Orioles’ store sells it all
“The coolest mementos you can buy” is how season ticket holder John Cecil of Catonsville described the items Monday before the Orioles game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Cecil and his wife, Kate Masters, had just paid $250 for a broken, black Louisville Slugger bat bearing the engraved autograph of catcher Caleb Joseph, their favorte player.
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The store clerk said the bat, authenticated by Major League Baseball, was cracked in an Aug. 14 game against the Oakland Athletics. On Monday, the bat was still sticky with pine tar.
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A ball from the first game in which catcher Matt Wieters collected a hit is on sale for $119.99 at the club’s online store. A ball used by Machado during July’s All Star Game home run derby is offered for $199.99.
Not all items are for sale. Sometimes, players seek to keep baseballs such as milestone home runs that enter the stands. Fans typically are asked to surrender such a caught ball in exchange for other autographed memorabilia from the player.
## ## Masters and Cecil previously had purchased a lineup card signed, as they all are, by Orioles manager Buck Showalter from the unusual May 2 game against the Tampa Bay Rays that was moved to Florida because of the Baltimore riots. It cost $150.
Proceeds from the store’s sales go to the club’s charitable foundation. Among the recipients are the Jackie Robinson Foundation and organizations supporting cancer research. The club declined to provide a sales figure from the store’s first year, although it said sales amounted to several hundred thousand dollars.
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The Orioles are among 17 big league teams now selling “authentic” balls, jerseys or equipment either at or near their stadiums.
“These are often consumers who are quite familiar with that market,” Orioles spokesman Greg Bader said. “It’s typically a set price that can go higher, based on how many parties are interested. Between the staff and potential customers, there is often a price negotiated.”
The club’s procedures fall under a larger program called MLB Authentication. Contract employees mostly off duty or retired law enforcement officers attend every game to verify that the items put up for sale are the real deal.
Authenticators, who are paid by the hour, worked all 2,430 games of the major league regular season and verified hundreds of thousands of items.
“The MLB Authentication hologram ensures that our game used and autographed collectibles are truly authentic,” said Michael Napolitano, Major League Baseball’s vice president of consumer products hard goods. “The MLB Authentication Program gives our fans confidence that they are buying genuine memorabilia. This leads to a deeper trust and connection to the sport.”
Last year, in a scene that won’t be repreated this year, a Howard County police officer watched as the Orioles leapt up and down and sprayed each other with champagne to celebrate the division title.
When it was over, the officer and a colleague scooped up empty Cook’s champagne bottles, affixed each with a Major League Baseball hologram, and plugged a corresponding serial number into a database.