NEW YORK (AP) -- Like a displaced Diogenes, Claudio Beltran circled Yankee Stadium clutching a candle in his left hand. He, too, sought one honest man -- one willing to sell him a World Series ticket at face value.
"The candle is for good luck," said Beltran, 45, a Bronx native sporting a sign around his neck that read "Go go go to the Subway Series."
"I have no tickets," Beltran said early Wednesday after the Yankees won the American League pennant. "It's going to cost a lot of money. But I'm looking."
Beltran, like hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, is a long shot to gain access to the first Subway Series since 1956. The only officially remaining seats were 5,000 per game for the three games at Shea Stadium; those tickets go on sale Saturday.
On Internet sites, box seats officially priced at $160 were already going for more than $1,000 apiece, with prices expected to escalate before Saturday night's first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Scalpers were as desperate as die-hard fans for tickets.
The streets around the Bronx ballpark were littered in the early morning hours Thursday with post cards promising "Top Dollar Paid" for World Series tickets.
"Strictly confidential," promised the come-on, which carried a toll-free number.
The series was already the main topic Wednesday on sports radio WFAN-AM, where the Giants, Jets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders and Devils became instant afterthoughts.
The calls from listeners seemed about split, with many predicting a seven-game series. Met fans felt their team would win the decisive Game 7; predictably, Yankee fans felt the same way.
Given the long, exciting history of the Subway Series, this historic showdown -- the first postseason games between the Yankees and the Mets -- should be dramatic. Unforgettable scenes from Subway Series past include:
-- In 1956, Yankees right-hander Don Larsen pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
-- In 1955, Brooklyn left fielder Sandy Amoros robbed Yogi Berra in Game 7 as the Dodgers won their first World Series.
-- In 1951, Willie Mays saying hello as Joe DiMaggio was saying farewell.
-- In 1947, the Dodgers' Cookie Lavagetto broke up a no-hit bid by the Yankees' Bill Bevens in a Brooklyn victory.
Yankees fan Richard Pietrafesa, 67, recalls when the Subway Series was nearly an annual New York event. Between 1950 and 1956, the World Series stayed in the city five times.
"The Yankees and the Giants, the Yankees and the Dodgers -- I remember those days," Pietrafesa said. "The city was different then. People were more sports-crazy."
It's hard to imagine that, given the massive outpouring of emotion from baseball-demented fans of both teams. Fans on either side were quick to declare their team the best in baseball.
"Finally, we're gonna see what it comes down to, who's the better team," said Will Cruz, 24, sporting a Yankees jacket on the Mets express, the No. 7 train. "This is the real deal."
Mets fan Cosmo Baltazar, 20, of Brooklyn, offered the opposing view.
"The Mets are gonna take it," he predicted. "I feel it. Trust me."
For the candle-toting Beltran, the subway series offered a chance for his Yankees to assert their superiority. But it was also a chance to check out the World Series on a budget.
"Subway Series," he said. "From here to Queens, it's just $1.50."
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