Major League Baseball owns a rich, colorful history that dates back to the 19th century. Fortunately, MLB has people like Mike Acosta to help document and preserve that history.
Acosta is the authentication manager for the Houston Astros, which means he ensures that the items that the team gathers for posterity are what they say they are. As such, Acosta helped select a collection of game-used items for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame’s new exhibit celebrating the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship.
Acosta served as the guest speaker at the official debut of the exhibit on Tuesday. Included in the Hall of Fame’s collection are several game-worn jerseys as well as balls from each of the Astros’ four World Series wins that brought the first title to the state of Texas.
“We went through a process, probably about a two-month process, maybe eight weeks, we obviously were trying to put together a display for Minute Maid Park, a display for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and also the Baseball Hall of Fame as well,” Acosta said. “Then we had some items that stayed in the clubhouse. The clubhouse manager wanted to go back and double-check, to see if any of the players wanted to keep (the items). Obviously they kept a lot of stuff.”
During his appearance, Acosta showed a slide show of images that he had taken from his vantage point near the dugout of each World Series game. Because of the importance that MLB places on authentication – each item, from balls and gloves to caps and even batting weights must not leave the sight of an authenticator before it is documented with a hologram – Acosta had a prime viewing spot for the team’s historic title run.
Acosta and his team validated hundreds of items – some of which were given to players, others were kept by the Astros franchise, and still others donated to museums like the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
“To be quite honest, I wish we could have gotten back more,” Acosta said. “If the World Series had been like the regular season or the League Championship Series and Division Series, then we had a ton of stuff. But it’s a revenue generator as well. There are expenses that have to be paid. Having the authenticators out at every game, it’s something Major League Baseball has to cover. There’s all that to take into account.”
Acosta regaled the small crowd of baseball fans who gathered at the Hall of Fame with tales from the playoff run. He recalled that in Game 7 of the World Series, pitcher Charlie Morton actually approached him with six outs to go and asked if Acosta could set aside a ball for him.
“I just looked at him – ‘This is Game 7. You still have to pitch some more.’ But you could see it in his eyes – he was just like a little kid, and he wanted to remember it,” Acosta said.
Acosta managed to snag one of the balls that hadn’t been authenticated – which belong to Major League Baseball – but had been used in the game and slip it into Morton’s jacket pocket in the dugout.
“It’s a delicate balance, trying to take care of the player, taking care of the team and taking care of outlets like the Hall of Fame,” Acosta said. “It’s a very delicate balance. It’s not easy, but obviously when you have something like this that’s very historic to this level, you want to make sure you take care of as many outlets as you can.”
The special Astros “Earned History” exhibit will be open roughly a year, said Hall of Fame vice president of operations Jay Black. After that, some of the items will remain on permanent display, he added.