Sports Collectors

Ice Bowl Archaeology: Old Book Surrenders NFL History x 2

December 31, 1967 was not a warm day in Green Bay, even by Green Bay’s winter standards.

The day before had been pretty normal.  Temps in the teens and 20s.  Then an arctic cold front pushed in and suddenly it stung a little to breathe through your nose.   There were no postponements in football, though.  Even with the thermometer at 13 degrees below zero, the 1967 NFL Championship Game at Lambeau Field would go on. 

“Excuse me while I take a bite out of my coffee,” former New York Giant Frank Gifford famously said while working on the CBS broadcast.

Thousands of brave souls from around Wisconsin and Upper Michigan warmed up their vehicles and headed to the stadium that day but since the Packers had made a habit of winning championships under Vince Lombardi, quite a few opted to stay home and watch them play the Dallas Cowboys on TV.  

Larry Kelly, it seems, was one of them.  Working for the Green Bay & Western Railway, Kelly had already secured his two $12 seats through the Packers ticket office. Section 18, Row 14 would be minus two occupants on this New Year’s Eve. 

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Ice Bowl Archaeology: Old Book Surrenders NFL History x 2

The tickets were to have been torn away from the lower portion that had his name and the railroad’s business address that would have shown through the mailing envelope’s window. Kelly hadn’t even gone so far as to tear them at the perforation. 

That was 53 seasons ago and at some point, the two unused sheets, each containing a full ticket wound up inside a railroad book in the family’s home.  When a relative cleaned out the house a few months ago, the tickets came tumbling out. 

Ice Bowl ticket stubs are desirable. Full tickets even more so.  A single one graded EX 5 by PSA sold at Heritage Auctions in March for $7,500.  Now, the Dallas-based auction house is selling the two newly discovered survivors in its Spring Auction.  Both have been graded EX/MT 6.  Bidding ends May 7.

Ice Bowl Archaeology: Old Book Surrenders NFL History x 2

The game’s legendary weather had a major impact on the action, including the final play in which Bart Starr audibled a normal running play and kept the ball for a game-winning quarterback sneak.  It would be Lombardi’s last NFL championship season.  The conditions, the drama and the history combined to make it one of the greatest sports stories of all time.

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While it’s possible the tickets–and Kelly–made it to the game that day and they were never torn because of the impact the unusual conditions may have had on ticket takers, it’s unlikely they would have returned home in virtually pristine condition.  He may have  opted not to go after seeing the bone-chilling forecast and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to buy them.  The complete story has been lost to time but at least that’s no longer the case with his tickets.

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