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Big money in broken bats, programs and memorabilia

Chicago Cubs

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Since 2016, the Chicago Cubs fanbase has been shelling out countless dollars on memorabilia. But how do you know if you’re getting the real deal?

I thought about Chicago Cubs fans as I watched the World Series this week. Similar to Cubs fans in Wrigley Field, throughout Fenway Park those waves of Boston Red Sox hats and jerseys got me thinking about all the memorabilia collected during the series.

Private sports collecting has been big business for many folks throughout the States for years. When I visited Sloan Park this summer, I ran into one of these collectors who was waiting outside the team’s Sloan Park dugout for a signed broken bat.

For anonymity sake, I will call this guy, Mike.

Mike told me in order to get real game memorabilia, it was important to have a relationship with the managers in the dugout. During spring training, Mike said he was getting broken, then signed bats, from all the Chicago Cubs.  However, if he couldn’t get it signed in the dugout, Mike knew where the Cubs stayed and what time they practiced. He knew what hotels they stayed in from Phoenix to Los Angeles. The business of memorabilia, especially with a popular team like the Cubs, can mean big dollars.  Shira Springer of WBUR News reported just this week about what collectors are after.

Lineup cards and broken bats — the typical remnants of your typical baseball game. But the fact that they played a role in a Major League Baseball game makes them special. Cool, in fact — and collectible.

With hundreds of broken bats and lineup cards floating through the collectible system, how do buyers know they are getting something real and not a forgery? What has MLB done to protect its treasured items?

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