May 7, 2006
With the formation of “MEARS-On-Line” on August 22nd, 2005, we launched our webmagazine with some product lines of which you should be familiar.
1. Player bat label index (72 examples )
2. Jersey tag index (231 examples)
3. Photo reference (139 examples )
4. Player bat index (ongoing per input of members )
5. Jersey & Bat census (1,954 jerseys), (1,681 bats)
6. Current (26) and Archived News (66 articles)
7. Letters of Opinion (All auction letters produced since December 2005)
These services are currently available for all MEARS members with the player bat index feature free for all interested parties. The number in parenthesis denotes how many data points we have in each category. We are constantly improving these features internally through our web developer so that the updates occur more frequently.
Members Data Updates
Player Bat Label Index: Just last week we have developed a program for the player bat label index that will allow MEARS researchers the ability to update individual bat label additions. Previously we had to add the new changes via the batch method and reload all of the images again. This could only be done through the staff of our web providers. Now we can add single changes ourselves as the information is made available to you. With this article, this allows me to ask MEARS members to participate if they have a bat label that is not featured on our site. We will gladly add any label variations that are not posted.
Jersey Tag Index: The same program changes are in store for the jersey tag index within the next 30 days. This will allow for the same results as the player bat label index in terms of accuracy and responsiveness. Currently the jersey tag index has 231 examples, which cover basketball, football, and baseball jersey tagging. The tags are arranged chronologically, which helps establish manufactures for each year of the sport examined.
Photo Reference: Our photo reference section allows for members to share with us the books and DVD’s we use to conduct our research. The photo reference section list books and DVD’s by title, author, publishing date, and includes a brief synopsis of what you will find in each item. In support of this feature, we have recently combined the personal libraries of Dave Bushing, MEARS, and myself and have housed all of our reference materials in the MEARS research center in Milwaukee, WI. Each day we are adding new titles. Both MEARS Auth, LLC and Dave Bushing made purchases to the library this week at the Fort Washington show. Those titles will be added shortly. For boxing collectors and especially Muhammad Ali fans, I have added the titles with references to important images to the photo reference section to aid subscribers interested in Ali. Collectors, if you have a research book that has specific information that you would like to share with other collectors, feel free to forward the information in a similar format to firstname.lastname@example.org . We will be glad to add your selection.
Player bat index: launched in conjunction with the MLB Opening Day 2006. The premise is any game used bat enthusiast can chart the bats used by the top players of the game. This is done by selecting your favorite player, noting the date of the game, listing the bat manufactures name, color of bat, and characteristics which are visible such as pinetar or handle tape, and posting your name. The goal is to create a record of game used bats of the current players, which will help aid in authentication for the future. You do not have to be a MEARS member to participate.
Jersey & Bat Census: Our jersey and bat census, or population report, has been one of our most popular features. In the next 10 days it will be updated. This will make it current through the last auction cycle, which included Robert Edwards Auctions, Mastro Auctions, and all of our retail submissions. With 1,681 items in the bat census and 1,954 jerseys, collectors can begin to see the amount of jerseys in the market, which have been evaluated by MEARS. Also, the trend of how very few A10 post 1987 jerseys (jerseys with provenance) are on the market is becoming rather apparent.
Current and Archived news: stories now number 92. MEARS Auth, LLC has been maintaining the editorial schedule and looks forward more articles, which will address your collecting concerns. If you have a particular topic you would like us to cover, please consider contacting Dave at DaveGrob1@aol.com and he will see about getting added to the editorial plan.
Letters of Opinion: Starting December of 2005, letters of opinion with worksheets are available for the following auction houses, REA, Mastro Net, Sothebys. Geppi’s items will be covered for their next auction. Customers requested both worksheets and letters and at great time and expense to our organization, we provided them via scanned PDF files. A new process has been developed and will be implemented shortly further increasing the efficiency and usefulness of these letters and worksheets and will be discussed at a later point in this article. Please note that will SCD decided to provide unofficial letters from SCDA to the Game Used Forum for their use, MEARS letters, other than those copies in the hands of the person with the item, remain the property of MEARS and will not be provided for similar use by other sources.
Updates to MEARS worksheets: Over the course of each quarter, I keep a clipboard near our workstations with a sample of both the jersey and bat grading worksheet. On the top in big letters are the word revisions. With each grouping of items that we evaluate, new issues on the assignment of grades periodically arise. New reasons for subtractions and additions are uncovered. As a team, we sit down and discuss what the issue is and how it should be addressed. Only after careful consideration do we come to a conclusion on how to proceed. Then, the changes are added to the worksheet with the proper assignment of addition or subtraction noted. The changes or additions have never changed our assignment of previous grades, but enhance our criteria to help define characteristics to the public. Other updates to the worksheets occur when a more precise term can be applied, or a dating range should be narrowed or broadened. As a matter of procedure, additional spots for initialing the work of the authenticator has been added. For example, an initial line has been added for has the size been matched versus MEARS Auth, LLC’s size chart. After this step has been completed, the authenticator must initial that line on the worksheet. As a matter of procedure, no final letter of opinion will be issued unless all of the initial lines have been completed. Recently an issue has arisen regarding was extra length added to a NBA basketball jersey. On the worksheet, we have added a new measurement line to capture the data of what is the true length of a jersey tagged with an extra length designator. The revision of the worksheets works hand in hand with the addition of the letters of opinion being viewable online. The revised worksheets can be compared to finished letters with the goal of creating consistency and precedent so that each jersey is graded and evaluated with the exact same point subtractions/additions occurring. All of this aimed with the goal of creating consistency and accountability.
Personnel Updates: Peter Dobrogowski has been added to the staff of MEARS. With a strong sense of football history and great comfort and knowledge of computers, Pete is assisting daily with letter production for retail and the auction houses, data archiving, and computer support for our ever-growing database. The addition of another employee will increase our overall response time to customers and allow Dave Bushing and myself the ability to conduct some additional research projects, all geared towards increasing the efficiency and accuracy of our work.
Although the next group of changes I discuss will not be made directly available to MEARS members, you will benefit from the increased accuracy of our opinions derived from this data.
Internal Data Updates intended for MEARS staff
I would also like to take some time to discuss some of the internal improvements taken by MEARS. These improvements are targeted for the benefit of our staff researchers and authenticators. Although we have built our company on the foundation of sharing information, these internal improvements cannot be made available to the public for several reasons. 1. Copyright issues. MEARS has been granted permission in some cases to use this information for authentication purposes only. We just cannot share items in this category even though we would love to. This is the case with the Louisville Slugger records. Although no document was ever signed, Dave Bushing gave his word that he would never print the records for the public’s consumption. Until permission is given to us by Louisville Slugger, Dave will honor both the spirit and intent of that agreement 2. Understanding the information. The term photo matching has been abused by many in the collecting public. In regards to the MEARS Library of Images that now totals in excess of 35,000. In very, very rare instances were we able to offer exact photo documentation. But, in many cases, by studying what is present and absence in the photo used for reference, we can conduct imagery analysis of the items in reference to jersey examined. This photographic library supports numbering, lettering, design & style, and placement of lettering and numbering. Since most tags are tucked inside the pants, this does not aid in “is the tag correct”, but armed with our tagging database, makes for a very potent evaluation tool. 3. Site fiscal sense. Each design change or improvement is an issue of cost. As a company we must evaluate what changes we are going to make and they have to make good fiscal sense.
Internal Jersey tagging database (29,123 images): Currently number 29,123 detailed images of actual jerseys and/or photos of players wearing jerseys. Special efforts are taken to capture tagging styles and variations, patches, and number and lettering placement. During the past 60 days MEARS has made a concerted effort to concentrate on jerseys of the NFL from 1960-1990 and the NBA from 1960-1988, eras were year tags were rarely found on jerseys. Also samplings of USFL, WFL, ABA, and college all-star and pro bowl jerseys. Baseball jersey data started during the 19th century and improves in quantity with each decade. Through a concentrated effort, we have vastly improved our 1910-1920 timeframe.
Video Library: Another MEARS Auth, LLC initiative that has grown to offer support for our evaluations. Getty Images and Corbis are very useful tools, but experience has found them to be lacking on pre 1990 teams. Also, the dating on images that are available is not always accurate. MEARS has committed to budget the necessary funds to purchase 15,000 hours of edited NFL, ABA and NBA video footage. Individual frames can then be entered into our database to be used to research season and team specific jersey requests. We also have access to private photographers and videographers that have agreed to make previously unseen film available to use for research use and purposes only.
Equipment photos database (3408 images): This database is designed to capture the non-jersey data of the game worn world. Photos capturing player’s caps, shoes, wristbands, batting gloves, and helmet manufactures are stored in this folder. Great resource for identifying manufactures and verifying color schemes. In some cases marker uniform numbering can be seen.
Football Labels (58 images): Just as was created by the jersey tagging database, game action photos of players carrying footballs can help establish the timeline for game used footballs. Also, team and trophy balls that were signed on game balls can help determine manufacturing label printing which can be useful narrowing the timeline for when these balls were issued for use.
Baseball labels (118 images): Same concept as the football labels and very helpful in the authenticating of game used and historic baseballs, both rapidly growing areas of collecting which will translate into more items offered for authentication and grading.
Muhammad Ali (3582 images): A personal passion for me, I have found that all of the methods used for evaluating game used bats and jerseys can easily be applied to fight worn trunks, gloves, and robes. Interested readers can look forward to a future article on the actual application of current MEARS methods to a fight worn Ali item. Also, in some cases, we can use the techniques developed by MEARS to authenticate other fight worn items.
Team Photo database (184 images): Created with the goal to compare individual player jerseys within the context of a team setting. This allows the researchers to compare styles, lettering, team logos, numbering, fonts, etc of the player to team image. By comparing, you can see what matches and what do not.
Future Members Benefits & Updates
Online Retail and Auction House Letters of Opinion: MEARS is proud to announce what we are in the final weeks of offering both the archived letters of opinions with photos and will offer all future retail and auction letters. New letters produced by MEARS for retail customers and the auction houses will be available with photos and worksheets within days of them being produced. With the offering of these letters online, our population report will be updated on a daily basis. These letters will be searchable by both title and item number.
Marshall Fogel Collectors Museum: The first 1/3 of the Marshall Fogel collection will be available for viewing August 1st, 2006.
History of Robin Yount jerseys, bats, and equipment, 1974-93: During April 2006, the collection of Robin Yount’s longtime fanclub president, Dwyn Castle was sold. Dwyn was Robin Yount’s number 1 fan and a personal friend of Yount and his family. She was the owner of the most complete collection of photographs, newspaper articles, and souvenirs capturing the life and career of Robin Yount. In an exclusive arrangement with the owner of the collection, All-American Sports of Milwaukee, WI, MEARS has been granted exclusive rights to feature highlights of the personal photograph collection on the MEARS site via the collectors museum. By having such a complete archive of Robin Yount photographs that captured his career from 1974-1993, we are able to establish accurate imagery analysis for both Robin Yount jerseys and equipment, and styles of Brewers jerseys from that time frame. The Robin Yount collector’s museum will feature a photographic study that emphasizes his jerseys home & road, bats, cleats, fielder’s gloves, and caps from his entire career of 1974-1993. Also, by association, an example of both Hank Aaron’s 1975 & 1976 Brewers home jerseys can be viewed. Also, a photographic study of Hall of Fame teammate Paul Molitor 1978 home and road rookie Brewers jerseys can be viewed. This coupled with shots of Yount with teammates and team photos this will provide the most comprehensive study of Robin Yount and his equipment to date.
Now nearing the 2 ½ year mark, MEARS has built an unprecedented library of game used/worn information. This library will serve to protect consumers through research and information and help individuals build authentic and well-researched collections. With the participation of our authenticators/researchers, auctions houses, and you the collector, we have built a safe and educated community, which will insure that we can enjoy our authentic collections until the time when somebody else becomes the custodians of our collection. If you have any suggestions on databases you would like to see built, articles written, or praise or criticism of our evaluation and grading system, please contact me at email@example.com.
Troy R. Kinunen