"We are extremely excited to give our fans this first-ever opportunity to bid in real-time at the MLB.com Auction on items that have just been used and authenticated at the most important All-Star gatherings in all of sports," said Noah Garden, executive vice president of revenue for MLB Advanced Media. "Bidding on game-used Major League Baseball items has become a popular year-round activity for fans, and this will mark the first time in the history of MLB.com that a live auction has taken place. There are four big events at All-Star Week, so there will be something for everyone."
Baseball fans will see the Futures Game on MLB.TV and ESPN2, the Home Run Derby on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET and the All-Star Game on FOX at 7:30 p.m. ET. The softball game, loaded with Hall of Famers like George Brett and entertainers galore, will be taped and aired by ESPN right after the Home Run Derby. Everything will be covered live by MLB.com. Everyone will be tuned into a lot of pitches, and this time there will be a lot of instant gratification through bidding.
Just imagine if something like this had been possible throughout the history of sport's premiere All-Star gathering. In 1933, Babe Ruth hit the first-ever All-Star Game home run in that inaugural event at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Imagine if items used then were immediately authenticated and put up for bidding on the spot at the MLB.com Auction, ranging from Ruth's bat used to hit the homer and the home plate that he stomped on at the end of his trot.
Of course, you can't imagine it because (a) there was no Internet, (b) there was no television, (c) there was no MLB Authentication department, (d) the country was in the midst of the Great Depression and (e) the Babe needed his bat for his next game, and so forth. But guess what? History is about to be made at 2012 All-Star Week, where scenarios just like that one will be brought to life. The only question is going to be: Who will want this stuff badly enough?
What would you have paid to bid on Bryce Harper's Futures Game batting helmet right after you saw him wear it last year in Phoenix? What if you saw Brett hit a home run in front of his home crowd in the softball game and then bid on it right away on MLB.com? What if a Jose Bautista out or homer ball was authenticated and you bid on it while he was still trying to win?
What if a ball thrown to Chipper Jones in his final All-Star at-bat is auctioned right there as he came out of the game? There are some cool possibilities here. Remember when Pete Rose bowled over Ray Fosse in that home-plate collision in 1970? Imagine if MLB had authenticated that home plate on the spot and let you bid on it while it was still in the dirt.
In the meantime, you can bid on the archived All-Star Game Auction, featuring great game-used items from previous All-Star Weeks, such as a game-used second base from the 2010 Midsummer Classic, when the NL finally ended its long losing streak. That auction is live now and closes at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.