We headed over to Scottsdale to do something that neither one of us had ever done – a true first – we went to have a piece of sports memorabilia professionally authenticated. Huh? If you have been following our blog, you might remember that back in Las Vegas in October of last year Gary won a football autographed by hall of famer Marshall Faulk in a raffle at the Main Street Station Casino. We have no interest in it so we want to try to sell it. We figured our chances of a sale would be better if we had it professionally authenticated. A sports memorabilia store in Las Vegas gave us a couple recommendations for authenticators and explained that our cheapest route to an authentication would be at a “show” somewhere in our travels so that we could avoid to-and-from shipping and that the fee at a show was generally lower as well. It just so happened one of the authentication companies was in Scottsdale for a Saturday afternoon of offering authentication services at a Scottsdale hotel, largely because a lot of people are in town with their baseball memorabilia as it is MLB spring training season here in the Phoenix area.
We walked up to the table in the hotel conference room. There were a bank of guys on computers at the back of the room and they are examining things from what was quite a stack of stuff on the side walls of the room. A representative of JSA Sports Authenticators greeted us. He saw what we had, heard our story, and explained that their most basic service is a simple pass/fail authentication performed by the unanimous agreement from their panel of experts and it is $20 up front with no refund of any kind if it isn’t authentic. We agreed and he gave us a receipt and told us to come back in about an hour.
When we returned, they huddled for a bit and said they were still awaiting some additional information and that it would be a few more minutes. That sure didn’t sound good. We had been gone for nearly two hours and their panel of experts had been unable to authenticate the football? And who knew what “additional information” they were awaiting. So, we cooled our heels in the hotel lobby for awhile and then went back to the room. We walked in and some guy was having a heated conversation with our rep. It seemed like they had not authenticated the Muhammad Ali signature on some piece of memorabilia he brought in. And they were explaining to the guy that they were absolutely certain it was not Ali’s signature over the now loud protestations of the owner. And then he wanted his money back even though he bought the same no refund service we chose. JSA explained,”you hired us to perform a service and we performed it. We are sorry it is not Ali’s signature, but that is what you paid us to determine.” Finally the guy grabbed his stuff and stormed out the door.
At this point Gary meekly asked if our Marshall Faulk football was ready. The rep stepped to the back table, huddled with the team a bit, and set the football on the table in front of us and said, “your football is 100% authentic. The certificate of authenticity is in the box and we have stamped a number on the ball matching the number on the certificate.” Hallelujah, our autographed football is authentic.
As I am certain that one way or another Gary is going to sell this ball, it was time for me to take a little shopping trip. We went to Old Town Scottsdale, an area of art galleries, jewelry shops, and Western and Mexican goodies. I purchased a couple small pieces of turquoise – one was a little pendant of Kokopelli and the other was a set of earrings. Hopefully the football will be enough to cover them.