About 20 feet away are Boston Police, but for now smooth traffic is taking priority.
None of the scalpers would talk on the record with WGBH News. But one scalper who talked off the record said the slow night for many isn’t new -- the result of online competition and other options for potential buyers.
One of those options is just down the street. It’s standing-room only tickets that the Red Sox have just released for sale. The line is long, but moves quickly. These tickets are a fraction of the cost of other tickets, but for fans such as Sean from East Boston, being part of a World Series is the real value.
Sean said it's his first time trying to go to a World Series.
"When you’ve got a pocket full of cash and you’re willing to pay, you can go right ahead, but like I said when they’re doing face value – when they said standing room for a World Series, for 100 bucks, I’m in," Sean said.
For Kevin Brosnan, it’s his second. He’s here with his 12-year-old son, hoping to score one more ticket after winning another one through a Red Sox lottery online. He said he prefers either option to scalping.
"I’d rather stand in line and do it legitimately," Brosnan said. "I don’t know who I’d be buying it from."
George Elderd made the trip to Fenway all the way from Seattle. The Somerville native planned to go to game 1 of the World Series with a friend who had tickets. But when those plans fell through, he decided to come down to the ballpark and try his luck. He said for him a scalper would be a last resort.
"If I have to, I’ll do it, but I don’t really want to…I’ll just wait a little while and see if they’ll go down on the price and then I’ll see if I can get a ticket when they get desperate," he said.
The trip from New Jersey was shorter for Sami Destani and his friend, but Destani echoes Elderd’s sentiments about tickets from scalpers.
"My aunt got in for $90, so that’s what we’re trying to do. And like scalpers are anywhere from $1,000 to $300… and then you don’t know if they’re fake or not."
Meanwhile back on the corner of Brookline and Lansdowne, a man finds out such a lesson the hard way. A print-out ticket he planned to buy from a scalper turns out to be no good.
Two more potential buyers, in town from Texas, decide to wait it out until they find what they call the right value. It’s their fourth straight World Series, giving them plenty of experience at such a game.
According to them, the most important thing for a buyer is patience. And as their standoff with scalpers goes on, that other game is just underway.