With spring training camps in Florida and Arizona opening this weekend, the sweet sound of hand-stitched cowhide against ash wood (or splintering maple, now) will be back in the air.

By dimensions and design, it is the perfect game. Yet it is carried out by the same imperfect humans who dabble in every other aspect of life.

So there are issues to be addressed to keep the game fair. One is age fraud.

A recent New York Times article reported on new initiatives by Major League Baseball to get a more accurate report on the ages of players coming out of the Dominican Republic — a hotbed of baseball talent.

One approach is to fingerprint young players under age 16 — the age at which MLB teams can sign a player to a contract.

The verification would help ensure that players younger than 16 would not present themselves as older to sign a contract. But, more important to MLB scouts and executives, it would counter the practice of older players pretending to be younger.

For many years baseball enthusiasts have looked at the pictures on the front of some baseball cards and the birth dates on the back with a realization that the two probably don’t match.

The age fraud, MLB officials believe, is conducted by business persons (agents) who simply have a older player take on the identity of a younger one. For example, a talented 23-year-old shortstop would be even more attractive to a team believing he is only 17 with much more room for growth and improvement.

Getting a cut of the big signing bonus is the motivation of those helping create the false identity.

But, as we know, age fraud occurs in more places than a Caribbean baseball training ground. Recently I have seen attempts everywhere from the dermatologist’s office — Do people really pay for non-medical injections? — to altered photos on Facebook.

Yet, when it comes to the turning of the calendar, we can run but we can’t hide. There is only one end to the process of aging.

Share This