THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
THE SCALPER’S TALE

Need a ticket? It’s a whole new ballgame.

(Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File)
By Luke O’Neil
Globe Correspondent / April 7, 2011

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And you thought the music and publishing industries were the only ones being affected by the Internet. Online ticketing services and sites like Craigslist have had a huge impact on scalpers’ ability to make a living, too. It’s not like the good old days, says Jay Giannone. A South Boston native and filmmaker, Giannone turned his many years working as a scalper around Fenway Park into a 2009 film called “Scalpers.’’

“It’s a totally different game than what is was before the Internet,’’ Giannone says. “Before it was get up at 8 a.m., work on getting tickets at the box office, then hit the streets getting tickets off people that aren’t going to be able to go to the game. Now, no one is doing that anymore.’’

If anything, scalping is a far seedier business than it used to be. Now what can sometimes happen, Giannone says, is that a bad apple can buy a ticket online, get a paper ticket e-mailed, print that ticket up 10 or 15 times, run it down to Fenway, and sell the same bogus ticket to 10 or 15 different people.

Sometimes that means selling them to scalpers who then go on to sell the phony tickets to other fans.

“Who ends up looking bad?’’ Giannone asks. “Scalpers, they don’t do that. You don’t [expletive] in your own backyard. If you’re making a living at it, you’re not gonna risk one day ripping people off to not be able to come out for the next 85 days. Do you want $300 today or $30,000 a year?’’

Giannone admits he’s biased, having worked around scalpers since he was a kid.

“A lot of them are honest, hard-working guys,’’ he says. “They’ll get a ticket for $10 or $15 and sell it for $30 or $40 to feed their mother in the projects. It’s not all junkies and [bad guys] — although there’s that also, I’m not gonna lie — but the majority of guys down in Boston are good, hard-working guys.’’

Post-Internet, the old hustle of heading down to the park three or four hours before the game to score a ticket just doesn’t make sense anymore, he says. “The Red Sox, they sold out six months ago. Run down as early as you want, you won’t get anything out of the box office. But I’m telling you right now, nobody is walking down to Fenway or the Garden blind. They’re going to [ticket agencies] or Craigslist.’’

It’s a far cry from the Boston of his film “Scalpers’’ (www.scalpersmovie.com). Guys had to fight for position in the ’80s and ’90s — sometimes literally. “It was territorial, and pretty ugly,’’ he says.

That doesn’t mean the handful of scalpers working the game don’t get hassled, but it’s often difficult to prove that someone is reselling a ticket at a profit. Besides, in Giannone’s opinion, the team is playing that role now. “Look at the price of tickets,’’ he says. “It’s $100 for the grandstand. It was 20 bucks four years ago. Who are the scalpers really?’’

Luke O’Neil can be reached at Lukeoneil47@gmail.com.