It would appear that my story on the dating of a Rawling’s glove has taken on a life of its own and I suspect we will hear more about this glove in the future. As I said, I have no opinion on what this glove is or is not, at least not yet. What I have decided to do is develop a template if you will on what I would be looking for with respect to doing work on gloves, especially one that is being attributed, not simply to a player and hallmark season, but a single event as well.
This is done in much of the same vein as the helmet template I wrote about some months back. Collectors and researchers can use it, add to it or dismiss its value out of hand. My interest in this particular glove comes as a baseball researcher and historian…notice I did not say glove expert.
Basic questions or issues surrounding items like this that are attributed to significant events are the largely the same no matter if the item in question is a bat, glove or jersey. The process begins with what do you know, how do you know it, and how is all of this observed or demonstrated. If the response is this is what I have been told by the manufacturer or some other institution, the same questions apply to them.
Specific questions or Essential Elements of Information (EEI) would include:
1. Is this glove proper by model and manufacturer for the player and time frame involved? If so, how do we know and see this?
– Manufacturers production information or catalogs
– Dated photographic evidence
2. What are the observable physical characteristics of the glove that can be seen, evaluated, assessed and dated?
– Model or design
– Presence or lack of patent stamp information: If present or not present, how does this help to date the glove?
– Manufacturers logos by size, style, color or design for things like patches and buttons
– Type of web
– Type of pocket
– Manner or style of lacing
– Heal construction
– Wrist strap
– Any stamped product variation or product design on the glove such as “DEEP WELL MODEL or “DEEP WELL POCKET” that can help date the glove.
Before any event or player attribution is considered, the focus should be on determining on what right should look like for the glove and year/period in question. All of this should be tied back and traceable through the previous mentioned “how do you know this, and how is all of this observed or demonstrated.” What are the references, resources and or exemplars used to arrive at this position?
One thing should be pointed out now before going any further…that being there has to be some methodology and consistency with that methodology. On one hand you can’t dismiss one glove out hand because it is not found in the manufacturer catalogs or is found a few years after the event, and in other cases rely on the statement that professional model gloves appeared with major league players before hitting the catalogs. You can choose to form your own opinion on how to address this, but it needs to be consistent one way or another. This holds true in all other aspects or observations you make as well.
Once you have satisfied yourself and have worked through the physical characteristics of the glove as listed above in some defendable and observable manner, then you can begin to turn your attention to player and event work. It makes no sense working this in reverse. No matter the history or provenance of the item, in the end, every item ultimately is what is.
In working on player and event, the same rules apply to the glove itself…once again, what do you know, how do you know it, and how is all of this observed or demonstrated?
This phase, like the one previously addressed starts with knowing what right should look like. I would first start with the player as if the glove can’t be tied directly to the player, then he could not have used it in the event in question.
1. What evidence is there that the glove in question was used by the player with respect to manufacturer and model? What if any photographic evidence points to this? What about anecdotal or period print references?
2. Are there any special or unique player customizations on this glove? If so what are they and how are they known and shown to be attributed to the player?
3. Is there any form of player identification on the glove such as name, number or other manner of identification? If so what are they and how are they known and shown to be attributed to the player or similar manner for others on the same team?
4. Are there any variations or irregularities that need to be addressed? If so what are they and how are they accounted for?
Once again, if you have satisfied yourself and have worked through the above physical characteristics of the glove as listed above as they relate directly to the player in question in some defendable and observable manner, you can now begin to turn your attention to the actual event.
By now you should notice the same logical progression with respect to the underlying methodology, what do I know about the actual glove used by the player for the season, game or event…and yes, how do you know it, and how is all of this observed or demonstrated?
I will be the first one to admit that doing this with gloves is likely far harder than for bats, and to a lesser extent for jerseys. The simple reason is that gloves are smaller than either of these two other items and many of the important characteristics are likely not to be discernable in period images. Here is where exclusionary analysis can help. When I did my Babe Ruth “Called Shot Jersey” relook, I accounted for the what I felt was the known population of jerseys and looked to exclude why others could not be the one in the images. In doing this for gloves, you will have to have some metric on how many gloves a player might have had at his disposal. Whatever number you decide on, there has to be some basis for reaching that conclusion.
The other thing that really has to be done in some degree of detail is imagery analysis. What are the observable physical characteristics of the event glove and how do these compare to the on hand glove? The goal should be to show not simply that they look the same, but they are the same at the exclusion of other possibilities.
I am sure there are some reading this and thinking, “well this is a double standard as MEARS has never evaluated gloves like this before either.” To that I would have to agree that we never have, but in retrospect…we should have been and need to in the future. Truth be told, I have never given much though to looking at gloves, but that does not mean I don’t know enough about them to know and understand the Essential Elements of Information or what a solid analytical methodology for them involves. I have spent the better part of 15 years doing intelligence work focused on getting answers to questions…the key has always been, since you don’t know the answer or what it might be, spend your time on the questions and methodology up front…and that’s all I have tried to do with piece.
In the end, any collector or researcher will have to be satisfied with the body of work they have preformed or has been performed by someone else. This piece also has very little to do with what the Mickey Mantle glove that started all of this is or is not. It got me thinking about an issue that is bigger than one glove, even one as potentially valuable from a historic standpoint as a glove that might have used by The Mick to save Don Larsen’s Perfect Game or used during Mantle’s greatest personal season.
My hope is that this article will be seen for it was intended…that being to establish a template and dialogue about for how work on gloves should be done and how to assess the work previously done on them.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC