The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Cubs fan needed one ticket to complete his epic collection. A Nats fan came through.

A ticket to the Nationals-Cubs game on June 15, 2016 (Jimmy Meyers)
Placeholder while article actions load

Chicago Cubs fan Matt Fuller’s nine-month quest to collect a ticket from every game the team played during its 2016 World Series title-winning season ended in a Washington Nationals fan’s kitchen this week. There on the breakfast island of his Alexandria home, among a pile of stubs from sporting events and concerts he has attended over the years, 52-year-old Jimmy Meyers found the $5 ticket he purchased at the box office before the Nationals’ 5-4 win over the Cubs on June 15 four years ago.

“I actually have it,” Meyers posted Monday, along with a photo of the ticket, in a private Facebook group for Nationals season plan holders, where two days earlier Fuller had been granted access to the forum and offered $200 to anyone who could help complete his one-of-a-kind collection.

“HOLY SH*T!!” Fuller replied almost immediately.

“See?” Meyers told his wife, who had wondered why he saved his ticket stubs in the first place. “I made this guy’s day.”

Meyers had actually made Fuller’s year. That’s what Fuller, 30, would tell him the next night, when the two strangers, brought together by a rectangular piece of flimsy card stock, exchanged stories about their baseball fandom and military backgrounds on the phone. Fuller, who served in the Air Force, explained how he had managed to acquire tickets from every 2016 Cubs regular season and playoff game, plus 15 home spring training games, and the challenge of tracking down paper tickets for road games against certain teams, including the Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, that were among the first to move to primarily digital ticketing.

“I’m glad I was able to help him out,” said Meyers, who is retired from the Army and declined to accept any money for the ticket. “To hear the excitement in his voice was great, and it really made me happy.”

Like a lot of Cubs fans, Fuller said Chicago’s World Series title, which ended the franchise’s 108-year championship drought, “meant everything” to him. Over the next few years he added all kinds of championship memorabilia to his impressive Cubs fan cave inside his Amboy, Ill., home. He is particularly proud of his collection of official World Series baseballs signed by the Cubs’ entire 25-man World Series roster, which he completed in 2018.

“It’s a weird feeling when you get done with a collection that you put all your energy into; you’re kind of left hanging, like, ‘What am I going to focus my energy on now?’ ” Fuller said in a phone interview.

Fuller’s ticket obsession started innocently enough in March, when he paid roughly $200 on eBay for a ticket to Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. After the coronavirus pandemic hit, Fuller found himself with extra time on his hands and expanded his search. Within a couple of weeks, he had purchased tickets to the other six World Series games. Before long, he was looking for tickets from the Cubs’ 103 regular season victories and 11 postseason wins.

“It kind of kept going,” Fuller said. “My wife called it my quarantine project.”

Fuller estimates he purchased more than half of the tickets in his collection on eBay. He acquired others through requests on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. While searching for tickets from the Cubs’ three-game 2016 series at Houston, Fuller found a man on Facebook who had posted a photo of his Astros season ticket booklet before the season. Fuller sent him a private message, explaining his story and politely asking whether he might have saved his tickets. After a month went by with no response, Fuller cold-called the Texas car dealership the man listed as his employer on his Facebook page. His resourcefulness paid off.

“The gentleman said, ‘I don’t know how you did it, but it’s your lucky day,’ ” Fuller said. “He called me back when he got off work and sent the tickets to me for free.”

In September, Fuller discovered a Facebook group of more than 2,000 collectors called Booger’s Ticket Stubs. With the help of the hobbyists who hang out there, he soon finished his wins collection, a pursuit that set him back $885. Completely hooked by the thrill of the hunt, Fuller became determined to collect tickets from the Cubs’ 2016 losses, too.

The last seven tickets Fuller needed to complete his full-season collection were six games at Dodger Stadium, including three in the National League Championship Series, and the June 15 game at Nationals Park. After a post in a Facebook group for Dodgers fans yielded his missing Los Angeles tickets, Fuller was one game away.

Technically, Fuller already had a ticket to the Nationals-Cubs game June 15, but it was a generic version issued to season plan holders who requested paper tickets. He needed a box office-issued ticket to match the ones from the first two games in the series.

“As a collector, it’s all about wanting the best ticket available,” Fuller said.

Over the past month, Fuller reached out to several Nationals super fans on social media in search of the ticket, to no avail. He posted on the Nationals’ subreddit and various Nationals Facebook groups. To help people remember whether they were among the 42,000 fans in attendance for the Wednesday afternoon game June 15 and might have a ticket lying around, Fuller mentioned that the day ended with Jayson Werth telling his doubters to “kiss my a--” during a classic on-field interview with MASN reporter Dan Kolko after his 12th-inning walk-off single.

When Meyers saw Fuller’s Facebook post this past weekend, he remembered attending the game in question. He’s a partial-season plan holder now, but in 2016 he would often take advantage of the Nationals’ $5 same-day deal at the ballpark box office. Sure enough, he still had the ticket.

“In that moment, I almost fainted,” Fuller said of his reaction to receiving Meyers’s message. “It was unbelievable.”

Fuller keeps his ticket collection in a binder with labels indicating the score of every game. The final piece, which Meyers sent via certified mail Tuesday, is expected to arrive by Saturday. When Fuller shared the good news with some of the ticket collectors he has met over the past year, several asked him what he’ll set his sights on next.

“I don’t know where I’m going to go, but I’m hooked,” Fuller said. “I love the hobby. I love the hunt. Talking to a guy like Jimmy and all these other fans that I would’ve never come in contact with for any other reason, that’s the coolest part about all of this.”

“My hat’s off to him,” Meyers said. “For a brief moment after talking to him, I thought, ‘Man, maybe I should do that for [the Nationals’] World Series run.’ Then I was like, ‘Nah, my wife would draw the line there.’ ”