Sunday, October 08, 2006


Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies are not accustomed to seeing their team in baseball's postseason play. The last time the Phillies reached the playoffs was in 1993, and the last time they won the World Series was in 1980.

But as the 2006 season wound to a close, the Phillies were neck and neck with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a battle for the National League wild-card berth, which would launch them into the playoffs for only the second time in a quarter-century.

As fate would have it, the Phillies came up short once again, to the despair of Philadelphians far and wide -- and, perhaps, to the relief of one former Philadelphian, K.P., a reader of this column in Charlotte, N.C.

When it seemed possible, near the end of the season, that the team might make it to the postseason, Phillies fans who held season tickets were sent playoff tickets, just in case the team made it to postseason play. K.P. received his recently deceased father's postseason tickets.

K.P.'s father had been a 30-year Phillies season-ticket holder. In January, when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack, K.P. inherited his tickets. Because K.P. was no longer living in Philadelphia, he sold the tickets at face value to a former colleague of his father's.

When the former colleague asked K.P. about postseason tickets, however, K.P. told him that he was planning to use them himself or to sell them to other friends who had inquired earlier.

K.P. wanted to know if he was under any ethical obligation to offer the postseason tickets to the former colleague."I must be," he wrote to me, "because I will feel bad if I don't!"

K.P. has no reason to feel bad. When he agreed to sell the colleague the regular-season tickets, he says, they didn't discuss the postseason since "it appeared very unlikely at the time," any more than they discussed whether K.P. would be willing to sell his tickets for the 2007 season. K.P. received his father's 2006 tickets in March and sent them onto the colleague, who promptly mailed him a check.

The reason K.P. is torn about whether he is being fair to the colleague is that season-ticket holders generally have first dibs on playoff tickets if their team makes it to the postseason. But it is K.P., not the colleague, who is the season-ticket holder. As long as he didn't violate any state or federal ticket-reselling laws or whatever conditions the Phillies organization may place on reselling tickets, K.P. had the right to sell as many or as few of his father's tickets as he wanted.

In short, the colleague has gotten what he paid for, and should not have expected to receive anything beyond what he agreed to purchase back in March.

If the same situation comes up next year, should K.P. give the colleague the first chance to buy the postseason tickets if he doesn't use them himself? I'm sure the colleague would appreciate the gesture, but K.P. has no obligation to do so.

K.P. was clear with his father's old colleague about exactly what he was buying when he bought the tickets, so he's already done the right thing. The colleague is lucky to have acquired tickets in a season when the Phillies made the end of regular-season play more exciting than usual for their fans.

"My dad would have enjoyed this season," K.P. writes, "although he was accustomed to Phillies October disappointment!"


Anonymous said...

Mr. Seglin,

I am an attorney in Irvine, California, and a member of a group of LA Angels season ticket holders (I have also been a member of prior groups of season
ticket holders). Your Baseball-ticket resale worry response was in this morning's Orange County Register (Monday, 10/9/06).

I totally disagree with your response to K.P.--K.P.'s concerns were right on, because unless the issue of playoff tickets is specifically discussed, it has always been an unstated and unwritten rule in our groups that each member of the group has the right of first refusal to his/her share of playoff tickets. K.P.'s father's colleague who purchased the regular season Phillies tickets had every right to expect that K.P. would consult with him first about playoff tickets before giving/selling them to someone else--it's part of the 2006 season (you correctly state that the colleague has no automatic right to the tickets for the 2007 season unless that was agreed upon). Obviously, K.P. could use the playoff tickets himself ahead of the colleague because they do elong to K.P., but K.P. ethically owed the colleague first chance at the 2006 playoff tickets before K.P. gave/sold them to someone else.

I enjoy reading your column and generally agree with your views. We will have to agree to disagree on this one (unless of course you are persuaded by my "overwhelming" argument). Thanks.

Stephen Berger

Anonymous said...

If K.P's father's colleague had been part of a group, of course he would have been entitled to first shot at the playoff tickets. But being a member of a group means some number of people get together and buy their season tickets through a single account so that they sit together.If one person leaves the group, then one less ticket is purchased.

In this case, the colleague wasn't part of any group. He simply bought tickets that K.P had, but couldn't use.Would have been nice for K.P. to offer him the tickets, I probably would have done it, but it wasn't part of the deal they made.Unless the Phillies work very differently than the Mets do, K.P. had to pay for those tickets before they were sent.Would the colleague have had an ethical obligation to buy them whether he wanted to or not, considering that there was no discussion?

Jeffrey L. Seglin said...

Mr. Berger raises a good point here. In his group since the expectation is that each member of the group has the right of first refusal, the right thing in his group would have been for K.P. to offer the post-season tickets first to other members of the group.

While it would have been a nice gesture for K.P. to offer his father's former colleague the post-season tickets, the original sale of the tickets did not include the post-season tickets. Ideally, K.P. would have been very specific about this when he sold the tickets in the first place. I think he will be for the 2007 season...just in case, the Phillies make it to the playoffs then.

Anonymous said...

From Stephen Berger:

There is a distinction in K.P.'s situation between the colleague and a member of a group, but in this case there should be no difference regarding the 2006 playoff tickets--when K.P. purchased them, he could have and should have told the colleague, and the colleague could purchase them if he wanted them. Again, if K.P. wanted the playoff tickets for himself fine, but to give/sell them to someone else without giving the colleague first crack at them is just not right.


Anonymous said...

Great article but I feel strongly that you're wrong. Selling part of a season obligates the seller to nothing else, but selling the entire season , there's an unwritten implication that any playoffs should be included. Offering at least some playoff games (because the seller wasn't going to use them himself), would have been the righteous thing to do. Thanx. Mike in Calif.

Anonymous said...

I usually always agree with your opinions, or I come around to your way of thinking, but I totally disagree with your take on K.P. not selling the Phillies post-season tickets to the man who was buying all the regular season tickets.

Let's look at it from two other angles.

The reason season ticket holders are given the option of buying the playoff tickets is because they have put their money where their mouth is. They have bought hundreds of dollars worth of tickets, some of the games lousy and some good. But they bought them all. They absolutely deserve the first chance to buy the same tickets in post season.

Secondly is where the emotional part comes in. Now I know you usually look at situations in black and white, as you should, but this time you missed the emotional aspect. And emotions do come into play because most of the people who write you say they think they have done the right thing, but they feel bad about it and so they want you to validate their decisions. What I am getting at here is the colleague was emotionally vested in the team. He sits there through all the games regardless because he cares. He has proven that he cares the most.

By rights K.P. should give the rights to the tickets back to the team if he is not going to use them, but that's another column, eh?

If you can't tell by now, I am upset at K.P.'s behavior. He is letting the power of having the tickets go to his head. Did he plan on selling them to the highest bidder of all the friends who "inquired earlier"?

The bottom line is, eithically you were correct, but as far as any loyal fan of any pro team is concerned, you were wrong. The fans who care enough to go all season long should be offered the tickets first and foremost.

Still love your column!

Veronica Ross
Garden Grove, CA
The Orange County Register

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness the Phils blew their lead to the LA Dodgers in the final week of the season making this potential playoff ticket faux pas a moot point; I never thought I'd feel so relieved the Phils weren't going to be playing in October! So far, no harm - no foul to anyone...

Lesson learned for the 2007 season - should the colleague offer to buy the 2007 season ticket plan, we will establish ground rules immediately. If the Phils make the post-season, I will be more than willing to split the offered games I receive from the Phillies with the colleague at face value so we each have acces to an equal number of games. He may do whatever he wishes with his and I will do the same with mine. As this infers, either one of us may go to the games ourselves, sell them to another friend, or put them on E-bay if we wish.

Splitting the tickets with the colleague is the "nice" thing to do, not necessarily an ethical obligation as Jefrey point outs. In this scenario, the "nice guy" will do the right thing if given the chance in October 2007.

Ken Pearce - Charlotte