Celebrate the History of Roller Derby!

Today, we have another guest post from Jerry Seltzer, often referred to as “The Commissioner” of roller derby.

His father, Leo Seltzer, invented the sport in 1935 and Jerry has followed in his footsteps since 1957, going from roller derby promoter (SF Bay Bombers) to television syndicator, to co-founder of BASS tickets, to Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Ticketmaster and now, finally, to Brown Paper Tickets, where he is serving a role as an Outreach and Sales Representative. We are honored to have a living legend as part of our team and Jerry has a ton of great stories on derby history and the history of the modern ticketing industry as we know it today.

Today, on the eve of roller derby’s 78th birthday, he shares a little bit of history of the sport and who would know better than the son of the sport’s inventor?

So, without further ado, here’s the man himself: Jerry Seltzer, the Roller Derby Jesus!

Pictured above is the historic Chicago Coliseum.

It was built in the late 1800s, constructed largely from the bricks of the terrible Civil War-era Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, which was re-located to 1513 S. Wabash St. in Chicago in 1889. For a long time it was the main exposition and gathering place for Chicagoans:  the 1896 Democratic convention was held here, and events from sporting goods shows to basketball and horse shows utilized the building.
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Part 1: Hard Tickets? What You Talking About!

imagesToday, we have a guest post from Jerry Seltzer, often referred to as “The Commissioner” of Roller Derby. His father, Leo Seltzer, invented the sport in 1935 and Jerry has followed in his footsteps since 1957, going from Roller Derby promoter (SF Bay Bombers) to television syndicator, to co-founder of BASS tickets, to Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Ticketmaster and now, finally, to Brown Paper Tickets, where he is serving a role as an Outreach and Sales Representative. We are honored to have a living legend as part of our team and Jerry has a ton of great stories on Derby history and the history of the modern ticketing industry as we know it today.

Today’s post is the first in what, we hope, will be an ongoing series. So, without further ado, I give you Jerry Seltzer, the Roller Derby Jesus!

I first handled box office for Roller Derby in San Diego in 1957. They were having games every night at Jack Murphy Stadium, and we ordered 20 sets of tickets from Globe Ticket Company, which included all 3000 reserved seats; the remaining General Admission tickets were sold off of rolls, different colors each night.

We would have to “rack” the tickets in wood holders, by section and row, which took an endless amount of time, put on sale a week of games at a time. Tickets had to be counted out and given to cashiers for each night. Customers would have to go from cashier to cashier to get the section they wanted, and then we checked them in, did a box office statement after counting the unsold tickets (“deadwood”) and putting them in a box to save for any IRS or city tax audits.

In 1959 when I started operating Roller Derby in the San Francisco Bay Area, we established some outlets at various private box offices around the area, and paid them commission for each ticket they sold. Again, customers who wanted a specific section had to chase around to find it. And we had to pick up unsold tickets the day before the event so we could have all tickets on hand for the cashiers, losing sales in outlying areas.


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