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Want to see the Red Sox-Yankees series in person? Here’s how to score playoff tickets

Boston Red Sox players practice during a baseball workout at Fenway Park Wednesday. The Red Sox will face the Yankees in the American League division series on Friday.
Boston Red Sox players practice during a baseball workout at Fenway Park Wednesday. The Red Sox will face the Yankees in the American League division series on Friday. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
Watching a Red Sox playoff game at Fenway is as much a Bostonian rite of passage as grabbing cannoli on Hanover Street or fuming over gridlocked I-93 traffic. However, getting your mitts on those Sox playoff tickets can seem intimidating at best — and expensive, stressful, and near-impossible at worst.

“When you start getting into the ALCS games, people start lining up after midnight with sleeping bags,” says John Higgins, owner of Higs Tickets on Causeway Street. Diehard Sox fans will try to camp out, hold official banners for ransom, and more in hopes of scoring those coveted tickets.

Luckily, it is actually quite possible to see the Sox vie for the title at Fenway — and you don’t necessarily have to sleep on Lansdowne Street or fork over a month’s rent to do so. Here are some top tips from those in the know.

When the Yankees are in the mix, try to buy before the matchup is decided

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Any time there’s a chance that the Sox might square up with the Yankees, it’s best to buy tickets well ahead of playoffs.

For example, prior to the Yankees/A’s Wild Card game Wednesday night, standing-room tickets for Game One at Fenway were around $90. At that time, Cameron Papp, StubHub communications manager, noted $90 is a good deal to watch the Sox take on the Yanks in the playoffs.

During the Wild Card game, however, “the minute the Yankees go up, you’ll see a spike in ticket prices,” Higgins says. That’s because Higs Tickets, like most online ticket vendors, alters ticket prices in real time based on the current score. Prior to the Yankees’ win, he predicted that Game One tickets would spike to $165-180 for a bleacher seat, an increase of 40 percent to 50 percent from the listed prices earlier Wednesday.

If you weren’t able to snag tickets before the Yankees/A’s clincher this year, keep the strategy in mind for next year and purchase ahead of time — you’ll probably end up saving money. “If you get to the point where it’s [become] a bucket list series against the ultimate rival, the Yankees, then you’ve lucked out,” Papp says.

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Otherwise, wait until the last minute to buy playoff tickets

When any team besides the Yankees is headed to Fenway for a playoff game, Higgins advises, “I wouldn’t buy a ticket until the day of the game. I would wait it all the way out.”

Typically, the later you purchase a ticket for a playoff game, the better the deal you can score. Why? It’s as simple as supply and demand. “When we get closer to the game, generally [people] start to drop their prices because they’re trying to get rid of their tickets,” Papp says.

There are a couple caveats here. The first is when — like this year — the Sox are potentially facing the Yankees. That is “a different kind of beast,” Papp says, because when the Yankees come to Boston, “People are going to rush onto the site — it’s going to be our most popular postseason matchup.” That means much pricier tickets, naturally.

The second caveat is around seat placement. “If you care about where you sit, buy your ticket early,” Papp advises. “But if you’re just looking to get into the stadium, wait until the last second to purchase your ticket.” Standing-room-only tickets will always be cheapest — but they don’t necessarily offer great views.

Enroll for a chance to buy last-minute tickets for any postseason game

Each year, Sox fans throw their caps into the ring for a chance to buy 11th-hour playoff tickets at face value. Through the season, the Red Sox hold random drawings in which people register for the opportunity to purchase tickets for playoff games, from the ALDS to the World Series. “We go through the list and draw a certain number of ‘winners’ that have the opportunity to buy, and we invite them to the sale,” says Ron Bumgarner, senior vice president of ticketing for Fenway events and concerts.

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To enter, submit your information via the Red Sox website. Winners are alerted seven to 10 days prior to the series via e-mail with a single-use password to purchase up to four tickets for a game. As far as the odds of winning, Bumgarner says that about 350,000 people submitted entries for the most recent drawing, the ALCS — there are about 7,000 available tickets per each of those prospective four home games. The odds are slim, but it’s still feasible. Even Higgins recommends hopeful fans register, saying, “People do win.”

Or head straight to Fenway for tickets — if you have the time

Bumgarner suggests heading to Gate E on Lansdowne the day of the game, where the Sox release several hundred tickets for purchase 90 minutes prior to game time. Be prepared to wait in line, though — fans queue up early. According to the Red Sox official site, “Fans may assemble in line beginning five hours prior to game time,” and they may not leave the line, hold spaces, or purchase more than one ticket per person.

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“It’s the cheapest way you’ll get tickets,” Higgins says. “You buy them for face value right from the Red Sox,” but he warns they can sell out quickly. The Sox website states, “A very limited number of tickets for that day’s game are sold at Gate E [and] the number and type of available tickets may vary from game to game.”

Bumgarner says another insider tip is to check back on RedSox.com periodically in the days leading up to a game, as “sometimes, seats will pop up as available.”

To save money, opt for an earlier series game

For the upcoming ALDS and most playoff series, “The best advice going into this series: The later the series goes, the more money it’s going to cost,” says Higgins, who estimates that a Game 5 standing-room ticket could soon skyrocket to $300.

However, you can snag a great deal on Game One if you act fast. Higgins says that’s because season ticket holders tend to release their tickets for sale right after the AL Wild Card game, when “they’ll literally only have 36 to 48 hours to sell them.” Because of that, Friday’s Game One will likely be, by far, the cheapest of the series.

If you’re set on watching a later game in the series, then Higgins recommends buying now for Game 5, which would be an exciting 2-2 matchup at Fenway. “You’ll get a 100 percent refund on that game if it’s not played. If it is played, you’re ahead of the curve.”

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Always pay with a credit card

“Paying cash on the street — you just don’t need to do it anymore. It’s too risky,” Papp says. Instead, both Papp and Higgins strongly recommend using a credit card, which leaves an electronic paper trail — and some accountability. “Then, at least, you can trace that transaction back and have someone to call if something goes wrong,” Papp says.

Use reputable websites — and your gut

“A lot of people go to Craigslist because they’re desperate for a deal, but there’s a lot of fake tickets when these big events come around,” Higgins says. “You just don’t know who you’re dealing with.” He advises checking out the Better Business Bureau to scout a reputable company. Bumgarner adds that since StubHub is an official partner of the Red Sox, you can be confident that any ticket purchased there is proofed, vetted, and legitimate.

If you stray from StubHub, Papp says to “look for sites that have a customer service number or a guarantee on your tickets.” As far as scoring a great deal, Bumgarner says, “Postseason ticket prices are set by Major League Baseball for all the teams, so the prices are what they are.”

And a good rule of thumb: If you see a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is.


Jessica Teich can be reached at jessicarteich@gmail.com.