Making the "merchandise of champions"

PHILADELPHIA - October 27, 2008 - That's why the screen printing production line has been going at full tilt at Family Custom Screen Printing in Bellmawr.

6,000 Phillies World Series champion t-shirts will be delivered to local licensed retailers by the time the game started Monday, so they can immediately go on sale if the Phillies close out the Rays in game 5.

"They'll put them away, they'll only go on the shelves if they win," said Bob Armstrong of Family Custom Screen Printing. "If they don't win [the shirts] don't come out of the boxes."

If the Phillies do win, the assembly line will keep pumping the shirts out overnight to have 12,000 more ready for delivery to licensed retailers early Tuesday.

"Family Custom" is licensed by Major League Baseball to make the souvenir t-shirts. A holographic sticker, which is difficult to counterfeit, is found on the legitimate product.

"They copy the logos off of us after they see it on TV or they get a shirt, and they start printing them," Armstrong said. "If the sticker's not there, it's not a real shirt."

Which brings us to those knock-offs, or counterfeit products being sold by many street vendors all across the region as Phillies mania reaches a fever pitch.

We asked one vendor if he was selling knock-off products, to which he replied "Take care, and have a nice day."

That was the nicest thing that street vendor had to say as we photographed his inventory of Phillies knock-offs.

He's also capitalizing on the presidential sweepstakes as well. After all, Pennsylvania is a battleground state and Obama and McCain are playing hardball too.

To get rid of that fake merchandise, Major League Baseball has 30 undercover operatives in the area, confiscating illegal merchandise.

More than 600 units of illegal merchandise has been seized since Saturday night's opening game.

There have been no arrests so far, but plenty of citations.

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