The ‘Holy Grail’ of Ohio State football resides in Darke County

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DARKE COUNTY – When it comes to college football, nothing compares to ‘The Game’ between Ohio State and Michigan, but for OSU fans and alumni there is a ‘Holy Grail’ that exists… and it resides right here in Darke County, Ohio.

Doug Baker, a former Darke County Sheriff Deputy and current pastor at Arcanum Trinity Methodist Church, obtained the one-of-a-kind 1898 complimentary press pass to the first-ever season ticket for the then O.S.U. Foot Ball Team from a seller on eBay in December 2021. He was contacted directly by the seller after seeing Baker’s other extremely rare 1905 general admission ticket that he had for sale on the same online auction platform.

Baker’s 1905 Ohio State University general admission ticket. (Submitted photo)

Baker is an avid collector of various rare items and sports memorabilia and has spent many hours validating his OSU tickets’ authenticity. He even went to the lengths of trying to get them appraised… he had no luck after he was told by members of the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) that they could not appraise them since they had never seen these more than century-old tickets before in existence.

“As a collector, I want to have things that nobody has ever seen before,” Baker told My County Link. “The rarity and good condition of anything I collect is extremely important… and like the gentleman I purchased the first-ever O.S.U. Foot Ball Team season pass from said this is the ‘Holy Grail’ …and I agreed.”

The 1898 ticket is unique in many ways, including signatures by the Manager of Football at the time and Dayton, Ohio native, Robert E. McClure, along with the President of the Athletic Board, Christopher P. Linhart M.D. Baker’s 8-game season ticket was used by the newspaper in Columbus, Ohio at the time called the Press Post for complimentary coverage of the games. The ticket was created from a cardboard-style material and measures 4.5″ x 2.25″. There was no such thing as ‘The Shoe’ or the name Buckeyes at the time and each of the weekly games was played on Ohio Field, with other Ohio team opponents.

“This ticket is not only the oldest known season ticket for The Ohio State University, it is also the oldest known admission ticket, of any type, known for their storied football program. Very few people have seen this ticket until now,” Baker added from his countless hours of research.

The O.S.U. Foot Ball Team finished their first season with a 3-5 record. Baker was even able to gather scores and dates, which are listed below:

Oct. 1, 1898 – O.S.U. (17), Heidelberg (0)
Oct. 8, 1898 – O.S.U. (0), O.M.U. (Ohio Medical University) (10)
Oct. 15, 1898 – O.S.U. (34), Denison (0)
Oct. 22, 1898 -O.S.U. (0), O.M.U. (10)
Nov. 5, 1898 – O.S.U. (5), Case (23)
Nov. 12, 1898 – O.S.U. (0), Kenyon (29)
Nov. 22, 1898 – O.S.U. (0), Adelbert (49)
Nov. 25, 1898 – O.S.U. (24), Delaware (0)

“There were some changes in opponents from those mentioned on the actual ticket, as well as a change of date for one game. That would have not been unusual at all in an era when football was in its infancy,” Baker concluded.

When asked about the future of his ticket collection, Baker said he would like to find them a new home, when the right buyer comes along.

So tomorrow while you and your family and friends enjoy watching the Buckeyes and Wolverines battle for first place in the Big 10 Conference and ultimately bragging rights, you now have a better understanding of how the sport began here in Ohio!