By Drew Terhall
GREENVILLE — You never know where some of the world’s rarest items are hiding. For instance, some of the earliest known Ohio State football tickets in existence are currently in Greenville.
Resident Doug Baker is a collector who came into possession of the tickets years ago. Baker said his historical collection started in the mid 90s when he collected Darke County Fair memorabilia and it snowballed from there.
His current collection features many different items from the Civil War, World War II and many more items with historical significance. Baker said he goes to different auctions and events not looking for anything specific, he just wants to find items no one else has.
“I just became passionate about history. Anything old, scarce that I could find. If I like it, I acquire it. I don’t acquire it just for value, I acquire it because I enjoy it,” Baker said. “Several years ago a guy told me, ‘Buy what you like because you might be stuck with it.’ Which is true.”
That’s when he stumbled upon an Ohio State football general admission ticket from 1905. Baker said after three years of owning a scrapbook of different pictures and documents from an auction, he discovered the ticket. He also said years later, he obtained an Ohio State football season ticket from 1898 from a collector from Pennsylvania.
With everything Baker collects, he started to research the history behind the tickets. With the 1898 ticket, he looked into who Robert E. McClure was and why he would have signed the ticket. It turns out McClure was a manager of the football team in 1898 and 1899 and was a student member of the Athletic Board in those same years.
The ticket also had ‘Complimentary’ written across it and said Press-Post. Baker said at first, he thought it could have been a press pass to a newspaper. He then discovered it was a newspaper called the Press-Post and they had taken an ad out of the Makio yearbook in 1898. Along with the newspaper, the department store Lazarus also paid for advertisement in the yearbook and to have their name on the back of the ticket.
The ticket was also signed by Dr. Christopher P. Linhart, the president of the Athletic Board and the director of the gymnasium. His signature was a sign of approval for giving the ticket to the Press-Post as complimentary.
“I’ve spent a lot of hours researching to try and find more of the history. Who signed it, why they would have signed it, who the newspaper was. It took a lot of time to research it. But, you learn from it and I enjoy that,” Baker said.
With the 1905 ticket, he learned more about the history behind the tickets while trying to find it’s worth through online research and talking with different dealers. Baker said he learned that the ticket had the bare minimum information on it because the team didn’t want to waste money printing extra information about the specific game. Many people didn’t attend games with the sport being so new. He also found out the ticket was the main way the team would track revenue from the games.
Baker did call the university to find out more about the tickets. He said the oldest ticket in their possession at the time was from 1922.
Through researching the tickets, he also found out more about the football program and about the university around that time period.
Baker said he learned many things like the football program started around 1890 and built Ohio Field in 1898, their first school field. He also learned that the university graduated about 160 people in 1898.
He found it interesting to see how far the program and the university has grown from then until now, something that applies to many different colleges.
“The 1898 Makio yearbook has two pages dedicated to football. A team photo and last names of the players, that’s it in 1898. You think how much the sport has evolved. It went from being in it’s infancy and being a new sport that maybe people weren’t even sure about to what it is today. That would apply to any college school,” Baker said.
The tickets are in good condition, which is rare for the 1905 ticket. Baker said the ticket was supposed to be torn like how tickets are torn today.
It adds to the rarity of the tickets.
“The people I’ve talked to, nobody else has seen one. The 1898 ticket, the collectors and even the dealers I’ve spoken to said there isn’t another ticket like it that exists. To go back 125 years and to find a ticket that doesn’t have a crease on it, no bends, no tears, no damage at all is scarce. To think that anything actually exists that old, the people are surprised,” Baker said.
Baker said he also has old football programs from 1919 and has a 1919-1920 university student class picture.
He not only enjoys collecting items and learning the history behind them, he also wants to share that knowledge with people. Baker said he creates different framed pieces that have pictures of the tickets, or any other item he has collected, and provides a brief summary of the historical significance of the item.
Baker said he wants to share the history with people and tell a story about things that they may not know existed.
So far, his pieces have mainly traveled around the surrounding two to three counties. Baker said it’s difficult and pricey to ship his pieces outside the area. He is happy with how the framed pieces look and doesn’t want to ship the individual parts for them to be assembled at their final destination.
Baker said through collecting and researching different things, he has met different people who are interested in his collection. It is possible to send his display pieces around the country, but it is pricey.
For instance, he had sold another sports memorabilia item to an Ohio State fan out west. When Baker found out he was an Ohio State fan, he sent him a piece about the 1905 ticket.
“I have a gentleman in Sacramento, California who is an Ohio State fan. His family was from Ohio and he’a big sports memorabilia fan. He saw the 1905 ticket and wanted one of those for his sports memorabilia room, which is impressive,” Baker said.
Baker said he enjoys the whole process of acquiring different memorabilia, studying and learning about the history behind them and sharing that with others. He also enjoys learning from others and from their items when he encounters them.
Baker does take great care of his collection. He said it’s a collector’s mentality of keeping scarce items in great condition to pass along to someone else in the future.
That’s what his job is. The memorabilia will be passed down to new owners, along with their story.
“Life is about stewardship. My job is to care for these things until I find another caretaker. Some people have things sitting in an attic or sitting in a storage room or a place where they can get damp and ruined,” Baker said. “My job is, with everything we’re entrusted with, is to care for it until somebody else takes care of it.”
Baker can be contacted at [email protected] if anyone has further questions about the tickets and his collection.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]