Playoffs Keep MLB Authenticator Busy

It’s authentication gone wild in Major League Baseball where even players are seeking out the services of in-game verification.

A weak ground ball.

A base.

A lineup card.

All of it gets authenticated by Major League Baseball these days. MLB’s young, but determined program to hologram virtually every piece of game-used equipment has been, by all accounts, successful.

While most collectors would turn their noses up at a game-used ball that didn’t result in much of anything, teams are finding there is a use for it. They can sell it or they can donate it to charity. A baseball that might have gone back into the umpire’s bag now has value.

Even players are asking to have their items authenticated for their own use, including Brewers’ reliever Trevor Hoffman, who understands the history as he adds to his all-time career saves record total. Each save means a new round of stickers.

In Philadelphia, a 43 year-old police investigator is on the job. The Philadelphia Inquirer spent an evening with him during the playoffs and reporter Anthony Wood learned that three sets of bases are used for each game, each tagged for authenticity.

MLB makes sure each of its authenticators read a huge manual to understand how to do their job.

"One thing you don’t want to do after a close loss," says MLB program manager Howard Shelton, "is barge into the clubhouse and say, ‘Hey, I want to authenticate this lineup card.’ "

Check out the story and photos.

Game-used memorabilia on eBay