It isn’t just jerseys and bats the bad guys in the hobby are trying to sneak into circulation. Here’s the lowdown on something different that MEARS has come in contact with that, in both cases, are clearly not authenticated.


Pro-cut, authentic, and other “close, but no cigar” type NFL jerseys come to us with some regularity as game-used specimens that, in fact, are anything BUT. MEARS recently encountered a first in our annals, however…a Draft Day Photo Op jersey that ended up being deemed Unable To Authenticate.

MEARS recently received a home navy blue Chargers jersey with a number 1 on front and back and a NOB of TOMLINSON, which we were asked to offer an opinion on in regards to it being from his 2001 Draft Day shindig. Since this is a more recent event, it was not likely to be found in our extensive older print references. After the item was logged in, researchers assigned and the work sheet was prepared, the focus for the initial work was performed using images available on line at Getty Images. The Getty Site is just one of those we reference. For an item such as this, others include:

Old Time NFL Photos (
NFL Photos (
NFL Photos; Yahoo Gallery (

Fortunately, Getty Images had the proceedings recorded as a known, identifiable and verifiable event. As such, the MEARS research assistants working with me were able to find at least four significant issues through the photographic reference/photographic comparison stage of the worksheet process. Most notably:

1) Adidas logo on sleeve of GI (Getty Images) jersey; no logo on submitted jersey
2) Standard, open sleeves on GI jersey; cuffed sleeves on submitted jersey
3) Sleeve numbers below shoulder seam on GI jersey; above shoulder seam atop yoke on submitted jersey
4) Collar year/size strip tag (indiscernible numbers) on GI jersey; no strip tag on submitted jersey.

In any event, no positive LOO could be written based on the number and degree of the inconsistencies between the jersey submitted to us and the jersey of record from the actual event.

Secondly, in the collecting realms of at least one MEARS employee, the offer of fake MLB home run baseballs was among the deals he was offered. A Chicago-area ne’er-do-well claimed to have two Sosa and one Bonds game home run ball for sale. All three were phony. The most obvious problem was the offer of the home run Sosa (MEARS permanantly added the phrase UTA in black sharpie on 3 panels of the ball, thus making it impossible to resell) launched four houses up on Kenmore Avenue (the north-south side street that forms the infamous street corner with Waveland Avenue). The seller, a guy who sticks out like a sore thumb when he rarely visits the corner, used a shot of him holding an unidentifiable ball on a deserted street corner as his provenance. Problem was, the Sosa homer he offered was snagged by a regular on Waveland Avenue, Ken Vangelhoff (owner of, who (a) never sells his catches (he turned down $1500 cash for a 1998 Mark McGwire dinger he chased down) and (b) the mammoth blast was covered, with interviews of Vangelhoff and other ballhawks, in the Chicago Tribune shortly thereafter. Sad to say, the sale (to an out-of-town hobbyist who didn’t get the Tribune) was consummated, and the forger (who calls himself “Willie Jones”, among other things) has successfully avoided the buyer he gypped ever since.

With the game-used market growing every day, to paraphrase the commercial, “It isn’t just game-worn jerseys anymore”.