The Major League Baseball Authentication Program, which touts itself as the "most comprehensive league-wide memorabilia authentication initiative in professional sports", will put a hologram sticker on just about anything: bats, balls, uniforms, lineup cards, etc. Since launching in 2001, the program has added a much needed sense of legitimacy to "game used" memorabilia.
"Who ARE these guys?" (greatly exaggerated Seinfeld voice)
- MLB partners with Florida-based company, "Authenticators, Inc."(AI) to inventory the ever-increasing number of game-used items.
- AI deploys at least one representative to each Major League game, with additional authenticators manning higher profile events like the World Series or All-Star Game.
- According to the MLB Authentication site, the authenticator staff is made up of off-duty law enforcement. I guess it speaks to the fact that a great deal of discipline in required to receive, track and account for all the game-used gear they collect.
The key to the program's success is the tamper-proof hologram placed on each authenticated item. The holograms are, as described on MLB.com, "designed to show traces of tampering if a hologram is removed."
The below images are of the current holograms MLB is using in the authentication program:
|MLB holograms used since 2006 (via MLB.com)|
The below image is an example of what a "broken" hologram would look like:
|MLB hologram removed (via MLB.com)|
- Authenticators will only validate items (via the use of a hologram) when they have personally seen it in use and/or signed. This can cause some questions with use-classification, which I'll address later this week.
- Each hologram is labeled with an alpha-numeric code which allows MLB to easily track in its database.
- Once adhered to the item, the authenticator creates a description that will be used on the certification document.
Have memorabilia that has been authenticated by MLB? You can search the database here.