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Wednesday, September 08, 2021

How MLB Squashed its Fake-Memorabilia Problem

Tasked with certifying the authenticity of items from every game—including, naturally, lots and lots of baseballs—there are at least two authenticators at every major league contest from spring training through October. Their work receives added attention when it comes to a milestone home run or a big moment, such as the World Series. But they are in stadiums every single day, tracking notable objects, documenting them with an intricate note-taking system and tagging them in a way that escapes tampering. While their work is done largely behind the scenes, it has become a more visible, ingrained part of the sport in recent years, and as MLB’s authentication program marks its 20th anniversary this season, the job is bigger than ever. What was once a laser-focused attempt to curb fake memorabilia is now a sprawling daily enterprise that tracks the journey of (almost) every single baseball.

And more. The program’s legion of baseball detectives authenticate upwards of half a million objects each year, including jerseys, caps, belts, cleats, bases, lineup cards, stadium dirt—you name it. They have verified the legitimacy of at least one set of urinals (following the demolition of the Cardinals’ old Busch Memorial Stadium in 2005) and a few stalks of corn (from the Field of Dreams game last month in Dyersville, Iowa). Some of these keepsakes end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame, others go to individual club archives or players’ rec rooms, and many more are made available to fans. (The urinals, though perhaps historic in their own way, went to a private collector, not to Cooperstown.) Altogether, the program is part security initiative, part historical documentation, part revenue engine. And it starts with the authenticators, embedded in every park, who try never to take their eyes off the ball.

“It’s in the way you take notes, the way you watch,” says MLB’s director of authentication, Michael Posner, trying to encapsulate his field. “You watch a game very differently than you’ve ever watched a game before.”


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 08, 2021 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: memorabilia

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