I am writing in response to Penny Ward Moser’s article A Fan for the Ages in your Sept. 9, 1987, issue. Yes, 1987. The article stated that at the pace fans were moving up the waiting list for Washington Redskins season tickets, a new prospective buyer would have to wait 353 years to get to the head of the line-which prompted me to put my name on the list. Well, I just got a letter in a burgundy envelope with a big bold CONGRATULATIONS on the front in yellow. My name reached the top in only 21½ years.
At the time that I read Moser’s article, I was single and 25 years old, had no children or money to buy even one ticket to a Redskins game, and I was living in Cincinnati. But I figured that by the time my name got to the top of the list, I’d be back home in Maryland (I am) and I’d have a family (I do) and I’d have the money to buy season tickets (therein lies the rub).
I suppose I could go ahead and buy the tickets and worry later about paying for a new water heater, the kids’ braces and a replacement for the minivan that we bought when I was 12,063rd on the waiting list. But then the tickets would probably just become another thing for the divorce attorneys to split up.
It’s a tough call-I’m still not sure what I’ll do, and I have until the end of the month to decide-but it could be worse. At least I’m not a Dallas Cowboys fan who will have to pay for a personal seat license knowing the team probably won’t win another playoff game for, I don’t know, 21½ years.
Larry Shaughnessy, Germantown, Md
But there’s something that’s possibly even more interesting than the modern letter:
The original article, available through the magic of SI.com’s Vault feature.
It’s been 22 years since the article — a look at the wait for season tickets circa 1987 — and saying that there have been a few changes is an understatement. The whole article is more full of mind-bending time-travel-esque anachronisms than the current season of Lost.
For example, this sounds almost completely outlandish in a world where the Redskins have an official ticket marketplace:
“Meet me in the phone booth behind the Exxon station at the Langley, Virginia, off-ramp on the parkway,” the voice on the phone instructed. “Tonight at eight. Have $250 cash. I’m George. White station wagon.” I had found two tickets to a Redskins- 49ers game at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. I worried that George might be a homicidal maniac-or worse, that the tickets might be bogus. I could have gotten two seats for the same price from a ticket broker in Maryland, but the tickets were way up in the nosebleed section on the five-yard line, and the broker was an hour’s train ride away.
Or this, on the then-incomprehensible idea that a stadium could be bigger than RFK:
“Why do people even bother to apply?” I asked a Redskins ticket person, even as I was applying. “Uh, I guess they’re waiting for a bigger stadium or something,” was the response. The “or something” would have to be the relocation of the entire federal government to Des Moines. And this was the bigger stadium; RFK opened in 1961, replacing the 32,000-seat Griffith Stadium.
And then there’s this, at least half of which I’m pretty sure is out of date:
The Redskins ticket staff-three hardworking souls in a noncomputerized office-keeps busy “counting, perforating and stuffing the tickets into envelopes.” And every week it adds new names to the waiting list.
At some point this offseason, I’m hoping to make it over to the now-computerized ticket office to get a look at the modern version of that whole process in action.
The moral of the story, though, is that eventually even the longest line on Earth will start to move, sometimes 330 years sooner than you expect.
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