Friday, September 26, 2008

Is it Authentic?

This post was inspired by a recent post over on Dinged Corners. The debate going on over there is about the statements about authenticity that the card manufacturers put on the back of their relic cards. I have bought a number of relic cards over the past few years because, frankly, they are dirt cheap on eBay. The earliest relic cards I own are from 2000. Most cards in the 2000-2005 time frame that I have have statements similar to this 2000 Absolute Memorabilia Rookie Premier Materials. "The enclosed piece of pant was cut from Authentic Pants personally worn by Josh Beckett in an Official Minor League Baseball Game. The Authentic Game-Worn pants were obtained and are guaranteed by the Playoff Corporation". That's pretty straightforward. Josh Beckett wore these pants in an official game and we determined that this was so.

But even then there were some cards which had vaguer statements, like this 2001 Bowman's Best Franchise Favorite Relic.
Congratulations! You just received an authentic game-worn Franchise Favorites uniform card of Craig Biggio from 2001 Bowman's Best Baseball." Did this piece of fabric come from something actually worn by Craig Biggio? That's certainly the impression. They clearly say it came from a uniform worn during a game, but was it an Official MLB game?

This 2003 Fleer Box Score World Piece Game Jersey card has more odd language.
"The piece of memorabilia contained in this card is from a jersey worn in an official MLB game played by Francisco Rodriguez pitcher for the Anaheim Angels". Ok, the jersey was worn in an official MLB game and Rodriguez played in the game. Did he wear the jersey? I'll concede that a player probably wore the jersey, rather than a fan or a member of the grounds crew, since it didn't say "worn at an official MLB game".

The wording started to change dramatically in 2006. Only about half of the 15 relic cards I have from 2006, specifically say that the player pictured actually wore the jersey. I have over 40 relic cards from 2005, and 32 of them say the relic came from a uniform specifically worn by the player pictured. Then we have this 2006 Bazooka Rewind Relics card.
"The relic contained on this card is not from any specific event, game or season." You might be lead to think that the relic was from a Future's Game, but the disclosure on the back makes it sound like probably not.

The wording reaches new hights of weasel wording on this 2006 Flair Showcase Stitches card.
"You have received a Richie Sexson Game-Used baseball card. On the front of this card is a piece of memorabilia that has been certified to us as having been used in an official Major League Baseball game". Did Richie Sexson wear this jersey or whatever the piece is from? What is the difference between used and worn? I could imagine that this was from a rag used by the clubhouse guy to wipe down the dugout benches before the game. And Fleer completely disavows claiming authenticity of this piece. Hey, we were told it's authentic.

I have 17 relic cards from 2007 and 13 from 2008, of these, only 1 from each year makes any claim that the relic came from a uniform actually worn by the player on the card. Pretty much the language looks like that on this 2008 Upper Deck Spectrum Retrospectrum Swatches card.
"You have received a Mike Piazza Game-Used baseball card. On the front of this card is a piece of memorabilia that has been certified to us as having been used in an official Major League Baseball game". Which is the same language on the 2007 Fleer card. The 9 Upper Deck relic cards I have all have the same language. My Chris Capuano Topps Retail Relic, is the only card to make a specific claim, which says "The piece of authentic uniform embedded in this card was worn by Chris Capuano during an official MLB game".


--David said...

I agree - card companies are not certifying anything anymore, but are simply passing the buck (read cover-their-butts). "Certified to us..." Are you kidding me?

Paul Hadsall said...

The novelty factor of the relic cards wore off for me several years ago... I never even noticed how weasely the certification text had gotten.

I think it's time for the card companies to let this particular gimmick die.

Drew said...

There technically is a difference between game-used and game-worn, at least in the hobby of collecting whole jerseys.

Game-used: the player wore it and played in the game.

Game-worn: the player wore it, but didn't necessarily play in the game.

So if Jimbo McNulty got called up and sat on the bench while wearing his uniform, then was sent back to the minors, his jersey is only game-worn, not game-used.