A Look at the Major League Authentication Program

Editor's Note: Since starting the blog I have received several questions about the MLB Authentication Program, and I know there are more out there.  To help answer some of the questions, I will be breaking down the Program into a few posts this week.  Hope you learn something new...

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.