Contact 6: Tips on purchasing authenticated sports memorabilia

GREENFIELD — Jen Glowinski and Sara Steppke have a passion for sports — evidenced by the thousands of dollars in sports memorabilia they have in their home. While shopping at Legends of the Field, they spotted their dream piece, but was it too good to be true?

Self-described “sports nuts,” Glowinski and Steppke had their sights set on a game-used Ryan Braun autographed jersey.

“You don’t find that. It’s very hard to find game-used, autographed items,” Glowinski said.

The jersey came with the Major League Baseball certified hologram — the ultimate stamp of authenticity. Legends of the Field was selling the jersey for $2,500.

“We purchased it because it was authenticated by the MLB,” Glowinski said.

When the two got the jersey home, they checked the authentication number on MLB’s website and found the jersey listed as an autographed jersey that goes for around $300. The website mentioned nothing about the jersey being game-used.

“We felt like we were betrayed. More or less taken advantage of as well,” Steppke said.

“I was beside myself. I said ‘are you telling me I spent $2,500 on a fake jersey? Like a $140 jersey with a signature? I should just wear it around because it’s worthless,'” Glowinski said.

The two took the jersey back to Legends of the Field, and the store gave them a full refund, along with an email trail between Steppke and the store manager, Nick Lantz.

In one of the emails, Steppke writes: “Hopefully you guys can figure out what happened! I just want you to know in no way imply that you or Legends did this. We just hope that you can track down who did!”

Nick’s email says: “No worries. We are going to get Ryan involved. We gotta get to the bottom of this.”

Another email says: “Braun’s people are freaking out!”

Steppke and Glowinski felt something didn’t add up, so they called FOX6’s Contact 6.

Contact 6 equipped the two with a hidden camera to confirm what Legends of the Field was telling them — that Ryan Braun bought extra jerseys, wore them in a game and then brought them to a signing with his exclusive memorabilia company – Lojo Sports.

“We know it’s 100% legit and for anybody else, I probably wouldn’t even have then the jersey back because, you know, like I said, he backs it and his agents back it,” Nick said.

Legends of the Field Vice President Jason Sarchet backed it too. Sarchet let FOX6’s Contact 6’s Katrina Cravy into the store to discuss the situation and showed pictures of Braun at Lojo Sports signings.

“The jersey ends up at a signing. What happens before that I have no idea. Ryan Braun supplies the jersey at the signing. He signs it game-used with the year that he used it and we purchase that jersey directly through Lojo Sports and we market it in our stores,” Sarchet said.

Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger says jerseys are team property and players do not purchase additional jerseys to wear and sign.

“I would be very surprised if any of them took the time, effort or had the interest to try to sell game-used things. It’s not in their wheel house. It’s not what they do. They play baseball,” Schlesinger said.

Lojo Sports — Braun’s exclusive memorabilia dealer says it bought extra jerseys and Braun wore them in a game and signed his name, plus the inscription “G-U” or “game-used” 2011 and an MLB authenticator saw him sign the jersey.

Mark Heller with Lojo Sports says he has the invoice confirming the extra jerseys, but wouldn’t show it to Contact 6. Braun’s representatives say what Lojo says is true.

However, Glowinski and Steppke say…how do they know?

That jersey had them doubting every item they had purchased.

Legends of the Field says it stands by its products and worked with Contact 6 as a good faith gesture to make Glowinski and Steppke happy. The company returned the two’s other items as well – thousands of dollars worth.

Finding authentic sports memorability can be tricky!

Robin Williams is an expert document and handwriting analyst and says too often, people don’t ask the right questions and that gets them into trouble.

“Always ask questions because if you don’t get a direct response, don’t purchase it.  Don’t buy it. If they cannot tell you exactly what game it was used in, and they do not have the documentation, I would walk away,” Williams said.

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