Over the past few months, jersey submissions to MEARS have produced some Unable To Authenticate responses, some of which have centered around specific tricks and chicanery that the small population of hobby forgers have authored, and passed off on unsuspecting owners. The Shirt will examine certain such forgery trends that have been seen with above-average frequency by our authentication staff.

Tag tampering: While this can happen in any sport, any era, changing, adding and removing tags seems to be more active among the bad guys than normal in the realm of recent Reebok-issued NBA jerseys. To my knowledge, MEARS has not yet had a submission of a 2006-07 Adidas-made NBA gamer yet, so no pattern has been established there yet.

With the Reebok unies of the past 2-3 years, however, we’ve seen several with tagging added or replaced on NBA jerseys in the realm of all three flag tags included on a legit A5 level jersey (size, extra length, and year tags). Stitch holes from loosened and reaffixed tags have been apparent on several submitted jerseys. While some have been major NBA stars (Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade), others have been minor stars (Ben Gordon and Luol Deng, both of the Bulls). Tag tampering has easily been the primary fault of NBA jerseys of the past few seasons we’ve been asked to inspect.


A few older baseball jerseys MEARS has viewed have been legitimate common player flannels that someone with dishonest intentions has taken liberties with to “upgrade” the item illicitly into a more desirable piece. One case in point: a 1968 Tigers road flannel of #14, a size 40 Rawlings of single-season Tiger hurler Dennis Ribant. The maker (Rawlings), lack of patch (1969) and lack of NOB (1970-71) pointed it towards being a ’68 Ribant, something which would have been a lot easier to discern…except the forger removed the year/set flag tag from the tail. In its place, a box year/set tag from a 1963 MacGregor jersey was sewn in, and, presto…the forger turned the low-demand Ribant into a high-demand, albeit fraudulent, Jim Bunning! Sad enough that the doctoring took place in the beginning, but the Ribant jersey, if it was left alone and never doctored nor altered, would have the potential of being the crown jewel of many a Tiger collector’s display, given the immense popularity this World Series Championship team still has with Tiger fans.


With the knowledge of the importance of the inside seam tag with a 0062 code on it to discern the vast majority of game-used and team-issued Majestic game jerseys, copied and reaffixed tags are showing up in retail jerseys that the unscrupulous have tried to pass off. This forgery trend, being relatively recent, has caught even authenticators off guard, at least initially. The tag, located on the inside left body seam, should be sewn directly into the seam. The bad guys have both taken existing tags from common jerseys, and made copies from a handful of legitimate, but detached exemplars, and sewn them in the proper location on top of the seam, after removing the 6200 (retail) tag the jersey originally came with. No word yet as to whether this type of clandestine “surgery” has been performed on the 0006 and 0065 tags in late 1990s-present BP jerseys, but it’s bound to be tried by someone absent of ethics at some point.

No doubt, when the good majority recognizes and rejects these attempts at misrepresentation, the bad guys will try something new. Only when we as a hobby communicate through word-of-mouth, internet forums, and any other means to “get the word” out will we be able to stop the bad guys dead in their tracks, and eliminate or, at least, minimize, the damage their actions cause.

NEXT TIME: Phantom jerseys and other game-issued and game-worn oddities. See you then!