MLB Authenticators ensure integrity of game-used gear, bases and more

Authenticators verify the uniforms worn by the Indians on Opening Day in 2011; each player wore 19 that day to honor the late Bob Feller.

Authenticators verify the uniforms worn by the Indians on Opening Day in 2011; each player wore 19 that day to honor the late Bob Feller.

How can you be sure that the baseball bat you have displayed in your house is actually game-used?

To answer this, let’s flash back to July 9, when the Indians took on the Yankees at Progressive Field. This 14-inning game had me sitting in the media bay for an hour and a half, waiting for the game to end. While sitting there, two broken bats were passed to a gentleman who stuck a holographic sticker on each, and wrote something in a notebook. My curiosity was piqued. I began a conversation with a man who I now know is an officer for the Cleveland Police Department — and an official MLB memorabilia authenticator.

In 2001, Major League Baseball looked to put an end to fans’ counterfeit concerns. They developed an authentication program that is now the industry standard for game-used sports memorabilia.

According to MLB.com, off-duty officers working as independent contractors are assigned by Authenticators, Inc. to certify game-used and autographed items. MLB official authenticators cannot certify memorabilia unless they have witnessed first-hand the item being signed or used. Since the program started in 2001, more than 4 million items have been authenticated.

Each item witnessed is given a tamper-proof hologram sticker with a serial number of unique letters and numbers. The serial number is used to identify the item and can be tracked through MLB.com/authentication.

The officer I spoke to during the July 9 game said that he can authenticate up to 30 items per game, ranging from balls and bats to bases and on-deck circles. Once authenticated, the items are sold or auctioned off by teams across MLB.

For more information on the authentication process or to purchase MLB certified memorabilia, check out MLB.com/authentication.

–TribeVibe contributor Angela Martin

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