O's tickets still available, but be careful when buying

Bill Patterson grew up in Timonium and rooted, of course, for the Orioles.

So as soon as the chance to nab some playoff tickets came up this season, he placed an order through the team.

But Patterson, who now lives in Parkton, knows as well as anyone that hundreds upon hundreds of Major League playoff tickets will be bought and sold on the secondary market, through websites like StubHub. As the Vice President of Global Licensing for OpSec Security, which works with every major sports league in the country, he's involved in ensuring that the tickets you buy are actually tickets to the event you want to see.

Patterson also oversees programs that ensure your Orioles jersey is officially licensed, meaning it meets rigorous standards and that proceeds will be filtered back to MLB.

Patterson was not at liberty to say whether OpSec actually works with MLB or the Orioles on ticketing issues, but he did warn that counterfeiters will ramp up efforts this week to sell tickets across the country. It only makes sense: with greater demand, there will be more people looking for ways to get into the stadium.

His advice? Stay away from the fringes. StubHub, which verifies tickets before selling them, is safe. Craigslist, the online flea market site, is not.

(In case you're wondering, there are hundreds of Craigslist listings for tickets as of 1 p.m.. Several of them smartly link to the StubHub page offering the specific tickets. StubHub had about 2,000 tickets listed, ranging from $42.50 to $1,750.)

If you're hoping to snare seats outside the stadium, be skeptical of any deal.

"Ask them why they're selling the seats," he said. "If they claim they have two extras in the same row, ask to walk in the park with them.

"If they're just selling the tickets, try to take a look at them and look for tell-tale signs of authenticity like holograms, foil ink, embossing, small text, intricate patterns that are hard to replicate. Compare them to others, if you can."

The tickets should look expensive, Patterson said. Orioles orange should be Orioles orange, not noticeably lighter or darker. Ink won't smudge. The paper will be thick and probably glossy.

Don't buy a printed out ticket. Bar codes are too easy to fake, Patterson said.

And if you're looking for a new Orioles hat or shirt (or sweatshirt, given the weather) do look for one of the signature holograms that marks it as officially licensed. Knock-off gear is usually much cheaper, but it isn't tested as thoroughly -- Patterson says he's seen coloring of some hats and shirt smear onto those wearing it when rain hit.

There's also the matter of who's making money off of your purchase. While you may feel you've already given enough of your cash to Peter Angelos and other Major League owners (merchandise revenue is shared between all the teams), there's no telling where money from sales of counterfeit gear may end up. Those companies are generally circumventing labor laws, at the very least.

"It's really a financial and social issue," he said. "A counterfeit operation often has ties back to organized crime and money laundering."

Not everyone selling on the street -- or selling at cheaper prices than what you'll find in the ballpark -- is trying to unload fraudulent gear. There are many vendors who can offer deals by buying someone else's extra stock, or because they're not offering the very latest styles. But if you notice somebody selling out of a duffle bag, Patterson said, you're probably not going to end up with the real thing.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun